by PaFoua Hang
Nov 18, 2017
On November 18, 2017, PPTC ultrarunners toed the NYRR NYC 60K Ultra-Marathon in Central Park. There were 11 registered PPTC finishers. PPTC won the team award with its top five men finishers, followed by Front Runners in second place, and the Dashing Whippets in third place. Etan Levavi came in fourth overall for his ultra debut. Other outstanding ultra debuts include Ben Collier in eight overall and Andrei Fluerasu in 20th for men overall. For women overall, PaFoua Hang came in 18th. Captain Adam Devine came in 25th overall and was able to knock off a hefty PR margin. Both Etan and Frank Deleo came in second for each of their respective age groups.
The following pages are race recaps from the runners in alphabetical order by first name. Recaps not captured: Kamen Yotov and Manuel Quintanilla.
This is by far my favorite race of the year, because it always feels like more of a team effort than any race, save for maybe the team champs. A bunch of us made it a little more of a to-do this year, and it really paid off. I started with Andrei, and he and I ran the first 18 miles or so together, then he sped up and I slowed a bit. The group run cheer squad met us for a bit and provided some much-needed support, and Rosalba was ON POINT with Sherpa duties. She ran with me right when things started getting rough and helped keep me going when I needed it (and I didn’t realize until after that she ran more than 33 miles in support of us!). I passed several teammates along the way on the course and on the sidelines, and the constant flow of “team” made the whole thing feel like more of a group effort. After finishing I rang my cowbell until my body started to shut down, and then headed home. I feel bad I didn’t stay until the whole team was finished, but I was so proud of everyone, especially the first-timers. I can’t wait to do it again next year. Go, Team!
I started running with Adam Devine (see photo) somewhere just below 8min/mi (5 min/km) with the occasional faster mile when we were pushed faster by the overall excitement. Around mile 12, we were joined by the most amazing support crew one can imagine who had run there all the way from Brooklyn – Thanks, Noah, Jana, Matteo, Sarah R, Adam I, Crystal, Anh-Tuan, Rosalba (and I hope I didn’t forget others). It was fun trying to organize a triangular-shaped pace group like in the sub-2 attempt. It definitely made us feel good and miles passed faster. Kept my pace for the first 5 loops (21 miles) but with the 6th loop, after a quick refueling stop, the unavoidable started to happen. With the low mileage a mange to put in this cycle and probably not really fully recovered after the NYC marathon, I started to feel increasingly stiff (same darn glutes) and to slow-down. My goal on the last two laps was simple: just keep running and don’t care about the pace. In the meantime, Rosalba was doing her own crazy run. She ran many loops in opposite direction and then joined many of our PPTC teammates for small sections. I was myself joined by Scott for a mile or so at some point. The last 10k was just a struggle for survival. I knew that if I keep running, I’ll finish in under 5:30, perhaps even 5:20, which was a good goal. Rosalba joined me for those last 6 mi and together we forgot a bit about the suffering. She was approaching the 50km mark herself which makes her a clear winner in the spectator-cheerleader-runners category 🙂
My final time was approximately 5:19:30.
All in all, this was a long, interesting day. The suffering was non-negligible but the overall joy shadows it and only a few hours after the race I’m thinking already that I should do what I need to do to keep the 8 min pace for the whole darn race next year 🙂 Thanks again to all the PPTC teammates, and cheering groups and, of course, a big thank you to all the volunteers.
Thoughts were that it was such a fun race. I like that it was small, there was great sense of camaraderie and there was a huge PPTC showing. I’d forgotten how hard it was to run the longer distances. My legs were dead for the last 10 miles. NYCM really took its toll. Also, could not have finished without PPTC support. Scott Edgerton ran the whole of the last lap, I think he really sensed I was fading and took it upon himself to drag me home. He’d probably run some miles himself at that point so even more grateful.
What a club!
I can’t believe I just completed my first ultra! This was not something that was even on my radar until hearing PPTC members (such as, ahem, Adam) talk about how “fun” they were. So I decided I wanted to give it a try! As far as training goes, I really want to thank the MTG group, Coach Tony/Charlene Speed Training sessions and everyone in PPTC for the support along the way!
And then on to the race: it was really amazing to see such a big group of fellow PPTC runners when I got there. To know that so many teammates were gonna be out in the course with me helped to calm my nerves! The team support was also critical to my finishing as I learned a lot in real time from PaFoua – who I got to run with for the first half. She helped me keep going even through a stomach bug, which I had gotten earlier in the week and plagued me the first couple loops, she helped me figure out my nutrition and she helped to take my mind off what was coming up by chatting about other races we have run. (Thanks!)Toward the end of the run I surprised myself by keeping at it-even when running became more of a shuffle. (Especially on the hills!) Before the 60k, I wondered what it would be like to run cat hill on that ninth loop and though it’s a blur to me now, I remember one thing: it was PAINFUL but not IMPOSSIBLE.
I have to thank all the PPTC-ers who came to cheer and, of course, my wife, Carmen who I thought was crazier than me to stand out in the cold for 6+ hours as my crew!
I never thought that I’d run this race! About a month before the NYC Marathon, after a long training run, I was speaking with a friend about how I think anyone can complete a marathon with proper training. My friend adamantly disagreed, and as an example asked me if I could ever run an Ultramarathon… “NO! I can NEVER run an Ultra!” But, a few minutes later, I thought, “Why not?” I spoke with Adam Devine the next day to get his thoughts, and he was very encouraging (is anyone surprised?) so I signed up right after our conversation.
A few days before the race, I went to an NYRR RUNtalk about Ultras where I met a guy that Adam works with (Christopher), and we chatted for a few minutes and wished each other a good race. A few days later, the race started off great! Lots of encouragement from volunteers and obviously from PPTC members, I brought tons of food which I quickly realized was pointless since it was SO well-supported by NYRR, and Sara Devine and Andy Wong were kind enough to run the 2nd loop with me, offering great conversation and encouragement. They made the 2nd loop so joyous and easy that the 3rd loop really dragged on in comparison! At the end of #3 (approximately a half marathon), I was honestly beginning to get a bit dreary at the thought of so many more repeating loops since I was getting tired, when suddenly I noticed Christopher. We spoke about our expected pace, and decided to run together a little bit.
We had a fine loop #4, getting to know each other better since we were still effectively strangers. We also ran with Melissa Lee, who was kind enough to tell me in advance that she might come out, and I was overjoyed that she made it and offered company/encouragement, which really helped loop #5 pass by effortlessly! Christopher and I then kept going together while the conversation kept flowing. We spoke about work, the PPTC, phones, politics, candy, and plenty of other random things, because we had plenty of time since we wound up finishing six loops (24 miles) together after previously having spoken for only a few minutes!!! It was so much easier to bear through with company during nearly the whole race!
There was plenty of walking, stopping to eat, and hugs from the incredible PPTC cheer sections (thank you, Heather, Katie, Robert, Joelle, Nick, Dave, and anyone else I missed). Everyone was super encouraging, the PPTC members who lapped me made sure to be congratulatory and uplifting, and the rest stops were basically delicious snack buffets. At the end of the day (I finished after the sun went down) I proved myself wrong by finishing, got to know a stranger really well, got to know some incredible PPTC members better, and found another race which I can’t imagine missing next year! If you’re like me and never thought that you’d be able to run this, then I hope to see you there next year when you prove yourself wrong.
And, seriously, thank you SO MUCH Adam, Sara, Andy, and Melissa!!!
One thing I love about running is that, in terms of performance measures, it is a simple function of time and distance. My goal going into the race was to finish in under 5 hours, which would require about an 8:00/mi average pace. But above all, I wanted to go by feel and was willing to take a chance with this race. As with distance cycling, I love ultra running for the fact that it gives the runner an excuse to run for extended durations of time and be enveloped in the cheers and support of friends and spectators.
Thanks to peer pressure and the intrigue of increasing my distance PR, I found myself registered for the 60K. I have only run for more than 3 hours duration a handful of times. Just a few weeks ago I ran 50K on a treadmill at the NYC Marathon Expo, in 5 hours. It went really well and was the confidence boost that opened me up to the idea of running the 60K at a race effort. My thought was that I have already run for 5 hours – now I just have to do it at a harder effort.
Yes, there is pain – both during the race and much in the 8-10 hours following the race. It’s subsiding rapidly, thanks to compression pants, gentle stretching, sleep, and water. But as masochistic as 9 CP loops may seem, it is not the pain that is the draw, but the elation. Throttling up CP’s hills, and the freedom of rolling down the other side, seeing friends on the course and cheering, seeing the Achilles athletes out there. The high point of the race for me came on the third-to-final loop. About a quarter of a mile past the aid station, I became overwhelmed by emotion. That moment was everything running is to me. I could barely breathe, as I was on the brink of breaking down and bawling my eyes out. For this single experience, it was all worth it. But of course, there was so much more. Knowing that my friends running were putting in the same work that I was, and knowing that my friends who came out to support us were never more than a few miles away.
After the race, it took a few days for NYRR to post the race results. I was proud to see that I placed 4th overall with a time of 4:38:48, average pace 7:29/mi. Congrats to everyone who did the work and put in the miles! This is the best team!
First of all, big thanks to PaFoua for being the primary mover in creating this group. Hey, is it me, or did the PPTC presence at this venerable event reach a tipping point this year? (According to the initial NYRR results, we were the only team that had double-digit participants! Can that be right? Yes!!!) I was both gratified and tickled to see all the club folks who either ran the race or provided some incredible support along the course, up to and including pizza and free hugs. Not to mention the flood of photos pouring in afterward! I’m sure we’ll see many of those who cheered us on from the sidelines wearing race numbers next year.
It was good to see Broadway Ultra Society’s Richie Innamorato still helping out at this race. He founded this race in 1978, collaborating with Fred Lebow and the NYRR, and also gave it the name that many of us old-timers know it as the Knickerbocker 60K (or simply “the Knick”). Fred was secretly a big booster (and occasional participant) of ultras, in spite of the fact that they didn’t bring in a lot of revenue, what with fewer participants back then. Central Park was also a lot less congested, and in its early years the race (then held in March) was six full loops of the park in a clockwise direction, finishing near the Dakota along the West 72nd St exit.
Much of my ultra history has been running these road courses on repeating loops. Unlike point-to-point runs and trail races, the limited scenery might make it harder to stay motivated, but I think there are definite advantages. The camaraderie is great. You pass through “race central” and gatherings of the “ultra-curious” on a regular basis. You get inspired (or discouraged, if you’re one of those glass-half-empty types) by the faster runners lapping you, and you, in turn, can get a chance to encourage the runners you happen to pass.
And I gotta say NYRR provided a great spread this year, with bagels, potatoes, a variety of sweet and salty snacks, and lots of fluids both hot and cold. Thank you, volunteers!
Finally, thanks to whichever geoengineers are responsible for keeping the rain at bay for the better part of the race, even for the slower runners. My preferred ultra conditions skew toward summer days, but I guess that’s just me.
This was my fourth time fun-running the NYC 60K. I was thrilled to see a strong PPTC turn-out this year. Andy Wong graciously offered to drive a few of us to the start line so I felt refreshed and calm when I got to Central Park. Shan Haq warmed up with me and we ran the first mile or so together. Then I started running with Brian Schwartz and Christy, and soon we were joined by Anh-Tuan Tran who ran with us for two loops. By the end of the fourth loop, I found myself alone and at the mercy of the noise in my head. On the sixth loop, I started fading and was relieved when Scott Edgerton joined me for a loop. We saw Joe Lyons and Bobbie DeMasco cheering around mile 25 and it was rejuvenating to see them after fighting against the rolling hills. Captain Adam Devine passed us shortly afterward and it was inspiring to see his energy—he was heading towards a big PR and I was really excited for him.
I ran the last three loops alone. Etan Levavi passed me during the seventh loop and gave me encouraging words as he continued on like a fresh gazelle galloping into the horizon of the rolling sister hills. I pushed onward against the angry hills and was greeted again by the most enthusiastic cheering squad of Joe and Bobbie. I continued to see both of them during another painful lap. On the ninth lap, most spectators have left because it started drizzling, but I was overcome with pressure and guilt that Joe and Bobbie might still be out on the course cheering. As much as I would rather have walked, I felt compelled to at least jog my way towards them JUST IN CASE they were still there and I was selfishly keeping them out longer in the cold just to wait for my hobby jogger’s victory lap. During mile 36, from 100 meters away, I can hear Joe screaming my name and cheering alone. It was incredibly uplifting.
I ran this ultra on a dangerously low mileage training cycle thanks to having fallen out of love with running after getting piriformis syndrome during the NJM training cycle. With the poor mileage, I ran NYCM as a fun touristy run and I also toed the 60K with the same nonchalant mindset. Thanks to everyone who came out to run, cheer, and offer moral support, I unexpectedly PR’d by 15 minutes during this fun run and came in 18 for overall women (WHAT?). Thank you, PPTC! Thank you, Sara Devine, for your encouragement at the end of EVERY LOOP. And Joe – this PR was really because of you since I would have gladly strolled the last loop if I didn’t expect you to still be out there. 🙂
My first 60K felt like my very first marathon, except that for my first marathon the longest run I did was 10K. For the 60K, I ran 7 marathons and after a couple of those marathons, I felt good enough to run another half marathon. However, for the 60K I didn’t have a strategy like I did for my first marathon. My strategy for my first marathon was to do four 10K loops plus 1.4 miles. With each 10K, I reset my mind by saying to myself, “Groundhog Day”.
I was ill-prepared for the 60K and made frequent pit stops, which could have been avoided if I took the 60K seriously. I was toast after mile 30 but kept going because I have never DNF (“did not finish”) in any of the races that I’ve run before. I’ll do the 60K again, but with a strategy next time and be better prepared both mentally and physically.
Let me tell you about two pizza deliveries that really meant something to me. The first and most remarkable one was in the mid-80s, Pakistan. I was maybe six, hated my grandma’s cooking, and the food didn’t stick to my ribs the same as it did back home.
Dad was coming to visit a week later to join mom, my sister, and me. I still remember the phone call with him, “Anything you want from America that you miss from home?”
“Dad, I want a pizza.”
A week later my father arrives in Islamabad, opened the suitcase and pulled out a pizza box. For a hungry kid who hated the food in Pakistan pooping his guts out every day, I can’t tell you how grateful I was to get that box of pizza.
Well, the second such instance of pizza delivery gratitude happened to me five hours into the race last Saturday, in Central Park NY. One of my favorite running buddies was waiting for me before the final loop of Central Park. She had a box of freshly made, piping hot pizza.
Special thanks to Sarah working the aid station for looking me in the eyes and firmly encouraging me to keep running.
Lastly, thanks for the pizza delivery, Jana.