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.
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.
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.