Category Archives: Race Reports

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, 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.

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.

PPTCers have sweet thoughts after a bitter Cherry Tree

It might have been Valentine’s Day, but around 9:55 a.m. on Sunday morning in Prospect Park, there weren’t many runners in love with the prospect of racing.

The reason, of course, was the frigid weather. One of the Prospect Park Track Club’s signature events, the Cherry Tree 10-Miler & Relay, just happened to fall on one of the coldest mornings in years. The temperature at race time was in the single digits and the wind made it feel less than zero.

“I’ve never run a PPTC race before,” said recent member Nicholas Cohen before he headed to the starting line. “I guess this is trial by fire – or more like ice.”

Racers and volunteers, all warming up. (Photo: Tifenn Python)
Racers, volunteers, and cheerers, all warming up. (Tifenn Python)

Not all members were daunted by the thermometer. Bjorn Arnsten, a native of Norway who ran the relay race with his two sons, took the weather in stride. “It’s like springtime,” he said. “We get this kind of weather in Norway in May.”

Etan Levavi, another new PPTC member, was mildly apprehensive before the starting horn blared. “I’ve never run in such cold weather,” he said. “We’ll have to wait and see.”

Adam Devine's post-race selfie.
Adam Devine’s post-race selfie.

Levavi did just fine, registering the fastest time of any PPTC club member, finishing the 10-miler in 1:02:40. That placed him 16th overall, good for second in the male 20-24 age group. [Click here for all results]

Shan Haq, who finished just behind Levavi in 1:03:14 (3rd in male 20-24), was among the daring few who ran in shorts. “I drove up from Delaware this morning,” he explained. “It was a lot warmer there.”

Overall, the PPTC men had six out of the first 30 finishers. Following Levavi and Haq were Spencer Gallop (21st), Arnie Flores (24th, also in shorts), Tyghe Trimble (27th) and Allan Co (29th).

PPTC rock star Mariela Quintana, the fastest woman from Brooklyn in the 2015 New York City Marathon, led the club’s women’s team. Quintana was the fourth woman finisher overall, running a 1:06:26.

Quintana acknowledged the conditions weren’t optimal and her time was a bit slower than she had hoped. “It was a tough race, but I am proud of myself and everyone who came out,” she said. “I’ll use it as incentive to train harder for the warmer and faster spring races ahead!”

Crazy men. (Photo: Andy Wong)
Crazy men. (Andy Wong)

Other notable finishes from PPTC women included Jana Trenk, who ran the course in 1:09:40, good for third in the female 25-29 age group.

Hats off to Emily Whitfield. Her 1:17:52 made her the fastest woman ages 50-54. And kudos also go to Joelle Reeves, who took home a coveted beer mug for finishing third in the female ages 30-34 group.

After the race, many runners reported that the weather conditions, while difficult, were perhaps better than they had feared. The wind was a factor on the uphills at Grand Army Plaza, but it was comparatively warm on other parts of the course.

Trenk called it a strange race, one in which her pace varied widely. “Some miles I did in the 6:30 range, others were 7:30s,” she said.

Ultimately, it was a day in which the volunteers, more than the runners themselves, deserved the medals for braving the elements and putting on a great race.

A distance-filled weekend: May 4-5

There were two big ultramarathon competitions this weekend upstate: the Rock the Ridge Fifty Mile Challenge at the Mohonk Preserve, and the North Face Endurance Challenge at Bear Mountain. Also of note was the New Jersey Marathon and Long Branch Half-Marathon.

Matt Strawn ran his first 50-miler at Bear Mountain, coming in at 12:38:34, about halfway through the pack. PPTC alumna Helen Dole repeated as champion of the Half-Marathon in 1:52:33, besting last year’s winning time by over seven minutes. She edged out a friend of PPTC, Jack Rabbit’s Laura Coogan, by 12 seconds. Congrats, Matt and Helen!

What did you do with this beautiful weekend? Did you race? Did you get in a final long run before the Brooklyn Half?

Tell us what you did! >>

PPTC Masters Women compete at Penn Relays

On Friday, April 26, 2013 at 7:15 p.m., in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, twelve masters women’s teams lined up on a track. The event was the world-famous Penn Relay Carnival, a five-day celebration of running, with Olympic-caliber competition its highlight.

PPTC Penn Relays 2013 start

Set as team “H” were four women sporting a comforting shade of red and four familiar letters: PPTC!

Continue reading PPTC Masters Women compete at Penn Relays

PPTC at the DC Rock and Roll Half / Full

Gary Wang writes in with the following race report:

Ran the Rock and Roll Half Marathon in DC this past Saturday with former PPTC’ers Helen Dole, Sarah Scott and Brad Skillman.

Special congrats to Helen for her new blazing sub 1:23:58 PR and a top 20 finish in a very competitive field and for Sarah running the full in 3:31 in her first marathon post-baby. And

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that with a two minute detour off the course for a bathroom break!

For myself, I ran a negative split 1:30:01 after taking an overnight Greyhound bus to DC Fri night, so all told, not a bad day all things considered. (word of advice, if you ever want to try to get sleep on a bus, DON’T sit near the back :))

All in all, a fun weekend.

Did any other PPTCers run in our nation’s capital this weekend? Does Helen, Sarah, or Brad have anything to add? Sound off in the comments.

NYC Half ’13 – PPTC runs Manhattan

The 2013 NYC Half took place in freezing conditions on Sunday. The 38 red PPTC shirts to cross the finish line at South Street Seaport gave great contrast to the sea of green for St. Patrick’s Day.

Karen Ziga was PPTC’s top finisher at 1:23:40, crushing her previous PR. She was the 37th overall female (out of 7,597) and 15th in her age group. Karen had complained about a nagging hip, but she looked great! Colleen Herbert and Anna Tattan follwed Karen in 54th and 67th.

Bjorn Arntsen and Rahmin Pavlovic came in neck and neck as PPTC’s top two males. Vinny Spiteri took third for the team.

From Facebook, I see we had PRs out of Karen Ziga, Nicole Importico, and Kamen Yotov. Surely there were more! Let us know in the comments.

Continue reading NYC Half ’13 – PPTC runs Manhattan

First weekend of “spring” – how’d it go?

What beautiful weather this weekend!

Several PPTCers competed in the NBR McCarren Park Track Classic. Zoe van de Wiele took first in her heat in the 400m, while Clarence Lynn placed in his 800m heat.

There was also the World Race for Hope, which looks like it took a scenic route through Riverside Park.

Did you race? Were you busy training? Did the changing clocks affect you? (Maybe all three?) Leave a comment!

PPTC defends its turf at Al Gordon

73 red shirts finished in Saturday’s NYRR Al Gordon Classic 4-miler, fending off a light sleet to take care of business in the club’s home park.

The PPTC Women’s team finished second, with Lynda Mules leading the way at 26:22 (6:36/mi), putting her in first for her age group and ninth of all females. Lynda has begun her Masters career with a bang; it started on her birthday with a 3:39:02 in Baltimore, and continued last weekend when she ran on the PPTC relay team at the Millrose Games. (More on that soon.)

In total, 14 PPTCers took age-group honors, with Maggie Deschamps (29:25, 7:22/mi) claiming the top prize in the 45-49 category. A full list of PPTC results can be found here; age-group finishers are below.

Team, how did you enjoy the race? Leave a comment or send an email to the pptcnewsletter account.

Continue reading PPTC defends its turf at Al Gordon