Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Robbie Burns Race Report

Sunday Jan 24th was the 30th running of the Robbie Burns 8k in Burlington. I have been looking forward to this race for quite a while now. Partially this is because I love this course, its very flat, pretty fast and the race is super well organized. I was also looking forward to this race because Robbie Burns was the first timed race that I ever ran in (2 years ago). Back then 8k still seemed like a very long way to run.

I was looking forward to running fast, it seems like I haven't run in a faster, shorter race or any race at all in months. To be honest I really didn't know what to expect with this one. I was sure I would PB but only because I haven't run an 8k in a year not because I was feeling particularly ready to run hard. I have been hard at work base training since November and that's going well but lots of longer but slower easy running doesn't tend to fill you with much confidence when it comes to speed. I did get in a few tempo intervals in the last few weeks but not at the pace I would be running here. I was wondering how much pain I would be able to handle.

This year there were more then 30 members of Longboat running in this race. With so many people the club decided to rent a bus in order to transport our running horde from Toronto to Burlington. Special thanks to Kim for suggesting it and Sabrina and Bob for setting it up. Being able to all travel together was really awesome. We met up with the bus and arrived at the race well ahead of time. The race is held out of a school in Burlington so lots of washrooms and plenty of room for kit pickup etc. Got changed and then had lots of time to warm up.

The weather was nearly perfect, sunny, just above zero and winds around 15km. What a difference from last year when we hid in the school as long as possible before heading out to run in -35 degree weather. After a good solid warm up I grouped myself at the start line with a bunch of other club members that were going to be running around the same time as me.

I had a couple of goals. My time goals were A)34:30 (not very likely), B)sub 35 (realistic but going to be tough) C) PB (sub 38:33). I also wanted to try and finish ahead of fellow club member Rob Hanks who I ran track with all last summer. This would be a challenge as he is a bit faster then me on the track so I figure if I could beat him I would have run a really good race. Rob told me before the race that he wasn't going to be very fast as he was not training that consistently right now. I didn't buy into that line at all. I call that the Steve Blackburn lull you to sleep race strategy. I would still be running hard.

The Race
It seems that once the gun went off I kind of forgot about my idea of staying with the group of Longboaters that were running my pace. In shorter distance races I always run a little bit faster than the pace I plan to race at usually for the first KM or so before I settle into race pace. Since I was really unsure about what my race pace would be I started out a bit faster but still held back some. I spent the first km weaving in and out of the pack and as we pasted the 1km mark I started to get some room. At this point I settled into a steady 4:17 pace.

Things went well and I was running pretty good at this point, hard but still controlled. I could see a few club members ahead of me but felt good about my pace so didn't try to catch up to them. As I pasted the 2km marker I saw Longboater Francesco G passing me on my right. He was running just slightly faster then I was and I know from running with him that he is around the same pace as I am so I sped up slightly to stay with him. This actually worked out really well for me as Francesco runs a pretty consistent pace also I was pretty sure he would not want me to finish ahead of him. Sure enough anytime I sped up a little so did he. I of course did the same thing not letting him create any kind of gap of more than a couple of strides. He kept me honest for the next 6km.

At 3km we turned back south and picked up the pace just a little bit as this is the fastest part of the course. I hit the 4km mark still feeling pretty good and then passed the 5km mark in 21:24 which is 10 seconds slower then my 5km PB. I knew at this point that if I could hang on to Francesco I was going to put up a really good time.

Just after 5km we turned back west along the Lakeshore and into the grinding part of the course. I could feel fatigue beginning to set in here as I started to labour a bit. My pace slowed slightly here (4:22 from 4:18). I slowed a bit more in the 6-7KM stretch which includes the only hill on the course which was not that big but seemed like a mountain at this point. I turned the corner and headed back north into the last KM right on Francesco's heels.

I had really hoped to have more left in the last KM and did speed up slightly but I was redlining big time. I began to try to focus on just staying right behind Francesco with the intention of trying to take him in the last hundred meters.

We turned the corner and heading into the last 200 meters. I was fading and thinking about where to attempt to turn it on all at the same time when suddenly I heard shouted from the crowd “come on Hanks you can catch Chris!!” What? My brain tried to process this information and then I saw Rob out of the corner of my eye. My focus went from Francesco to Rob and I got confused for a moment and lost focus. I had figured Rob was well behind me while in reality he was right behind me. ARGGG! For a couple of seconds I was frozen in my decision making process and he was by me. I pressed hard but couldn't get him and end up finishing 1 second behind both of them.

Post race
I was pretty happy with my time, hit my second goal of breaking 35 minutes and set a PB taking 3:45 seconds off my time with a finishing time of 34:50. Kim also ran really well and took 4 minutes off her 8km time.

Longboaters grabbed up a bunch of hardware at the race with Rob Campbell winning the grandmasters category and 10 other club members placing in their respective age catagories. Also a big thank you to Bob Nagle for bringing post run/bus refreshments. Thanks Bob.

As always the Burlington running club did a great job putting on the race. If you haven't done this race before I would call it a must do but register early as it sells out every year.


  1. That is a great race. Congratulations on hitting your sub-35 goal!

  2. Sweet! Nothing like a PB - congratulations.

  3. Great job and I hope to do it next year!

  4. Sweet time! We were doing our long run along Lakeshore so saw a few of the later finisher. That medal is the best.

  5. I nearly spit coffee at my screen when I read about you slowing to a 4:22 pace, until I realized you were talking km and not mi...LOL (at me)

    Great race report. There is only one 8K race that I do in SoCal, but I love the distance!

  6. Nice job. Sounds like you all had a great time, which is what its all about! Peace

  7. That was a pretty exciting race report! Thanks for the play by play! It's great that you have people in your group to push you to do your best. Congrats on your PR!

  8. Congrats on hitting your B.) goal or sub 35 minutes! I wish i had some of your speed.

    That's a crazy little medal they gave out; I like it!

  9. Excellent race! I got to find me a short race this Spring. Miss them.

    I agree with you. Any race organized by the Burlington Runners is always top notch. Can't go wrong with their races!

  10. Thanks for your feedback...yeah, I guess I'll have to learn to toughen up when it comes to running in Quebec's often less than ideal winter weather :) ...I'm quite new at all this and so VERY impressed with your running pace!!! Congrats on a great 8K!

  11. As always, enjoyed the race report immensely. Too funny about the "Steve lull you to sleep strategy"! Looks like you didn't succumb to that trick, though! Congrats on the awesome finish and PB!!!


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