Yoga. Run. Party.
That’s how Lululemon describes and markets their annual SeaWheeze Half Marathon (and brand love-fest) in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Naturally, I wanted in.
In the spirit of full transparency I’ve run a lot of half-marathons. A couple of marathons. Lots of 10ks. I’ve loved running, I’ve hated running, I’ve complained about running, I’ve raved about running.
But SeaWheeze was literally unlike anything I’ve ever been a part of.
It was, in a sense, 10,000+ people coming together to log some miles, do some down-dog, celebrate, connect, party and #socialsweat.
It starts with the expo. (Well, it starts with registration if you’re lucky enough to snag a bib–a vast majority aren’t, so get those clicking fingers ready!) Everything is so on-brand, organized, efficient and friendly. Want your hair braided for race day? Check. Need some exclusive SeaWheeze x Lululemon branded apparel? Check. Frustrated with the plastic gear-check bags you receive at essentially every other race? Lululemon gives you a retro-gym bag with a packet of Nuun, Vega Pre-Workout Energizer and sunglasses. Don’t want to poke a hole in your pricey technical tank? This race is bib-free and instead is run via shoe tags/chips.
Everything is thought of.
There’s pre-race yoga the night before to quiet your mind, stretch your body, and allow you to take in all that Vancouver has to offer–fresh air, blue skies, sunshine, and the friendliest of people.
Race morning there’s more energy than I’ve ever seen at a race. People are hugging, smiling, talking. There’s that thing. That you can’t quite describe but you know when you see it.
Once you cross the start line, there’s excited chatter, there are focused runners and there’s this calm sense of community that everyone is running as one. Instructors, teachers, fans of the brand, runners, community members–all of them.
As a runner I’ve come across a lot of cheering stations, volunteers, aid stations, pacers and crowd support. But as a runner, I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never thanked or even really acknowledged any of them. The ones who woke up at the same time I did (or earlier!) to be out there not to run, but to support people they’ve never even met. And likely never will.
At SeaWheeze? I was in the minority. Everyone was thanking them. Hugging them. Smiling at them. It made me think about why I do this. It sure isn’t to win a race (HA), or because I love running distances so much. It’s because I love to be a part of something. Embracing the people who make that something possible is the way to do it.
Did I learn something while running an endurance event?
Perhaps the most pivotal moment of the race came on the Burrard Street Bridge. Or as I like to call it, the brutal out-and-back that wouldn’t end. In true clumsy fashion, I tripped over a reflector in the road (literally glued to the road–my bad) and went down. I checked myself and got out of the way and over 15 people stopped their race, risked their PR’s and ensured I was able to get up, wasn’t injured and could start moving again before they did. Complete and total strangers. One woman ran the next mile with me “just to make sure.”
It was that connection, that sense of community that made me reevaluate my identity as a “runner.” Yes, I run for exercise, to stay physically fit, and to not go completely insane during the week. But I also and have always run to be a part of the community of runners.
I finished the race and a stranger hugged me. Normally, the germophobe in me would shrink back in horror. But I embraced it. It was pretty rad actually.
Running in San Francisco I don’t always see that, but at SeaWheeze, I did. So thank you Lululemon, runners and Vancouver for reminding me why I do this (this being run 13.1 miles at the crack of dawn) time and time again.
I owe you one.
photos via lululemon