Member Spotlight: Interview with Janet Gottlieb

Interview by: Jana Trenk

Jana Trenk joined long time PPTC member, Janet Gottlieb for a mid day loop of Prospect Park, starting at Grand Army Plaza.  Janet gets in 15-20 miles per week, and has been a regular at New York City area races since 1984!

How long have you lived in Brooklyn? Where are you from originally?
I have lived in Brooklyn (first Bay Ridge, now Park Slope) for 31 years. I grew up in The Bronx, and lived in Queens as a young adult.

How did you start running? What got you interested in running?
When I was a teen, before I knew anything about training or specialized running shoes, running seemed a great way to get cardio exercise, and living near the Jerome Park Reservoir, a popular running loop, made it very convenient. In my late twenties, now properly shod, I began entering local races in Queens and also NYRR races.

How has running changed your life?
Running has helped keep me fit, and the people I’ve run with have become some of my closest friends. Some people become so totally consumed with work that they forget health and fitness, but registering for goal races required me to take time for running throughout my working life.

For many years, I considered marathons to be things other people did, and then, when I was 45 and going through some personal adversity, I went to the NYCM Expo and decided to sign up for the Prague Marathon the following May. The demands of marathon training are a great distraction, and I recommend a first marathon to anyone having a hard time who already has enough of a base to contemplate it.

What are your goals for the future?
Unless a brand new, odd distance race is offered, I know my PRs are behind me, but I expect to stay active even if my finishes are DFLs.

Janet with her dog, Cathy. Photo credit: Paul Schickler

What do you do outside of running? Can you tell us a little about your work, hobbies, life other than training?
After more than 33 years working as an attorney for the Administration for Children’s Services, I retired in the Fall of 2015, allowing me more time with my husband Paul, a retired teacher, and our dog Cathy. With New York’s museums, theatres and varied neighborhoods, there’s always plenty to do.

What was it like running in New York in the 80s? How was running culture similar or different to running in 2017?
 It’s my sense that people who ran in the 80’s, obviously a smaller group than we have now, made it their #1 priority, more important than civic action and sometimes even relationships. When there was a plan to make big changes, good for business but bad for park users, in Flushing Meadow Park, I expected my running friends would want to join in opposing the politicians advocating for them, but they didn’t seem to care. Today’s runners—and it may be because this is Brooklyn, and not changing times—recognize how civic action can work in their favor: When I came to Park Slope twenty-five years ago there were cars in the Park almost all the time on weekdays. Political pressure changed that.
Women were certainly in the minority of runners in the eighties, and I got used to being told by the ignorant that jarring one’s reproductive organs was unhealthy. Many got tired of being “welcomed” by runners and then mansplained, which is why women-only events were established. Now there are many New York races in which we predominate!
Those who were involved with PPTC in the old days report that it, too, used to be male-dominated and much more speed-driven and less welcoming of non-champions than it is now.