Category Archives: Race Reports

Chaya Wolf’s NYC Marathon Recap

Meb + Chaya = BFFs (Photo Credit: Chaya Wolf)

by Chaya Wolf

Race: New York City Marathon

When: Nov 5, 2017

Where: New York City, NY

What a day! What a weekend! Still riding high and processing it all.

In the days leading up to the race, I had the privilege to hear from and meet Meb Keflezighi and chat with Bart Yasso. I’m not one to gush over celebs, but these guys are humble, have a wealth of knowledge in the sport and are such down to earth humans. It took star struck to a new level. They each shared different advice and words of encouragement and I had faith that Sunday would be a good day. After pseudo-injuries and heightened anxiety (thank you taper) were put to rest with kind words by my PT, I had a good feeling about taking on NYC for the second time. I had utilized the taper period and really made sure I was on top of my nutrition. I slept, stretched and foam rolled (btw – sleep is not overrated). I felt really ready for race day.

Going into the race I had two goals, which based on most of my training runs, I knew I could attain. My original plan was to find the pacer in my corral and hang with him. But I somehow managed to lose him before the corrals even moved to the base of the bridge. He disappeared out of my sight and into thin air. So we went with plan B and ran solo.

It’s funny actually. Somehow my entire day turned into a day full of plan Bs, and no not the one from the drugstore, more like the plan you choose when the first one fails. Yet I didn’t seem to mind. It all started in the morning when I thought I was going with a bus to Staten Island and ended up in an Uber heading to the ferry terminal in Manhattan. It continued when I ran solo and finished when I dropped any goal times I had and ran for fun and redemption. Why redemption? Well, two years ago I ran NYCM as my first marathon and it derailed on the Queensboro Bridge. My only focus after that was the finish line. I didn’t see anything, I didn’t remember anything. So when I finally did finish, stressing on the word finish, and got my medal, I promised myself I’d be back. And so on Sunday, I was back.

The race started out well. I stopped on the Verrazano Bridge for a photo and then realized I had just added on 2 min to my finishing time, but I didn’t care. I was going to enjoy the course, take in the sights and see what NYC was all about. Knowing that the PPTC cheer crew was at mile 7 and my #wolfpack was at mile 8 gave me good vibes all through Brooklyn. I actually noticed the diversity of people as we moved up the avenue. Hearing “Go Prospect Park!” by random strangers, scattered PPTCers shouting my name and so many little kids high fiving was so energizing. But it was humid and my breathing started to get labored. Somewhere over the Pulaski Bridge, I missed my halfway goal time and knew that any other sensible goals I had for the race were the out the window. Adding to the humidity that was already plaguing me, I realized I was blinder with my glasses than without and decided to just stick them in my armband. My apologies to anyone I didn’t respond to past the bridge. Chances are I probably didn’t see you 🙁

After deciding to ditch my goals, I took a page out of Bart Yasso’s book and just ran happily. I took in the sights and the people. I took it slow on the Queensboro Bridge, mentally prepared myself for the crowds at the turn and just had fun. I enjoyed the music, the cheering, and the insane crowds along First Ave, 5th Ave, and Central Park. I boogied in the Bronx, silently cheered YMCA and thanked Gd when my mile 17, 19, and 23 peeps were still there when I reached them. I didn’t really stop for anyone, but noticed many of you, in the rain, cheering. Some of you saw me at my lowest points, hurting and walking; some of you saw me determined and chasing something, not sure what. Somewhere on the Willis Ave Bridge and then again in Manhattan around mile 21, I felt like I wouldn’t finish and wondered why I was doing this again. So I walked, let my breathing regulate, looked around and let everything and everyone remind me why I signed up for this. I thought I picked up the pace again, but those last few miles turned out to be my slowest. Somehow I found some mojo on 59th street, pushed myself up the final hill and finished while it was still light.

In 2015, I sat in a medical tent at mile 20 and painfully and slowly walked the last 10k. I finished with an official time of 6:24:59. In 2017, I enjoyed the course and the people. I realized what a beautiful and diverse city we live in. I appreciated the immense support and camaraderie that exists in NYC. I valued how our city came together to encourage 51,000 stupid people who thought running 26.2 miles is fun. I finished crying because I didn’t stop for medical support and I succeeded in achieving what I set out to do 2 years ago. I finished with an official time of 5:19:41. It wasn’t my best time but it definitely was a good time.

You’d think that meeting Meb and Bart was enough, but my star-studded and fun-filled weekend actually ended when I went to get my medal engraved. As you walked into Jackrabbit there was a sign that said Shalane Flanagan and Geoffrey Kamworor were going to stop by for an hour. I had already taken the day off, so I hung around a little longer than expected. I bumped into some PPTC marathoners, heard both NYC marathon winners speak, got my medal ribbon autographed by both winners and took a picture with them. So let’s just say NYCM Class of 2017, you rocked!

2017 New York City Marathon Race Recap & The Last 10 Miles with a Side of Picnic

On an overcast and humid day on November 5th, after an early morning wake-up to go to Staten Island by ferry or bus (or Uber and ferry), over 50,000 athletes cruised over the Verrazano Bridge to start the NYC Marathon.

Here is PPTC by the numbers:
169 total PPTC members in NYC Marathon
16 PPTC members BQ’ed
15 PPTC members completed their FIRST marathon.
Of those, 4 PPTCers BQ’ed in their first marathon (Do we call this a running hat trick – PR, BQ,  & first marathon?).

Top 3 Men in PPTC

  1. Shan Haq (2:52:47)
  2. Ben Collier (2:57:20)
  3. Sean Quealy (2:58:05)

Top 3 Women in PPTC

  1. Jana Trenk (3:07:50)
  2. Katie Poor (3:10:47)
  3. Mary Johnston (3:15:40)

Congratulations to our Michael Ring for completing his 30th marathon with his son, Nicholas!!!!!!!! It was over 3 years ago when he became paralyzed by Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS). After years of excellent medical treatment, hard work, and some setbacks, Mike realized his dream of once again crossing the finish line in Central Park.

Shoutouts

Marcia Brown
3:44:28
BQ
4th in her age group (60-65)

Ben Allison
3:16:01
27-min PR

Nicholas Cohen
3:22:07
0:02:23 PR and BQ
I raised $3,000 for my friend Mateo’s prosthetic leg

Julie Raskin
5:25
First marathon PR
PPTC IS AMAZING! I am so grateful for the support of the club- from the training to the magical tree all the way to the finish line. And walking into PS 87 to the cheers (and the beer) was moving beyond words!

Crystal Cun
3:31:42
50-min PR & BQ
Raised money for $4876 for Legal Services
Crystal was too modest to say,  but she was the fastest fundraiser that Legal Services has ever had.

Mey Chery
4:03:44
25-min PR & 6-month post-surgery

Sam Smullen
4:05:55
PR

Jimmy Leung
4:04:30
PR & completed 3 of the 6 World Major Marathons

Jennie Matz
4:02:25
PR

Noah Devereaux
3:02:18
PR, BQ, & first marathon!

Shane Shifflett
3:09:20
First marathon PR

Katie Daddaria
4:32:05
5-min PR on her birthday
I’ve been dealing with/recovering from PF most of the year. I cannot fathom how I did so well. Also, it was my birthday! Really amazing day. 🙂

Jana Trenk
3:07:50
PR & BQ
Not only the fastest PPTC woman, but 4th fastest overall in PPTC, & 125th American female finisher in the race

Isabel Santiago-Gordon
4:20:33
9-min PR
I found NYCM so amazing that I want to do it again.

Jack Coogan
3:44:48
PR, BQ, & first marathon!
Thanks to the Tuesday morning MTG and the Last 10 Mile Run for getting me as ready as I could be.

Mary Johnston
3:15:40
PR & BQ
14th in her age group (20-25)

Hilary Lawton
4:20:58
First marathon PR
Huge thank you to Tony and Charlene- their class was great for helping with my speed work and for meeting other wonderful PPTCers!

Kirsty Carroll
3:54:05
29-min PR & BQ
I ran my last marathon 11 years ago.

Aung Barteaux
3:33:05
PR, BQ, & first marathon!

Mike Roberts
4:20:12
First marathon PR

Michael Ring
9:52
Completed his 30th marathon

Robert DeMasco
3:49:42
32-min PR

Stuart Kaplan
3:30:50
First marathon PR
Even though I hit the wall, if it wasn’t for Matteo and Melissa pushing me along, I might not have finished.

Ricardo Dias
4:04
PR

Pamela Ritchie
3:53:59
PR, BQ, & first marathon!
Shoutout to Isaac Josephson for being my running ambassador, and Kristen Uhrich who I feel is my running soulmate.

Adam Iannazzone
3:22:17
First marathon PR

Melissa Lee
5:04:43
First marathon PR

Patrick Huang
4:20:30
20-min PR
Thanks for the support from PPTC and teammates

Eric Levenstein
4:59:25
First marathon PR

Lisa Maya Knaur
Almost 14-min PR

Carlos Vasquez
3:33:11
20-min PR

Isaac Josephson
4:24
3-min PR & 7-min course PR
I beat Ethan Hawke’s time.

Sara Devine
5:27:26
First marathon PR

Rachel Pennycuick
4:34:04
PR

Emily Rinehart
3:30:24
BQ

Sarah Singer
3:30:47
BQ

Holly Chase
3:34:49
BQ

Michael Trenk
3:36:17
BQ

Rosalba Perna
3:38:00
BQ

Maggie Carr
4:32:10
First marathon after 2 years of injury
Seeing PPTC all over the city, whether as spectators or fellow runners, made my first marathon even more special. Special shoutout to Coaches Missy, Adam, and Michael for organizing MTG – that preparation was key to fighting through the last few miles!

David Hantman
5:44:48
9.5-min course PR
He raised $1,600 for the MVRP Foundation and is still accepting donations until 12/31/17 (donate here: https://www.crowdrise.com/nyc-marathon-david-runs-for-mvrp)

Shan Haq
2:52:47
BQ

Mary Turnbach
5:26:20
4.5-min PR

Sarah Bass
6:38:04
First marathon PR

Gabrielle Napolitano
6:41:56
First marathon PR

Jackie James
4:38:46
First marathon PR

Acknowledgments of the volunteers and sponsors
Thank you to PPTC for funding the Fall Picnic, to Peter Forgach of Saucony for providing blankets to PPTCers on marathon morning (he drove from Manhattan at 3 am to deliver them!), and to Jackrabbit for letting us use their store.

Fall Picnic Organizers
Crystal Cun
Adam Iannazzone 
Lillian Park

Last 10 Miles Volunteers
Sherry Wang
Murray Rosenblith
Roshan Leslie
Adam Devine
Melissa Morrison

NYC Marathon Volunteers
Janet Gottlieb
Anh-Tuan Tran
Murray Rosenblith
Emma Walker
Geoffry Gertz
David Coleman
Isaac Murchie
Fanny Greene
Amy Sowder
Jane Yau
Roshan Leslie
James Israel
all photos on this page were taken by Marek Stepniowski
and of course, to all PPTC members who stood on the sidelines to cheer and cowbell.

Comments and thoughts from our participants

I participated in the Last 10 miles and found it so helpful! Thanks PPTC for all your support and amazing members that inspire us!  ~ Isabel

I also ran the last 10M – it was so helpful knowing what was to come in the later parts of yesterday’s race.  PPTC pacers and volunteers were awesome! ~Kirsty

I thought the Last 10 Mile Run was really helpful. At least during my last 800 meters, I knew where the finish line was going to be and that helped a ton because I knew when I could pick up the speed at the end. ~Aung

Last 10 miles was so useful. 5th ave and CP hills sucked, but I knew they were coming and so I found a final push to get over them! I’ve been amazed how open, friendly, and encouraging the club has been to all newcomers, knowing that I’m sure most of us will disappear into the ether post marathon. I’m very much going to try not to be one of those people. ~Mike
For the “last 10” I led a pace group (the last one, which collapsed 13:00 and 14:00). I’d originally volunteered for 13:00 but no one volunteered to lead 14:00 so I tried to incorporate anyone who was slower than 12:00, basically. I’d never paced before, and I think I led us a little too fast (our average pace was 12:38 according to my Garmin). So maybe some tips on how to be a successful pace leader would be helpful. Our group did spread out a bit in the last three miles and the person who’d fallen the farthest behind took a wrong turn in the park, but everyone did finish. What I’d have done differently would have been to give out my phone number to everyone in the group in case anyone fell way behind or decided to drop out so that I would know. ~Lisa
I also participated in last 10 mile and the picnic and have to say that both events were awesome.  The last 10 was a great way for me to know what to expect in the Marathon. ~Stuart
I participated in the last 10 miles also. It really helped me learn what to expect, especially the elevation changes. I believe it was part of the reason I didn’t hit the wall. ~Carlos
re: Picnic

It’s been a bit less than a year since I joined PPTC, and this was the first event I’d organized for the club. In many ways, I still feel like a green member, but it was nice to see so many familiar faces and reflect on all the new runships I’ve formed over the last year.

re: last 10 miles
He doesn’t know it, but my marathon training strategy has basically been: 1) Show up every Sat at 8 am. 2) Follow Oren for 20 miles, or until I can’t keep up. 3) Repeat.

At the last ten miles, Oren steered our 8:30 pace group like a metronome, nailing every turn in the Bronx and telling us where to conserve energy. He wins my vote for Marathon Sherpa of the Year.

…Also, we can’t forget the poncho. When Murray held up a brightly colored wrap and said, “Who wants a serape?” my hand immediately shot up. Now that marathon training is done, my biggest dilemma is whether to use the poncho as throwaway clothing or keep it. #ponchostruggleisreal ~Crystal

Run Brooklyn with Bed-Stuy Restoration 10K & Inaugural Imagine Academy 5K

by Linus Ly

I love my “job” with the Prospect Park Track Club.  The club has a program where members are encouraged to run with local races. The program, Run Brooklyn, dictates that participants must run a minimum of six Brooklyn races that are professionally-timed in exchange for a chance to win money prizes at PPTC’s annual award dinner.  “Brooklyn races” means the run course must start and end in Brooklyn, such that events like the Tunnel To Tower, which starts on the Brooklyn side of the Battery Park Tunnel but ends in the old World Trade Center site, do not count.  The “professionally-timed” condition eliminates fun runs like the Color Run series, where participants’ times aren’t recorded.

Years ago, many eligible races for the Run Brooklyn program were missed because the club was reliant upon members suggesting Brooklyn races for the program. As a result,  only a handful of Brooklyn races were ever listed fo the Run Brooklyn Program.  Some years ago, I volunteered to maintain a comprehensive spreadsheet containing the race names, dates, URL for registration purposes, and additional information, such as whether the race coincides with a popular event.  Now I also maintain a calendar that is embedded into the club’s website. Although the information from the spreadsheet and calendar largely overlap, the advantage of the calendar is that the information of competing events, such as NYRR races, are presented visually so it is easier for our members to make an informed decision on which race to register for.

I made such an informed decision last week when I forwent the NYRR Staten Island Half and ran in the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration 10K instead.  Staten Island used to be a mysterious place that I drive through along I-278 from the Verrazano Bridge to the Goethal Bridge, or some other bridge, but after spending a large amount time working there, along with running in a few races there as well, the novelty is not there anymore for me.  I like to run in different locations and this year the Bed-Stuy 10K fit the bill.

The Bed-Stuy 10K had its staging area in Restoration Plaza, which is near the corner of Fulton Street and New York Avenue.  All under one big white tent on the Plaza were a stage, DJ stand, registration table, refreshment tables, and some vendor tables.  Refreshment included coffee, bananas, half-cut bagels, small apples, and orange juices, which I believe was all donated from the nearby Super Foodtown supermarket.  In a nearby building, runners were treated to indoor plumbing for their sanitary needs, as well as a bag check area.  Maybe I was not too aware of my surrounding but I found out about the bag check purely by accident.  I think there should be more signs to point out the restroom and bag-check service.

The first event this year was the Kiddie Run.  Some five little kids, two as young as four years of age, ran a few yards to the Finish Line on Herkimer Street behind the Restoration Plaza.  Next we had a workout session led by an instructor on the floor of the big tent and three leaders on the stage.  It was a good workout, plenty enough to loosen muscles for the upcoming race.

There was no music along the race course but if there were, “Turn! Turn! Turn!” by The Byrds should be played.  I was afraid that I would run the wrong way because there were so many turns.  At the start, I asked a few runners near me if they were familiar with the course but they either were running the untimed 5K or did not know the course.  Luckily the corners were well-staffed, either by event personnel or by NYPD.  A safety cone with the proper directional arrow also helped in case you missed the instruction from the staff.  Something else I could use along the course was more water.  There was a station at Mile 2 and again at Mile 4, but by the time slowpoke me got to Mile 4 there were no more cups.  I think there was some water left in the water cooler, yes, the sort used in your typical cubicle office, but I didn’t want to stop completely to drink from the faucet.  Luckily, it was rainy for most of the race and I cooled down enough to not need water that much.  I don’t know the history of the race course so it might be that way all these years, with the many turns, so maybe not much can be done about it.  During the last two miles, I so looked forward to seeing the finish arch from a distance to get me going stronger.  It never came as the arch was just down the road after the final turn.

Bed-Stuy 10K, now in its 36th year, was well-organized despite the water mishap.

In contrast to the Bed-Stuy 10K, a few weeks back I ran an inaugural race, Imagine Academy for Autism 5K in Marine Park, that had some growing pains.  The race course was 3.5 times around the outer loop of the park. I was highly familiar with the outer loop because I ran many times already with NYRR Open Run.

The race was supposed to start at 10 AM, but there was a speech or two and the race didn’t really begin until 10:30.  It was a hot day so the extra half-hour made a little difference.  Although the course was just a few loops of the park, there was no water station anywhere.  After I did my 3.5 loops, the finish line was totally blocked by finishers.  People were just milling about in front of the finish mat, chatting, taking photos, and snacking.  Perhaps because it was the first time for these people to participate in a race but the situation could be helped by having the refreshment table a few yards AFTER the finish line, not mere feet in front of it.  Lastly, there was no trash container anywhere to collect all the wrappers, fruit peels, and other garbage.  Responsible runners had to go a few yards away to squeeze the trash into already-packed receptacles.  Hopefully next year these issues won’t be present and runners can have a more pleasant racing experience at this new Brooklyn race.

New Balance Bronx 10 Mile Race Report

Race: New Balance Bronx 10 Mile

When: Sept 24, 2017

Where: Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY

Uncomfortable warm temperature and sticky humidity greeted runners on a decidedly un-fall-like day last Sunday. Was it already autumn? Who could tell? No matter, amost 15,000 runners were ready to storm the Grand Concourse, designed by an Alsatian immigrant named Louis Aloys Risse who became chief topographical engineer for the New York City government, in the Bronx.

Challenging conditions did not scare away PPTC members; 127 runners showed up, which made us the fourth largest team at the Bronx 10-Miler.

Here is Noah not racing. Imagine what he would look like if he were racing.

Congratulations to Dean Gebhardt (1:03:55), Matt Siefker (1:03:55), and Noah Devereaux (1:05:57) for being the three fastest PPTC men. Noah would like us to know that he “wasn’t really racing” the Bronx 10-Miler. He paced Captain Adam for the first 6 miles and practiced grabbing drinks from the aid station tables. For the last six miles, he felt out the paces for the upcoming Staten Island Half. In doing so, he ran an (unofficial) 5K PR and a 10K PR. If running under 66 minutes for a 10-mile race is “not really racing” for Noah, then we can’t wait to see what you can do when you are really racing. Hey team, any predictions for Noah on what he can do for the Staten Island Half?

Congratulations to Junko Matsuura (1:12:39), Leiba Rimler (1:12:41), and Holly Chase (1:14:00) for being the three fastest PPTC women.

It should also be noted that Dean’s, Junko’s, and Tyrone Sklaren‘s (1:30:43) performances garnered them a top-10 finish in their age groups.

Nothing stops PPTC!

Kudos to everyone on this illustrious PR list! Maybe the weather was warm because you guys were HOT!!!

Leiba Rimler (1:12:41) – perfect 1 min PR
Kelly Greene (1:21:44) – almost a 9-min PR
Jonathan Giles (1:11:38) – first 10-mile race
Clifford Tsao (1:19:28) – knocked 5:41 from his time last year
Issac Josephson (1:22:20) – 3:18 PR
Lisa Maya Knauer – 1:14 PR
Adam Iannazzone (1:06:36)
Rob Dekker (1:13:26)
Aung Barteaux (1:16:35) – first race running for PPTC
Sam Smullen (1:26:03)
Carlos Vazquez (1:11:59) – a minute+ faster than his 15K PR.
Michael Abrahams (1:06:44)
Jackie James (1:35:36)

Finally Murray is not the one behind the camera and our Janice is the pacer.

All photos in this post are credited to Jose Baizan.

Superfund Super Run 10K Race Report

This race report is written in a different style. I’m trying to capture the collective experience of this race, rather than my own personal perspective.

Race: Superfund Super Run 10K

Where: Greenpoint Playground to Pig Beach in Brooklyn, NY

When: Sept 7, 2017

Photo Credit: @bakline

Once a year, runners gather together at Greenpoint Playground. It’s a stealth conclave of various running clubs and some stragglers in search of the fastest route to the finish line – this year at Pig Beach. A map of the recommended route is posted on South Brooklyn Running Club’s website, but experienced runners know a better, shorter route exists. Ask for details on how they’ll get to Pig Beach, and all you’ll get is a laugh and vague, “I just hope I don’t get lost.” These are closely guarded secrets, until Strava reveals them all in exchange for kudos.

At night, rules are flipped on their heads. Runners ruled the street. In the cool crisp air, we ran fearlessly in the night. Passers-by looked on in bewilderment as a steady stream of bibbed runners flowed past. All bibbed, except for one barking Bandit whose thin lithe legs were hampered by her tethered partner’s heavier slower legs.

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but the streets of Brooklyn don’t cooperate by offering a neat perpendicular grid. You’re on your own to devise the fastest route. Several of us assiduously searched on Google maps for the shortest route. A cut through a park here, a diagonal line to run the tangent there, small slivers of distance shaved off in order to save precious minutes off the gun time.  Other runners dispatched with the idea of studying altogether, and instead relied on following more knowledgeable runners. That was a fine strategy until the leaders turned out to be faster and the followers fell too far behind to follow.

Photo Credit: @bakline

Others cursed at the obstacles thrown their way – red lights, trucks, oncoming cars, and hecklers. Some runners wander lost, despite studying hours earlier, for having missed a turn (or two) on a dimly lit street. A few surge confidently ahead, secure in their knowledge of the way having completed a reconnaissance mission in the light of day.

No matter the route, whether running as a solitary endeavor or in a pack, like wolves, eventually all runners find their way to Pig Beach. Like a swarm of bees, we rush through the doors to find the finish line, cheers, hugs, and beer. We know we’ll do this again next year.

5th Ave Mile Race Report

Noah Devereaux takes a flying leap. Photo Credit: Adam Iannazzone

Race: 5th Ave Mile

Where: 5th Ave, Manhattan, NY

When: Sept 10, 2017

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.

Women’s Results

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).

Men’s Results

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).

New PRs

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.

Race Report: Are you up for the 18.12 Challenge?

by Lillian Park

Race: 18.12 Challenge

When: August 27, 2017

Where: Watertown to Sackets Harbor, NY

Lillian: Hey, do you want to drive me to Watertown? It’s six hours north of here.

Jimmy: Why?

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.

Dirty German Endurance Fest Race Report from Captain Adam

Sara, Jana, Shan, & Adam

by Adam Devine

Race: Dirty German Endurance Fest

When: May 13, 2017

Where: Pennypack Park, Philadelphia, PA

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.

Al Goldstein Summer Series #7 Race Review

Photo Credit: Murray Rosenblith

Race: Al Goldstein Summer Series #7

Where: Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY

When: August 16, 2017

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.

Women

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!

Men

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)

Tim Peck getting his PR! Photo Credit: Missy Burgin

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
Nicholas Cohen
Stuart Kaplan

Race Report: Michael Ring’s Club Team Championship

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.

Credit: Linda Chen

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.