On a cool crisp day, after a long muggy summer of training, 68 PPTC members were ready to take on the trial of a mile known as the 5th Ave Mile. This course is widely known as an excellent course to set a PR because of its net decline, however, anyone who has run down 5th Ave from 80th St. to 60th St. knows that there’s a slight incline in the second quarter of the race. Such a small incline is usually not a big deal, but in a short distance race like a miler, every second counts.
Christine Weiher was the fastest PPTC woman (5:39). Junko Matsuura came closely behind in 2nd for PPTC (5:41). Alison Restak was not far behind in 3rd for PPTC (5:44).
Congratulations to Etan Levavi for being the fastest PPTC member for the 5th Ave Mile (4:49). He represented Brooklyn in the 5 Boroughs Heat. Matt Siefker was 2nd for PPTC (5:01). Noah Devereaux was right there for 3rd (5:03).
Let’s congratulate all these PPTC members who set new PRs for themselves.
Yulia Yomantayte (6:55) – Her first sub-7 min mile Chaya Wolf (8:46) – She knocked off 22 seconds off her last PR set just three weeks ago. Erica Niemiec (7:13) – Her first mile race Kristin Stocks (7:23) Adam Devine (5:42) – 14 sec PR Andrew Leonard (6:05) Adam Iannazzone (5:17) Sam Smullen (6:36) Kirsty Carroll (6:46) – Her first mile race and first race repping PPTC! Isabel Santiago-Gordon (7:44) – Also her first mile race and first race repping PPTC! Jonathan Giles (5:45) – His first mile race Alison Restak (6:07) – 21 sec PR
Big thanks to everyone who cheered for PPTC, especially those members who didn’t run the 5th Ave Mile.
What makes PPTC unique and special are the traditions of the club. One person who is responsible for some of these traditions is Al Goldstein, who served as the President of PPTC from 1990-1996. I should have known when I got off the phone with Al the night before the final eponymous speed series that driving him to the race would be an experience to remember. At 97 not only was he able to give me directions to his home from mine, but also he informed me that he still drives but is not allowed to drive to the race or as he said, “ Tom won’t let me drive.”
When I picked him up I felt like I was talking to an old friend. Al starts a conversation as if you’ve known him for years, and as I drove him to the race I began to understand why he is a patriarch to our club. As we drove to the park, Al and I talked while he gave me the fastest directions to the park including where to turn to drive into the park, even where to leave my car — true VIP status. I was with a legend, and as humble as he is about it, you could see how respected he is, as members of PPTC came up to him to shake his hand. I was lucky enough to hear the stories about Al’s running, and why he is so important to our club.
Running at 57 and the marathons
Al didn’t start running until he was 57. His first love was basketball. Al got the “bug” for running when he bet someone he could run a mile in 6 minutes at the Lincoln High School Track. The first time Al ran the NYC Marathon, the longest he had run before was 13 miles. Between the age of 57 and 73, Al has run 18 marathons.
NYC Marathon -11 times
Boston Marathon – 6 times
Long Island Marathon-1 times
When Al was training for marathons, he never had a dedicated day for speed or hills. He always ran his 8-mile pace, and would incorporate hills into his runs. He used a regular watch (these were the pre-Garmin/pre-Strava days). Al said on marathon day aim slower, you will finish faster. He also said he never ran the day before the race. When Al was running marathons in the 80s it was harder to qualify for Boston. He said to qualify for Boston in the ‘80s you had to finish a marathon twenty minutes faster then you have to finish today.
[Editorial note: Here are the BQ standards for men and women in the 1980s
WOMEN (ALL DIVISIONS)
19 – 39: 2hrs 50min
40 and over: 3hrs 10min
19 – 39: 2hrs 50min
19 – 39: 3hrs 20min
40 – 49: 3hrs 10min
40 and over: 3hrs 30min
50 – 59: 3hrs 20min
60 and over: 3hrs 30min
19 – 39: 2hrs 50min*
19 – 39: 3hrs 20min
40 – 49: 3hrs 10min
40 – 49: 3hrs 30min
50 – 59: 3hrs 20min
50 – 59: 3hrs 40min
60 and over: 3hrs 30min
60 and over: 3hrs 50min
18 – 39: 3hrs 00min
18 – 39: 3hrs 30min
40 – 49: 3hrs 10min
40 – 49: 3hrs 40min
50 – 59: 3hrs 20min
50 – 59: 3hrs 50min
60 and over: 3hrs 30min
60 and over: 4hrs 00min
end of editorial note]
Renting schools after the NYC Marathon
Because Al was an elementary school principal, he knew that you could rent schools on the weekends and thus began the PPTC tradition of renting a school by the finish line near Central Park. He would line the locker rooms with towels so his runners could shower and relax after the marathon. One year he even made five gallons of vegetable soup. When I asked him why he did this he said “I knew how great it was to have hot soup and a shower after a race.”
Teaching his students the joys of running
The best thing he did as a principal was teach every student how to run a mile. He taught his students valuable life lessons as he taught them to run. He told them run the mile if you feel like you have to stop walk but don’t stop running. He even taught his students how to pace. He said you need two leaders. One leader to set the pace, and the other to check that everyone is running with that leader. If anyone runs ahead, they have to sit down. This taught the students not to run too fast. After they learned how to run a mile, he would let them compete. He gave medals to every student who finished their race whether they ran or walked. Later on in life, some of his students qualified for Boston by finishing the NYC Marathon in 2 hours and 50 minutes.
Running in the Heat
We also talked about running through the heat. He told a story about when he became victim to the heat during the Boston Marathon. He finished that marathon in 3h and 47 seconds as opposed to his usual marathon time of 3h 27seconds. Then five days after Boston, Al finished 5th place in his age group for the National 5K in Prospect Park. So being that there has been so much discussion about hot weather running and races that don’t go as planned I asked him how he was able to do it. This is what he said, “ I jogged every day instead of running my usual 8 minute mile and had self confidence.”
A Gift from Al
After the race, Al gave me one of his medals, which is an honor to have. Al directed me out of the park we continued to talk about running. When I dropped him off he thanked me for driving him. I thanked him for the souvenir and for the privilege and honor of getting to know him. He reminded me that at 97 he still drives, but Tom wouldn’t let him drive to the race.
If you would like to read more about our past PPTC presidents, including Al Goldstein, please read this page.
Lillian: Hey, do you want to drive me to Watertown? It’s six hours north of here.
Lillian: There’s an 18-mile race up there.
Jimmy looks at Google maps.
Jimmy: It’s close to the border. Can we go to Canada? I need to buy Haagen Dazs.
Lillian: Sure! I’ll buy orange Fanta.
The best thing about PPTC is that no matter how crazy your idea is, you can always find a friend who’ll join you in your outrageous endeavors.
Yes, we really did cross the border to buy Haagen Dazs and Fanta. No, we can’t get these in the US. Haagen Dazs has five different flavors of alcohol-infused ice cream (Rum Vanilla Caramel Blondie, Whiskey Chocolate Truffle, Irish Cream Coffee & Biscotti, Vodka Key Lime Pie, and Rum Ginger Cookie) that is exclusively available only in Canada. As for orange Fanta, the formula for orange Fanta varies from country to country. I love the Canadian and European versions and hate the US one.
And yes, that pretty much was our real life conversation when discussing this race.
We took off for Sackets Harbor at the leisurely time of 5:30 in the morning on Saturday. Jimmy wanted to leave even earlier, but I begged for mercy and asked for another half hour of sleep. After stopping for coffee at Wawa, gas, Krispy Kreme, and visiting a friend, past noon we made it to the race expo at the Sackets Harbor Battlefield, which was the site of two major battles (first battle & second battle) in the War of 1812. This is the war where the British troops famously burned down the White House (and something that Canadians like to take credit for as I learned when I lived in Toronto).
The theme of the War of 1812 is quite predominant throughout the race. The official route is 18.12 miles long (actually it’s shorter because I – and everyone else – always measures this course short, around 17.9 miles). They give out $1812 worth of prize money. The finishers medal and race shirt feature a patriot. I love well-thought out themed races.
The next day we parked at Sackets Harbor Battlefield, where the finish line would be, to catch a shuttle to the start line in Watertown. The weather was just about perfect – a shade over 50 degrees. Only a cloud cover would have made it better. Even without the cloud cover, the sun was not a problem. Because the race starts early at 7 am, there was plenty of shade from the trees, and when there wasn’t any shade, we were running with the sun to our backs.
Jimmy and I briefly discussed our race plans. Right before the horn went off, we mutually agreed that if we happened to run with each other that was great, but we were not to wait for the other person. All throughout the drive to Sackets Harbor from Brooklyn and earlier that morning, Jimmy swore he would start out between 9:00 and 9:30 pace. Instead, he took off charging like there was a battle in front of him that he had to storm. I didn’t even get a chance to run with him for a quarter mile. For better or worse, I was going to run my own race and I watched him fade into the distance.
I eventually caught up to Jimmy at Mile 6.5. We briefly ran together and then I decided to go ahead because I was feeling good. At the end of the race, Jimmy told me that he followed me for the next several miles.
The 18.12 course was not exactly as I had remembered. All week I told Jimmy that it was a downhill down with one, maybe two hills in the beginning and another small one at the end.
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
It is a net downhill course, but you’ll never realize it because of all the rolling hills. I counted the hills and in the end I lost track. There are a lot of hills, albeit small ones with gentle inclines, on the course. The net decline does help you and it shows up in your paces because you notice that you run faster with less effort.
Compared to last year, there was less entertainment out on the course. There weren’t any musicians, but I did see a little girl doing some Irish step dancing. The bulk of the entertainment came between Miles 8 and 13. Right before we entered Sacket Harbor, a huge group of cheerleaders cheered for us. A police officer welcomed us with the booming words, “Welcome to Sackets Harbor!” Sweeter words were never spoken. There was a pirate-themed water station with swashbuckling pirates handing out water, Gatorade, an ice cold wet towel, and sweet, sweet popsicles.
The hardest part of the race is the turn-off for the runners doing the 18.12 Challenge because you know the half marathoners have only another two miles to the finish line, but you have another five miles. At this point, I’m tired and think, “This is cruel.”
I was running really well and following the race plan that I set out for myself – to run the first five miles conservatively and then progressively speed up every five miles. A quick glance at my new-to-me Garmin (thanks, Jennie!) showed me that I was well on my way to smashing the previous year’s time. I decided to race out the final three miles and picked off runners left and right. This was really fun for me because I often fade at the end of races. I’ve been working really hard at having a strong end game, and it was nice to see progress being made.
One last turn and it’s the straightaway to the finish line. I’m thrilled to find out that I finished in 2:31:12, which is well over a six-minute PR for me. Jimmy crosses the finish line a couple minutes after me in 2:33:24, which earned him 2nd place in his age group. We both had great races.
The post-race party was wonderful. There was a ton of food (apples, oranges, bananas, sandwiches, pizza, yogurt, cookies, and more) and we were encouraged to take seconds and thirds. Fun music played over speakers. People took their time to enjoy the beautiful weather and scenery overlooking Lake Ontario after the race. I chatted with other runners while waiting for the awards ceremony.
I highly recommend the 18.12 Challenge to any PPTC member, especially if you’re doing marathon training. The race is well-organized, fun, and well worth having Jimmy drive you six hours to North Country. You might have to go to Canada though.
P.S. After the race, we went to sightseeing at Boldt Castle in the Thousand Islands because we felt that we didn’t do enough that day. The castle and boat tour were super cool and receive two thumbs up from us.
So this may be a long recap, but it was also a long race, so bear with me.
I did the North Face Endurance Challenge at Bear Mountain last year, but wanted something not quite so challenging course-wise this year, so at the suggestion of Jana and Shan, I signed up for the Dirty German Endurance Fest 50 mile race. It is in Pennypack Park in Philadelphia, and has a lot fewer climbs and rocky bits, so I thought it would be a slightly saner endeavor. I was wrong.
In the 10 days or so before the race, the forecast went from mostly sunny with highs in the mid 60’s to downpour and low 50’s. Sara and I went down to Wilmington, DE and were graciously hosted by Shan and his parents. We went shopping the day before to stock up on supplies and then relaxed and watched the Avengers with Shan’s dad (a definite highlight of the trip).
We got up at 4:15 am, packed up the car, and headed out after only one small freak out where I couldn’t find my wallet. The rain had started in earnest, but I kept hoping that I was perceiving it letting up a little, even as Shan kept changing the wipers to higher and higher settings. We drove up to Philadelphia with minimal fuss and used the flush toilets at a Wawa near the park as a luxury, where we ran into our first fellow participants.
Once we got to the start area we ran into Jana and Anh-Tuan, but only had a little time to get our bibs, set our drop bags, and take a second to appreciate how miserable the conditions were. I was running in my normal shorts and singlet with a handheld water bottle, and as I scanned my fellow runners with their Camelbaks, ponchos, packs and hats and gloves and compression socks, I commented that I felt underdressed. “That’s because you are!” chuckled a gentleman with 15 lbs of extra gear. I usually feel very intimidated at the start of a race, like everyone else is going to fly by me, but for the first time ever I had a sense that I belonged among those other runners, that I had trained as well as possible and fit in, even if I wasn’t wearing as much as they were.
“That’s because you are!” chuckled a gentleman with 15 lbs of extra gear. I usually feel very intimidated at the start of a race, like everyone else is going to fly by me, but for the first time ever I had a sense that I belonged among those other runners — that I had trained as well as possible and fit in, even if I wasn’t wearing as much as they were.
Before I knew it, they were shuffling Shan and me into the herd, and we were off for the first of three 16.5 mile loops in the park. We fell in toward the back of the pack, and just sort of settled into a rhythm. The conditions weren’t too terrible, some puddles and mud, but nothing too bad. I was happy to have serious trail shoes with what amounted to cleat treads on the bottom. Shan was obviously struggling to keep his footing in his AB2s, but we slowly moved up through the pack.
We almost went off course at one point, but were hollered at by two women and realized our mistake. I think Shan and I decided it was best to stick with them for a little longer and let them lead the way, content to be safe in a pack. We stayed there for most of the first loop until speeding up a bit towards the end. The course was really well marked, the aid stations were evenly spaced and well stocked, and the volunteers were all super cheerful and helpful. I can’t say enough about how well this event was organized and executed in really terrible conditions.
At the start of the second loop I quickly noticed two things: 1) we were probably a little quick on our first loop and 2) an extra 2.5 hours of rain and a couple hundred runners worth of footfalls hadn’t done the course any favors. What used to be small puddles were now like the world’s worst kiddie pools, and they rerouted us across a condemned bridge instead of one of the stream crossings because it was safer.
The extra mud was playing havoc with my footing, and I was really feeling for Shan, but was also approaching what I consider to be the hardest part of a 50-mile race — miles 20-30. That is where my survival instinct kicks in and my brain starts telling me it is better to stop. Along a particularly muddy section, Shan dropped back and I had to make the conscious decision to stay on pace because if I slowed I didn’t know if I would be able to finish.
I figured I was in the top 20 or so, and was just focused on keeping moving as fast as I could. The lead woman passed me, and we chatted a bit, mainly my letting her regale me with tales of her 100-mile races as I panted and tried to keep up. I was happy for the company, but she soon left me behind.
At this point, I was running by myself, but I was not alone. I had read that positive self-talk helps other runners, so I started talking to myself, telling myself that I could do this, that I had trained hard, that I had been through worse. I also started thinking of all the people that I had the opportunity to train with over the last few months, even if we only shared a few miles, and I began to thank them out loud for helping me along this journey. Knowing that I had a whole team with me helped immensely.
My second lap was about 20 minutes slower than the first, but I still had a slight hope of averaging a 10 min mile by doing the last loop in three hours flat. This turned out to be a false hope. I have never run a Tough Mudder, but that is the only thing that came to mind while traversing the last 16 miles. It was nothing but puddles, mud, and slogging, accompanied by the squelching of my shoes and my increasingly labored breathing.
Fatigue had set in, but I knew I was doing well overall. I had seen the lead woman drop out after taking a tumble, and was passed by Chris Scarpetti, a very accomplished ultra runner, with about 12 miles to go. I was feeling alternately bone weary and giddy, finding myself laughing at the absurdity of what we were doing. The last few miles ticked away, and my goals kept getting pushed back, but I had no doubts about finishing now; it was merely a question of how much more suffering was in store. I consciously didn’t press the pace too much, knowing I wanted to cross the finish line strong and not sobbing. I also made sure to thank all of the volunteers on the last lap, knowing that they were the real rock stars on that day, standing in the cold for hours on end just so a bunch of crazy runners could gallivant through the woods.
As I headed out of the woods for the last time I started going at a pace that could be considered “running” and saw Shan scrambling out of his car to join me. He was shoeless and chasing me like a crazed animal, shouting what I thought was an encouragement. Sara and Jana were there at the finish cheering too, and I ran through the finish arch just relieved it was over.
At that point, I saw a volunteer approach me and say, “Third overall!” while attempting to hand me a jug, a hat, and a box. I was slightly confused, as I had no idea I was in third, and had never even considered the possibility of a podium finish. The box contained a little cuckoo clock that says “3rd Place Dirty German,” a really cool and unique award. I wanted to hug and high five everyone and tell them I loved them, so I did. We took a bunch of pictures and ate some AMAZING bratwurst and sauerkraut.
Within minutes of finishing my body started to revolt: shivering, cramping, and pain, oh so much pain. Hips, feet, and ankles were especially bad, but it was just general pain. We piled into Shan’s mom’s car, trying our best not to destroy its interior too thoroughly, and headed to a post race feast of Five Guys and frozen yogurt, which tasted amazing after months of low carb training. More hugs and high fives were exchanged, and Shan and Jana dropped us off at the train station to head home.
Forty hours or so later I feel moderately human again. I managed four miles at a decent pace this morning, and I don’t seem to have done any lasting damage. I continue to be amazed at what I am capable of, but also know that I am only capable of doing this with the love and support of those around me. If you are reading this, I am truly grateful to have you as a teammate and in my life. You all continually inspire me to become the best possible version of myself. Special thanks to Jana and Sara for sticking around in the cold rain at the finish after kicking butt in their own races and to Shan for joining me on this crazy journey and providing accommodations, chauffeuring, coaching, and inspiration. Finally, thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Haq for allowing us to stay in their home and for letting us trash their car. I hope the smell comes out soon.
Did you know that PPTC has four team captains? Captains work to bring team unity, as well as plan, organize and lead programs and group activities. Our current team captains are Michael Koplin, Linda Ewing, Adam Devine and Missy Burgin. Read their bios to learn a little more about them! If you need to reach them, you can contact the captains by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
I started running in May 2010 when I was 63 years old. After losing weight, my routine exercise of walking morphed into running. I quickly fell in love. I ran the Baltimore Marathon in October 2011 with my cousin and then joined PPTC. Since my first race in 2011 I’ve completed over 160 races, including 7 marathons. I have always enjoyed the competition and fellowship of the running community.
Over the past 6 years I’ve witnessed and participated in the development of many PPTC runners and consider our team competitive and able to run against all other teams.
One of my goals has been to encourage our Masters runners to participate in NYRR team points races and other races. We have an amazing group of Masters runners that bring honor to the PPTC colors. Of course, our younger runners are quite extraordinary and I always look forward to seeing them compete against the best of the other running clubs.
I am a USA Track & Field (USATF) Level-1 Coach, National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Certified Interscholastic Level-2 Coach, and have a US Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Track & Field Technical Coaching Certification. I’m also a Track & Cross Country Coach at St. Edmund Preparatory High School.
Being a co-captain of the PPTC Men’s Team is an honor and I am thrilled to work on behalf of our club and its great group of runners.
I was a latecomer to running, nagged into it by a couple of friends who watched me walking on the treadmill and tried to persuade me to run instead. I thought that if I ran a few times to demonstrate that I hated and was bad at it, I’d shut them up. (It seemed a safe bet, since at age 35, my only prior running experience was a mandatory, torturous mile back in high school phys ed.)
To my surprise, I liked it.
Over the next 20+ years (gulp), my motivations for running changed – from weight loss to fun to friendship to (modest) competitiveness as a member of Motor City Striders and the Front Line Racing Team – until, finally, running was simply part of my identity. When I moved to Brooklyn from Detroit, I was thrilled to discover in PPTC the running club of my dreams, a combination training group, racing team, roving gastronomic society and all-around great community.
My PR days (19:21 5K, 1:29:21 Half Marathon, 3:15:32 Marathon) are behind me, but I love running as much as ever (if not more so). While I feel a special bond with my fellow masters runners, I especially love watching members who are new to running fall in love with the sport and run faster than they ever imagined they could. I see our role as captains as being to support and encourage *all* our members, whatever their pace, as they chase their racing goals.
I have been a club member since May of 2015, and at this point, it is hard to imagine how I survived so long without y’all. I had a bit of running experience back in my early 20’s, but was hit by a car while cycling back in 2008, and that put a damper on my running for a bit. Sara signed us up for the Brooklyn Half back in 2015, and we both had terrible races. But we both saw how much fun PPTC members seemed to be having, and decided we wanted some of whatever Kool-aid you all were drinking.
Since then I have gotten more serious about running, completing a few marathons and a handful of ultra-marathons. I’m also trying to get a bit faster, and am inching towards my goal of breaking 20 minutes in the 5k. I owe almost all of my improvements to the support and motivation I get from the club.
My favorite part about being a captain is getting to be a cheerleader for my teammates. I have gotten to know so many more members, and can’t get enough of screaming for them and banging away on my cowbell to cheer them to success. I am a better runner and a better person due to my membership in the club, and I can’t wait to share many more miles with everyone in the future.
With my Midwest sensibilities in tow, I joined PPTC in 2013 after moving to Brooklyn. I was looking for new training buddies (friends) and found so much more. I’m a long time runner and natural motivator, and since my middle school days, friends and teammates have looked to me for advice and encouragement. I’ve been a driving force in the creation and continuance of the Marathon Training Group (MTG), and beyond my Team Captain duties, I enjoy giving back to the club by helping put on PPTC races and serving on the Board of Directors.
When not running, you can find me frolicking around Prospect Heights eating ice cream (year round), making small batch pickles & jams, and laughing my way through life.
I’m always looking for new training partners, so don’t forget to invite me out for a run!
Training Goals: 3:07 marathon & being as good of a cowbeller as Adam Devine.
The last 5K of the Al Goldstein Summer Series took place on Aug 16th. Over 500 runners came to participate in PPTC’s final 5K for 2017. We look forward to seeing everyone again in November for our Turkey Trot!
Once again, PPTC had a great showing and came away with a few awards and PRs too.
The top three women for PPTC were Jana Trenk (18:46), Leiba Rimler (20:24), and Shania Smith (20:47).
Congratulations to Jana for coming in 2nd overall female for AGSS #7.
Kudos to Kathleen Lewis (29:12) for her 3rd place in her age group (55-59).
Once again, Leiba is on the podium with 1st place in her age group (30-34).
Shania‘s performance garnered her 1st place in her age group (15-19).
Marvelous Maggie Deschamps (22:35) takes 1st place in her age group (50-54).
Jennie Matz came away with 2nd place in her age group (40-44).
Congrats to Judith Diers (25:50) who received 3rd place in her age group (50-54).
Other top ten performance in age groups
Colleen Lynch (23:09) (30-34)
Lindsay Turley (21:39) (35-39)
Holly Chase (22:07) (30-34)
Hannah Southworth (23:02) (25-29)
Wallis Finger (23:10) (35-39)
Lisa Smith (27:56) (45-49)
Ulla Griffiths (28:43) (45-49)
Janice Fuld (28:50) (50-54)
Congratulations to these women for setting new PRs!
Jana Trenk (18:46)
Leiba Rimler (20:24)
Maddie Coultrip (24:23) – A big welcome to Maddie! She’s new to PPTC and this was her first 5K. Many more to come we hope!
Katie Dadarria (26:50) – After dealing with plantar fasciitis for five months, Katie’s back faster than ever!
The top three men for PPTC were Sean Quealy (17:12), Matt Siefker (17:42) and Dean Gebhardt (18:23).
It should be noted that Sean’s performance was good enough for a 10th overall finish.
Congratulations to Dean for his 1st place AG award (50-54).
Melvyn Stafford‘s (18:41) performance earned him 2nd place in his age group (50-54).
Kudos to Anthony Watson (20:52) for his 2nd place showing in his age group (55-59).
Kudos to our own Larry Sillen (45:43) whose photographing did not get in the way of his taking 1st place for his age group (70+).
Other top ten performance in age groups
Alexis Davidson (31:54) (60-64)
Matt Siefker (17:42) (30-34)
Robert Dimock (19:44) (40-44)
Oren Efrati (20:50) (45-49)
Howard Abrams (21:41) (50-54)
Tom Sheridan (22:03) (50-54)
Sam Smullen (23:03) (55-59)
Tom Tobin (24:50) (60-64)
Frank Deleo (25:54) (60-64)
Lawrence Balick (27:20) (60-64)
Richard Cahn (57:55) (65-69)
Congratulations to these men for setting new PRs!
Ahn-Tuan Tran (22:37), who broke his old time of 24:10 set earlier this summer at AGSS #1.
Sam Smullen (23:03)
Tim Peck (29:06), which is an 1:40 improvement over his previous PR.
Of course, PPTC would not be able to put on its events without our incredible volunteers. We would like to acknowledge and thank our members who volunteered for AGSS #7.
Veronica Antoine Michael Ring Liz Grammer Priscilla Upshaw Paul Lowe Charlene Kohler-Britton Eliza Varner Sara Devine Sam Smullen Missy Burgin Tricia McNaughton Murray Rosenblith Mervlyn Baptiste Chaya Wolf Rich Nolan Janet Gottlieb Eric Levenstein Junior Passee Natacha Ferrari
I always used to find a way to run this race. I never tried to run my fastest because my fastest cannot ever help the team. Sometimes I ran the men’s race and then the women’s race just to get in the extra miles. A few times I ran all the way to the start because recently it began coinciding with the first day of the Summer Streets program. Whenever possible, I scheduled my family vacations around this race.
But in May of 2014, I lost control of the ability to schedule vacations and races. I was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome; my immune system malfunctioned and started treating the myelin sheets of my motor nerves as enemies. I went from marathon-ready to paralyzed in a few days. (Eventually, I was re-diagnosed with a rare variant of this rare disease. I have acute motor axonal neuropathy. That means my immune system attacked the motor axons themselves.) It was a no-brainer to ask for a medical deferral in the marathon I was going to run the end of that month. But it never occurred to me that I wasn’t going to be able to show up for a 5-mile race in August.
Between May and July I moved from one hospital to another five or six times. Most of them happened with a strange sense of bureaucratic emergency. Doctors and social workers worked together to find me a bed and then with hardly any notice at all, I was transported to a different hospital. But my wife and I had some say in where I was going for the last hospital. At that point I needed to be transferred to a long-term subacute medical facility, known to most people as a nursing home. My wife visited these places and let me know that they would all suck and that there was a facility that had the best physical therapy, and the worst food, but was in Chinatown. The place they came in second on her list was on Fifth Avenue around E 100 Street. Looking back, it was probably selfish of me but I really wanted to be uptown, near Central Park. I had this fantasy that I could get a day pass from rehab and get to Central Park to see the Club Team Championship Race. I wanted to see the race and I wanted to be seen.
On August 2, 2014 I put on my happy face when a few of my teammates ran south on Summer Streets to visit me in Chinatown after the race. After they left I went to my happy place; I reviewed all the times I ran to the start of this race. Running over the Brooklyn Bridge as the sun was rising, running up Lafayette and Park Avenues. I remembered what it was like to run from Brooklyn to the northern end of Central Park arriving just 90 seconds before the race was to start. I also remembered what it was like to run through the Park Avenue Tunnel at 34th St. because the police weren’t looking. Although this disease was able to temporarily take away my bodily functions, it couldn’t touch my memories. But the memory I replayed countless times was what it was like to run that last mile in a race that ends at the 102nd St Transverse – with the hill behind me and that long straightaway past Engineers Gate, then a slight left turn and the sounds of cheering teammates.
In 2015 I got a ride to the race. I had just graduated from using a walker to a forearm crutch to get around. I don’t think anyone knew how challenging (frightening) it was for me that day. My balance was terrible. Well, it wasn’t really a balance issue, I was still suffering from a lack of proprioception in my legs. That meant that while I had the nerve function hold up my body weight and walk, I couldn’t always tell where my legs were. It was weird. I don’t think anyone noticed my tears of joy when I got up to the top of that big rock so I could see everyone run by. I remember looking back at Mount Sinai Hospital to the east of Central Park thinking that symbolically that’s where I was last year and looking forward to Park Drive and knowing that was where I would be next year.
And yes, in 2016 I ran the race. Running isn’t really the word I should use. The New York Road Runners Club allowed me to start behind the women in their race so I could finish among the slowest men. I walked. My body wasn’t ready to run yet.
But this past Sunday, I was able to live the dream that I had three years ago. And Holy Moly, I was incredibly happy with myself because this was a race. I just went to the New York Road Runners Club race results website to see if I met my goal of sub-20 minute miles. Not only did I do that, but I beat someone. I did not come in last!
Okay, back to talking about race strategy. My plan for this race was to alternate running and walking every minute. I actually installed a boxing match timer on my phone for one minute rounds and one minute rest periods. (The Galloway apps that make audible alerts cost money. WTF). The race started with a little problem. I couldn’t get the app to work and I didn’t want to stand at the starting line fiddling with it. So I decided to just count my steps – 50 walking steps and then 60 running steps. I did that for the first couple of miles but I was beginning to lose my mind. Luckily, I noticed how evenly the cones were put out by the New York Road Runners. So I’d run for three cones and walk for two cones.
But then there was the last quarter-mile. That quarter-mile that I ran so many times in my head. I started to think about how glorious it was to be living that this dream. This quarter-mile was better than I remembered it. It wasn’t just the Prospect Park Track Club cheering for me. It started with the cheers zone from North Brooklyn. I saw someone I didn’t even know pointed me and screamed, “Look it’s Michael Ring and he’s running!” So, I had to clear my head because I had to do two things; I had to run the rest of the way and more importantly I had to not fall down. The not falling down part became a big challenge when one of my favorite teammates slammed into me tapped me on the shoulder.
It’s Tuesday morning and I’m just about to send this off to the Communications Committee. There is something I need to add. At last night’s membership meeting I had intended to stand up and tell my story when Tom asked about recent races. I’m sorry, but I couldn’t do that. I started to choke up as I raised my hand. I’m saving the water works for November’s meeting.
PPTC was offered three guaranteed entry spots for the 2017 NYC Marathon. Using the hashtag #PickMePPTC, interested members were asked to submit a selfie and write up via social media explaining why they wanted to run this year’s marathon.
Congratulations to our contest winners: Noah, Jennifer, and Carlos! Wishing them the best of luck for an amazing training cycle and marathon.
I asked each of them to tell us a little more about themselves. You can read about them below:
I’ve been a runner for a little over a year but really started getting serious after I impulsively joined Oren and Leiba on a 15 mile run to the Rockaways last July. Somehow it seemed like a good idea even though I’d never run more than 10 miles in one go before. After surviving that I started to get ideas that maybe I could actually do a marathon myself. A year later running has become such an important part of my life that it’s been easy to get motivated even before I got chosen to run New York. But now that I do have the marathon to train for I have a better excuse to run so much with all my friends in the club.
The part of the marathon I’m most looking forward to is passing Peter Pan Doughnuts in Greenpoint. Back when I lived in the neighborhood I would sit outside the shop and watch the marathon with my friends and wonder why all these people were choosing to suffer so much. Funny how things change. It’ll be hard to resist the urge to stop and get a doughnut in the middle of the race.
I started running when I was in 6th grade… so… over 30 years ago. I competed in cross country, indoor and outdoor track from junior high through college and between college and grad school. Then I took a 10-year hiatus from all athletic activity because I didn’t have the time or the will to train hard enough to stay in competitive shape, and — hubris alert! — I felt that “recreational” running was beneath me. I started running again in 2008 when a friend dared me to sign up for the Brooklyn Half with her. Soon after I got back into running, I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the tender age of 32. I kept running all through treatment and it was my way of making friends with my body again; of showing myself it could do good things, too, when it wasn’t trying to kill me. That experience really got me over any feelings of being ashamed that I’m not as fast as I used to be (it’s pretty humbling to come in close to DFL in a giant NYRR race!) and helped me to just accept that running is its own reward, independent of the time on your watch or your place in the pack. Now I run to maintain my healthy relationship with my body and my healthy relationship with running itself.
I’m most looking forward to training with my fellow PPTCers. There’s really nothing I enjoy more than long runs, exploring the five boroughs with my teammates. I recently read an article about how difficult it is to make true friends, as opposed to just mere acquaintances, as an adult. Most people don’t find the time to just hang out for long stretches with no agenda other than talking to each other. As I was reading, I kept thinking… none of this is true! I definitely have many deep friendships that have developed in just this way: through the luxury of lots and lots of agenda-free conversations. Then I realized that almost all of those conversations were with my PPTC teammates on our runs.
I started running in 2005. My girlfriend at the time (who is now my wife), told me about a local 5k in Orlando and how much fun they were. I looked up a training plan, similar to Couch to 5k, and trained for a couple of months. Not knowing my pace, I ran it conservatively in 35 minutes, with tons of energy to spare. After that, I never ran slower than 25 minutes and I was hooked.
I realize when I stop running, or do nothing physical, I feel restless. Running keeps me both mentally and physically fit. Signing up for races also motivates my training. Plus, being part of a running group, like PPTC, keeps me socially active.
Besides running over the Verrazano and the cheering crowds, there is that brief period in Queens, where we will run where I grew up as a kid. I went to school a few blocks away from the Queensboro bridge and it will add to the memories growing up there.
For a period of time, it looked uncertain as to whether the NYRR Team Championships would go on with the rain and lightning in the area, but in the end, lightning decided to stay away, leaving only humidity behind. A team of 74 PPTC runners (43 men and 31 women) ran 5 miles for glory on August 5th. The men’s race started at 8:00 am and the women’s race started at 8:45 am. Here are few PPTC highlights.
Congratulations to Ben Collier for being the fastest PPTC man in the NYRR Team Champs (30:15).
Dean Gebhardt and Matt Siefker came in 2nd and 3rd for PPTC men (30:26 and 31:02, respectively). Dean came in 4th for his age group, which is also the highest age group placement for men in PPTC.
Congratulations to Tyrone Sklaren (43:57) and Dan Dougherty (35:29) whose performances garnered them top ten finishes in their age groups (5th and 10th, respectively).
Big birthday PR for Jimmy Leung (38:52)! Congratulations, Cronut Prince!
A PR for Ben Allison (32:18)! Congrats!
Congratulations to Sam Smullen (40:48) for his PR!
Noah Deveraux (31:37) raced his first 5-miler and therefore gets an automatic PR!
Congratulations to Jana Trenk for being the fastest PPTC woman in the NYRR Team Champs (31:39).
Mary Johnston and Missy Burgin came in 2nd and 3rd for PPTC women (33:40 and 35:31, respectively).
Congratulations to Charlene Kohler-Britton whose 7th place in her age group is the highest PPTC women finish we have for the age group divisions (53:36).
It should be noted that Mary Johnston and Claire Dougherty (46:21) finished in the top ten for their age group (9th for both).
Carla Benton (38:30) and Hilary Pauli (43:31) both got new 5-mile PRs in this brutal weather. Great job, ladies!
Congratulations to Rachel G. (41:40) for her PR as well!
Big thanks to Linda Ewing, Crystal Cun, Tom Meany, and Eric Levenstein, our “picnic” organizers, for hauling all the goodies to Starbucks because the weather forced them to pre-emptively cancel the picnic. Post-race fun was had with at Ryan’s Daughter.
The Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon is a fast and PR-friendly course that makes for a beautiful weekend trip across the border. I signed up on a whim two weeks before the race because my spring training had been good. I had initially planned some trail races in spring and to do a road marathon only this fall – but I felt ready, so why not give it a try?
Unfortunately, the conditions were less than ideal. Days of rain had flooded parts of tToronto and strong winds of 20-30 mph were forecast for race day. But there was no backing out now and in the end, it turned out to be a great race for me after all.
The first half of the course is downhill and with the wind in my back, I felt like flying. I passed the half marathon mark well under my target time and still felt fresh. The route continued through the scenic downtown area and along Lake Ontario for the second half. The wind now blew straight into our faces and I was lucky to find a group of runners who pulled together to share the lead work and draft off each other.
A few miles before the finish, our group started to disintegrate and I could feel my quads shut down from the impact of the earlier downhill sections. My splits began to drop but I forced myself to not let up and finished utterly exhausted but thrilled. With a time of 3:01:23 I had beaten my old PR by more than eight minutes and achieved the Boston qualifying standard for the first time.
The Goodlife Marathon is a well-organized race with a friendly vibe. For being in one of the largest North American cities, the race was relatively small (only about 1,200 Marathon participants). It didn’t feel like in New York or Berlin, where the whole city is taken over by the event. I guess this has its upsides and downsides. Sightseeing and great food options made the trip worth it despite the weather and I was rewarded with a superb race experience.