Seawheeze is a half-marathon race around Vancouver, Canada and is organized by Lululemon. I will write another blog about all the merch and funtivites that come along with doing this race, but today is all about the race recap.
If you follow me on Instagram you will know that I injured my leg a couple of months ago. I rested as much as I could, but did manage to get a few runs in while keeping the mileage really low and slow. I’d also seen a physio and RMT and they did what they could ahead of my race (turns out I will need to do a lot of strength work to get me running smoothly again). So going in, I knew this race wasn’t going to be what I wanted it to be, but I was still hopeful to achieve my goal of a sub 2-hour. As well as my current leg injury, my foot had been playing up recently (an old injury from the Walt Disney World marathon in January). So much so, that for a few days before the race, I was convinced this would be the injury that would cause me discomfort during this race, and not my leg.
After a terrible night’s sleep, often waking to the sound of the lashing rain (it had been raining heavy in Vancouver since I arrived on Thursday), I was up pretty sharp (it was pitch dark outside). I forced down a quick breakfast of overnight oats and a banana – does anybody else struggle to eat before a race? I brought a wide selection of running attire; I’m glad I did as I ended up wearing all the layers to help keep me dry and warm. I did my stretches in my warm hotel room, before walking down to the start of the race.
The rush of seeing the start line of a race is incredible; I got goosebumps and felt so emotional. I think most people feel the same; when you’ve been working towards something, to then be in the moment you’ve been dreaming of for months, it feels incredible. I positioned myself in corral 2, as even with my injuries I was hoping to still get close to my goal time. The start seemed to drag on way longer than it should have, especially given it was raining. The first corral was due to start at 7am, but it was closer to 7:15am before they left. I had positioned myself at the front of the corral, right beside the 2 hour Pace Beavers (Lululemon calls them beavers and not bunnies). Taking into account my injury and how little training I had done, my strategy had been to stick with the corral Pace Beaver as much as possible. But for some reason when I crossed the start line, the Pace Beavers didn’t. I have no idea what happened – I panicked for a moment, then figured, it is what it is; I was clearly meant to be running this race solo.
I hadn’t really studied the course map, and despite having lived in Vancouver years ago, and visiting it many times before, I had no clue of where we were running. Other than the Gastown area, Burrard Bridge, and Stanley Park, I didn’t really have a clue of the route.
I remember feeling like the first few kilometers included a lot of uphill sections, and with the rain pounding down I was trying to keep it fairly easy-paced so as not to slip. My leg started niggling 2k in but it felt manageable, and I was able to keep a very good pace for the first 5k, but shortly after, that’s when my ‘wheels’ came off. My feet were soaking wet, rain had starting soaking through my layers, and my leg was no longer manageable, but quite painful. Had this been a training run, I would have headed home and thought nothing of it.
Between 5k and 8k, the only thing that kept me going was knowing my husband was waiting to cheer me on. So I kept going, running through the misery. Unfortunately, to get to where he was waiting, there was a MAHOOSIVE hill. This was the first point of the race that I walked a little – my leg was not prepared to run this steep a hill. It was really nice to spot his umbrella in the distance. I stopped and had a wee moan and told him how difficult it had been. He said I was doing great with my pace and to keep at it. He gave me a wee boost cause he was right, my pace was pretty darn close to what I wanted, I just needed to suck it up and keep at it. I had told him to go back to the hotel as it was miserable out, but he said he’d stay to see me when I came back down that road at 11k (what a sweetie he is – his shoes were soaking through, and his jeans were wet up to his knees). I tried to push my pace going down Burrard Bridge, knowing that coming up the incline on the way back, I would likely take it slower. I don’t remember much of this stretch other than the Lululemon cheer squad; they had so much energy – loved it!
Between 8k and 11k, I took 3 short walking breaks, 2 of which were along the bridge. By the time I saw my husband again, I felt completely done. I had another wee moan, and he told me to keep going, no matter how long it took me. Shortly after waving him goodbye (lucky so-and-so was about to head back to the hotel to warm up for a bit,) I saw the Victoria November Project co-lead. She gave me a high 5 and a ‘You’ve got this Gillian’. I put a great tune on my iPod and pushed my pace, telling my leg pain to ‘shut it’. This wee section was a sloping downhill so I can’t really take full credit for the pace, as gravity did some of the work, but I managed to get myself out of the pain funk long enough to get another decent kilometer pace. Then I gave in to the pain and misery. From entering Stanley Park, I walked quite a bit (and even walking at times was excruciating; had it been possible for me to leave the race at this point I possibly would have). I would run a slow pace for a few minutes, then walk, run a little, then walk, all the way till about 19k. Despite the race not going well, I tried to enjoy this section as much as possible. Running around Stanley Park is one of my favourite runs, so I tried to remember this and take in the beauty.
I knew Vancouver November Project had a cheer squad somewhere on the course, but had no idea where. Turns out they were perfectly placed right before leaving Stanley Park. Their cheers and energy were incredible. Cheer squads are just the best, and doubly awesome when the weather is miserable. These awesome people are getting wet and cold, but 100% are there for the runners. By 19k, walking hurt, running hurt, and standing still hurt. Given everything hurt, I just wanted to get this thing done and dive into a hot shower. I hadn’t been paying attention to my Garmin much, but at this point I notice that my goal time had gone; but I wanted to finish this pain-fest asap, so I gritted my teeth and sprinted the last 1.1k to finish.
I was numb at the end. I was crushed that this race was again one that didn’t go to plan. That sub-2 is making me really work to achieve it. Did you run/swim Seawheeze this year? How was your race experience?