It was a day of firsts for me today:
- first 8k race;
- first time racing in a kilt; and
- first best (race) costume contest.
Alasdair and I decided just a couple of weeks ago to participate in the Robbie Burns 8k in Burlington, Ontario, put on by the Burlington Runners Club. I knew just what I would wear, having come home from visiting family in Scotland in 2014 with a kilt and socks (thanks Debbie and Iain)! Alasdair also received a kilt, so we were good to go!
With the race starting at 9:30 AM, we arrived at 8:30 and still had plenty of time to pick up our race bibs, get organized, put our bags in the bag check, and visit the bathroom at Burlington Central High School multiple times.
The Hamilton Police bagpipers and drummers were on hand to provide a bit of pre-race entertainment and to let the runners know when it was time to head for the start line. Alasdair did a short warm-up while I paced back and forth to stay warm. I only saw one other runner with bare knees!
I spotted this shirt before the race:
At the start line Alasdair and I split up, with him starting further ahead of me.
Before too long, we were counting down from 10 and then the horn sounded. My goal was to run this race in under 44 minutes, which would be just under a 5:30 min/km pace. My most recent race was the Boxing Day 10-miler, when I ran 16 km at a 5:29 pace. I figured I should be able to run half that distance at a slightly faster pace.
My race started well, with the 1 km marker coming at 5:24, and the 2 km marker at around 10:51. It was about -6 or -7 degrees Celsius at the start of the race, but I was comfortable in my 3 running shirts. At the halfway point, I was at about 21:30, or somewhere around there. I was running just on the edge of a side stitch. I knew at that point that if I kept my pace up, I would run a sub 44-min 8k. But I began to doubt myself between km 4 and 5, which I found tough. Things picked up after the 5 km marker, and when I hit 7 km, I (think I) picked up the pace a bit, knowing that meeting my goal was still possible. It was a tough last km though, seemingly never ending. When I turned the last corner and saw the finish line, then looked at my watch to see that I had 1 1/2 minutes before I hit 44 minutes, I knew I should be able to make it there in time! I heard Alasdair cheer for me, and I crossed the line at 43:50 according to my watch. My official chip time was actually 43:48 – woohoo! (For those wondering, Alasdair finished in a time of 35:26, or 4:25 min/km, good for a 19/40 placing amongst men age 40-44.) As one friend pointed out, “Imagine how much faster you would have been in spandex!”
After the race, we went inside the high school for food, where I enjoyed a hot bowl of oatmeal with raisins and brown sugar on top (there was also milk), a banana, a cookie, and a cup of hot chocolate. There were also bagels, jam, coffee, water and honey max on offer. I was impressed that volunteers were manning the garbage and recycling bins, so that runners put waste in the right place. Kudos to the race organizers! There weren’t any aid stations on the run, and I hadn’t brought my water bottle belt, but for an 8k run in winter, I didn’t need to drink. There were lots of volunteers at intersections, and police as well where needed.
We picked up our checked bags, and headed to the auditorium for the awards presentation. We were lucky enough to each win draw prizes – Alasdair tartan pajama bottoms, and me a previous year’s race shirt. A runner in the 80-98 category (not sure how they came up with that one) got a standing ovation from the packed auditorium! So amazing.
Once the awards were all given out, and most people had left, we participated in the best costume contest! We went up on stage, along with 5 other people. We were not expecting to win, but we figured we’d join in anyway. We were each introduced, and then the crowd of about 20 people left in the auditorium voted by applause on who should win. There were 7 participants, and 4 prizes, but we didn’t win. I did get kudos for running with bare legs though!
Time: 43:48 (5:28 min/km – my fastest ever run pace)
Women age 40-44: 24/60
Women overall: 129/381 (average time for all women was 48:17 or a 6:02 pace)
All runners: 393/928
While it was our first time running this race, I’m sure it won’t be our last. It was very well organized, the course was good, the post-race food was yummy, and there were adequate bathroom facilities! We’ll be back!
Another PB, and a great start to my 2016 race season!