Arrival at the Convention Centre
Up with the sun rising on the city, before the rest of the SeaWheezers woke up – well everyone but those who had spent all night in line for the SeaWheeze Shop – it was time to have a quick shower, grab a coffee and meet Heather at her hotel before we head over to the Convention Centre for the first full day of action. Having packed the night before I quickly got ready and hit-up Tim Horton’s on route, coffee was a must this morning and I have to say I had a tiny bit of nerves mixed in with my excitement ahead of meeting all of the other Pace Beavers.
Arrival at the Beaver Dam
The Beaver Dad would be our home for the next two days, it was the home base for all of the Pace Beavers where we could leave our stuff and spend time connecting with one another in between events throughout the day. As we walked through the Convention Centre the anticipation set in as I was about to meet all of the folks I would be sharing this incredible adventure with over the next few days. We were greeted with hugs, smiles & laughter from Amie, Linda and Jonathan, the day was FINALLY here! Being one of the first Pace Beavers here we took some time to get settled, try to figure out the ever important wi-fi password and grab some Vega Snacks! Before we knew it the other Pacers had started to arrive and the room was full of people connecting with one another, it was like Family Reunion, but the fun part was that very few of us had met each other IRL before. Folks from all over North America and one as far as New Zealand, this was the day that so many of us had been waiting for as we officially were kicking off the start of this amazing weekend that was ahead of us. But time was short, before we knew it we’d be hitting up the SeaWheeze Shop, getting ready for the Shakeout Run and picking up our Race Kits as we checked out the events at the Race Expo.
The Infamous SeaWheeze Expo Shop
If you know anything about SeaWheeze, you’ve probably heard about the infamous shop that is part of the Expo which features apparel from lululemon available only at the race. Cue the crazy lines of both runners and lulu lovers who can’t wait to get their hands on this limited merchandise, this year was no exception as people started lining up at 12pm on Thursday when the store didn’t open until 7am on Friday! It’s downright crazy, it’s a bit unfortunate to as many in line are people who just want to purchase their maximum 15 items to then turn around and sell time for 3x the mark-up online. I was lucky enough to get into the store, Heather and I had a plan and I had a spending limit as I didn’t need everything, but I did want a few special pieces to remember this experience. I have to say the shop was merchandized very well, large gold balloons indicated where you could find each size in the store – btw the store was HUGE – and they had everything from run tops, to scuba hoodies, bags, to socks, pants to shorts and head bands to bras. It would have been very easy to want one of everything, so I strategically pulled the items I was interested in (Scuba hoodie, two pairs of capris, a few shirts, a run jacket, water bottle, socks and a backpack) before trying them on in the middle of the expo versus opting for the communal change room. There were some things happening in the Store which are worth mentioning to you for a laugh: (1) The woman who had over 30 bags in a pile on the floor which I thought was actually a display, she was not pleased, (2) People bartering with each others for items they didn’t yet own, (3) Folks walking up to you asking if they could have an item that you were holding on to. Tag-team effort with Heather was a success and we left happy and ready for the shake-out run!
SeaWheeze Shakeout Run
It’s 8am on the day before the big race, what were you doing?! After a quick snap of the Pace Beaver Crew together for the first time – one of numerous crew group shots over the next few days – it was time for us all to hit Jack Poole Plaza where we would meet up with lots of eager SeaWheezers at the Digital Orca to hit the pavement along the Seawall for a short shakeout run. The weather on this morning was STUNNING – the perfect amount of sun, heat and a size sea breeze making it a beautiful run along one of me favourite routes. With folks running alongside each other from all over the country and continent it was a great opportunity to connect with new faces who had arrived in the city for the race. Of course if there was no group picture taken, it didn’t happen, so checkout the snap above of the excited crew in front of the Digital Orca ready to get their run on!
Expo Fun & Kit Pick-up With the Tribe Fitness Family
After the Shakeout Run it was time to meet-up with some of the other Tribe Fitness family – Nancy, Ravi & Kim – who had arrived and were ready to start this party! We took a moment to swing into one of the photo booths to capture some family fun before we were off to pick-up our race kits in the Convention Centre.
Entering from Jack Poole Plaza we were able to see many of the folks still lined-up to get into the Expo Store as we found our spot in the Kit Pick-up line. Entering the BDF Line aka Big F***ing Deal line we had an opportunity to take in some of the other displays of the Expo including The Five Year Club wall. This wall lists the name of every person who has attended SeaWheeze since it’s first year in 2011, it’s pretty incredible to see all of the names and quite the accomplishment for anyone who has their name listed on the wall.
Kit Pick-up was smooth and efficient, we provided our last name which was typed into an iPad, our kit was retrieved, we were fitted with our SeaWheeze wristband and it was time to get back to the festivities! While I didn’t capture a snap of what was in the SeaWheeze Race Kit I did borrow this photo from fellow runner Barbara to give you a glimpse of what was included! It’s a fantastic kit, considering it includes the bag, sunglasses and a SeaWheeze Edition water bottle – stay tuned for a post this week where I chat more about what was included in the SeaWheeze race kit!
Meet Your Beaver
After a bit of time at the Expo and catching up with the crew it was time for the Pace Beavers to suit up and hit the Plaza for a new event for 2016 SeaWheeze – Meet Your Beaver! This event was an exciting addition to the Expo line-up, it was something the Pace Beavers were very excited about and it was something that had been asked of lululemon in the race feedback from previous years. Meet Your Beaver was an opportunity for all of the Pace Beavers to be available on the Plaza to connect with racers, pass out Pace Bracelets and answer any questions. The 2:40 Pace Crew was excited and ready to meet some of the racers over the next hour and a half!
As soon as we were out on the Plaza people were quickly approaching us to start making introductions and asking us questions, I was in my elements enjoying every moment as I saw folks I had met earlier in the week, along with new faces who would be running along side of us tomorrow! Tons of great questions, lost of pace bracelts handed out, a TON of laughs, lots of dancing and a few akward tank top tans lines later we were in the final minutes of the first ever Meet Your Beaver event. Truly, this event was one of my favourite things about the SeaWheeze weekend, it was so fantastic to connect with all of these runners both first timers and returning to hear about their goals, put their minds at ease and share with them the fun that the 2:40 Pace Crew had in store for them tomorrow. That was our primary role as Pace Beavers, to support the runners, to make sure that no matter what the whole 21.1km is unforgetable and they cross that finish line feeling nothing but pure joy!
Yoga at the Plaza
With a short break mid afternoon between Meet Your Beaver and our Safety Training I wanted to make sure I took this opportunity to stay hydrated, well fuelled, stretched out and rested. You’ve probably read in my previous posts that I was very conscious of what I was eating once I had arrived in Vancouver, pacing a race is a responsibility and I wanted to ensure I didn’t eat anything weird that would throw my GI into a tail spin before the race. Along with eating balanced wholesome meals it was extremely important for me to consume a good amount of water leading up to the race, the weather in Vancouver very hot for this time of year, with a high humidity. With the break this afternoon I opted to attend half of a yoga class at Jack Poole Plaza with a few of the other Pace Beavers. If you are ever at SeaWheeze going to one of the free yoga classes is a MUST – it’s a combination of the view, the energy and practicing alongside hundreds of other yogi/runners united in this hour of community and being present.
After yoga I was off to find some more water, a hearty/healthy lunch in the neighbourhood that would refuel me + keep me fuelled until our late dinner and take a bit of time in the Beaver Dam to just chill. It’s easy to get caught up in all of the amazing thing that the SeaWheeze Expo has to offer – hair braiding, glitter tattoos, free yoga, Saje aromatherapy lounge, Vega fuel truck – and I had managed to check most of it out in speedy fashion. But now was prime time to catch a tiny bit of quite, get to know a few more Pace Beavers and charge-up my phone before the afternoon + evening of events were upon us.
After a quick break for lunch, an opportunity to get changed and recharged the Pace Beaver crew was back together and ready for more action to prep for tomorrow’s race! Our Safety Meeting starting by us all sitting with our Pace Crew, once things got underway the Race Director – Jordan Myers – paid us a visit to give us some tips, insight and encouragement for race day. It was something special to hear from the Race Director, as he explained to us changes to the race this year, his favourite spots on the course and a little bit of background on what his crew would be up to that evening to finalize everything for 7am tomorrow morning. Next we took some time to get to know each other as each Pace Crew introduced themselves and which city they were hailing from, apparently no one really know what The Six is I learned. After Heather announced that she was from Toronto, I thought it would be funny to say I was from The Six. I got a 50% laughs and 50% confusion, either way it made me memorable!
Safety Training complete, it was time for us to discuss amongst our Pace Beaver Crews who would be (1) responsible for time, (2) responsible for safety and (3) who would be floating amongst the pace group. Lisa, Rachel and I had figured out the key roles, but we also had a few tricks up our sleeves for the 2:40 crew – Lisa would be our Chief of Music running the whole race with her portable speaker in her waistband bringing the dance beats for all to enjoy, Rachel our pro-pacer would keep track of time, keep the crew updated with pacing & carry our 2:40 pace time flag and I would be the Curator of Epic Selfies as I ready to run the whole race with a selfie stick to capture the best moments so that those racing didn’t have to worry about capturing all of the action on the sidelines. The pick below is of me and the two INCREDIBLE woman I had the gift of running along side and spending 2 days with! Don’t worry there is much more to share about these two women and it’s so epic that I’m dedicating a whole blog post to it!
Off to the SSC
Pace Beaver Training complete it was time to board our luxury coach bus for the lululemon SSC for more adventures! On the bus ride over we all got a chance to continue to connect with each other, our Pace Beaver from New Zealand passed around some tasty treats and Lisa treated us to the ULTIMATE Vancouver history tour that you can’t find anywhere else. It was pretty incredible to have so many passionate leaders in one place and we were all very excited to see what was in store for us at the SSC! A few more prep meetings for race day and we were all ready to sit down, relax, enjoy each others company over some food + drink! A social was the perfect setting for us to take a bit of time to gather together, collect our thoughts on this incredible day and really spend some time getting to know one another and the role that each of us have taken on in our local community. It’s certainly something special to be in a room surrounded by SO many movers and shakers in the fitness spaces, folks who are passionte about fostering their community and creating accesible opportunities for fitness for those within their city.
Pre-Race Carb Load Dinner With Tribe Fitness Fam
All of the SeaWheeze activities aside I came to Vancouver as part of a family, my run family with Tribe Fitness. This day would not be complete without a dinner alongside these incredible folks that I call my second family and the reason that I find myself on the west coast for the second time this year. We had arranged to have dinner at Per Se Social in Yaletown, everyone made an effort to be there so that we could all spend some time celebrating getting to this point, enjoying some laughs and carb loading before tucking away to prepare for tomorrow. Nervous about my tummy ahead of tomorrow I opted to continue to stick to water and ask the waiter if the kitchen could prep something simple for me. While there were a lot of amazing sounding items on the menu, many contained a lot of dairy + cheese, while these are two of my favourite things, they are also two things I try to stray from ahead of race because it can be risky for me. With that the kitchen did not fail me, they prepped a fantastic Spaghetti Bolognese, the perfect amount of carbs balanced with protein. Honourable mentions of adventures at the dinner table with this crew: Mark ordering the kettle chip towers x2 (it was SO much food and we barely put a dent in them), the muscle man rolling pizza dough/working the bar/busing tables who we found out was actually the the manager and of course the many moments of laughter together that filled the table throughout our meal.
It was at this moment where everything started to hit me, and truthfully I’m getting emotional as I sit here writing this. Here I as sitting with fifteen people who had become such an important part of my life, people who not matter what was going on in the past year were always there for me, people who had become a second family and supported me unconditionally as I chased some crazy goals. It made my heart feel twice as big and my eyes misty, this community that Heather has created is something truly special and I am SO SO grateful to have found this Tribe, my Tribe. Sharing these experience with all of them is something that I will not forget and the memories just keep coming.
Prep for Race Day
A lot can happen in the course of 16 hours, and with that I was back at my AirBnB to capture my flat runner/kit lay down for race day tomorrow, consume a bit more water and try to get to bed at a semi-acceptable time to be up at 4:30am in just a few hours. The day was a whirlwind and I hope I’ve done it justice in summarizing it because it took me a while to put together the memories and moments into words to convey to you all. The Race Day is also a process to write, it’s finally all sinking in as I put down everything that happened into words, but at the same time I’m glad I’ve posted once a week over the past few months to share this experience, it’s given me time to reflect on it all so that I can share it with you all in the best way that I can!
Race Day Kit Lay Down & A sampling of the items I picked up at the SeaWheeze Expo