by Chris McClung
It has taken me a few months to gather my thoughts on our amazing weekend at the SeaWheeze Half Marathon in Vancouver in mid-August. I tried to write this blog on the plane home but simply couldn’t do it. There were so many emotions and thoughts running through my head, and I couldn’t seem to shape them into words.
So, I asked the runners from our group to share their thoughts, and they said it best anyway:
“While I do love the big, competitive races, I was blown away by the spirit of Seawheeze. No clocks or timing mats or age group places…just a celebration of movement, fitness, spirit, health. It was a nice change of pace.” – Francie
“SeaWheeze was more than an event, it was a movement. It brought together people from all across the world to of course run a half marathon; but more than that, SeaWheeze brought people together to connect. It gave us ways to hug complete strangers, play games as children and reap the innocence of fitness in the scape of nature’s wisdom.“ – B
“This experience changed my confidence as a runner. When my sister stopped running with me and I started to “train” by myself I felt defeated and didn’t realize that I had convinced myself that I was just not a strong runner and that maybe I shouldn’t run anymore. This experience retaught me how important training with others is and that running is a process that I need to maintain to see true growth. I was proud to be a part of Rogue, proud to be included in the Austin group that descended upon Vancouver, and proud to run alongside my close friends and watch them achieve something they had never thought they could do.” – Natasha
“I think what blew me away more than anything about the Rogue SeaWheeze group is the sense of family that came to pass. I joined the group because I needed a breath of fresh air on my runs. I needed a little challenge and shake up. Our SeaWheeze group gave all of that along with such excitement for the grand finale on August 10th. With Jenn leading the way as our inspirational and forever motivating coach, we made this pact to travel together to a new place, run a course we had never seen and embrace this crazy adventure, and through all of this became not only Tuesday night running group, but it became a bunch of friends who ran and worked hard together. I felt proud to be a part of such an amazing group of people who were all different and wonderful and who were all connected by a love of running.” – Christa
“First of all, the SeaWheeze was my very first half marathon. Before that Saturday, I had never run 13 miles in my life. The race itself was such an incredible feeling, but the work I put into accomplishing this goal was everything to me. At the end of the race, I was truly speechless. My friend from Austin was there cheering me on, and I honestly could not muster up any words. And now, I am choking up again. The SeaWheeze saved me. I am no longer depressed. I like to go outside. I am actually behind on my favorite TV shows. I smile everyday and often. I don’t feel awkward anymore. I am running faster and faster. And I am already planning my next race and running adventure!” – Yarly
“It didn’t hit me until afterwards what I had done. I went from not being able to run, to running a half marathon, in less than a year. This experience changed me. I am now a runner. I am now one of those people that I marveled at my first day at the Rogue Lemons training back on that hot August afternoon. I met so many amazing people through this experience. Some I knew, some I didn’t, but they knew me. It was those people that made this experience that much better. This experience taught me that no matter what problem or goal I have, I could solve or achieve it. I remember talking with some of Team Rogue Saturday night. I remember one of them asking me if I considered running a marathon. If there is one thing that I can walk away with from this, it’s that anything is possible. “ – Daniel
“In the end, the team camaraderie was the most remarkable result. People connected, supported each other, bonded with a shared experience and became friends. They inspired and encouraged each other. Truly remarkable. The biggest highlight for me — joining Chris & Rob at the finish line and cheering runners in. There’s nothing better than seeing people’s joy (& relief) at conquering a big goal! The entire experience inspired me. SeaWheeze is unique and extraordinary.” – Coach Jenn
To some, those words may seem overdone or cheesy, but I can promise you, they are authentic expressions of what was experienced. It was truly an amazing adventure, an experience that left me wondering and many people asking: “are you doing it again?” and “how do you top that?”
For the first several weeks after the race, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to try. Even though it was an amazing experience and many lives were truly changed, I didn’t want to simply repeat what we did because there is no way to truly re-create the same energy and inspiration. It had to come together with a new, fresh vision.
As I have reflected on my race experience, the memories that bubbled to the front were those moments watching individuals in partnership or in groups help and inspire each other to accomplish their goals.
After my race, I stayed at the SeaWheeze finish line, initially cheering on and running in the Austin runners, but staying to run with, cheer on, and encourage the rest until the last person crossed the line. During those 3.5 hours, I watched friends, partners, family members, spouses, and groups of all backgrounds cross the line together arm in arm and hand in hand. There were so many who were tackling a big goal, and they weren’t doing it alone. As B said, it was about bringing people together to connect and running was the common thread.
Fast-forward to post-trip and the idea of connection and people helping each other in this journey came to life in a crystal clear way, personified by Yung and Kelly. Yung was doing SeaWheeze for fun, having begun his personal fitness transformation a few years prior. He has gone from non-runner to serial, addicted (!) half-marathoner and marathoner, and SeaWheeze for him, was a fun celebration of that transformation (as well as a cool vacation). Kelly was a first-time half marathoner in our group who trained diligently with the store team at lululemon Domain.
Independently, both told me the story of their interaction during the race around mile 9, where Kelly began to struggle and have doubts. When Kelly began to question herself, Yung was there to encourage her and give her the words she needed at that moment to find strength. For Yung, it was inspiring to pay it forward, to celebrate his own journey and transformation by helping someone else with theirs. For Kelly, encouraging words from someone like Yung (who had been there before) were exactly what she needed to dig deep and push through to the finish, accomplishing a goal that she didn’t think was possible just 5 months prior.
Although it may seem like a small thing, their story captures exactly what this race and this journey was all about for me, changing lives and building community through running. With Kelly and Yung (and our entire SeaWheeze team) in mind, I can’t help but be inspired to share a new, bigger vision. I want to take their moment and multiply it a thousand times…. literally.
I want to find, encourage and lead a thousand Yung’s (i.e. experienced half marathoners) who are willing to inspire and mentor a thousand Kelly’s (first-time half marathoners) with the goal of running SeaWheeze 2014 as partners.
And, yes, you are reading that right…. 1,000 + 1,000 = 2,000 people… bonded by big goals, running, inspiration and eventually sweat and tears.
That’s it. It is spoken. Another BHAG thrown down! I have no idea how I am going to do it, but I do know it will be big in Austin AND bigger than Austin.
If you are a Yung, who will be your Kelly? And if you are a Kelly, who will be your Yung?