It sucks when your race doesn’t go as smoothly as you had hoped. It also sucks when you have to share that disappointing result publicly. But seeing that I’ve already crossed over into the realm of humiliating Internet tell-alls (proof here), I’ll just come right out and say it: I finished SeaWheeze with a time of 2:33:33.
With this being my first half-marathon, I wasn’t supposed to have a time goal. The aim was just to finish, and hopefully smile afterwards. In that regard, I succeeded (though the smile had more to do with finally being able to sit down, have some water and take my shoes off). But I feel like I could’ve finished a little faster, so it’s hard not to be a bit mad at myself for it.
Even though I couldn’t sleep from 3:30 a.m. onward, the morning started off amazingly. My prep went smoothly, except for two small hiccups: I lost a toenail the night before (the fifth in the last month—my bad for wearing shoes a half size too small), which made for a pretty tender spot on my right foot. Then, while waiting at the start line, I discovered that somehow all of my music had been deleted off my phone. My trusty “RUN CK RUN” playlist was totally MIA. I didn’t panic because I’d been training without it, but wanted to keep a few pump-up tracks in my back pocket in case I needed a pick-me-up when things got tough (spoiler alert: things got way tough). I quickly signed up for Apple Music and loaded up a preselected Beyoncé workout playlist just in case. Nerves aside, when I took my first step onto the course, I was feeling good.
Now, the best part about this race was that I got to run it with my older sister Stephanie, who lives in Ottawa so I don’t get to see her as often as I’d like. With SeaWheeze being her ninth half, she’s a seasoned pro. During the first glorious 10km, we chatted about what we planned to eat after (me: hash browns, her: fries), shopping plans, and funny signs along the way. A few of my favourites:
-“If Trump can run, so can you!”
-“There’s no time for Walken” with a picture of Christopher Walken, of course
-“Milk was a terrible choice”
-and the punniest signs from a police cheer group: “WANTED at the finish line,” “Donut stop running,” “We won’t arrest you for killing it,” and “Excessive speeding permitted”
We were making good time with the 2:15 pace group, but decided to slow down a bit on the bridge to Kitsilano, an uphill in direct sunlight. I kept telling Steph how good we were doing, and when she started to struggle around 11k, I encouraged her and told her to take a gel to get energy and reset her mind. It worked and she bounced back no problem.
The second half of the run is mostly around Vancouver’s gorgeous Seawall. It’s insanely photogenic, but also a deceptively long stretch. We hit a water station right near the beginning of it, but I accidentally dropped my cup of Nuun energy drink after only the tiniest sip. From there, I was desperately counting down to the next station, which seemed like it would never come. The crowd of supporters also thinned out along the Seawall, leaving me with little distraction from my cramping calves and overheating body temp.
I couldn’t shake the temptation to walk. Steph tried every approach to keep me going, from “You’re doing so well,” to “So, have you hung any of your new art yet?” to “NO, YOU’RE NOT STOPPING.” I fought through it for a few kilometres, but my tiredness eventually got the best of me around the 16 km mark.
I spent the last 5 km of the race alternating between jogging and walking, and feeling a bit miserable, really. I knew that I’d be mad at myself afterwards for taking breaks, but in the moment, couldn’t reason with myself. I eventually forced Steph to leave me behind, and she ended up finishing almost six minutes faster. If I had been a little tougher mentally that day, I think I could’ve done the same.
Still, there’s a lot to be happy about. The SeaWheeze course is one of the nicest ones out there—many running pals told me this in advance, and now I definitely see why. Plus, as the race organizer, Lululemon sets up tons of fun cheer stations, like the aforementioned cops, an outdoor spin class, dancing drag queens, mermaids on the water and more. They also have a pretty wicked after-party, with sunset yoga, live music (Chromeo headlined this year), and local beer. And personally, I’ve done well too (I just need to convince my naturally competitive brain to be content with my 4,967th place finish). In 10 weeks of training, I managed to take myself from a 5k jogger to a half-marathoner—and even left a little room for improvement. Allllll part of the plan.
Catch up with Caitlin:
Caitlin’s Marathon Training Diary — Week 1
Caitlin’s Marathon Training Diary — Week 2
Caitlin’s Marathon Training Diary — Week 3
Caitlin’s Marathon Training Diary — Week 4
Caitlin’s Marathon Training Diary — Week 5
Caitlin’s Marathon Training Diary — Week 6
Caitlin’s Marathon Training Diary — Week 7
Caitlin’s Marathon Training Diary — Week 8
Caitlin’s Marathon Training Diary — Week 9
Caitlin’s Marathon Training Diary — Week 10