Running with Ruth

Stories that Inspire & Motivate...Not for New Runners Only! By Ruth Gursky


Favorite 10K I Didn't Run


Article 2:
My Favorite 10K that I Didn’t Run

One of the first races I participated in, when I was just starting my running “career” was the Advil 10K in Central Park. Begun in the ’70’s, at a time when women were still considered the “fairer sex” and were prohibited from competing in marathons, the “mini–marathon” as it was then called, has morphed into one the largest women’s races in the country.

Throughout the years, this race has been blessed with several sponsors, L’eggs and Advil among them. Starting in 2004, the race has taken on the moniker of its newest sponsor, Circle of Friends, a nonprofit organization that promotes anti smoking programs.

About 25 in my personal "cirlce of friends" ran the mid–June race this year, but not moi, as I’m still sidelined with injuries incurred 7 weeks back when I fell on a broken sidewalk. The ONLY saving grace about sitting out this race, which I’m holding onto like a life preserver, is the knowledge that it will be around next year…and having that (and other goal races) to look forward to keeps me going as I struggle in physical therapy!

So, why does a “mere” 10K rate as a favorite? I guess it’s time for a story from the “Ruth Archives.” About 20 years ago, when I was recuperating from my first knee injury, I befriended a woman who frequently wore her L’eggs Mini–Marathon t–shirt around town. I didn’t have many “athletic” friends growing up, as my parents encouraged my scholastic achievements and frowned on anything that took time away from studying. So, when I met this woman, I naturally asked how she got into running, what “qualifications” one needed to enter races, etc. I had no idea there was a “running community” in NYC and had only a vague memory of the historic first women’s marathon that had taken place a few years before, at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

When I started running in the early ’90’s, I eventually joined the NYC Road Runners Club, which organizes weekly races of varying distances in Central Park as well as the annual NYC Marathon. And that year, I entered my first Advil Mini–Marathon (L’eggs dropped its sponsorship) AND I received my first–ever finisher’s medal!

I was so excited to get a medal (and such a beautiful one, too!) that I wore it proudly all day, even on the subway out to Queens to meet my parents for lunch! So picture me, sitting in the booth of the Georgia Diner on Queens Blvd., across from my parents, proudly showing off my prize possession. And the first words from my Dad were: "Oh, but everyone gets one." For a split second, maybe two, I was stung by his reaction, until I realized that my parents – who were never athletically inclined, and thus tried to pass on their non–athletic genes to their daughter – just didn't "get it." So, I said, in a tone of voice laced with sarcasm: "Yeah, well, where's yours, then? NOT everyone gets one...only those who finish the race!"

To all my friends who ran the 2005 Circle of Friends 10K, I hope you had a great race! Enjoy your first “BLING” of the 2005 running season!!

PS: Oh, and my friend who inspired me by wearing her L’eggs Mini–Marathon t–shirt – we lost touch, but I saw her again a few years ago. She’s no longer running…in fact, the L’eggs Mini was one of only a handful of races she ever ran. She was genuinely surprised to learn that her running was an inspiration for me. And she shocked to hear that I completed 5 marathons, as when she last saw me in the mid ’80’s, I was recuperating from two knee surgeries. And so, I learned another of life’s lessons: that we can influence others and sometimes, not even know it. Guess that’s life!