Sports & Recreation

Tamar Gonzalez shows off her new medal after completing the half marathon.

Community Members Run in P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon

By Richie Corrales
Au-Authm Action News

Nearly 25,000 people participated in the 2011 P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and Half Marathon on January 16. Several members and employees of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community ran in the race, which began at the State Capitol and ended at Arizona State University’s Sun Devil Stadium.

Community member Tamar Gonzalez said she set a goal she hoped to reach. “I started training during the fall,” said Gonzalez, “then started working out five to seven days a week lifting weights, taking classes at the Salt River Fitness Center and running at Tempe Town Lake. As a result, I lost over 20 pounds. During the half marathon, the first three miles were the easiest for me and at mile 10 my legs started getting heavy. I didn’t want to stop, and instead I picked up the pace I was running at.”

Gonzalez finished the race in 2:42:49. She said she had a great experience and looks forward to running in many more events.

For Christie Webster-Dash, this was her first half marathon. “It was fun, and at mile five [my] timing was good. [I was] just in the zone and on the go,” said Dash.

“By the time I saw the mile 10 marker, I was so relieved to know I only had 3.1 miles left to go. When I saw that mile 12 marker I was really tired, and got a little teary because I was actually completing [the race], but I got my second wind and just went for it. I’m just glad I finished it. It was an interesting experience overall and my time was 3:49:48.”

“This is my second year to run in the P.F. Chang’s Half Marathon,” said Zoey Lewis. “The day of the run, I felt pretty good and confident standing there waiting for our corral to go.”

There were more than 20 corrals where the runners are sorted depending on their experience and running pace. For example, a runner aiming for a time of 1:30:00 would be placed at the very front of the line, taking off minutes earlier than those who plan to finish in three hours.

“It’s an experience to stand shoulder to shoulder with thousands of runners from all over the country and the world, and knowing that everyone is reaching for the same goal. I was a bit nervous, excited, scared, everything all in one,” said Lewis. “I had a good start and kept a good pace all the way up to the seven-mile marker, and I just concentrated on my breathing and my posture and focused.” At mile eight, Lewis said she slowed down until the 11-mile post because of cramping in her feet and left side. “So I jogged it out, and after mile 11 I picked up my pace a little bit more. When I saw the bridge over Tempe Town Lake and the 12-mile post, I went faster, and when I could see the finish line that’s when I gave it all I had and sprinted to the end.”

Lewis said her legs were a little achy, but it was the blisters on the bottom of her feet that hurt the most. “My time this year was better than last year, and that was my whole purpose of running. I’m very happy and proud of myself for that. I set a personal goal and accomplished it,” said Lewis.

She added, “I’d just like to say thank you to all my friends and co-workers for their support and encouraging words, but most of all to my kids and family, for the sacrifice of me coming home late in the evening due to my training and workouts. I ran a time of 2:41:57.”

Another first-timer to the P.F. Chang’s Half Marathon was Community employee Paul Martinez. “This was my first half marathon ever, and I hope it is the first of many to come,” said Martinez. “The run was really fun, and it was totally cool to run with so many people. Even though you had to weave around the slower runners, it was still awesome to see runners of every level making the commitment to take on this challenge.”

Martinez started training in November by following the recommended training plan. He said it felt good to see progress along the way. He has never been a long-distance runner.

“I didn’t know just how it would work out for me. I did suffer some aches and pulled muscles along the way, but I stuck to the recommended therapy and was able to come back,” said Martinez. “I have never trained for a long run and I found out right away that it was going to be tough to keep a balance between cycling and running. I mainly concentrated on running, but I am really anxious to get back on the bike. I am a cyclist at heart.”

The last time Martinez stepped on a scale was in May 2009. “I try to stay away from scales, so the week before the race I weighed in and found out I had lost 14 pounds,” he said. “There have been so many benefits to the training I followed.

My endurance, both running and on the bike, has moved to a higher level, and my resting heart rate is lower and it takes less recovery time after hard physical exertion.”

Martinez said he would recommend walking and running to anyone who wants to get back into their high school jeans, but said seriously there are many more health benefits that come from running, cycling and other types of endurance training.

“You just can’t buy those rewards. You have to be consistent and work for them,” said Martinez.

On the morning of the marathon, Martinez said he could not believe how cold it was. “There were so many people wearing shorts, and I was wearing running tights and I still couldn’t seem to get warm until about mile three,” he said.

“Before I knew it I was at mile 10, which is where [my hip flexors] started to cramp up,” he said. “Even though the last three miles I had to run/walk, I still managed to get a 2:10:53 time. I really don’t know why I cramped. I might not have eaten enough before the race, or I might have ridden a little too hard on the Saturday-morning group ride. Either way, it will always be a mystery in my mind.”

Martinez and a group of friends were planning to head to the Tohono O’odham Nation at the end of January to take part in their half marathon.

“The starting line is at the base of Baboquivari Peak, and [the race] ends at the cultural center in Topawa. I am really excited to take part in this desert run because I am from the Tohono O’odham Nation and have never had the opportunity to venture past Sells. It going to be a beautiful run,”’ he said.

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