VANCOUVER DAY 5 – AUGUST 13TH AKA RACE DAY!

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Fitting that I would publish this post the evening before registration for the 2017 SeaWheeze Race happens tomorrow. I want to preface this by saying that I truly wanted to share my experience of the race day through a selection of the OVER 400 pictures that I snapped over the pre-race warm-up, 21.2km with the 2:40 pace crew and post race shenanigans. I’ve tried to keep the writing to a minimum and let the photos speak for themselves as I feel that they truly embody the excitement and spirit of the day! If you have any question please reach out to me, I’m happy to answer and if you’d like to see more of the day in photos you can check out the album on Facebook here.

Our Pace Crew had one thing in mind for race day and that was to make sure that EVERY single runner in the 2:40 pace crew had a memorable experience! That being said Rachel (our professional pacer extraordinare) would be ensuring that everyone was on track in both km and miles! Lisa (our experienced Pace Beaver guru) was going to be our mobile DJ, with over 2 hours of music curated from every genre imaginable she was ready to rock and keep everyone pumped with beats for the whole race! And last but not least me (resident photographer & selfie taker) was armed with my iPhone and bright pink selfie stick to ensure that a moment of action was not missed to help folks enjoy the race and not worry so much about taking a picture of every amazing thing that lululemon had planned for the duration of the 21.1km!

Raceday Prep Traditions

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Picture #1: Sunrise over Jack Poole Plaza, Picture #2: My pre-race meal prep the night before

It was hard to believe that it really was the morning of SeaWheeze when I awoke at 4:30 in the morning on Saturday! I had packed most of my gear the night before, laid out my kit on the desk of my AirBnb room and packed my standard pre-race meal (a white role or sandwich bread with peanut butter, it has never failed me). I got suited up, grabbed another bottle of water and started working at my breakfast as I headed down the block to meet Heather so that we could head over the to the Convention Centre to drop our bags, gather up the rest of the Pace Beaver Crew and head out to the Digital Orca for the pre-race warm-up led by a few of the Pace Beavers!

The Route

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SeaWheeze 21.1 route

It’s not the best shot but I wanted to give you an overview of the route for the SeaWheeze Race, you can view the larger sized image here thanks for the folks at Forerunner. If you’re looking for a race that allows you to see every incredible view that Vancouver has to offer, this is the race! Starting in downtown Vancouver you spend the first 5km working your way through the east side of the city heading over to False Creek. After a brief jaunt through False Creek it’s time to tackle the Burrard Bridge for the first of two passes as you head down into picturesque Kitsilano for a bit of time running along the beach before you loop back up past the lululemon SSC to tackle the Burrard Bridge for round two as you make your way towards English Bay. Taking a scenic flat section through English Bay runners make their way towards Stanley Park where they will tackle the remaining majority of the race milage as they follow the path that wraps around this stunning gem of Vancouver. Finding your way back to the downtown waterfront, runners finish the last 1km of the race as they pound the pavement along the harbour that leads them back to the the Convention Centre and of course the FINISH LINE!

Pre-Race Warmup at the Digital Orca + Sunrise

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It’s true what they say, the early bird does get the best and we were spoiled on the morning of the race with an incredible sunset to welcome everyone to the Digital Orca at Jack Poole Plaza for the kick-off to the day with a warm-up led by a few of the Pace Beavers. What started out as a small crowd quickly grew into thousands as we stretched, jumped, cheered and pumped-up for the race that was just an hour from starting!

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Picture #1: Pace Beavers getting organized on the plaza, Picture #2: Pre-race Warm up

Heading to the Starting Line

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Picture #1 & #2: Moving on mass to the the SeaWheeze start line!

Warm-up complete and excitement in HIGH gear it was time for us to assemble into our pace groups and make our way to the starting line corrals. Rachel led the the way with our big yellow sign proudly held high for folks to gather around us and find their spot before the festivities got underway.

Corral Pictures & Pre-Race Pep Talk

Finding our spot in the corrals it was time for the 2:40 Pace Beavers to get to know everyone a little bit better while we waited for our moment to cross the starting line. Introducing each other by name, sharing what each of our roles would be over the next few hours and encouraging each and every runner to enjoy everyone moment we all joined together to get to know each other. We asked everyone to introduce themselves to two folks they didn’t know and hoped that everyone would take time during the race to motivate one another while we did our best to make sure they were having fun. Pictures we being snapped every second, final hair fixes, shoe lace checks and nerve shakeouts were going down. The Saje crew was there providing pre-race roller ball applications – which was AMAZING – and I have to say that having them roll some Peppermint Halo on my back pre-race certainly helped in reducing my upper back soreness during the race.

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Picture #1: Official 2:40 Pace Beaver picture, Picture #2: Andrea & I before her first 1/2!

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Picture #1 & Picture #2: the 2:40 Pace Crew during our pep talk

I have to say I was very impressed with the enthusiasm from the 2:40 pace crew for selfie love before we even crossed the starting line, the picture on the right below embodies this perfectly as there are lots of excited runners pumped and ready to get things under way!

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Picture 1: 2:40 Pace Beavers all smiles pre-race, Picture: #2: 2:40 Pace Crew ready to rock!

Ready, Set, Run!

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SeaWheeze starting line approach

Without waiting a moment longer is was the 2:40 Pace Group’s turn to cross over the starting line and start this epic 21.km adventure together. There were a lot of emotions for all of us as we approached the starting line, this was a journey 11 months in the making for all of these runners, they committed to the training and for a large majority in our pace crew it would be their first half marathon. There is a lot of a responsibility as a Pace Beaver, that set in at the starting line for the three of us as we knew that this race was not about us personally, but about supporting hundreds and thousands of women + men have an INCREDIBLE time over the next two hours and forty minutes while we supported them towards the finish line that they had been working so hard to cross over.

1KM – 5KM: Downtown, to the East Side, into False Creek

The race kicked off and we slowly made our way through the first kilometer as the pack of runners spread out and everyone fell into their cadence for the first stretch of the race. Spirts were high, beats were on and the 2:40 pace crew was ready to go!

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Picture #1 & Picture #2: Making our way through downtown Vancouver to the East side

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Picture #1: Check-in selfie at 1km marker, Picture #2: On our way through the East side

As we neared the 2km pace marker we could see something ahead of the viaduct, out in the distance was an incredible site as we came upon the Ride Cycle Club cheer station! These folks realy outdid themselves with two stacked levels of riders on spin bikes, music blaring and people cheering + sweating everywhere!

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2km marker

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Picture #1: Heading towards False Creek, Picture #2: Regroup post Water Station 1

As we approached the first Water Station we slowed the 2:40 crew to a walk, allowed everyone to grab some water, take a breather and level their heart rate before we picked it up to a run again! Coming past the casino we saw the first set of race signs along the route – see picture below – and we also were cheered on by some of Vancouver’s Police and Fire Departments!

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The best signs along the route!

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Picture #1 & #2: Taking in some of the scenery along False Creek

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Picture #1: False Creek, Picture #2: some of the epic signage along the route

SO SO SO MANY opportunities to snap pictures along the way, both infront of epic lululemon route signage – as seen in the picture of the YOGA sign above – and opportunitiies to take selfies with some amazing folks running who were either dressed up or carrying something crazy like a pineapple!

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This gal ran the WHOLE race with the pineapple!

5KM – 10KM: False Creek & Kitsilano Loop

After we polished off the first 5km of the course it was time to settle into a bit of a flat section along the waterfront in False Creek before we made our way up the Burrard Bridge and into the beauty that is Kitsilano – one of my favourite spots in Vancouver! Along this part of the route we had some fun snapping a bunch of selfies and it was pretty incredible to have runners come up to me asking to take a picture, I seriously have tons of photos of me with folks from all across the country who I met while we ran this race together.

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Picture #1 & #2: Epic mid-race selfie check-ins with some of the 2:40 pace crew

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Oh hey!

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Picture #1 & #2: Making our way through False Creek to the Burrard Bridge.

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2:40 Pace Beavers feeling fine!

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Picture #1 & #2: tackling the first road hill of the race

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2:40 Pace Crew ready to take on the Burrard Bridge to Kits

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Picture #1 & #2: Working hard together to make it up to the top

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2:40 Pace Crew celebrating their epic climb of the Burrard Bridge into Kits!

I have to say these runners KILLED the Burrard Bridge hill, it’s no easy task to run up this bridge – did I mention that we would be doing it twice! With everyone sticking together, motivating one another and Lisa’s tunes keeping us at a good pace we were going to tackle this together and get it done! And that’s just what the 2:40 pace crew did, there was quite a celebration at the top – as seen in the picture above – not only was everyone glad it was over but it was pretty amazing to see runners high fiving one another and really connceting with the folks around them.

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Picture #1 & #2: Saying hello to the 2:10 Pace Crew + my coach Heather

Already having one opportunity to pass by runners once of the course in False Creek, the Burrard Bridge provided another spot for us to connect with other runners who were a bit further ahead of us! High fives were exchanged, encouragement of cheers and good vibes sent out! There is nothing quite like the ability to cheer on other runners mid-course that allows each group to give one another a much needed push!

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Picture #1 & #2: HELLO Kits!

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Picture #1 & #2: Selfie check-in before we tackle the Burrard Bridge for round two

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Saje Wellness cheer station in Kits

HALF WAY BABY!

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Just past the lululemon SSC marks the halfway point for the race, this was a moment of celebration for the 2:40 pace crew as it was all downhill from here. They had made it to the midway point and now we were going to enjoy every moment as we worked our way towards the finish line together!

11KMish- 15KM: English Bay & Into Stanley Park

We had made it halfway but that also meant that we were gearing up for another go at the Burrard Bridge and we were not going down with out a fight! I vividally remember Call Me Maybe coming on as we were climbing up the bridge, it was difficult but at one moment we all starting singing at the TOP of our lungs! Call us crazy but this is one of the moments from the 2:40 pace crew that I will never forget – arms in the air, singing so loud and not a care in the word – but it helped us get through. Man were we proud of these runners when we creasted the top of the bridge and it was all downhill from here – literally!

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2:40 pace crew coming down the Burrard Bridge for the second time, they did an awesome job!

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To English Bay we go!

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Picture #1: Andrea & I with the mermaids, Picture #2: just a few of the AMAZING volunteers

There is one thing that EVERYONE talks about when they tell you stories from SeaWheeze, that is the unqiue cheer stations that line the route. From local fitness clubs, to brands from the Vancouver community and a few special ones that lululemon puts together including the infamous mermaids. Andrea and I had to stop to snap a shot with the mermaids, it’s almost SeaWheeze tradition to and then we were quickly on our way again with the group. I should also note that not to far down from here in Stanley Park lululemon had hired someone to right a water jetpack and hover over the water, it was CRAZY!

Another important thing that I must note is the number of volunteers that line the route – from Water Stations to Aid Stations, Gel Distribution to Cheer Stations – there are SO many folks that I need to say thank you too, this race would not be the same without the selfless dedication that these folks put in not only at the race but also at the Expo the day before the race and working the Sunset Festival in the evening. THANK YOU!

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Picture #1: 2:40 pace crew selfie check-in, Picture #2: running through English Bay

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Running through English Bay

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Speak Easy themed cheer station

15KM – 20KM: Stanley Park (Siwash Rock, Lion’s Gate Bridge, Lumberman’s Arch), to the Final Stretch

Coming out of English Bay it was time to buckle down and tackle the last 6km of this race. I’ll admit the section through Stanley Park is beautiful but it is a difficult section of the course to run. Not only does it seem to go on forever in some instances but if it’s sunny and hot like it was the day of the race it can get very warm and you need to be mindful of hydrating + trying to stay cool. We worked really hard during this last quarter of the race to keep spirits up, regularly checking in with runners, stopping to ask if someone who had pulled of to the side needed any assistance and reminding everyone that there were almost there. After 11 months the finish line that they had trained so hard to cross was within reach and we were going to get there together! This is where we all needed to DIG DEEP!

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Picture #1: 2:40 pace crew selfie check-in, Picture #2: Siwash Rock

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Picture #1: making our way through Stanley Park, Picture #2: Lion’s Gate Bridge

At Lion’s Gate Bridge there was yet another surprise from the folks of lululemon – they had hired a massive boat and filled it with staff to dance around + cheer for us. If I remember correctly there was a massive hose spraying water off the side of the boat and the party was in full swing! It was pretty funny to run past this and it definetly gave the runners a much needed boost of motivation to power through the remaining kilometers of the race.

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Making our way towards Lumberman’s Arch & the last few kms of the race!

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ivivva Cheer Station in the last kilometer of the race

Final 1.1km

Coming out on the other side of Stanley Park it was time to power it home through the last 1.1km of the race! Slowing down was no option, this is what we were all here for and with one final stretch along the waterfront leading us back to the Convention Centre the finishline was in sight! I don’t have any picture of the final moments of the race, for me this was about supporting runners to the finish, runners who needed to know that they could get to the finish line and that their goal was within reach. It was also a unique opportunity for me as I was running alongside Andrea – one of my Tribe Fitness sole sisters – who was currently nearing the finish line of her first half marathon. Rahcle checked her watch one more time and it was time for the 2:40 pace crew to bring it home! I grabbed Andrea’s hand and it was time to finish what we started!

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Celebrating the fact that we only had 1 more kilometer to go!

Crossing the finish line was something pretty magical – well the whole weekend was magic – but there was something different about SeaWheeze, never have I finished a race where there is so much comradery at the end. Maybe it’s because this race is built on community, but when we finished runners were high-fiving, hugging and congradulating one another. For so many of the runners in this pace group they had just completed their FIRST half marathon and that was truly something to celebrate!

Post Race Shenanigans

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The line-up at Jack Poole Plaza for post race eats & swag

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Picture #1: shot with my new race bling, Picture #2: snacking post race with some Starbucks

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Picture #1: Tribe Fitness family shot with our medals, Picture #2: post-race kit laydown

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