Cheryl’s First 5K (Guest Post)

Race pic

(Photo: A medal that says “Toronto Women’s 8K/5K 2018” above a yellow race bib that says “2203 Cheryl”)

In September I decided that I wanted to participate in an organized race in the fall as the culmination of my couch to 5K program. A google search turned up the Toronto Women’s Run series and I signed up for their 5K on Saturday October 13th as my first official race.

I found it highly motivating to have this race to look forward to and it kept me focused on reaching my goal of being able to run 5K by a specific date. The week before the race I completed my first 30 minute run – according to the couch to 5K app this equals 5K, but the reality is that I’m slower than what the app expects so it was a bit less than 5K. Nonetheless I felt ready!

A friend was registered to run the 8K race that day and we had planned to drive there together, but unfortunately she got sick and couldn’t make it. So it was just me heading up to Wilket Creek Park early on Saturday morning, which I actually felt fine about as I’ve been getting much more comfortable with solo activities in the last couple of years.

I had a good tip on parking from when I picked up my race kit the night before, so after parking I walked 15 minutes to the race site and oriented myself to the key points – port-a-potties, bag check, and starting line. Everything was well-organized and easy to navigate, and the vibe was warm and friendly.

The race was intended primarily for women, which was part of the appeal for me.  As a Toronto Women’s Run event, men could participate but were asked not to cross the finish line first and weren’t eligible for awards. There was no mention of how non-binary people might participate, which is something that I’ll be giving the race organizers feedback on.

I was in wave 2 of the 5K, which was the last wave of the morning. After cheering on the 8K runners and the 1st wave of the 5K, I got myself into the middle of the pack in the starting area. Right on time at 9:18am, wave 2 was off.

The start of the race was exciting, with so many people moving forward together in a big burst of energy. Gradually we spread out over the course according to our speed, and although many runners passed me, I also passed some people – much to my surprise.

The course through the park was lovely, and it was good weather for running – sunny, very little wind, and around 8 degrees Celsius. I kept a slow and steady pace so I could run the whole way without having to stop to walk. The time went by quickly as I passed the kilometre markers and the course marshals and supporters cheering us on. In the last 100 metres I pushed myself to sprint to the finish line, and ended with a chip time of 36:42, placing 29th out of 46 runners in the 45-49 age category. Not bad for a first timer!

Some of my favourite moments during the race were:

  • The times I was passed by older women – I admired them and I also felt like this could be my future if I keep training
  • Reaching the halfway point and feeling confident that I could keep running the whole way
  • Getting high fives after crossing the finish line – I appreciated this support from others as someone who was there on my own

The thing I liked least about the event was that the announcer kept referring to us as “ladies” and “gals”, which I found patronizing and irritating.

Other than that, I loved it. I felt strong, confident, and proud at having achieved my 5K goal. I will definitely be running more 5Ks in the future.

What was your first 5K like? Or your first time reaching another fitness goal?

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