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.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Running the Boston Special .. Last Weeks Training

Here is a run down of last weeks training which overall went well as I added some faster running and a new long run into the mix.

Rest - I love Mondays! I have a feeling I am going to enjoy Mondays even more as I move into the meat of my training schedule.

12.5km easy run - I ran my normal 7-8 mile route. Conditions were not very good. It was slippery with fresh snow making it impossible to get good traction. The easiness of this run is debatable. At least I didn't fall down.

16 km intervals - The first intervals of this training cycle and just what I needed. My program called for easy runs only up to this point and with the Robbie Burns 8k on the horizon I really needed to get some faster running in (but not too fast). Incorporated 4 x 6 minute intervals into the run. I ran with the club and was suppose to stay relatively slowish at around 4:55km pace but ended up picking it up a bit more then that with each one getting a bit faster than the last until the final one was at a 4:30 pace. Opps.

13km easy run - Nothing to see move along. Run was pretty uneventful.

12km intervals - The first night of the new longboat speed (or hills) training sessions in High Park. Its always nice to be able to run with a small group going the same pace as you until you feel like slowing down. We ran 4 x mile repeats in balmy -18 weather. I still cant believe I was the one complaining that I wanted to start running hard and fast again. After the run Coach Roger supplied us with hot cider and rum. I felt much better after that.

13k easy run - Saturday morning run with the club. This was suppose to be a progressive run but kept within my easy pace, it didnt work out that way. Started out slow for about 5 minutes then the progressiveness became a high end of the easy range for the rest of the run. I am not happy with myself on this one and really have to make more of an effort to reign it in. I think probably the -25 degree weather didnt help much.

30 km long run - This was the first week of the new group long runs with other longboaters. We met at the westend YMCA and then started out to run the (in)famous Boston Special.

Boston Special = Boston Painful
The Boston Special is a long run route that was devised a number of years ago by Longboat member Tony Fletcher when he was training for Boston. Clearly Tony went out to the west-end of Toronto and found every single large hill then figured out a way to include all of them within a single run and when I say hills I mean big nasty heart pounding hills. I am not sure if Tony is a madman or a genius (evil genius of course). You can check it out here.

I hadn't run this course before but had heard lots about it. It really never dawned on me to make my long run as hilly as humanly possible.

It all started out well but only 4km in I was running too fast as I wanted to try and keep the fast kids in view for as long as possible. The others running my pace were going shorter distances so I knew I would end up on my own soon enough. I slowed it down some as we headed into the hills but still too fast for the course. I keep other club members in sight for the first 10km but as the group separated into those going 20km and those going 30km I was soon running on my own. The only other guys going the full route were Roger M. and Rob C. both sub 3hr marathoners so there was no way I was keeping up with them. Instead I settled into my normal pace and worked my way through the hills. Unfortunately I got lost once on part of the route I didn't know but still got my full distance in. Kim ran the 20km route.

I was honestly really wrecked after this run. I haven't felt this tired after a long run since the first time I trained for a marathon and ran 20 miles. I am told this will make me super strong for the spring season and Around the Bay. I have no doubt about that.

Totals for the week
# of runs 6
longest run 30km (18.5 miles)
total distance 95.6km (59.4 miles)

Friday, January 1, 2010

2009 in review just the facts ... Upcoming 2010 goals

2009 was a very good year of running for me. Here are just the facts / stats. Watch for my 5 best and 5 worst running experiences blog coming early next week (where I get to complain in commentary form).

2009 Recap
I had 5 main (realistic) goals going into this year and managed to reach them all.
1. Stay serious injury free - did this but we are going to chalk that up to the running gods. Had lots of minor problems as pain just keeps moving from one spot on my body to the other.

2. Build a deeper mileage base - this was relatively easy as I started running 6 days a week.

3. Break 23 minutes in a 5k - Struggled with getting fast in 2008 but lots of track work last summer has me running at 5k at just over 21 minutes.

4. Break the 4 hr marathon barrier - Failed at my attempt in Paris, France but crushed it in the fall no problem.

5. Run my first Ultra - Ran my first 50k and liked it so much that I followed it up with a 50 miler.


longest training run - 23 miles
longest run (race) - 50 miles
most mileage run in a week - 75 miles
lowest mileage run in a week - 0 miles
most mileage in a month - 279 miles
lowest mileage in a month = 115 miles
Number of races in 2008 - 21

2449 Miles
3945 km

Set PBs in 5k, 6k, 8k, 10k, 10 miles, Half Marathon, Marathon, 50k and 50 miler.

2010 Goals
1. Break 20 minutes in a 5k
2. Run my first 100 miler
3. Stay injury free
4. Hit my Boston Qualifier
5. Up my base mileage, shoot for 5000km year.

Now lets just see how that ends up going.
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