When I walked into lululemon at the Domain one early November morning in 2011 to train for my first 5k, I had no idea I would be running my first half-marathon 10 months later in Canada. I’ve never been an athlete or runner, but with the help and support of my amazing coaches, Jennifer Howard Brown and Stephanie Woodruff, and my fellow Rogue Lemon running community (shout out to Kelly, Donna and Christine), I crushed goals I never imagined were even possible.
It was really fate that I happened to see an ad for the inaugural SeaWheeze weekend on the lululemon website and somehow convinced my sister and best friend to join me for the adventure. In true lulu fashion, the event planners thought of every little detail to make sure their li’l SeaWheezers had a fabulous weekend. A training plan equipped with running form videos and pre- and post-run yoga stretching? Check. A SeaWheeze iPhone app for training which then communicated event news the weekend of the race? Check. Care packages in your hotel room? Check.
We drove into Vancouver from Seattle two days before the race so that we could explore the city. This city has something for everyone with its art scene, pubs, shopping, beaches, and mountains. Vancouver is designed for pedestrians and bikers with large, bike lanes and, unlike in Texas, cars actually yield to pedestrians. We didn’t need to hail a cab once during our entire trip.
Pre-race Activities: Friday morning we headed out to pick up our race packets. Instead of bibs we received race bracelets with our names. At first I was a bit disappointed because I knew this meant there wouldn’t be any race photos. But, who wants to use safety pins and cover up your fabulous lulu gear anyway? We also received flip flops from a local store that were designed exclusively for the race. They were perfect for post-race yoga and strolling around Vancouver.
Instead of a traditional race expo with various vendors, there was a SeaWheeze Showcase store which sold an exclusive line of lululemon clothing designed for the race. Think of Target . . . on Black Friday . . . on steroids . . . and you have the lululemon SeaWheeze Showcase store. People were going crazy hoarding clothes and grabbing whatever they could. I snagged a few items and hightailed it outta there to our next stop: The Luon Lounge. The Luon Lounge was a relaxation destination to hang out with other runners while receiving free manicures and massages.
The Race: This was by far the most well-dressed race I have ever seen. Almost everyone was wearing bright lulu gear. We stayed toward the back of the pack in the race corrals. My goal was just to finish the race and have fun. The course was truly breathtaking and took us through downtown Vancouver, across historic Burrard Bridge, past the very first lulu store, and around Stanley Park along the Sea Wall. In addition to views and great conversation with my bestie, there were plenty of cheer stations along the way to give us a burst of energy just when we needed it. I was so entertained during the entire race that I did not even turn on my music! I can’t say that for any other race I’ve participated in before or after SeaWheeze.
Post-race Activities: After the race there was a free brunch and more massages. I was in desperate need of a celebratory beer (like most Rogues) so we chose to have an early lunch at a pub near the finish line. Later that evening there was a concert with the band FUN and yoga on the beach. I heard really great things about both events, but we chose to do a little shopping, sunset watching, and celebrate our sweet victory instead.
When I look back on the weekend half a year later, what I remember most about that weekend was the air of excitement and positivity that permeated the entire weekend. I think we all knew we were fortunate enough to be a part of the start of something big. And spending a weekend with two of the most wonderful women in my life exploring a fantastic city? It was an epic weekend indeed. I signed up for SeaWheeze 2013 the day registration opened.
Whether you’re challenging yourself to your first half-marathon or shooting for a new PR, the SeaWheeze isn’t just another race. It’s an unforgettable weekend filled with ocean-side yoga, the chance to explore the amazing city of Vancouver, and memory-making to last a lifetime. So why don’t you join us this summer in Vancouver? I promise you won’t regret it.
If you’d like to be part of our mission to take 150 Austinites to SeaWheeze, please email firstname.lastname@example.org ASAP. The race is expected to sell out very soon and we want to take you with us!
— Alyssa Sparks started running with the Rogue Lemons in Oct. 2011 building up to her first 5k, 10k and half marathon. She just set a new PR at the 3M Half Marathon.