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Seawheeze 2018

Posted by gck Wednesday, October 24, 2018 0 comments

Goal Achieved?
A < 2:15 yes!
B < 2:25 (new PR) yes
C finish without injury



September 22, 2018
Vancouver, BC, Canada
Official time: 2:13:47


Somehow, the Seawheeze Half Marathon entered my radar around the time of the lottery, and Sandy, Don, and I decided to enter. Don and I were already scheduled to run The Great Ferry Race in July, but Sandy was adamantly sticking to her plan to never run a half marathon again, so she entered the lottery but was praying to the Lottery Gods that she wouldn’t get in. She did not get in. Don and I did. Then Sandy was sad. Fortunately, the Lottery Gods saw her sadness and gave her a spot… but not until mid-August, with approximately one month to train.

My half marathon PR was set on my first half marathon, at 2:25. I’ve definitely improved as a runner since then, and I’d run four other half marathons, but none of them were PR races, due to some combination of factors: lack of training, hilly course, being sick, and/or running at someone else’s pace. Seawheeze was pretty ideal for a PR: flat course, I could run my own race, and I was already running a half marathon less than 3 months earlier, so I’d be prepared for the distance. I just needed to be consistent with my training and make sure I was in good running shape.


McMillan Running was offering a free month of training plans right as I was getting started on this cycle, so I signed up, plugged in some numbers, and came out with a plan… that I barely followed for a week before giving up. Instead, I fell back on my normal strategy of “winging it.”

“Winging it” ideal: Increasing long runs on the weekends, plus some short runs during the week.
”Winging it” during hiking season: Hike all weekend. Find some weekday to squeeze the poor long run in. Maybe run during the week.

My training log (teal = short run, blue = long run, red = race)

Any “real runner” would roll their eyes at me running a half marathon on ~12mpw, but this was actually a bit of an improvement for me over my past training cycles. Not shown are a large number of hiking miles, which were good for endurance and leg strength. I also struggled with being sick for some time in my training and a few weeks of very poor air quality due to forest fires on the West coast. I don’t have treadmill access, so on days where the air was dangerous, I didn’t run.

Going in to the run, I felt very good about my ability to complete the distance. What I was uncertain about was how fast I’d be able to do it. The calculators were telling me that I should be able to run <2:15 if properly trained… but was I properly trained?

The Race

It’s been awhile since I’ve run an out-of-town race, and I was a little worried about how things were going to go race day. Normally at home, I’d properly hydrate the night before and then wake up early on race day to get water and a good breakfast in well before the start. I managed the hydration just fine, and breakfast was a combination of leftovers from dinner the night before and an energy bar. I did have to do one last minute restroom stop right before race time, which of course is the worst time for lines. I passed by a set of portapotties with a line that didn’t seem like it would end before the race started, and fortunately there was a set with no lines right by the corrals.

The Start

The 2:15, 2:20, and 2:25 pacers were all in the same corral, and they were lined up almost side by side before the race started, so Sandy, Don, and I all ended up finding each other and waiting together. I thought I’d been cutting it close with my bathroom trip 5 minutes before the race started, but it ended up taking probably 30 minutes for our corral to get to the start line. By this point, the corral had shifted from movement and other people jumping in that the pacers were quite a bit ahead of us.

Don and I said bye to Sandy right away and took off running after the 2:15 pacers, which made for a pretty fast mile 1. I was used to running this pace on my short runs, so it felt great. Don didn’t like it quite as much. From that point on, I stayed with the pacers the rest of the race, though I realized pretty quickly that I took way longer than they did at aid stations, so I’d speed up as we approached one to buy myself some time, then catch up with the pacers afterwards. At some point, probably around when we hit a long hill, Don fell behind, and he said he could still see the pacers for awhile but was never able to catch up again.

Rainy, but still scenic

The course was a nice, pretty tour of Vancouver. It was fun to see Granville Island and run around Stanley Park on the Seawall. The race did a great job of getting unique and enthusiastic cheer stations to keep us all energized: people cheering on spin bikes (they looked like they were working harder than I was!), drag queens, mermaids, musicians, police officers, and more. I didn’t take too many pictures because it was raining for a good part of the race, but there are plenty of other race reports on the internet that have good photos.

My energy levels felt really good until about mile 9. For the first half of the race, I was even questioning if I could push harder to go for a 2:10 finish. I had half a pack of Clif Bloks in my shorts and I ate them one at a time, starting around mile 6. This was my first time consuming non-liquids during a race, and it worked really well – in fact, I wish I had more. The last few miles, especially once I got past my training maximum of 11.5 miles, were a slog. It was made worse by a misplaced mile marker around mile 10 that made it feel like the longest mile ever. Then at the finish line, it seemed like people were saying “only .1k further” for at least half a mile! But I knew during this struggle that I had my A goal in the bag, and I just needed to win the mental battle to finish the race. I pulled away from the pacers near the finish line (at the halfway point, I’d imagined running a fast last mile, but by the time I got there, my legs were not interested) and crossed at 2:13:47!

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Me and two of the 2:15 pacers (photo credit: pamcakes_ontherun), Seawheeze medal

The pacers (“pace beavers” cuz Canada) really made the race more fun for me. It was my first time running with pacers, and not only was it helpful to have someone keeping me on track with my pace, they were also talking to us and cheering (“You, you, you, race, race, race! We, we, we, pace, pace, pace!”). One of them even Skyped his dad, showed him the race scenery, and had us all sing him happy birthday!


After I finished, Shawn congratulated me, and I got in a very long line for my swag and brunch box and started checking the live tracker to see where the others were. Don finished not far behind me, and Sandy was on track for a massive PR. I kept refreshing the tracker, waiting for her to hit the last checkpoints, and she made it! She didn’t expect it at all, especially with her short training period.

At the Sunset Festival. We are too old for Diplo.

It’s been awhile between the race and me writing up this report, so I’ve had some time to process. I was riding a post-race high for some time… I’d forgotten how good it can feel to race for time and run well. I was on top of my nutrition and hydration, and I ran a pretty smart, steady race. I did feel that despite my tiredness towards the end, I could have finished a little faster, since I had expended extra energy speeding up at the beginning of the race and at each aid station, but I wouldn’t have changed that for this race. I’m also thinking, for the first time ever, that a 2:00 half marathon may be within my reach. Not now, but at some point, with a higher training volume. Kinda scary! I’m sure the time will come again, but getting faster at road races isn’t a goal for me right now. I took less than a week off running and then launched into my next cycle: training for a trail 25k!

(official time was 1s off from the tracker)
My pace sure looks good in km!