Category Archives: Blog

Race Report: Manitou’s Revenge

By Matthew Imberman

Race: Manitou’s Revenge

Where: Catskills, New York

When: June 17, 2017

This is the description from the Race Director:
“THIS IS NOT LIKE ANY OTHER ULTRA YOU’VE RUN BEFORE!
This is a grueling, gnarly, nasty course with approximately 15,000 ft. of climbing, much of it rocky and precipitous.  To be sure, there are some runnable sections, but you will more often find yourself hiking uphill or down, sometimes hand over hand.  Expect this course to take you much longer than your average 50 miler. That’s why we are allowing 24 hrs. to complete this monster. Because of its remote and difficult nature, there will of necessity be a limited number of aid stations, 8 or 9, and runners should be prepared to spend up to 3 or 4 hrs between aid stations. You will have to be reasonably self-sufficient. To make matters worse, the course gets progressively more difficult as you go along! And to top it all off, the average runner will have to tackle this hardest terrain in the dark.”
Back story: I don’t know exactly why I ended up choosing Manitou’s as my goal race for spring/summer ultra season, but whatever it was, I’m thankful for it. There are race formats (5k, 10k, 26.2, etc.) that create and sustain meaningful product and process goals: breaking three hours in the marathon, or going sub 24 hours in a 100 miler, I imagine. Then there are races that because of their historical importance, the challenging nature of their terrain, their location the weather, or a combination thereof–become a life’s work, with rewards that come not just from achieving a specific time, but from starting and (hopefully) finishing the journey. Manitou’s Revenge is one of these races.
This was my second time running and finishing the course. I ran it in 2015 in just over 18 hours, recovering from a hip flexor injury, and on the edge of being overtrained from a long marathon to ultra season, with lots of work pressure to boot. I don’t add this in to apologize for my less-than-stellar result: 1) just finishing Manitou’s within cutoffs is something to be proud of and 2) Everyone who trains for this race a little or a lot probably has their own “niggle” that they could use to handicap themselves. It’s more to remind myself that you can’t expect results that you don’t plan for. This time around I had fewer miles on my legs, and fewer days out on the trail; however, I had a clearer idea of the course, I had arguably trained more specifically and somewhat more intelligent given how I had to be creative with my training to make it fit around family and work. I thought if I had the best day ever, the weather was great, and everything went perfectly I could finish ~16 hours. Given that the weather was far less from perfect I’m thrilled with my results; however, there are some things I could have done in-race to scrape away at least 30 mins, but I’ll get to that. Anyways…
Training for Manitou’s was extremely non-linear, which is to be expected given the whole circus of two kids and two jobs. Throw in planning a move that happened two days after the race and it gives an idea of the creativity with which I’ve had to approach training: running mostly to and/or from work, long runs on a Sunday night, taking off a few Fridays to get some trail time in. This sport is a labor of love, so none of this seems like a sacrifice to me. This season I relished every run I got, and constantly felt appreciative of being able to get a run in, and, at times, anxious that I wasn’t getting enough mileage in.
Plans for the race only jelled in the final week. I was hoping to stay closer to the start and sleeping in until at least 4 am for the 5 am start; however, a lot of that hinged on my friend, Brennan’s plan, as he was trying to decide between pacing me for the last half of the race, or running the full length himself. He decided to run the race and with everything going on I had neglected to line up any alternative crew to help with logistics for the point-to-point format of the course, so I decided to make peace with staying close to the finish and waking up at 2:15, so we could get to the buses that left at 3:30 to transport us to the start.
Brennan and I left the city midday on Friday and got up to Phoenicia at around 2, had some lunch, and went to our motel in Big Indian to get our start kit, drop bags, and finish bags ready. I had packed a week out from the race because I knew there would be too much going on week off to not be a total spaz. I had some PB&J on the way up so I wasn’t really hungry for lunch. We got settled at the Starlite Motel in Big Indian, which was actually pretty awesome, and headed into Phoenicia to pick up our packets. We had dinner at Brio’s (chicken fajitas, latkes, and beers) and the headed back to finalize our bags for the big day.
Weather for race day was all over the place: 70 and sunny to 85 and thunderstorms. After 3+ rainy hours my first year, I decided to play it safe and plan for rain which never arrived but would have been most welcome. The entire day was incredibly humid and I kept wishing for rain. It had been insanely hot earlier in the week, and then rainy followed by humidity, which meant the very rocky course was made even slicker. And then the mud. But I digress.
Here’s what I ended up using or packing for the race:
Breakfast
Peanut Butter on wheat bread
2 scoops of Ucan in 10 oz of water, 1 hour before start
Start kit:
Salomon Half-zip t-shirt
Salomon Exo short tight
Salomon S-Lab Advanced Skin3 5 Set Pack (2015 model)
Naked Running band waist pack
Raidlight 600ml soft-flasks with straws x2, filled with water
Hydrapak 24 oz. soft flask, empty
Scott Kinablu SuperTrac shoes
Injinji trail mini-crew socks (changed at Platte Clove—too thick)
Half buff
Black Diamond Ultra Distance Z-Poles
8 gels
2 bag of pro-bar chews (1 with caffeine)
1 bag of honey stinger grapefruit chews
Black Diamond Storm headlight (2017 version) plus 4 extra AAA batteries
2Toms anti-chafe stick (applied, not carried)
Med kit: SCaps x 7, Pepto x 2, Tums x 5, tincture of benzene, mole skin pre-cut, safety pin, anti-septic gel, tiny lighter (in hindsight probably not needed)
iPod shuffle
Drop bag for Platte clove (31.5):
La Sportiva Helios SR shoes
Injinji Original mini-crew socks
Patagonia t-shirt
Inov-8 shorts (not used: Salomon’s were awesome)
Salomon S-Lab Advanced Skin 3 Belt Set
8 gels
3 bags of honey stinger chews (1 w/caffeine)
Black Diamond spot headlamp (not used; leant to a runner who forgot to pick up his lamp at platte clove)
Hydrapak 2L bladder
Arcteryx packable rain jacket (not used)
Finish:
Some kind of IPA from Other half courtesy of Brennan that I couldn’t finish
A bagel and cream cheese plus a bag of combos because I forgot to get food from the post-race buffet because I wanted to let Clara know I wasn’t dying somewhere along the Devil’s Path.
Race:
I was in Wave 5 which meant I had an extra 25 minutes to wait in the musty men’s room hoping, in vain, to be able to crap. As opposed to my first Manitou’s, I managed to make it a ways into the race before the lack of bathroom magic caught up with me. Like with most of my ultra-distance races above 50k, though, the lack of said bathroom magic caught up to me later in the race.
My start group was pretty somber and we trudged through the first few miles on the road in eery silence. It was a mixture of all the ultra types ones come to expect: the over-eager bro who wants to talk about all the races they’ve run and their training, the quiet mice happy to trudge along unnoticed, the grizzled vets doling out (unasked for) advice about the course, life, etc.. I was probably all of these at various points during the race, but at the start I was just trying to wake the fuck up.
We hit the left turn for the Black Dome trail and the gradual climb towards the Escarpment Trail. I felt kinda sleepy but my legs were finally waking up. During the first stretch, everything felt fine except that I felt like I was slipping and sliding all over the place. This was worrisome as I had worn my Scotts in a rainy 7+ hour day in Hudson Highlands and felt very confident. The trouble was that the rocks had developed a slippery coating thanks to the humidity during the week. I fell like 3 times in the first 20 miles, including one really splashy fall that ripped open my right forearm, leaving me dripping blood through the end of the race. I’m not ever going to be confused with Killian on the trails; however, I’m generally pretty nimble so it was disconcerting, to say the least. I was running with a really nice biologist from Vermont named Palmer, and she actually said at one point she wished she could buy me new shoes. So…yeah. This, however, is why we plan ahead. I knew I had shoes at Platte Clove that had served me well at the same point in Manitou’s in 2015 (note to self: just start in the La Sportiva Helios SR—they’re perfect for this course), so I decided to not stress and just focus on getting to through the first 50k without falling too much. It meant I was a little more hesitant than I normally would have been, but at least this was the easiest part of the course.
I felt generally fine through the Escarpment trail, which in itself is no picnic. I used my poles more than I thought I would have, and after a few times of taking them out and them stowing them in the naked band, I decided to just run with them in my hand which was the right decision. At some point around Blackhead Peak, the high point on the course, I passed Amy Hanlon who reminded me not to let her beat me (words that would play out in my head later on) and then also Brennen, who was in the wave ahead of me. He had mentioned at the start that he was going to drop at Platte Clove (~31M). Manitou’s is definitely a race where you have to be fully committed mentally, even if you’re afraid of what you’re committed to, so I wasn’t surprised to hear him say he was planning on dropping at North/South Lake). I felt for him, as I know what it’s like to DNF, and I also know first-hand how hard the course is. Given that he was flirting all season with not running the race, I think he made the right decision and I’m sure it wasn’t easy. God knows he’s run plenty of tough races and if it was time to call it quits, that was the right call.
I made it to North/South Lake mostly running with Palmer and Adam Moody, who I’d later learn was the same guy Brennan had camped out next to for Twisted Branch 100k. The descent down from Stopple was unmemorable but I felt more confident with my footing than earlier in the race. At north south I showed off my dripping arm wound for Joe Azze who was taking pictures for MPF (must have seen him like 4 times on the course) waved off medical help, ate some watermelon, stuffed my empty zip lock with potato chips, downed some Coke, and left Palmer behind, picking up a guy named Scott, also from VT, who would eventually finish 30 minutes ahead of me (I think).
I ran the long downhill to Palenville pretty well, eventually catching and passing Adam on the final descent that must be an out-of-service jeep road. It was rock-hopping at its finest, but I enjoyed it for the most part and rolled into Pallenville pretty focused: fill up the empty 24 oz. bottle for the 10M stretch without any aid, down Coke, pack zip lock with potato chips and Swedish fish as I was down to a few gels, and get moving while stuffing my face.
I headed out with two full 600ml bottles and the spare 24 oz. in the rear, plus some extra food. The road section was uneventful but I burned 5 mins spacing out and then having to consult my map about location, all for no reason as it was clearly flagged and I had followed the turns. I hit the sketchy back yard section and was either caught or caught up with Adam (probably the former) and headed uphill with my poles at the ready. I was kinda zoned out and didn’t catch the right turn past off the street onto the long path, and ended up heading up a jeep road for about 1/2 mile with Adam (sorry!) until I realized we were off course and we backtracked and headed onto the long path for the long climb up to KHP. The climb was worlds better than two years ago, when I had to grab downed limbs off the trailside to aid my shitty ascent after having snapped a trekking pole over my head on a nasty fall in the escarpment section. The poles were definitely helpful in taking some strain off my legs, and the work in the gym this season meant my upper body was ready to pick up the extra load. Still, I think a goal this summer is to practice climbing sans poles, as I think that’s going to be part of how I get better at Manitous. Back to the story…
The climb up was fine, but as we approached the flat part before KHP shoulder, that’s when the course got muddy. At some points it was shoe-sucking mud that left my kicks nicely coated in red-clay mud. At other points it was just slickly mud that made for anxious foot placement. All-in-all not exactly what you want after a long grind uphill, but thems the breaks. I forgot how pace-killing the descent down to Platte Clove is in comparison to the one to Palenville. I would hit stretches where I was running reasonably well, and then all of a sudden be tip-toeing around streams, mud, rock slabs, and other obstacles. Not as runnable as I remembered, but fun nonetheless.
I rolled into Platte Clove at ~31M with a clear idea of what I needed to do, but maybe an unrealistic idea of when I might finish. I knew from the first 10 miles of the race that I was going to switch into my La Sportivas; however, it’s never as fast to swap shoes as you think it’s going to, so from now on I’m just wearing the Helios SRs for everything. This year I’ve used them for a pretty tunable 50k and the hardest part of Manitou’s and they’ve been great. I also took the time to change shirts as my first one was totally soaked, and swapped out my naked waist band for my Salomon waist pack as with all the sweating it started to bounce around a lot. I grabbed 7 Huma gels (3 caffeine and 4 regular) and the remaining three bags of honey stinger chews, plus filled up my zip lock with potato chips, pretzels, and some m&ms. I also grabbed my bladder for the long stretch in the Devil’s Path, and uncharacteristically filled up one of my bottles with Gatorade. While I may not have been able to crap in the morning, this was one of those days where my body was happy with whatever I ate (which makes sense as I only grabbed stuff that instantly felt appealing). I also drank some pickle juice and a PB&J wrap and then headed off for the gradual climb up to to the Devil’s Path, and Indian Head.
I had been leap-frogging with a few groups of runners leading up to this section that I would see throughout the rest of the race: Adam, Tommy, Bob, and a few others whose names escape me. We fell into a loosely formed group for a decent stretch of the Devil’s Path, which definitely helped.  In looking back at my splits from 2015, I ran the first 50k only like 10-15 minutes faster this year than I did in 2015; however, I ran the Devil’s Path about 45-50 minutes faster than in 2015, and part of that is from not having to go it alone this time. It’s a humbling and amazing stretch of trail and this time around I felt much more comfortable; although, the humidity was definitely getting to me. There’s very little runnable terrain at all during this 7-mile stretch, but in retrospect, there were times I would have benefitted from running even the short stretches that permitted it, as you can save enough small moments of time to add up to a decent accumulation of minutes. In fact, that’s the story of Manitou’s: you’re not going to shave a ton of time off any one section. Improvement in this race comes from not wasting any time (in aid stations or otherwise) and from running every stretch of trail where the terrain allows for it. During the Devil’s Path you are hiking so much that you get lulled into the belief that you won’t run. It’s hard to motivate yourself to run little patches of trail knowing that after 50 feet you’re just going to have to hike up, climb up/down, or butt-scoot down a rock face again; however, that’s what I need to do.
My trekking poles were both a gift and a curse during this section: more helpful on the non-scrambling sections of climbing than I would have thought, but a bit of a nuisance on some of the downhills and downright treacherous on any of the scrambling or butt-scooting sections. In looking at the faster race finishers it seems like one thing I need to do is just spend more time on technical ascents practicing hiking and running without poles. In general, ascending has never been my strength, so I’m making this summer’s trail focus ditching the cheating sticks. But I digress…
I took one decent spill on the Devil’s Path and managed to land with a point slab of rock directly between my ass-cheeks. Honestly, I have no words. It was just an amazing bit of shitty luck. My new-found running friends thought it funny enough, and who can blame them: it’s not every day someone loses their virginity to a rock. At this point Adam had moved ahead and I was running more with Tommy and his crew. I was definitely drinking enough–maybe too much–as I seemed to need to piss every 45 minutes.
I hit Mink Hollow after like 11 and a half hours of running (about 45 mins faster than in 2015) happy to see some familiar faces, including Lisa who was killing it running the aid station. I think I saw Mendy there, and Adam’s wife Jennie. I grabbed some Swedish fish, some more Gatorade (no Coke as they didn’t have any…rats!) and some more potato chips and maybe some more pickle juice and headed for the last climb on the Devil’s Path, up Plateau. In my mind and in reading up on this stretch, it seemed like it wasn’t as bad as the previous stretch I had just completed. Somehow, that wasn’t actually the case and I suffered a little on the climb and then again on the descent, but it could also have been that at this point I felt the need to heed the call of nature, so wasn’t eating as much, and thus flagged on energy. I spent part of the climb up and a descent down Plateau running with a guy and his pacer. I can see how a pacer in this section helps, as you’ve gone through the hardest part and you’re pretty beat up, but with the right encouragement you can start to establish a decent pace again. I hung with them, staying even or behind on the climb and then leapfrogging ahead on the descents until eventually the call of nature was loud enough that I veered off trail to dig a cat hole and TCB. Maybe TMI, but squatting after 12 hours of really technical trail running isn’t exactly easy on your legs. So yeah, lost more time here, but it was much better than the alternative. I was far enough off trail so as not to be noticed, but positioned in a way where I could see who was catching up to me. Eventually I’d regain the positions and time later in the race, picking up the last one on the final 3 miles descending down Tremper.
The distance between Mink Hollow and Silver Hollow Notch is much longer than I remembered it to be. At this point I was mentally feeling a bit checked out and frustrated by my pit-stop in the woods, so I put my headphones in one ear and hunted for music on my Shuffle until Jay Z’s “Dirt of Your Shoulder” came on, and cranked it on repeat until I hit the  Silver Hollow Notch aid station at around 43 miles. It was my favorite AS in 2015 and was again this time. They had cheese wrapped in salami, fruit, and Coca Cola with ice! Deliciously cold ice. They were kind enough to not only fill up one of my bottles with Coke, but throw ice in as well. I’m definitely doing a bottle of Coke from now on. I get why Ben Nephew uses it instead of water. Who cares if my teeth will probably fall out: that shit is amazing. I even sat in the chair for a few minutes while they filled up my bottles, luxuriating in the Euro vibe and sucking down cold pop.
With a newfound appreciated for refrigeration, I headed back out into the woods, for the short ascent up Edgewood Mt. and the descent down to Warner Brook. The climb felt like nothing after the Devil’s Path, and the descent is decently runnable. I didn’t move as quickly as I think I could have during this section, but I was also pretty spent from the previous 44 miles of humid fuckery. When I finally got to Willow Brook (which was pretty well overflowing by this point) I took a moment to plunge in, renewing my sprits and waking up my dog-tired legs before the climb up Tremper. Last year I had done the climb and ascent of Tremper in driving rain and in the dark. I was happy to hit the climb mostly in daylight this time, although I again got fooled by some of the false switchbacks and took a little too much time looking for blazes. The volunteers and RD do as good a job flagging a course like this as you can (definitely a good number of confidence flags for the stretch from Silver Hollow to the finish) but it’s not a race for people who need to know they’re on the right trail every 10 feet. I’m not exactly the best navigator, but still I made it through OK, and doing this in daylight gave me a much better appreciation for this stretch of trail, and I think I’ll remember it much better or next time (and there will be a next time!) It’s another climb that feels pretty easy in comparison to everything else you’ve been through already.
I ended up getting caught by a guy named Morcin, and we agreed to run together to the Willow aid station, but I mentioned that if my legs felt good by the top of Tremper, I would push on the descent. It was getting dark by this point so I pulled out my headlamp, however, with the humidity we were now running in fog, so wearing the headlamp on my head made it almost harder to see. I decided to just carrie it in my hand, which worked reasonably well but was a bit annoying, Morcin hadn’t pulled out his headlight yet even though it was pretty dark, and I had started to regain some energy so pushed a bit on the climb up to Willow. I was surprised he still hadn’t pulled out his lamp as we neared the AS and I asked what was up and he explained that his headlamp didn’t seem to be working. I had grabbed my spare at Platte Clove in case I had a rough time on the Devil’s Path and wanted to use it in my hand or around my waste for depth perception. Willow was easy to spot with its tikka torches. I grabbed some broth and a little more coke and then took of with Morcin again. We split up for a bit as I stowed my poles and had to retie my shoe, but I caught him a bit later. I also passed Adam during this section, who I was sure was going to beat me as he was moving so constantly during the race. He’s a great guy and I hope to run with him again.
The descent down Tremper was much like I remembered it from 2015, minus the driving rain. I caught about 5-6 runners during this stretch, and it felt good to let my legs open up on the still rocky but decently runnable terrain. I felt like I was flying but was probably running like 10 minute miles. Still, after a long day I’ll take that. Even for someone who loves downhill running, I’ll say that a 3 mile descent after 50 miles feels kinda cruel. Still, I loved this part of the race as you can smell the barn at this point. I continued to push it until I hit the last aid station, grabbed my vest, said hello to the french-speaking pace I had run with during the Devil’s Path and let him know his runner was on the way. I was glad to hit the road, and passed one more runner on the way to the finish.
The approach to the finish wasn’t as surreal as the first time–in the rain, fairly delirious from never having spent that much time moving, and definitely out of calories–but it was special nonetheless. I was very happy to have shaved an hour off my previous year’s time, but also aware of how I could have made that gap even bigger. Still, I was ecstatic to have finished the race for a second time, with most of my body and pride in tact, and feeling pretty decent, all things considered. In any other race I’d feel let down knowing I could have finished faster if I made different choices, or had better weather, or any of the other things we tell ourselves to motivate us to return again and to handicap our own efforts. The real feeling I’m left with is one of accomplishment, as this is as much if not more so an epic adventure than a race.
Brennen was at the finish line and had brought my bag from the car. I sat for a bit and changed and then said goodbye to some friends and headed back to the motel so I could call Clara, have a beer, and eat the only food available: a bagel and cream cheese and a pack of combos–dinner of champions. I slept pretty fitfully but awoke feeling not totally destroyed and well enough to drive us home. I walked in the door a few hours after leaving Phoenicia and was greeted by my older daughter, Frankie, who immediately remarked on the large boo boo on my arm, and then demanded I read her books. Then we moved two days later–arguably harder than the racve.
Summary:
Things that went well:
-nutrition and hydration felt on point
-as opposed to 2015 when I went in a bit injured, I felt relatively strong on descents
-felt stronger on technical ascents than I have previously and all the repeats at Beacon and Tammany paid off
-Gear: alomon vest remains a workhorse; La Sportiva’s are great, Huma gels are still good, trekking poles were helpful, going with half-tights was key; new Garmin is great
-time spent reviewing race reports ahead of time paid off in terms of setting expectations during the race
-mindset much more focused and calm than two years prior: had strategies in place for how to get through the roughest stretches of trail, deal with the lows, and extend the strong parts. In general just felt much more positive
-I know that between work and family obligations my training would be compromised; still, I felt I trained specifically enough given my time constraints that it translated into a good results, even if I suffered from the weather
-Tammany training is probably the best thing I could have done for Manitou, and next time I need to spend more time there
-Aid station efficiency was pretty good, barring Platte Clove
-Slept reasonably well the night before thanks to doing my meditation. Side note for anyone who uses headspace: do English people’s voices make you mad sleepy now?
-I spent a lot of time running alone but was still able to push myself and focus
Things to improve on:
-find a way to take a crap before the race start: look at food week leading up to race
-do recce on escarpment section as this is more runnable than memory served me and with practice this could be a good way to make up time
-have crew, if only to sleep closer to start and not wake up at 2:15 AM
-Don’t change shoes: start in Helios and plan to finish in them—have a backup pair of helios at Platte Clove just in case
-Try to use AS’s more for food and not have as many gels; take coke in one bottle after Palenville; eat more real food
-Try pushing a bit harder in first 50k—nothing dramatic, but shaving off 20-30 mins here seems possible
-Try not using poles or saving them until Platte Clove to just have less weight on you and one less thing to worry about.
-Get out of Platte Clove faster…this is the one reason to have a crew here. Lost too much time sitting and sorting through shit, even though I didn’t overpack my drop bag and knew what I was going to get.
-Run each and every section of the course–especially on the Devil’s Path–that feels runnable, even if that means having to transition back to hiking quickly.
-Don’t use poles on Devils path as it makes you more hesitant. You know it’s hard but you also know the terrain by now. Use your body more and just get up and down as quickly as you can given the terrain
-Take Tremper harder: it’s shorter than you think and you can bomb the downhill off it
-Don’t second-guess your bearings as much: you’ll know if you’re seriously off course and by now you know the course so stop consulting your phone and just run.
-gear: Scott Kinabalu SuperTracs probably had too aggressive a lug height and pattern for this course and would be better for a soft ground race or something with less wet rock; take running band isn’t as good as the Salomon 3L (although it’s made much better); Injinji Trail socks are too thick and hot and soak up water; Probar chews taste like soap; Poles, while a net benefit, are annoying at times (still more helpful than hurtful).
Things not to do:
-Land ass-first on a rock
-Fall on the Escarpment trail
-Have that much sugar ever again
-Mix Swedish fish and potato chips
-Not eat dinner after a race
-Move the week after a race
FWIW I’ll probably be back next year.

Race Report: 2017 NYRR Brooklyn R-U-N 5K

Photo credit: Jimmy Leung

RaceNYRR Brooklyn R-U-N 5K

Where: Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY

When: July 17, 2017

Prospect Park Track Club had an amazing day at the 2017 NYRR Brooklyn R-U-N 5K yesterday at Prospect Park! We had 94 runners run for PPTC, which was just behind Team for Kids who fielded 95 runners. We blew away North Brooklyn Runners, who came in 3rd with 59 runners.

Despite the warm and muggy conditions (and a decidedly PR-unfriendly course), a number of PPTC members had outstanding performances.

Congratulations to:

Matt Siefker (18:29) for being the fastest PPTC member. He came in 26th overall, 25th for men, and 6th for his age group (30-34).

Leiba Rimler (21:29) for being the fastest PPTC woman. She came in 284th overall, 22nd for women, and 5th for her age group (30-34).

Anthony Watson (21:32) came in 2nd for his age group (55-59).

Maggie Deschamps (23:12) came in 2nd for her age group (50-54).

Marcia Brown (23:44) came in 1st for her age group (60-64).

Edwige Sucher (24:11) came in 1st for his age group (45-49).

Tyrone Sklaren (26:05) came in 3rd for his age group (70-74).

Charlene Kohler-Britton (31:53) came in 1st for her age group (65-69).

Francisca Daza (46:49) came in 1st for her age group (70-74).

The PPTC Women’s team came in 2nd for the team competition.

PPTC WoW: In/Out K’s

By Adam Devine

Greetings, fellow warriors! After a one week absence, the WoW is back. To those that are doing MTG you have an awesome set of 400s coming your way, but the WoW could be an excellent second speed day if you are so inclined. Today’s workout comes from my fellow team captain, Missy Burgin!


Workout: In/Out K’s
 
Description of workout:
You do a 2-3 mile warm up, and then go straight into a  kilometer at Half Marathon pace. Your recovery is a kilometer at a moderate pace (I did 6:40 HMP and 8 min recovery pace). You do this anywhere from 6-8 times each, straight into a cool down, and before you know it, you’re running 13-15 miles for a weekday workout.
 
What distance is this geared towards:
Marathon distance
 
Goals or Intentions of this workout:
Long sustained effort toggling between race paces. You become very familiar/comfortable with the paces over long distances. So when you get to the last few fast efforts, your legs are lethargic, but not shot.
 
Results you have experienced with this workout:
Missy used this workout to fly to an 8 minute PR in the marathon. Great work, Missy!
 
So give this workout a shot if you’re up for it, and talk to your teammates afterward about how it felt. Happy Running!
 
The Workout of the Week is a way for members to share what has worked for them in their training. The workouts are meant to be suggestive only. Anyone with health concerns should consult a healthcare professional before starting any rigorous training program. Workouts are often most effective as part of a formal training plan, and you may want to consult a certified coach or trainer. Happy running!

Race Report: Coney Island Creek 5K

by Linus Ly

Race: Coney Island Creek 5K

Where: Kaiser Park, Brooklyn, NY

When: July 16, 2017

I like pleasant surprises.

My friend Josh was instrumental in helping to bring back the Brooklyn Triple Crown series of footraces last year.  The series ran for many years but after Hurricane Sandy hit New York, the series disappeared.  I already knew about the Staten Island Triple Crown and even ran two out of the three races.  The same people, Complete Race Solutions and the Staten Island Athletic Club, now organize both series.

For some reason, I thought the Coney Island Creek 5K (CIC5K) was going to take place on a Sunday.  It’s summertime and my family wants to have things to do on Sundays, so it appeared I wouldn’t be able to participate.  Eventually I realized that the race would be on a Saturday.  Thursday night I happened to pass by the packet pickup site, VitaminShoppe at Caesar’s Bay and  I figured it’s a local race that I want to support so I registered that evening.

What I love about the CIC5K is it was really close to home.  It is basically within Kaiser Park near Mark Twain Middle School.  I used to run there regularly.  I cannot stand races that require me to travel more than an hour, wait around perhaps another hour, then do the race in 30 minutes or more, then another trek to get home.  With the CIC5K, I would be able to just walk over, 20 minutes maybe, 30 minutes top.

I did walk to the race site, in 31 minutes according to Strava.  I met friend Sheldon for a warm up run on the nearby streets.  At the NYRR Queens 10K a few weeks ago, I also had a warm up run and I felt better during and after the actual race.  I thought from now on I should always have a warm up run.  Besides, I need to cross off a few streets in the area, for CityStrides.com, of course.  I am sure I ran the nearby streets before, somehow the lines don’t show in CityStrides.

As more friends show up, I learn that Jimmy is in my age group and I joked that my hope for first place age group was dashed, I would have to settle for second place.  With the typical NYRR and NYCRuns races, the number of participants is so large that the chance of a slowpoke like me winning anything is infinitesimally small.  The chance is greater with the smaller races and there are many such races in the City.  I recently turned 50 years old too so there is hope there too.  One popular joke is that if you live long enough, eventually as long as you finish a race you’ll win because you’ll be the only person in the age group.  There weren’t that many people at the CIC5K but I didn’t know who else was in my age group, other than Jimmy.  I would just have to do my best and hope for the best.

The Coney Island Creek 5K course consisted of two laps within Kaiser Park and ends with an almost full lap on a track. There was no start mat.  When the time came, the race director walked the group over to the starting line and, after a few speeches, gave us the signal to go.  I was only a tad behind the starting line, probably at the fifth row, with about five or six people per row.  I jokingly asked “Where is Corral L?”  There was no need for a corral with a small field. During the warmup run, my left knee felt a bit weird.  The pain seemed to travel down below the calf but it went away afterward.  I did more stretching during the wait for the race to start.  Whatever it was I held back a bit in the beginning.  It was a bit scary to see all the runners in front of me taking off.  I just kept my regular pace.  There was no need to dodge slow runners because there were not that many people and the course

During the warmup run, my left knee felt a bit weird.  The pain seemed to travel down below the calf but it went away afterward.  I did more stretching during the wait for the race to start.  Whatever it was I held back a bit in the beginning.  It was a bit scary to see all the runners in front of me taking off.  I just kept my regular pace.  There was no need to dodge slow runners because there were not that many people and the course was wide enough.  One by one I passed the kids, and then the women who went into walking mode.  I know, nothing to write home about, but in the running world, lots of time the little kids are pretty fast and so are the women.

Just as I started to pass the front of Mark Twain M.S., some guys started to pass me.  I thought they were such fast runners that they already started to lap me, even though I didn’t even hit the first mile yet.  I found out later that they were speedy late-comers who thought the race was scheduled for 9 a.m.; the race was scheduled for an 8:30 start, but it was delayed. I passed two more women.  There was a third woman but I couldn’t catch up to her in the first mile.  By the second mile, she took a walking break and it was my chance to pass her but before I did that she resumed running.  A short while later, during the sandy portion of the course, she walked again and this time I actually passed her.  My lead was short-lived as she resumed running shortly after I passed her and she regained the lead.  Unfortunately for her not long after passing me she had to walk again.  I once again passed her and kept going.

I should have studied the course better and only knew vaguely that it was two times around the park, that the third time I hit the entrance to the track I should enter it for about a loop of the track.  I wasn’t sure by the time I finished the second loop of the park and had to ask the race director to confirm.  I was so glad it was over.  Hot and humid weather does not work well for me.  I perform better in cold weather.

Linus accepting his 2nd AG award. Photo credit: Jimmy Leung

Many of my teammates from the Prospect Park Track Club won age group awards, including a number of 1st place.  For my Age Group, 50-59, when the third-place winner was announced and it wasn’t me, my hope was dashed.  Oh well, run faster or find another small race, I thought.  But it turned out I was the second-place winner, with Jimmy in first-place, just as I joked before the race.  Pleasant surprise indeed!

In the days leading up to the CIC5K, Josh had many announcements on Facebook about which sponsors had come onboard for raffle prizes, in addition to the Chipotle BOGO coupon and $2 (?) Coney Island Brewing Co. given to every registrant. There were indeed many prizes: baseball caps, running socks, $15 Grimaldi coupon, $25 Brooklyn Running Co. gift card, and other high-valued prizes that I cannot recall at the moment. Knowing my luck, I didn’t expect much but when the winner for the last $25 BRC gift card was picked, the person wasn’t present and my number was picked!  Woohoo!  Second-place Age Group AND a $25 gift card, the day sure started on a good note!

Race Report: New Jersey Marathon

Oren Efrati

By Oren Efrati

Race: New Jersey Marathon

Where: Oceanport, NJ

When: April 29, 2017

I had signed up for the NJ marathon in a burst of enthusiasm right after the New York Marathon.  I was not sure what to expect since I had never run a spring marathon.  I was loosely following the Hal Higdon 18-week Advanced training plan, but customized it a bit with some longer long runs, and swapping a cross-training for one of the running days.

The day before the race, I convinced my family that the beautiful sunny day was a perfect time to get lunch at a seaside restaurant in Long Branch, NJ, and by-the-way check out the expo and start and finish lines.  Glad I did, since it eased my nerves a bit to see what to expect the next day.

The weather gods were smiling on Sunday, as the temperature dropped to what felt like perfect conditions.  It started around 59F, and the forecast had the temps dropping during the race, which almost never happens.  There was good cloud cover for most of the day, and the feared predicted strong winds never showed up.

Besides weather and training, race day nutrition is key for me. I tried as much as possible to replicate what I did in November, which worked well then.  That meant eating a bigger breakfast than I would normally, plus Gatorade and Shot Bloks before the race.  During the race, I had 4 gels, 3 salt tablets, and lots of Gatorade and water.  The cups that were handed out were small, so I tried to take three at the stops, which were about every two miles.

I arrived at Monmouth Park around 6:15 am (which is actually a horse racetrack) by car.  I left most of my things in the car, and then walked a few minutes to get to the bag-check area and corrals.  Actually, much easier logistically than most other marathons.  I entered the coral around 7:10 am, and found the 3:25 pace group before the horn went off.

The pace group was great, met a bunch of nice folks, each with their story of what brought them to this spot.  A woman running her first marathon, who wanted to run under 3:30.  Tony was trying to inch closer to his 3:15 BQ time.  And Liam (well known from Brooklyn races), who ran Boston 8 times, had a lot of good advice during the race (“At some point in any marathon it becomes the most important one you have ever run.”).  I ran a few miles with Claire from PPTC who was racing the half.  She and Michael Silver eventually sped past our pace group.  There were lots of cheering along the course at various spots, and I enjoyed seeing the various beach towns and boardwalks.  Christine was a one-woman PPTC cheer zone at mile 10 and the finish. I was also happy to see Sam and Jennie on the course.

Things were going well until late in the race, where I did not manage to hold on to the pace the whole way.  As I was getting into mile 23, the pace group was inching away in the distance.  There were a few other casualties from the group and we all ended up separating into our own pace.  So going into mile 24 I was pretty much alone with one long straight road to go down.  I had brought a small music player in my pocket, and put it on for some extra motivation.  It helped to take my mind off the difficult last few miles.  So listening to Girl Talk by All Day for the last stretch, and then I saw Christine cheering and the finish line, I was very happy to be done.

Even though I didn’t hit my A goal, I still managed a 2 minute or so PR, and finally got that 2-handle on my marathon time (3:28:59  official).

I drove back with Christine and Puff for the ride back to Brooklyn. I felt New Jersey Marathon was definitely a great marathon and I’d recommend it.

Member Spotlight: Anh-Tuan Tran

Member Spotlight is a feature on the PPTC blog to introduce our wonderful members to a wider audience. As a club with over 800 paying members, we know PPTC runners are doing incredible things.

Anh-Tuan Tran

Recently Jana Trenk met Anh-Tuan, a fairly new member of Prospect Park Track Club, after work for one of his usual running routes, a partial run commute from Union Square to Flatbush. Anh-Tuan recently ran 70 miles at the Laurel Highlands Ultra!

 Jana felt inspired to get some insights into an ultra runner’s mentality, so she grabbed a slice of pizza to fuel herself for their conversation during their run. 

Read Anh-Tuan’s interview by Jana.

How long have you lived in Brooklyn? Where are you from originally?

I’ve lived in Brooklyn for 9 years. I was born in Lancaster, P-A but did some growing up in Hershey.

How did you start running? What got you interested in running?

To cope with a breakup, I was doing a ton of aimless walking (both sober and not), which was getting old. We’re talking 2-3 hours each night after work for about two months. My little sister recognized that this roaming habit could be channeled into something that actually counts as exercise for an otherwise-healthy 28 year old, so she paid my registration for a 10k in Trenton. On that day I was not interested in pursuing anymore running, but I came around before long.

How has running changed your life?

Running has connected me with a lot of great individuals. I’ve made friends who will drop everything and come running for 13 miles at almost a moment’s notice. Other people I call friends I have met only once during a race, but over a couple of hours on the trail we’ll talk each other through some big life questions. It’s a remarkable diversity of community resources that are available to runners.

Running has also encouraged me to question my perception of limits. Five years ago I was in a lot of pain after running that first 10k. I was certain it was going to be the most mileage I’d ever do. A couple of 50k’s and one 70 mile race later, I now often question the signals that my body gives me. That skepticism extends to other times in my life where I’m tempted to throw in the towel, but I’ll instead take a step back and check in with myself to see if my complaints are legitimate. It’s a useful tool.

And, I dropped smoking like a bad habit after 10+ years.

What are your goals for the future?

I have dream races like the Ultra Fiord in Patagonia and Hardrock in Colorado. However, I also want to strike a balance and expose myself to other endurance activities that have a team aspect. I recently learned about outrigger paddling where you are six people in a canoe and participate in endurance events like 3-day races or expedition paddles. That kind of very pure team environment appeals to me.

I also really want to become one of these people who can get into the water and swim for a couple of hours straight. That would be cool.

What do you do outside of running? Can you tell us a little about your work, hobbies, life other than training?

I work for the Wildlife Conservation Society supporting field conservation activities across Asia (my office is in the Bronx Zoo). Currently, I’m enjoying poems by people like William Carlos Williams and Raymond Carver. Please give me recommendations! I live with two of my favorite beings, Hilary and Rosie. One of them is a cat.

Follow Anh-Tuan’s training on StravaJoin PPTC on Strava

Race Report: Subaru Stampede Half Marathon

by Jennifer Adams

Race: Subaru Stampede Half Marathon

Where: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

When: July 9, 2017

A cowboy walks the streets of Calgary

I am starting a position at the University of Calgary and since I will be spending most of my year here, I thought the best way to self-induct into the local running scene was to sign up for the half marathon. There was a 5k and 10k option, but I understood that only the half participants would receive a medal so the medal won.

This half marathon coincides with the annual Calgary Stampede. The whole town, I mean, city turns into a scene from the Wild Wild West with almost everyone donning cowboy hats, boots and their finest western-esque gear.  You could learn a little more about the Stampede here and some of the animal welfare issues here.

I’ve become so used to the sardine corrals of the NYRR races that I was surprised at the race cap of 1,000 participants.  There are probably that many people in one corral.

For those people who registered before June 1st, the bibs were personalized with first names.  For those who registered after, there was a space to write your name and sharpies supplied to do so.

Calgary currently has a heat advisory, so the race organizers admonished participants and volunteers to hydrate properly both before and during the race as well as take advantage of sponge stations. So I limited my pre-race wine and drank plenty of H2O and electrolytes.

Not having a car, I took public transportation to the start of the race.  With a start of 7:20 I left at 5:30 in order to give me plenty of time to figure out where I was going.  Walking through downtown at that time, I encountered a jackrabbit looking all thuggish and thought to myself about the questions my middle school students always asked about animals, “If a Calgary jackrabbit and NYC rat got into a fight, who would win?”

I made my way to the start of the race. I was there early so had time to stretch, use the portapotties (no lines!!!) and make my way to the start. With everything having a Stampede theme, we were serenaded with country music and invited to sit on haystacks while we waited for the start time.  After a countdown and “Yeehaw,” we were off promptly at 7:20.  The first two kilometres (remember, this is Canada) were through local streets. During this part of the race, I kept holding back, reminding myself that I have not trained in dry heat so be careful.  I ran a comfortable pace for the first almost 8 kilometres (Canadian spelling) but then the altitude kicked in, something I neglected to consider in my decision to run the race.

At a little more than 3,000 ft (1,000 m) above sea level, while not high enough for Olympic training, it is high enough for athletes to feel the effects during endurance events. And feel it I did.  First my legs started to feel heavy (versus just tired) and then I felt like I was catching my breath.  So, between this and the dry heat, my decent pace dropped to a walk/shuffle gait. Thankfully the scenery was enjoyable—much of race encircled the Glenmore Reservoir, which was combination of lovely views of the body of water and birch forests (on an asphalt path). Although it was mostly flat, there were a few short roller coaster-like hills with steep inclines and declines and bridges. There were ample water stations and volunteers along the course, all very friendly and most donning their finest Stampede gear.

I made my way, slowly, out of the reservoir and the biggest “hill” was during the last 2.5K of the race—a pretty steep switchback ramp to an overpass over the highway.  After the ramp, it was pretty much a downhill and flat run to a 200m finish on the Glenmore Athletic Park track.

I finished, not my best time but a done time. Got my Stampede-themed medal (a sneaker with a spur) and then all runners were treated to a traditional Stampede breakfast—pancakes, maple syrup and beef sausages.  There were also scones, Muscle  Milk bottles, juice, and oatmeal.  It was quite the post-race buffet.

Overall, it was a good race and a good induction into running in Calgary.  There were ample water, volunteers and post-race food. If I am here in July next year, I would do it again and hopefully by then be prepared for the altitude.

2017 Awards Celebration essays

The following four essays were submitted for the annual essay competition. All were judged to be winners!

Alison Donnelly:

I met Michael Ring right after I underwent emergency back surgery for an injury that left me with nerve damage in my legs and feet.   Very new to PPTC prior to surgery, I felt awkward being in a running club when I couldn’t actually run. “Join Achilles!”, he said. “Nobody cares if you can run or not.” And with that, Achilles Brooklyn became my second family, with Michael in the role of the gruff but lovable big brother that doesn’t enable self-pity.

Michael helped me stop dwelling on what I lost, and focus on what I still had. His progress is a constant reminder that my only limitations are the ones that I create for myself. He’s taught me to believe in myself and inspired me to help others. I am proud to call Michael my friend and I look forward to the day that our defunct feet RUN across the finish line!


Allan Co:

Beyond racing and training, we are inspired by people who represent the values aspire to: friendship, family, kindness, open-heartedness. Many teammates motivate us with their hard work and swift times, some by their hearts and minds, warmth and compassion. These are all embodied by a group affectionately known as the Wolfpack. Aditi, Aisha, Colleen, Selina and Trish show us the power of the relationships we build when we run. They support each other’s goals, successes, fears; they rally together; they celebrate each other’s PRs, careers, loves, new apartments; they console, advise, listen when needed; they’re unfailingly kind, supportive, welcoming. The Wolfpack is a diverse group that supports one another as training partners and in their lives off-road. They show us how trivial running is, by demonstrating the power of the friendships we make; they inspire us to be great runners and better people; they inspire me to be my best.


Ruth Gursky:

Why does a gal from Queens join PPTC? For several years, Anne Perzetzky was in my Galloway training group. I began running late in life, and often wondered if I would have to give up my sport at some point. By racing half marathons, Anne answered that question with a resounding NO!

Through PPTC, I met Michael Ring. A few years ago, I registered for a 5K in Prospect Park, but come race day, I wasn’t in the mood to get outta bed…but I did…and I was rewarded when I saw Michael run across the finish line for the first time since he developed GBS!

I also got to know Nice Guerrero. It was upsetting to hear about his near-death injury, so when he announced he was running the Suffolk Marathon, I joined PPTC’s cheer squad and witnessed his triumphant comeback!

All three runners continue to inspire and motivate me!


Chaya Wolf:

It’s been three years of competitions and a couple of gift cards, so I feel compelled to keep the tradition going. But in all seriousness, PPTC continues to be a constant in my running.

Running has its highs and lows. It’s usually enjoyable, but sometimes miserable. Running has been entertaining, educational and completely exhausting. I’ve recognized the incredible pay off dedication, consistency and persistency have. But more importantly I’ve recognized that I wouldn’t be where I am today without my team.

Running a route solo becomes colorful and exciting with company. Encouraging words and sage advice are rarely, if ever, forgotten. And when you listen, push and motivate it’s noticed. Finishing anything would never be possible without a multitude of people and army of support.

So Emily, Jennie, Shan, Juan, Tifenn and many more of you – I am eternally grateful for everything you’ve all been to me these last few years. It takes a village to raise a runner. Thank you for being in mine!

The Inside Loop — June 2016

PPTC was on the roads and behind the scenes at the NYRR Mini 10K in Central Park on June 11. Red singlets and shirts crossed the finish line in droves, and Jill Gregory, Paula VandeNes, and Kimberley K Jones (one of PPTC’s best friends!) were volunteering with USADA as notifying escorts.  This involves a conversation that begins, “Nice race, second place, your position has been selected for drug testing and I’ll be your escort to Doping Control…”

At this year’s Kenny Dolan 5K we saw a young man, all of eight years old, break a world record. Before the rain came pouring down, Prospect Park Youth Runner (PPYR) Tam Gavenas gave  it his all, taking a world  record-setting pace to the finish line. Since there are years to go before he can celebrate his accomplishment with a post-race beer at Ford, I sure hope he had his fill of  hamburgers and hot dogs as a consolation prize! Congrats to PPYR coaches Sean and Fi Rice on helping  Tam (who’s been with PPYR since age 5) get to where he wants to go. As with any gifted and talented young runner, Coaches Sean and Fi will be guardian angels over his eligibility status as an amateur for some years to come.

This sure sounds like something that’s found in Scripture, but during a conversation about the number of newer, younger PPTC members, the phrase,  “Before you were […],  I was […]”  was bandied about while  struggling to maintain the pace during a recent run.
Hard to imagine that Keith Williams was still a figment of the world’s imagination when some of us were already huffing and puffing, chasing after that personal best.    Certainly not complaining, just thinking at the keyboard — how time flies when you’re having fun!

At this year’s second Al Goldstein Summer Speed Series 5K race on Wednesday, June 8,  Achilles Brooklyn shared the road with the rest of us and participated in a fund-raising effort for the PPTC’s Red Hook Initiative. Know anyone who might be interested in hooking up with Achilles  Brooklyn? Give out a shout and start the conversation. Achilles Brooklyn meets at 6 PM on Thursdays in the rear of  the JackRabbit store, located on 7th Ave. at Garfield Place. From the store, we head up Garfield to the PPW park entrance and the inside loop roadway for a quick intro and chat before starting to run — whatever pace and distance feels comfortable to the attending athletes. No fee to attend! Lots of good karma though!

Many thanks to Fran Kotov for her donation of running shoes and clothing for Ian Grey’s running groups in Belize. Ian takes shoes of all makes and models, in all sizes (for youth and for those who wish they were still youth), so don’t toss ’em, donate ’em! Get in touch with me if your closets are yearning to be free of shoes you no longer need. From the back of closets in Brooklyn to fast  feet in Belize!

Mark the date, PPTC: Sunday, June 19th! We’ll celebrate our sport and our friendships at the annual PPTC relay and picnic. More details will be available online as the time approaches!

Thought I’d seen it all — until I read the announcement that Oren and Susan were setting up PPTC’s clothing shop at Connecticut Muffin on Saturday, June 11. There’s a long history behind PPTC gear, ranging from Bob Muller’s infamous “stick figure” runners on yellow PPTC  shirts, to the present singlets and long- and short-sleeve tech shirt options in both red and white. Over the years some designs and shirt illustrations were more effective than others in soliciting shout-outs from spectators on the race course. I well remember speeding along the NYC marathon route with a friend who wore a white BVD shirt with “GO MIKE” scrawled across the front in magic marker, and wondering why he was getting many more  “Go, Mike”s than “Go, PPTC”s than I did with my red shirt.  PPTC clothes at Connecticut Muffin… hey, “coffee, tea , or tees.”  Anything goes!

See you on the roads!

Coached Speed Workouts – Summer 2017

The Summer Speed Series will begin on 7/11/17 and 7/13/17. Sessions are offered for beginner/slower runners (Thursdays 7/13 to 9/14) and experienced/faster runners (Tuesday 7/11 to 9/12). You must be a PPTC member 18 years of age or older. The class will meet each week at 7:00 PM by the Bartel-Pritchard Square park entrance, or at the Red Hook Track.

Coach Tony Watson and Assistant Coach Charlene Kohler-Britton offer a 10 week speedwork session which is $50 for the entire series and each session is one hour long. While the Speed Clinics are geared to all runners who favor all distances, they are also an excellent way to perfect your goal for those planning for a fall marathon.

The  ten week session will begin on July 11 st & 13th and will run through Sept 12th & 14th.  Sign up here:

(Note, an active membership in the Prospect Park Track Club is required to participate in this program.)

Each week a suggested training program will be sent by email after each session. Each includes a program for those runners training for 10K distance and under, as well as a program for those who are training for half to full marathons.

Attached you will find the Info Sheet that we need each runner to complete, even if you’ve run with the coached speed program before. Please carry it with you for your first session and we will collect them before we begin. If the speed workouts are new to you, please bring your race history (2014-present).

Again, we wish you a warm welcome and look forward to working with each of you.

Best,
Coach Tony & Charlene