Saturday, November 1, 2014

Race Report: Rock N Roll Vancouver Cunningham Seawall 10K

Approximately a week ago, on October 26th 2014, was the inaugural Rock N Roll race event in Vancouver. I opted for the 10km option over the half marathon when I first registered as I had planned to take this season off of long distance races to focus on building speed on the shorter distances. Of course the 10km option was building on the tradition of the old James Cunningham Seawall Race, where in 2013, I ran the 9.5km distance in 49:08 which if adjusted for a 10km distance would have me finishing in just over 51minutes - my fastest 10km. Part of me hoped I could actually get a 10km PB here now that this race would become an official 10km. But of course after injury, I was not in my best racing shape this time around. The 10km distance was the right choice still for me as my legs weren't ready for more.

Despite not being in my best racing shape, I very much looked forward to this race. My most recent marathon was the Rock N Roll San Diego Marathon in 2013. San Diego is of course where the Rock N Roll series started, so it's the biggest and with the most tradition. But this race, even though it was a marathon, felt like a party from start to finish. Until the pain of the marathon set in, I almost forgot I was running, as the atmosphere was so incredibly positive. I looked forward to the Vancouver equivalent. This would be my 14th race of 2014, and likely my final one until next year.

Leading up to the event, more excitement built up for me as the weather forecast promised sunshine, my legs showed signs that I could run well, and the expo had some exciting surprises in store. As always, these big races end up being a big party and reunion with the many friends I have become acquainted with through the running community. The expo was no different and a great start to kicking off the event. It was well organized with lots to see and lots of space to allow comfortable browsing and socializing. I went with my friend Patti and her little daughter and we had a blast. Upon arrival, I bumped into my friend Sigrid who won a VIP race day experience for two and chose me as her +1 to join her for the experience. At the time, I didn't really know what the envelope with my VIP goodies meant, but it sounded like it would be lovely, and I excitedly tucked it away into my bag to browse when I got home. I don't know if she yet knows how much much it meant to me she chose me. So if you're reading this, Sigrid, thank you :)

October 26th has a history to it, being the date 7 years ago that my father passed away suddenly of a heart attack. The race falling on this day was significant because Dad's passing was very much my motivation to get myself healthy. This race, falling on this day, would be a way to quietly honour him, and I wasn't surprised that the sun decided to shine this day. This was no coincidence.

I wasn't as well rested going into this race as I had wanted to be, but I have no regrets enjoying a friend's birthday party on the Friday before and a Whitecaps game the night before. But perhaps the fatigue in my legs contributed to how I felt at the race. I was able to run well without any discomfort from whatever lingers of the old calf muscle injury. But I couldn't push hard the way I normally do on a 10km because I don't yet have the strength I once did. Instead I took it at about a 5:30/km pace which is one that's very easy on my lungs and just under the limit for the current state of my legs. I managed to keep this pace pretty evenly through the race and finished in a respectable 56:20 - not bad for my current state. I was pleased with the result even though far from a best.

It was an early start to this race and because of my evenings out previously, it was particularly hard to get out of bed. I almost forgot why the alarm was set. I jumped out of bed, got my gear on, and was out the door. I felt very fortunate that my VIP package included parking right by where the start line shuttles were lined up and I could check my bag at the VIP private bag check inside the Renaissance Hotel after freshening up there.

The start line area was crowded and difficult to find the ideal spot for a warm-up as crowds and crowds of runners were arriving in all directions. I started to wonder if I should've skipped the shuttle and warmed up by running the 2km over. I also worried the course would be very crowded with so many people. But I managed to get a warm up in, and the race corrals were very well executed ensuring the narrow seawall never felt crowded even though almost 3000 people were running it at the same time. There wasn't a ton of on-course entertainment (probably more was focussed on the half marathon route), but it was a very positive atmosphere and I enjoyed every step of the journey. The highlight was the drumming group and just some individuals out there cheering with entertaining personalities and signs to smile at.

I crossed the finish line feeling good and collected my medal - quite an impressive one indeed. I was very pleased that the design honours the tradition of 44 years of the Cunningham Seawall Race. Although it would have been cool if it somehow also mentioned the fact this was the inaugural Rock N Roll race. Regardless, it's a beautiful souvenir, and I won't forget what it means.

After crossing the finish, I headed over to the VIP tent to stretch, grab my bag, change my clothes, and grab a bite to eat. I was pleased there was hot coffee available to hold in my chilled hands. I took a quiet moment to myself here and reflected on the race and on Dad, and then I headed over to the finish line area to look out for my friends who were running the half marathon. I was pleased to bump into my friend Mary and her daughter and we caught up and watched the race together. I saw a few familiar faces among the crowd, but with so many racers finishing around the same time, I was sure to have missed most people I knew. Fortunately, I saw Sigrid finish, and once I did, I headed back to the VIP tent to meet her there. Since she invited me to join her, I didn't want to delay by waiting out on the course for too long.

We had a blast here. I will say that the VIP experience was incredible. It wasn't just the private bag check, free parking, and limitless hot food and cold beer. It was also a great social experience and a chance to catch up in a social setting with old friends and contacts in the running community and a chance to make some new friends too. 

I'll definitely be back in 2015 if I can, but I might opt for the half marathon.

What's next for me? No more races in store for 2014, but I've started planning for 2015. The only race I'm officially registered for is the BMO Sunshine Coast April Fool's Half Marathon. I'm ambassador for the race for the 2nd year in a row, and this will be my first half marathon of 2015 and first since running Calgary this past June. I'm excited to train for distance again in the new year. Until then, I'll continue to work on building strength.


  1. Lovely post and update. I LOVE those medals!!

    No Fall Classic 10k this year?

    1. Thanks!!! And no Fall Classic for me this year. It's the same day as grandma's 100th birthday party!