#StayAtHome Virtual Races

It’s been months now since our last in person race, the Los Angeles Marathon on March 8.  I never actually recapped that race, maybe I’ll do it soon.  In any case since that time, like everyone else, we’ve had all of our races cancelled for the year.

So what does a serial racer do?  Sign up for a bunch of virtual races, that’s what!

So what races have I done or signed up for?

The Hot Chocolate 15k/5k became a virtual run so I ran my 5k virtually on the treadmill back in March.  They sent our entire kit to us in the mail so it was just like if we had been there, except no bowl of chocolate at the end ;).  Although I have a feeling it’s not vegan so it’s probably for the best LOL.

They sent us our whole kit with bib, medal, goodie bag sweatshirt & some treats.  I was signed up for the 5k & ended up running a PR race on the treadmill.

Next up was the Aravaipa Strong run in mid April.  I decided to just go for the half marathon & managed to pull out a nice sub 2 half!  It was hard but I did it!!

Then I did the Hood to Coast Movement 10k that started on May 1. I didn’t go too hard on this one but knocked it out the first day as soon as I woke up so it was fun. Photo from the first time we visited Mount Hood ;).

The biggest race/challenge that I signed up for was the Great Virtual Race Across Tennesse 1000k.  Put on by the Laz of the infamous Barkley race.  Around 20,000 runners signed up for this one!!  It started on May 1 and continues until August 31.  I’m on the back end, after 2 months of incredible miles (May: 184 & June: 191) my body needed a break in July.  I think I’m about 150 miles from the finish.

At the end of May, Sean & I did the Aravaipa/Run Steep Get High Limitless Challenge where you pick an mountain that you want to climb to & then go as fast as you can to get there.  We were super lucky having a Nordictrack Incline Treadmill because it goes to 40% incline!  Sean was the overall winner with just over 150,000 ft!!! I was the female & I think overall indoor winner of the Everest level (29,029 ft).  It was a blast and we had such a good time doing this challenge.

You can still sign up for this one as people had such a good time with it that they opened it up for a second summer session.  I will say this was probably the most fun of all the challenges, probably because it was different.

I also signed up for some of the Aravaipa Insomniac Series virtuals in June & July.  In June I did the Hypnosis Dawnbreaker Challenge where I did 5 races over 7 days for a total of 128k!!  I’ve never run that many miles in a week before so it was tough!  I honestly wasn’t sure if I would be able to finish it but I pulled it out & finished the whole thing!

We also did the 100 miles to Auburn run in June to help support the Western States 100 organization.  It was fun and we got a cool buckle for finishing 100 miles.  It was one of those challenges that you can complete over the full month, not necessarily in one run.

In July, I signed up for the Aravaipa Stunner Dawnbreaker challenge as well but when it came time to actually run last week, I was burnt out and not at all excited about it.  I ended up only running one of the 4 races, the 12k & taking the majority of the week to recover from all the miles I’ve done the last 2 months.

I’ve signed up for a few other virtual races for the coming months.

July: The Running is Not  Cancelled 461 mile race from the start of the Sean O’Brien 100k to the start of the Lake Sonoma 50 mile – this one goes until early October so I can keep my mileage & motivation up.

Wharf to Wharf 6 miler to be able to run virtually with my Arete teammates.

August: The SeaWheeze Half Marathon – Aug 15 – 23 which I did last year and would have been running in person. For the first time they have a 10k as well!  This one is always fun!

September: The Santa Monica Classic on Sept 13.  I’m an ambassador for the Los Angeles Marathon so if you sign up for this one or their other races, you can save 10% using JENNY2021.  This one is going to be really fun & unique because it’s going to be a live virtual race where we can all run together virtually on the LA Marathon & Santa Monica Classic Facebook pages. I’m super excited because I’ve never run the Santa Monica Classic before because I’m always in Tahoe for Tahoe 200 the same weekend.

The Head Up, Heart Forward 10 miler with my Arete Teammates on September 19.

The Big Surreal Virtual Challenge from the Big Sur Marathon.  This one looks really fun.  You can choose to run 1 to 5 events (5k, 12k, 11 miler, 21 miler & marathon) from Sept 1 – 30 and the more you run, the more swag you get. The medal you get corresponds to the longest race you finish as well.

I don’t have anything picked out for October or November yet, but I’m sure something will come up ;).  Maybe we’ll do the NYC Marathon virtual since we were supposed to race it this year.

Of all the virtual races, my favorite are the ones where there is a specific distance (typically a shorter distance) or time that you have to finish in. Like the Limitless Challenge, that was a lot of fun & I would do another climbing challenge. I’m also really excited about the Santa Monica Classic because it is going to be streamed live & that’s super cool.

Are you running virtual races?  And if so which ones have been your favorite? What would you recommend?

SeaWheeze 2017 Race Recap

SeaWheeze…I’ve had the opportunity to run SeaWheeze 3 times.  I was one of the lucky people to run in the inaugural year & then I went back and got those amazing plaid shorts in 2013 (still one of my favorite pairs). In case you don’t know, SeaWheeze is put on by Lululemon and takes place in the beautiful city of Vancouver, British Columbia.  It was my first international race back in 2012 and is a great event.

I was one of the lucky people to get a photo on Facebook at the first race, they don’t do many photos at this race so I was pretty excited :).

That being said, it is different from other races. What do I mean by that? Well read on to find out :).

Registration: I’m going to be honest here, registration for this race is super stressful. Lululemon uses Eventbright for their registration and unfortunately it’s not able to handle 10,000+ people registering at the same time so there have been a lot of problems over the years.  Personally and I know a lot of people will disagree with me, but this is my opinion, it’s time to go to a lottery system.  It will eliminate the issues with the server not being able to handle the demand.  Obviously we got in, but it was a mess and I know a LOT of people who got stuck in the dreaded waiting room forever.

Race Shorts:  Instead of a finisher participant shirt, Lululemon does a special SeaWheeze specific short.  They send the shorts in May so that we can train with them and to ramp up the excitement for the race.  This year’s shorts initially were underwhelming compared to years past, but in the end I found that I really like them.  I picked the speed shorts but they also had the tracker shorts for women (I heard that they ran small). The black & white is quite easy to match with every color under the sun and I don’t even notice the faces, lips, eyes, etc. that are on the ladies shorts.

Pre-Race Communications: Lululemon did a great job of keeping us informed, they send out multiple emails discussing the fact that the air quality wasn’t as good as normal due to fires in Northern BC. They also sent out multiple emails regarding the procedures on getting into the showcase store.

Pre-Race Showcase Store: For the first time ever, Lululemon announced that they would be giving us a sneak peak & selling some of the special SeaWheeze gear online about 2 weeks before the race.  They announced it on social media and sent an email.  You were allowed to buy 2 pieces and only 2 pieces.  They were very clear that if you tried to buy more than 2 pieces your order would not go through.  I was one of the lucky people to get the speed shorts and I also got a new bra.

Showcase Store: In another first, Lululemon gave us a full sneak peak of all the gear that would be for sale at the showcase store.

The store is an interesting thing… A lot of the hype around the race is about the showcase store.  It’s where you can get special edition SeaWheeze product that you can’t get anywhere else.  It’s gotten to the point where people line up on Wednesday & camp out in anticipation of the 7am Friday opening.  Seeing as this was Sean’s first time in Vancouver and I really didn’t have any desire to sleep on the street, I got in line at 3:30am.

I think I was about 500 people back from the front and I was in and out of the store by 7:30ish.  While I love Lululemon and this is a fun part of the event, this year I was slightly underwhelmed.  I normally love to get the speed shorts, this year, there were several solid colors and maybe 2 patterns, neither of which really jumped out at me.  I did get 2 new swiftlys (short sleeve & tank) & an Energy Bra.  I didn’t see a theme in the gear like they’ve had in the past although the colors & patterns did go together. Honestly I thought the gear this year was boring and with the exception of a few things the rest you could find in the stores.

Expo: After going through the store, I was going to get by packet but decided to wait for Sean. I went out to the expo to see what was going on there.  I got in line for a cute mountain tattoo from the Clearly CA sunglasses booth.

I got a bottle of water from the Flow table & had a smoothie from Vega.  The test truck was there but it wasn’t open that early & I don’t know if they were giving out product or not.  There was a booth where you could see some of Lulu’s innovation and coming products & give product feedback.  They also had yoga classes and other activities going on throughout the day.

Packet Pick-up: I went back to our hotel to wake Sean up.  We eventually made our way to the convention center to get our packets.  When we got there the line was really long so we decided to come back later in the day, you could pick up your packet until 8pm.

Race Swag: Once we picked up our packets, we got a nice drawstring backpack that you could use for gear check, a water bottle, a container of Nuun and Sean got a free drink from JJ Bean, I didn’t have one in my backpack.  Instead of a race bib, they give you a wristband to wear which gets you into the festival and race. The first 2 years I did the race they gave us chips for our shoes that had the founder Chip’s face on them.  This year it was the normal D-Tag like Rock n’ Roll uses for it’s races.  That is the only thing that showed we were even in a race.

Race Day: We raced over to the convention center to meet up with the ProCompression Ambassadors & I was so surprised to see a sea of black & white socks.  It was pretty awesome.

Once the photos were done, Sean & I headed to the start line, it can be really crowded and he should be near the front so we were lucky to get to the corrals early before they were packed.

They had pacers, I lined up behind the 2:05 pacer and Sean made his way to the front, he would run a 1:35!!  I heard from others after the race that it was very difficult to get into the corrals and I saw a ton of people on the sidewalk waiting to get into the under 2 hour corral.

As usual, instead of starting the race at 7:00am, they started talking at 7:00am and I think we started the actual race about 10 minutes later.  Which is actually a big improvement on year 2 when we started over 30 minutes late.

Course: The course was different from what I had run back in 2013.  There were a few hills at the beginning as we made our way through the city and then we were by the water for a good portion of the course.  We went over the bridge into Kitsilano where the first Lulu store is.  This is the only out and back section of the course.  Once we got back over the bridge, we headed towards the Seawall.  The seawall isn’t very wide so there is some weaving in and out around runners.  I was fortunate to be in a section where the runners were somewhat spread out and I didn’t have to jockey for position.  I heard that it was really crowded at some points.

The seawall is my favorite part of the course, it’s really beautiful.  There were a lot of groups out supporting the race, from the fire fighters, the WestVanRun group (incidentally one of the very first accounts to follow me), the hippies, the mermaids, etc. etc. there was enough to keep us entertained.

The finish was also different this year, we kept going on the seawall, past our hotel, towards the convention center, where the finish line was on the water!  The first 2 years, I remember having to go back up to the street where we had to climb a hill to the finish line, this was much better in my opinion ;). I ended up with 13.03 miles, not sure if the course was short or it was the way I took the tangents but I was a little shy of the normal 13.1.

I was happy to see that they had more mile markers this year in addition to the km markers.  The first 2 years I think they only had one at the 10 or 12 mile mark.

Medal: SeaWheeze always does a unique medal, this year it was a super heavy, medal Cairn.  I was shocked at how heavy it was and thought it was really nice.

Post Race: After we finished the race, we made our way up to Jack Poole Plaza to get some treats.  They handed out bottles for Flow water, they were letting us grab multiple bottles, got a wet washcloth to clean up and then a pair of finisher sunglasses.

We were lucky to not have to wait on the ramp for too long to get brunch, which this year was a box of snacks.  I actually really like this idea because it takes so much less time than a buffet.  The snacks were all healthy and they were designed to help us recover faster.  My favorite was the chia pudding, super yum!

After eating our treats, we made our way down to the expo area where we had more Vega smoothies and got our runners reward from Saje Wellness.

Sunset Festival: Initially I didn’t think we would go to the sunset festival, but we were kind of lazy after the race, I was exhausted and after a super yummy brunch from Ritual we just hung out.

Sean & I eventually walked over to Stanley Park where the festival was going on.  What a fabulous location for a party!  Thank you to Pavement Runner for the photo.

There was a lot of food options, we had sushi, a veggie burger and fries and toasted marshmallows.  We stood in line to get into the gear tent which didn’t have anything I was super interested in.  There was a huge yoga class and then 2 bands.  We chatted with our friends from social media and actually had a really good time.

Overall thoughts: SeaWheeze is a great event, but it’s focus isn’t necessarily on the race.  I think that the race is the catalyst to get everyone to Vancouver but it’s more just one facet of the experience more than the focus.  If you are looking for a competitive race, this is probably not the race for you, I’d recommend the BMO Vancouver Marathon for that.

Would I come back? Definitely! I enjoyed the whole weekend, Vancouver is a beautiful city and everyone is so nice. That being said, will we come back? I don’t know, I know that Sean wants to run Squamish 50/50 and Fat Dog 120 so we might have to make a choice.  Time will tell.

Did you run SeaWheeze? Do you want to run SeaWheeze?