I’ve never properly raced a 5K, yet I participated in two so far! The first race was the St. Patrick’s Day 5K Run/Walk hosted by Achilles Canada I ran for fun. I included the race as part of a 25km long run, so I wasn’t putting in a 5K effort. A couple of weeks ago I participated in my second 5K race and again, this race was not for a PB; this time, I was pacing my 8-year-old son!
If you’re following me on Instagram, you may have noticed my son makes an appearance from time to time (mostly acting goofy, but occasionally running with me!). He participated in a 1-mile race the past two years on the same day I ran the Brooklyn Half Marathon so I asked if he wanted to participate in a 5K! He accepted, resulting in the various photos of us running together.
We chose the RBC Race for the Kids 5K for my son’s first 5K race not only because the timing worked very well for my Chicago Marathon training, but because proceeds from the race go to a very worthy cause.
From the race website:
As many as two million young people in Canada are struggling with mental health issues such as an anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, depression or addiction. Only one in five will get specialized treatment they need. This is largely because families don’t know where to turn to find the services their children need.
There are plenty of mental health services available for young people, but the system is confusing. It can be extremely difficult for families to find their way to the right program, especially during a crisis. Sunnybrook’s Family Navigation Project partners families with professional navigators. These navigators are knowledgeable about what services exist, and become allies in guiding families toward the right care at the right time.
Thanks to generous support from RBC Race for the Kids Toronto, the Family Navigation Project has helped over 1,500 families in the GTA get the help they needed.
Since this race was about my son, my plan was to get him used to running longer distances. On July 1st (Canada Day), we ran together for the first time and we ran for 4 kilometers! It was really hot out and we stopped several times to hydrate, but he ran the entire time!
We ran together four more times and on one training run, we ran for 6 kilometers! I wasn’t concerned with my son finishing the race at all. I was more curious to see how many times he would stop. Training for marathons in the Summer is hard enough, but asking your son to run in the heat is another story!
I got my son up early and we had a light breakfast, then hopped on the subway to Mel Lastman Square where the race would be starting. The 5K race was starting at 8:45AM. When we arrived, the 15K race had already begun and runners were entering the corral for the 7K race. We watched the start of the 7K race and then found a washroom (my son should have the full race experience!). We had 45 minutes until our race started, so we walked around a bit then headed back to the corral.
When we returned to the corral, we were one of the first ones to enter. I signed us up for the red corral (first corral) thinking he could probably break 30 minutes (6:00/km pace). We watched as runners started to enter the corral and for a moment I started to worry about getting separated from him. I thought about holding his hand while we ran, but didn’t want to get too excited and risk pulling his arm out!
At one point, we noticed Mayor John Tory was in our corral greeting runners. Jacob met him before on Yonge Street, so I didn’t make a big fuss to call him over when he started moving quickly through the crowd.
A short while later we were off!
The race starts on Beercroft Rd. and heads South for a few meters before runners make a quick left onto North York Blvd. for a hundred meters or so before runners make a right turn onto Yonge Street heading South. At the 800 meter mark of the race, runners make a u-turn and head North on Yonge street.
I carried a water bottle from my Spibelt H2O Venture Series in my hand in the event my son needed water and we were nowhere near a water station. He was running really well and his pace, while somewhat sporadic, was still not too fast that he would start fading anytime soon. At the 1.5 kilometer mark, he needed a drink of water and I tried to get him to drink it while he was running (something we never practiced on our training runs!) and it wasn’t working. We pulled over to the middle of Yonge Street and he took a quick sip of water. We weren’t stopped for more than 10-15 seconds max!
The first two kilometers are mostly flat and the first climb is just past the 2.5-kilometer mark. Looking ahead, the hill looked a lot tougher than it really was! My son tackled the hill really well and it didn’t seem to bother him. What did seem to bother him a bit was a young boy running next to us. He kept darting out, slowing down and falling back to us, then darting out again. He appeared to be a couple of years older than my son. At one point, my son turned and asked me why he was doing that and I told him not to pay attention.
We approached the first water station just before the 3-kilometer mark. At this point, we were running on the left side of Yonge Street. My son asked what was in the cups and I told him it was Gatorade. He seemed a little upset that we didn’t get to stop, but I distracted him by saying we can stop at the next water station (the 4-kilometer mark).
At the 3.5 kilometer mark, runners make another U-turn and head South on Yonge Street towards the finish line. We were about to approach the water station when the boy from earlier in the race ran out ahead of us again. My son got distracted and we ran right past the water station! At this point, my son was running really strong and while he was starting to breathe a little heavier, he was in phenomenal shape and motoring downhill on Yonge Street!
Just past the 4-kilometer mark, we caught up to the boy again and my son turned to me and said: “if he does that again, I’m going to race him.” Who was I to deny him the opportunity?
Sure enough, the boy took off and my son took off with him. They were running stride for stride for a few hundred meters. As the boy sped up, so did my son! I was chasing them down and smiling as a few adult runners were cheering them on! With two hundred meters to go, my son lost steam and the boy continued on. My son still didn’t stop and we crossed the finish line together!
I gave my son the biggest hug and we walked over and grabbed our medals. I don’t know who was happier?!
Official Time: 26:29
After the race, my son and I hung out in Mel Lastman Square to listen to live music, snack on some of the amazing pastries volunteers were handing out to runners, and enjoy the awesome post-race vibes. Runners were also treated to grilled cheese sandwiches, but the line-up was too long so we headed home for a proper lunch.
I couldn’t be prouder of my son for smashing his first 5K race! Perhaps we try a 10 next?!
Thank you, RBC Race for the Kids, for an amazing experience from start to finish!