Vancouver by the Foot and Stomach
By: Asia Shah
Last week we made our way to Vancouver along with about 100+ other Rogues for the LuLuLemon SeaWheeze Half Marathon. Somehow we were convinced to do this race many months ago, so when it got closer to the date I was not so sure. The race falling in the middle of the exam/paper/wrap-up portion of the summer semester, coupled with my late-onset flight phobia, had me feeling a bit uneasy about jetting off to Canada for five days. However, the excitement was growing around me in anticipation of the race, and I couldn’t help but soak it in. And so, two flights and three Benadryl later, and we were on Canadian soil!!
Somehow we ended up in a limo en route to our hotel, yet no amount of kitschy black leather interior could fill the gaping expanse in my stomach!! The combination of improper snack-packing and coming out of a self-induced antihistamine stupor is not so good. Our little group went straight to lunch, and fortunately, the city is quite walkable with tons of neat places to shop and eat. We hit one last snag when we sat down and the blond fem-bot waitress carded me. Only me.
After lunch we had a nice little 5 mile run to shake-out the plane-body. At 4pm it was in the low 80′s and dry. So, basically it was “cold” for us coming from Austin. The scenery was amazing along the seawall as we ran past tiny beaches and throngs of people out enjoying the nice weather and various attractions dotting the coastline. For us, this trip was not about racing since we are in the base-phase of our marathon build. Instead, we wanted to enjoy the weekend, while also getting in a good marathon-paced workout (the race). This was enough of a task given how early it is in our fall season, but it doesn’t require excessive rest and sacrificing walking places and seeing things in the days leading up to the race. Yay! And boy did we do some walking!!
I won’t go into too much detail about the race expo, but let’s just say it was a cluster like no other. We waited in line for about 90 minutes for the sole purpose of picking up our wristband and chip. Boston has between 3-4 times as many participants and is a breeze in comparison. Fortunately, not racing for real meant that this didn’t bother us too much, but it was still a colossal waste of time that could have been spent tourist-ing! One highlight of this race was that my favorite nutrition company, Vega, was a sponsor and provided the sports drink for the race. Within about a 300m stretch I downed 5+ smoothie samples, so it wasn’t a total bust of a morning. I also got to take a spin on a bike that was hooked up to a Vitamix, which was cool since about the only thing that could get me to bike is the promise of imminent food intake. While the rest of the female population of Vancouver waited in yet another 60+ minute line for LuLuLemon clothing, we parted ways with the expo and got some much needed lunch.
Traveling with a Rogue group to a race is a great experience, and this time around there was even more to love since two of our own were coaches as well as LuLuLemon Ambassadors. Along with the months of coaching leading up to the race, they put on several yoga/run/food events in Austin, made special shirts for the runners, and created a really special vibe around the event like nothing I’ve experienced. We had dinner with everyone the night before the race, which was provided by an awesome food truck (so Austin) right at our hotel. Not having to deal with finding a suitable place to eat right before the run was a treat as far as I’m concerned. I’m blanking on the name of the food truck, but it rocked. Let’s just say their vegan burger was homemade awesomeness, and that is saying something. Bellies full, positive energy all-around, and it was one more sleep till go time!
Saturday morning came quickly and we all hung out in the lobby before walking the half mile down the hill to the starting area. We formed a sea of Rogues taking over the sidewalk en route to what would be for many, their very first half marathon. Pretty cool place to do it! Kam and I were aiming for 18 miles for the day, so we headed out backwards on the course right along the water for our warm-up. We found our little group at the start line, nodded along with the Canadian national anthem as we pretended like we’d actually heard it before, and before long the gun sounded and we were off!
I find it pretty boring when people describe their race mile for mile, so I won’t do that. Overall, the course was a tad narrow in some places, which made for some interesting behavior by some nervous runners, cutting in and out and making things just a tad annoying. However, this didn’t last too long and for the most part our group of 3-4 was able to run together nicely. One particular point of pain was a bridge we had to cross over and back between miles 5-7. This was pretty much the only “hill” that is worth noting, but we felt it! A good portion of the route was along the seawall, which provided a backdrop of sea and mountains that was absolutely gorgeous. I distinctly remember having appreciative thoughts about how lucky we were to be running in such a place at that moment, even if they were clouded by the desire to be done. Typically I wouldn’t notice a damn thing around me in a race, but this time I was able to relax a bit more and really take in my surroundings.
After the race we packed in a full day of sightseeing and experienced Vancouver as best as we could. We had a group of two other Rogue couples with us and took a ferry to Granville Island to the giant market, then onward to Kit’s Beach for some sun and water time. It was great to get to see the city and spend time outside of running with people who we rarely see with shirts on or at any other time than 5:30am. We made our way to the Gastown area and even hit up this amazing vegan restaurant called Gorilla Food, which did not disappoint. Crowds of people stood around a steam-clock like it was an alien, and I didn’t quite understand the awe, but we saw it! Vancouver was a ton of fun, and running a race is always an awesome way to get to know a new place in quick fashion. We appreciated the short reprieve from the triple-digit temperatures of Austin, which was the cherry on top of a great first Canadian experience!