I ran my first international race on Saturday. The SeaWheeze half marathon in Vancouver was amazing. It is definitely a race you should experience at least once. I would do this race every year if I could. :)
I did some running in Vancouver before the race. It is such a beautiful city with mountains and water surrounding it. Almost everyone either walks or rides their bikes in the city. We stayed at the Fairmont hotel which was close to everything. We flew to Seattle and rented a car and drove into the city because it was cheaper this way. However, I would not do this again. It took almost 4 and a 1/2 hours to get to the city because of crazy traffic and even crazier drivers... Another thing to think about if your coming from America is your phone plan. Right when we cross the border AT&T sent us a nice little text explaining the international rates. They were stupid high. So we turned our data off and only had access to the internet with wifi, which came free with our hotel. The only other place we could really get wifi was at the Cactus Club, one was located right by the finish line. We only sent texts when we really needed too. Ben could not get into the Seawheeze store when I did since he was not running. So we sent a few texts then. As far as restaurants go, I recommend these: The Cactus Club, Tractor, Bella Gelateria, Davids Tea, Faubourg Paris, Laduree, and the Granville Island Public Market. We wanted to go to a few other places but we didn't get around to it.
We had a crazy schedule with little sleep but I have a feeling we were not alone on the lack of sleep over the weekend. Our wake times for the weekend: Thursday at 4:30 to catch our flight, Friday at 2:15 to line up for the showcase store, Saturday at 5 (sleep in day), Sunday at 1:30 to drive back to Seattle to catch our flight.
Some sight seeing and purchasing all the chocolate we could find.
Now for the important stuff.... The Seawheeze showcase store! I was a little worried about us walking to the expo at 2:30AM, it was about .40 miles from our hotel. We got up at 2:15 and we were out the door by 2:25. Our walk was fine, there were actually several people out and about. We got to the line around 2:40ish and I was a little nervous when I saw how long it was. It was starting to wrap around the building and we were at the back facing the water, which I couldn't complain about. (it was beautiful) but the people at the front of the line were so spread out, it was hard to tell how many people were ahead of us. There was a guy who was counting everyone in line and he said we were number 345 (I think). Around 5:50 they started to stand up and we move up quite a bit. We moved inside the building around 6:50ish and we were the 2nd group let in. I'm not sure what time I actually got in but I'm thinking it was around 7:12 to 7:15. People were actually running into the room, I choose to walk and was only a few seconds behind the runners lol. The amount of clothes that the first group that was let in already had was incredible, I'm guessing most of them were not rookies. Ha! Once you are in the room, they have everything laid out by size, which was nice. I went straight to my size and got everything I wanted except for a bra. I mainly wear size 4 but I wear size 2 in leggings and I was very disappointed in the size 2 selection. It looked like the selection they had for the men, which was not much. I have to say I was a little disappointed in this years clothing, I think I would have liked the previous years selections better. But I did still find some good stuff...Here is my loot:
Onto the race... When I first signed up for this race I wanted to PR it but ironman training got in the way. So I decided to just run it and try to enjoy it. We left the hotel around 6 for a 7 start time. They had warm up yoga that a lot of people participated in, they also had yoga on Friday and Saturday after the race. Yoga is not my thing so I did not join any of the sessions. We walked to the starting line and had no trouble finding the corral (it is self seeded). I got in mine around 6:45 maybe? The race started a little late but there were so many people trying to squeeze into the corrals in right around race time. I'm not sure if they were all able to get in.
Ben ran around the course taking some pictures of me. I decided to run with music and I'm glad I did, I put it in around mile 6. My favorite thing from the course was the 2 different spin classes that were going on during the race. It was really cool to run through. They also had mermaids, queens, people in weird skin suits with ties, and a few other strange things. I personally did not enjoy spending a majority of the time on the seawall. I thought the smell was awful and the water was down so it was not as pretty as it normally is. But, it was cool to look out onto the water at all of the huge cargo ships waiting to unload. With all of that being said, this race was great but I think I built it up so much in my head that I was expecting entertainment at every mile. This was not the case. The finish line was really cool. I finished in 1:54ish.
I do have to brag on Lulu for all of the swag with got with our entry into the race... a pair of speed shorts (my fave), a water bottle, a bag, sunglasses, a hat (which Ben stole), and the post race brunch which was the best I've ever had at a race. It included grapes, a little cherry tart, and a full size breakfast sandwich. It was delicious!! They also had hydration stations at the expo, the finish line, and the sunset festival. This was so awesome and I wish every race would do this!!
I've heard several people compare this race to the Run Disney races so I thought I would add my two cents on the subject. I ran the Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World in January.... You definitely get more for your money at Seawheeze. Disney races are so expensive and you only get a shirt and a medal. I really hope Disney starts to lower their prices instead of raising them because I would love to run all of the races they offer. As far as on course entrainment, it is not even close. In my opinion, Disney blows every other race out of the water in this category, including Seawheeze.
The medal this year was awesome!
The Sunset Festival was interesting. We got their around 5 and walked around to see everything. Apparently they have a little Lululemon booth there and the line was crazy line for it. From what I could see all that they had was a finisher shirt that said mission accomplished, and a hoodie that said the same thing. They also had some seawheeze bags. They had about 5 different food booths to choose from. I got pizza and Ben got chicken curry. The pizza was the best pizza I have ever had!! I meant to take a picture of it but it was gone in 5 minutes. Ha! I almost went back for seconds.
They had a mini putt putt course with some interesting golf clubs. They also had roasted marshmallows that Ben liked. I'm not a big marshmallow person. They started the big yoga session when we were leaving. I was amazed at how many people were participating. They also had bands performing but we left well before that. I don't really like concerts and we had to be up at 1:30 the next morning.
Overall this race was a blast and if I can find a Seawheeze angel that would allow me the means to run this race every year, I would do it in a heartbeat!!! This would be a fun girls weekend if you have some girlfriends who might be interested.