My journey to a healthier me

Tales of my life

RBC Race for the Kids 2017

On Saturday, September 16, 2017, I participated in the RBC Race for the Kids in Toronto.

I heard about this race a few months ago when some friends on mine on Facebook mentioned it.  I’m always looking for new races to do and this one looked interesting.  As I was checking out the website, I saw a few things that peaked my interested.

First, there is no entry fee. (Gotta like that!)

Second, in lieu of an entry fee, you need to raise a minimum amount of money for charity. In this case, the monies raised go to support youth mental health at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto. (A very worthy cause)

Third, it has a very generous time limit for the 5k – 1 hour 30 minutes. Because I’m slower than most other runners, this greatly appealled to me.

I’ve been wanting to do a race in Toronto for a while now, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity, so I signed up!

This race has 3 distance options — 15k, 7k, and 5k. I chose the 5k.

Because this would be the farthest I’d travelled for a race (a couple of hours), I knew I’d have to work out some logistical things, like how to get there and where to stay. No big deal really. Or at least I hoped it wouldn’t be a big deal.  The race actually partners with a nearby hotel for participants to get a special rate, which I thought was pretty awesome.  Because the race is early morning and they close the streets for the race, I knew I’d need to come in the night before.

When I do local races, I generally sign up the day of, or at least close to race day. It was a new experience to sign up in advance. With a big race, though, you have to. The race directors generally cap the number of participants. At one point, I saw that they said the race was sold out. I asked someone if they knew how many people were registered and I was told 9000! OMG! I’m not gonna lie, that freaked me out. If you add up all the participants in all the races I’ve done, it wouldn’t equal that many! I tried hard not to think about it, but it was hard not to.

As race day approached, I kept my eye on the weather, as it can change quickly. I decided on my race outfit, but had a backup plan just in case. I’m glad I did because when I checked the day before, they were called for hot and humid weather, even in the morning.

I had convinced a friend to do the race with me, but she had to cancel a few days before. This required me to change some plans at the last minute, but I was able to get it fixed. Dan and I drove to Toronto the night before, and stayed at the partner hotel near the race. I couldn’t get to the city before then, so I had to pick up my race kit the morning of the race. I was glad I was staying close by so I could get it quickly.

Having never done a race like this before, I really didn’t know what to expect, other than a lot of people. I was up early to make sure I wouldn’t have a hard time getting my race kit and so I could do my normal pre-race rituals. Getting the race kit was easy peasy. One less thing I had to worry about. One of the first things I noticed was the incredible number of volunteers there were. And they were easy to spot!

Once I was ready, I headed down to where the other participants were gathering. I was there early, so I had plenty of time to mill about, talk to other participants, and generally just get used to the area. I had my normal pre-race jitters, plus a bit extra because it was a new race for me.

The 15k went out first, and I just missed seeing them go. About 30 minutes later, it was time for the 7k to go. And about 45 minutes after that, the 5k was set to go.

Because of the number of participants, you get assigned a corral based on your approximate finish time. And because I knew it would take it awhile, I was in the last corral of the 5k. I got there a bit early, which was good. Pretty soon, it was filling up. I was in awe at the number of people! I chatted with a few people, including a man named Frank, who was participating with his wife and kids. He was nice guy. We chatted for a few minutes before we got separated. He said he’d see me at the finish.

It seemed to take forever to get started. One by one, the corrals were moved through the start line. I even took a little video as I crossed the start line.  It probably took a good 15-20 minutes for all the 5k runners and walkers to cross the start line.

I was so glad I had changed my race outfit because I could definitely feel the humidity right from the start. I was a little worried how it might affect my race, but tried not to think about it too much. I had water with me, and I knew there would be water stations on the course. I also had my asthma puffer with me just in case I needed it.

I knew not to go out too fast, so I started out powerwalking. I figured once I got past the first kilometre and/or some of the crowd thinned out, I might be able to add some running.  As the race progressed, I knew the humidity was going to be a big factor. I just concentrated on moving forward, not worrying about whether I’d do any running. My #1 goal is always to cross the finish line, no matter how long it takes to get there.

I did my best to keep up with the other runners and walkers around me. At one point, we were going up a hill. And it wasn’t a small hill either. About halfway up, I could feel myself really breathing hard, so I decided to use my puffer. It actually really helped. I only paused twice – once to take a picture at the turn around point, and once when the cops allowed some traffic to cross in front of us. The cops did a great job of keeping the runners and walkers safe. I made a point of thanking a few of them as I passed by.

After the turnaround, we started going back down the hill. I’m not a big fan of running up hills, but I love running down them! At that point there was not a lot of others around, so I managed to doing a little running. The humidity was still a big factor, so I took it slow, but it was fun running down that big hill!

Another nice thing about coming down that hill was I could see the finish line from pretty far out. Sometimes when I’m near the end of a run or a race, knowing how close I am to the finish really helps.

As I approached the finish, I could hear the music playing and people names being called. I thought that was pretty cool. As I approached the final timing mat, I pulled out my phone so I could take a little video as I finished. And as I crossed that final mat, they announced my name and people were cheering and it was the greatest thing. I posed for the photographer and remembered to smile. I walked over and got my finishers medal. And I could feel the emotions welling up. I felt incredible!

I made my way to the after-party to get something to eat and hopefully find some people I know. Not long after I entered the area, I came across Frank again. He hugged me and congratulated me on finishing. And he asked to take a picture with me. It was nice running into him again. To be honest, with so many people, I didn’t think I’d see him again. It was nice that I did.

I found some food, and found some friends, and just generally soaked up the amazing atmosphere around me. As tired as I was, as sweaty as I was, as sore as my feet were, I felt awesome. It was a great race and I enjoyed every single minute of it. It was exactly the race experience I was hoping to have. And I can’t wait to do it again next year!

RBC Race for the Kids after finish