About a year ago Alana texted our group text (made up of my college best friends) in a flurry- "Seawheeze tickets go on sale in 30! Who's in?!" I knew from her previous experience with this Lululemon event that they sold out very quickly, and I also knew from her experience that this was something I did not want to miss! Over the last couple of years Hank and I have adopted a bit of "say yes now, figure it out later" policy when it comes to spontaneous travel, so my reply to Alana was "I'm in!" Brenda also decided to commit so there we were, me sitting in front of my computer, fingers poised above the keys waiting for 10am to hit, and Brenda, at work trying to register from her phone.
Luckily we all were able to register and just like that, I was signed up for my first half-marathon. Fast forward to a year later (the quickest year ever, I think), and Alana and I were boarding a plane for Seattle to meet Brenda, and drive up to Whistler to start our trip. We decided to do it this way so we could make a mini-road trip out of it, and it was a really good choice. The drive was beautiful, and we stopped many times along the way to just take it all in. REALLY gorgeous.
Brenda found us a hotel right in downtown Whistler- the Pinnacle- and after we checked in we spent that first night walking around and exploring. We went to bed fairly early, because we knew we wanted to get one more run in in the AM before we focused on resting before the half on Saturday. We woke up early-ish Thursday morning and headed out- we did about 4 miles through some of Whistler's trails, then ended with some breakfast on some cute place's patio (for the life of me I can't remember the name) and watched all of the commotion as an extreme sports festival began to take over for the weekend. Our original plan was to do some stand up paddle boarding at a nearby lake, but after talking to our server so suggested we instead make the drive up to Joffre Lakes Provincial Park to hike the trails. And I will forever be grateful for that sweet server for ultimately sending us to THE most beautiful place I've ever been in my life!
The drive up to Joffre was insanely gorgeous in itself, but even so, we still didn't know what to expect when we arrived at the park. And hollllllly, were we in for a treat! We quickly arrived at the first lake and couldn't believe the color of the water- so blue! A fellow hiker told us that "we hadn't seen nothing yet" and urged us to keep going to the second and third if we had time. We had to drive all the way back down to Vancouver that evening, so we booked it to the second lake and whoa, whoa, whoa, talk about amazing! Really and truly breathtaking. I had seen photos of the area before but nothing did it justice- it was just such a treat to be in such natural beauty, and if you are ever in this area please do yourself a favor and visit this park.
We spent a bit of time exploring (and walking out on a log!) then halfway ran back down the mountain to make it to our car to head down to Vancouver. I don't remember how long the drive took, maybe a few hours, but it went quickly and like I said above, the excursion up north was absolutely worth it. When it was all said and done, that day and hike was one of the major highlights of the trip for me.
I had visited Vancouver just a couple weeks prior for work, but even so, driving into the city as the sun was starting to set was magical. Between that first trip and this one, Vancouver totally stole my heart- it's just such a special place and I wanted to cry as we began to enter the city again just from feeling so lucky and grateful to be there again.
We checked into our Airbnb (get $20 off your first booking here), got settled, showered the long day away, and got ready to head out for the night. We met up with some friends and had the most delicious dinner at Cactus Club. I think it's a rule that all wine and food taste a hundred times better after lots of physical exertion. I think between the run and hike we totaled about 11 miles for the day so everything was extra delicious. Brenda and I got a few things off of the appetizer menu, then also split a big salad and the butter fish. It was all excellent. Afterward we visited a few bars in Yaletown, but still called it pretty early with the half looming over us. At that point I was having a tiny bit of race anxiety and feeling nervous- in my ideal world I would have gone to bed every night at 9pm in the week leading up to Seawheeze, but obviously that wasn't happening and I was starting to feel a tiny bit stressed. But I managed to quiet my brain and finally get some sleep, even with the excitement of Seawheeze Day 1 starting the next morning.
The next day (Friday) we woke up super early and headed down to get our race packets. Brenda and I initially wanted to wait in line to get into the Lululemon Runner Store but after waiting for a bit decided to skip out and go explore the city. We ended up randomly walking into The Elbow Room Cafe and unfortunately we did NOT read the rules beforehand. If you've been there before you'll know exactly what I'm talking about and our server eventually had to say "Ladies, have you been here before?!" with a wink on the side. We worked it out, got a delicious meal, and happily went on our way. ;)
The rest of the day went by so quickly, fueled by nerves. Although I knew I would do just fine the next morning my stomach was still in knots thinking about the race. When I used to run track and play soccer competitively I would feel the same way- and even though being nervous isn't always fun, I kind of liked it this time around because how often are we as adults able to really experience these types of emotions? Pretty neat. We capped the night off with yoga at the convention center and it was one of the best yoga experiences I've ever, ever had. Reno from Dharma Yoga Vancouver led hundreds of us in one big yoga/meditation practice, and it was incredibly powerful. Alana, Bren and I were all moved emotionally in one way or another. It's hard to find the words to describe it- but it was really, really awesome. So post-yoga we headed to bed around 10pm, prepared to wake up EARLY the next morning...and we attempted to get some rest.
When our alarms went off at 5am we all hopped out of bed- adrenaline was already pumping. I had a some Ezekial toast and almond butter with a banana on top, and the girls and I headed down to catch a cab to the Convention Center, where the race would start. When we arrived the energy was palpable- there was a huge warm up being led outside and there were athletes stretching in every corner of the place, inside and out. Time flew by and suddenly, Alana and I were lined up in our wave, Brennie up at hers. I thought I would run it in 2 hours 30 minutes, so that's the pace we chose (I'll talk more about this in tomorrow's post). Each wave before us went, and then we were up! The music was pumping, people were cheering...3, 2, 1, GO!
The entire 13.1 miles went by quickly. I cannot say enough great things about the course itself. People cheering, encouraging you, runners high fiving each other, it was THE most positive athletic experience I've ever been a part of. And so much fun, you guys. I cried a few times while running, just thinking about how thankful I was that my body was able to do something like this, that my family was able to make this happen for me through helping out with the boys, and that I was there, in Vancouver, with two of my best friends doing something so so rad. It was truly overwhelming.
I finished the race in record time for myself- 2:02:32. About 30 minutes faster than I estimated, which was both exhilarating and shocking. I felt great the entire time and I think that's why I was so emotional when I finished- I never doubted I could do it, but when I CRUSHED my goal and did it feeling so so positive and good about it- that was just the best feeling in the world. When the girl at the finish line put that adorable carrot medal around my neck I could have kissed her! I was SO excited and happily overwhelmed.
Once the girls and I found each other, did a little victory dance, high fiving and hugging, we got in line for the post-run massage. One of the neatest things about the entire Seawheeze experience was all of the details Lulu put into everything. From the little "Runner's Reward" from Saje to Sunset Yoga to things like post-run massages and chiro tune-ups, there were surprises every single day of the event. And oh my gosh, was the massage GOOD!
For our post-run meal we went and had Pho (my first time trying it) and it was the perfect way to cap off the afternoon. We followed it up with some rest, showers and got ready for what turned out to be one of the best parts of the whole weekend- the Sunset Festival!
Seawheeze's motto is "Run. Yoga. Party" and that's exactly what you do. Run your heart out, yoga a ton, and then end it all with a concert in Stanley Park with 10,000 new, likeminded friends on a perfect Vancouver summer night. This year the Sunset Festival began with a yoga session led by Alex Mazerolle, followed by three bands: Bear Mountain, Yeasayer, and St. Lucia. Such a great lineup. We ate, we drank, we danced all night...the perfect end to an unbelievable weekend.
To wrap up this incredibly long post I just have to say what an EXPERIENCE Seawheeze was. I feel like I could go on and on about it, and there were so many things I didn't even mention. But all in all, this was a transformative weekend where I left feeling on top of the world and that feeling has seeped into every aspect of my life. What a beautiful thing to have a goal and achieve it, with your friends right alongside you. I feel so so thankful.
And before we get to the photos, be sure to check out the video below- isn't it AMAZING? This really gives you a feel for what an incredible experience it was. Sign up for next year is September 16th. We're going to try to run it again, if we're able to register...and I hope you'll join us!
Also, tomorrow I'll be sharing my playlist I listened to throughout the run, as well as more on the course and my training in general, so stay tuned for that! xoxo