PPTC Member Spotlight: Lillian Park
Interview and photo by PaFoua Hang
This month’s PPTC Member Spotlight features Lillian Park. Lillian has been on the Communications Committee since 2017 and is a key member of the Social Media team, which also includes Adam Iannazzone and Caitlin-Marie Miner Ong. Their combined social engagement and artistic prowess are some of the reasons why the Club’s Instagram account has amassed over 2,000+ followers so far. Lillian is also one of the team captains, along with Adam Devine, Missy Burgin, and Jimmy Leung.
Lillian hails to us from California. Her childhood years were spent in the Los Angeles/Long Beach area; she then lived in the Bay Area for 10 years before moving to do a three-year stint in Toronto, Canada. She has lived in the NYC metropolitan area for over 10 years, with the last four years in Brooklyn.
When Lillian is not running, she is mostly working. Her work in academia demands long hours so she tries to make the most of her free time when she has it by hanging out with her pup, Bandit, and solving the big mystery of who Ben Fleck is. She loves to travel and every year tries to go on at least one trip to a foreign country that she has never been to before.
How did you find PPTC and why did you choose this club?
My husband, Ben, and I joined PPTC in November 2015. We found PPTC the way we find most things in life, on the Internet via Google. We were specifically looking for a club that had a nice mix of training runs and social events. We knew we wanted to be in a club where members were interested in hanging out with each other outside of group runs and races. PPTC fit the bill! I love that the Club’s laid-back, inclusive nature attracts runners of all types. I also think we put on the best events.
What is your favorite PPTC event?
Hard to choose! Awards Night is always fun because it’s nice to see what people look like outside of running clothes when they’re not sweating, and it’s wonderful to acknowledge the different ways people have contributed to the Club. I love eating all the incredible food that people bring in for the Holiday Party. The PJ Run is just a fun silly run. I also love the quarterly New Members Run because it draws such a crowd. It’s a great way to meet new members and catch up with older members whom I haven’t seen in a while.
What aspect of the club are you most active in?
I am on the Communications Committee and am part of the Social Media team. We’re always looking for ways to showcase what PPTC is all about, whether it’s celebrating our runners’ accomplishments or highlighting the events that we have going on. I also host themed group runs from time to time. Recently, I became one of the team captains. I’m excited for the opportunity to further contribute to the Club by looking at the ways in which we support runners, particularly our master runners.
How did you start running and what keeps you going?
I run because I love to race. Road races are a socially acceptable channel to funnel my competitive nature. I had an on-again-off-again relationship with running for several years. I ran for fun when I was a graduate student, but I stopped for several years when I moved to Toronto and discovered that in parts of the world outside of California, for several months of the year, daytime temperatures go below 60 degrees. I restarted running in late 2011 when I realized that my physical fitness level was rather poor. Running, however, didn’t really click with me until I met Ben and he introduced me to racing.
What is your most memorable running memory and favorite race?
There are a ton of different ways to answer this, but I’ll talk about a memory that I think about often when things get hard. I never get a runner’s high. Never. But the closest I probably came to it was a training run that I did with Ben five or six years ago. It was a beautiful weekend morning and we went out for a long run along the Hoboken waterfront. Because it was a long run, I was supposed to run much slower, but on that day, something in me just clicked. Running felt effortless and I just had to run fast, except on that day, it didn’t feel fast. I felt like I was floating. It was a magical run.
My favorite race is Wineglass, hands down. You surely weren’t expecting me to say anything else. The race organization and atmosphere are incredible. I always have a great time (figuratively and literally).
What is your favorite race distance?
Half marathons and 5-mile races. Half marathons because they’re the perfect blend of a long enough distance that you feel very accomplished after finishing one, but it’s short enough that you can train hard without sacrificing your life. I love 5-mile races because it’s probably the distance I’m best at.
Are you currently training for anything or working towards a running goal?
My current running goals are to hit sub 1:40 in the half marathon and sub 22 minutes in the 5K. I haven’t started the training cycle yet, but I would like to hit my half marathon goal this fall. I had to reduce running for several weeks in the spring because of work demands, so I’m currently doing aerobic base building to get my fitness back up.
My all-time running goal is to run a half marathon in 50 states before Jimmy Leung does. I’m at #18 to Jimmy’s 20 so far.
What do you think about or listen to when you run?
I haven’t listened to music (outside of a treadmill run) in years. I don’t know what I think about when I run. It’s a stream of consciousness experience, unless I’m doing a workout. If I’m doing a workout, then I’m thinking about pace and how soon I can stop.
What is your pre-race ritual, if any, the night before a race and during the morning of?
Coffee and cake before any race 10 miles or longer. Otherwise, just coffee will do.
What is your favorite recovery tool and post-run meal after a long run or hard race?
My compression boots from AirRelax! I love those boots. They make my legs feel so good after a hard run. I like to refuel with a hamburger with fries and an ice-cold Coke.
Any advice you would give to new runners or your younger running self?
People are well-meaning, but sometimes I think the advice that more experienced runners give can be overwhelming to new runners. One of the reasons why I didn’t get serious about running until much later was because I was told over and over again that I couldn’t possibly run unless I owned at least two pairs of running shoes, but it would be better if I had three, and all sorts of running gear. At the time I was a poor student, who didn’t have a whole lot of money after paying for rent and groceries. While I understand why people gave me that advice, truth be told, you’re not going to explode if you *gasp* wear the same pair of shoes for two days in a row and are running low weekly mileage.
For new runners who are running low mileage, you can get by with one pair of shoes. The most important thing about the shoes is that they need to be comfortable. Go out and have fun running. It’s silly to tell people that they need so much new and expensive gear when they aren’t sure if they even want to stick with the sport. I would rather have people try running wearing a cotton tee, then to have people never try it at all because they felt they couldn’t unless they had all the “right” gear.
Anything else you would like your teammates to know about you?
I really love chocolate.