Running with Ruth

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


Inaugural Rock & Roll Marathon


Article 3:
The Inaugural Rock & Roll Arizona ½ Marathon

In keeping with my resolution to run ½ marathons across the country, I started off the new year with “A” (as in Arizona): the inaugural Rock & Roll Arizona ½ Marathon held on January 11, 2004!

I know there are people out there who enjoy running inaugural races, just as there are those who seek to run marathons in 50 states, on the 7 continents, etc. This was my first “first” and I think from now on, I’m just going to wait till the “second annual” event before registering! This race, the newest addition to the “Rock & Roll” roster, missed the mark in starting line organization and as a result, the race started 30 minutes late. And while I’m always one for sleeping-in an extra hour, when it comes to running in the desert heat, I say: the earlier the better! That being said, the event gets high marks for its pre-race expo, variety of race souvenirs and support along the route. This being a “Rock & Roll” race, the organizers touted bands at every mile. As a back-of-the-packer, I appreciated the fact that even when bands were packing up or on break, music was still blaring from the loudspeakers, to keep us moving. And local high school cheerleaders lined the roadways, with their high-energy, specially designed running cheers and joie de vive! While port-o-potties were scarce, aid stations every 2-1/2 miles were fully staffed with cheerful volunteers. Even a local firehouse got into the spirit, with firefighters offering runners a spritz from fire hoses.

All things considered, I was pleased with my race results - the same finish time as I ran in Philly last September (3:08). This time, however, I was running in the intense Arizona heat - with no shade to protect me from the sun's rays and of course, no running buddy to keep me company!

As it turns out, however, I met another Galloway runner (recognized his familiar “run injury free” singlet) from Orlando at about mile 6. He was hobbling and seemed to be in trouble. I called out: "Hey, Galloway Runner - how're you doing?" He said that he was having a hard time, so I offered to run/walk with him. Seems that he ran another 1/2 marathon only 3 weeks before and didn’t do much training since. He was running 5:1, so I suggested that he try running 2:1 with me. (I proudly told him that Jeff Galloway personally prescribed this running ratio for our group!) We ran/walked about 3 miles together, then at about mile 9, he said he needed to walk and urged me to continue on my own (which I did). At about mile 11, at a turn-around point, I spotted him on the other side of the road. I was glad to see him, walking proudly and not giving up!

I heard that the marathon was very difficult because of the extreme heat (it was 10 degrees warmer than usual - in the mid-to-high 70's), so I was pleased with my decision not to run 26.2 -- and the cactus-shaped 1/2 marathon medal is really cool! At the expo, I bought a gold record plaque that will have my name and finish time inscribed on it, to be added to my running “wall of fame” in my office. Very, very cool - and totally unique, too!

So, 6 states down (NY, PA, FL, SC, LA and now AZ) – 44 to go! 2004 is already off on the right foot – next stop: Chicago’s Lakeshore ½ Marathon in May…and then, who knows?