We're all busy, and many of us struggle to balance work, family and personal well-being, especially in the meetings and convention business. So at Tourism Vancouver, we wanted to help our clients both professionally and personally. Of course, we wanted to show our clients all Vancouver has to offer, but we also wanted to help them achieve a personal goal that pushed them out of their comfort zone. To do this, we invited a group of meetings professionals to join us for a weekend of exploring and reaching a new goal - running the SeaWheeze half marathon.

Organized by Vancouver-based lululemon athletica, the SeaWheeze Half Marathon is held every August and describes itself as "yoga, run, party." Tourism Vancouver partnered with the Westin Bayshore, the Vancouver Hotel Destination Association, and Business Events Canada to create a weekend program designed to allow participants to push themselves, celebrate their success, as well as relax.

Preparation started in April, when participants from across Canada and the United States were invited to join the Vancouver SeaWheeze FAM "team." Training began in May, with team members given access to run clubs through their local lululemon store at home, as well as the SeaWheeze training app. In addition, Tourism Vancouver hosted a Facebook page with running and wellness tips from staff, as well as the lululemon team. This coaching tool was designed to motivate and cultivate team spirit.

After a summer of training, the team met face-to-face for the first time in Vancouver and it was a bonding experience like no other. We kicked off our three-day FAM with a fun run lead by Westin's Run Concierge and lululemon's Run Ambassadors, which helped us warm-up our legs and get to know each other while running part of the Stanley Park seawall. That night, our team relaxed and chatted over a beautiful family-style dinner with the staff and chefs at the Vancouver Convention Centre. After all, there's nothing that brings people together like a good meal and shared experience!

Day two was the "business" part of the FAM, but we made sure that we also made time for the lululemon Seawheeze activities, including "Nooner Yoga." After our yoga session, we set out on hotel site inspections, followed by a culinary tour of the Granville Island Public Market focused on healthy and sustainable eating led by Chef Julian of Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts. Our pre-race dinner at Market by Jean George in the Shangri-La Hotel was customized to help us fuel-up for the next day!

On the morning of the SeaWheeze half marathon, our team enjoyed the pre-race experience together, but when it came time to race time, everyone was encouraged to achieve their own goals at their own pace. We came together again after the run to celebrate and share stories over a post-race brunch hosted by the Westin Bayshore. After time to relax and recover that afternoon, we feasted on a post-run dinner of chicken and waffles at Prestons Restaurant in the Coast Coal Harbour Hotel, then set off for the official celebration event, the SeaWheeze Sunset Festival down at Stanley Park! We relaxed with a huge group yoga class followed by three amazingly fun, energetic bands that we danced the night away to.

On Sunday, it was time to bid our team a fond farewell. We came together one last time for an early breakfast at Hawksworth Restaurant in the Rosewood Hotel Georgia before saying a long goodbye to our team mates. They came to Vancouver as strangers but left as family.

Thank you to all the clients and partners involved!

- By Rachael Riggs-Nocera, cmp