Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Run Brooklyn 2009

Prospect Park Track Club

Run Brooklyn 2009

To encourage team racing, and support of Brooklyn races organized by local groups and organizations, we are announcing PPTC’s "Run Brooklyn 2009" Grand Prix.

PPTC members racing 6 scored Brooklyn races will be entered in a raffle for a $100 cash prize at the end of the year.

Rules for qualification:

* To be eligible, runners must become PPTC members before July 1, and must race only for PPTC in any races they enter.
* PPTC’s database will be the official source for tracking races. Each runner will be responsible for entering their own races.
* Any Brooklyn based races that are officially scored will qualify.
* The 6 races MUST include at least ONE race organized by PPTC.
* NYRR races held in Brooklyn will count towards qualification, but no more than one such race will be counted.

There will be 5 winners selected at random on New Year’s Day at Harry’s Handicap. In addition, all members completing 6 Brooklyn races will receive a "Run Brooklyn 2009" award.

Below is a partial list of established Brooklyn races. Other races we may have omitted will also count if they are scored events.
Jan. Harry’s Handicap
Feb. Cherry Tree 10 Mile/Relay, Valentine’s Day Run, Al Gordon Snowflake
May Cinco de Mayo 5K, Brooklyn Half
Al Goldstein Speed Series 5K (Only one race in the series will be credited)
Fort Hamilton 5K (Only one race from the series will be credited)
June Kenny Dolan 5K, Cosme’s Boardwalk 5K, PPTC Picnic Relay
Al Goldstein Speed Series 5K (Only one race in the series will be credited)
Fort Hamilton 5K (Only one race from the series will be credited)
July Al Goldstein Speed Series 5K (Only one race in the series will be credited)
Fort Hamilton 5K (Only one race from the series will be credited)
August Al Goldstein Speed Series 5K (Only one race in the series will be credited)
Fort Hamilton 5K (Only one race from the series will be credited)
Sept. Chris Hoban 5Miler, Music That Heals 5K, Liz Padilla 5K
Oct. Bed Stuy 10K, Women vs. Violence 5K, Get to the Point 5K
Nov. Cosme’s Boardwalk Turkey Trot, PPTC Turkey Trot 5M
Dec. Peter Rabbit’s 3M XC

What You Do Not Know Because You Are Not Me

By Michael Ring

For three Saturday mornings in March, Gil Torres led a workshop for beginner runners. He presented a great smorgasbord of running tips. I sent everyone who participated in the workshops this email. I wanted them to “know what they don’t know because they are not me!”

Hi all!

Michael Ring here. It was fun to join you all for workouts the last three Saturdays. I might have introduced myself. I am not a beginner runner. I have finished 18 marathons (one of them was an ultra (a race greater than 26.2 miles)). I have raced up the stairs of the Empire State Building. I have done training runs that started in Brooklyn and ended in The Bronx, or New Jersey. I have assisted with many races and my eight-year old twins are on a running team. Yet, I learned something from Gil. Thanks again, Gil.

I also sit on the Board of Directors of the Prospect Park Track Club and am Chair of the Membership Committee. I am not sending this email to sell the club. I want to complement the concepts that Gil presented. Not the physiological stuff. That I can't add to. I want to mention the social stuff, the mental stuff. . .

For me, running serves many purposes.

Sometimes it is the one time I can do just one thing. Run. Just run. Life is so full of multi-tasking; it is so good to just do one thing. Never mind all the physical fitness benefits of running. It is really good for the head to just do one thing at a time. "The way I see it, you have to view running time not as extra or wasted time, but as important, productive contemplation time." Fred Lebow

Sometimes I run to meet my friends. We run at a "conversational pace." There was even an Off-Broadway how that had all of the actors running in place for the whole show. It was called Marathon. It was not about running. It was about the relationships that grew among men who ran together. Marathon champion Joan Benoit Samuelson said, ""Years ago, women sat in kitchens drinking coffee and discussing life. Today, they cover the same topics while they run."

Sometimes I run to enjoy Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, Shore Road under the Verrazano Bridge, The Promenade. Why leave all the beautiful stuff for the tourists?

Sometimes I run because I am training for a specific event. It could be a 5K or a marathon; it is exciting to do your best. There is nothing like that sense of accomplishment of achieving a personal goal. Sometimes I use a special event as an excuse to run. Some might consider me nuts to run 40 miles a week. So I tell them I am training for a marathon.

A lot of people talk about what to eat before a big run. "Carbo loading." I am more content to think about what I get to eat after I run!!! Do you remember the days when a pint of ice cream was a single serving container?

Running can be a great part of a family vacation or a business trip. It can be cool to wake up early and get in a few miles before everybody else has breakfast. Then you already know your way around town. It was a great way to see the monuments in Washington. The next step is planning a family vacation around a race. I used up a lot of "family points" on that one.

Running will help you get in good physical shape. Or you can get in good shape so you can run better. Either way.

As in all things the better you are at it, the more you can enjoy it. So remember; run well and have fun.

If you are interested in more, check out the Prospect Park Track Club at or our blog at or my personal blog,


It has a rich, peppery, strong taste for a leafy green. It can be used in salads, pastas, meats, or as a garnish. It can even be used as a topping for pizza! (just be sure to add it after the baking period). Needless to say, this food is low in saturated fat and very low in cholesterol. It is also a good source of B-Vitamins, fiber, protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium and Manganese. As you can see, it’s an all around nutritious leaf and half a cup (about 10 grams) is only 3 calories!!!

Best to buy:
Arugula is available all year long, but it peaks from June through December, so go buy some!


Homemade Brunch
Egg Sandwich with Arugula, Fruit Salad, and Refreshing Sun Tea

Egg Sandwich with Arugula & Fruit Salad
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Yields: 2 servings

1 cup of Arugula (if you don't have access to Arugula, use Spinach with a sprinkle of lime)
2 English muffins (preferably whole wheat and/or whole grain)
3 eggs
1/8th of an onion
3 tbsp Pecorino or Parmesan (Reggiano) cheese
2 tsp olive oil
Pam spray
Pepper and salt to taste
1 red apple
1 handful of purple grapes
1 tsp of Agave

1. Chop onions and grate Pecorino cheese.
2. Mix eggs, onions, Pecorino cheese, and olive oil in medium bowl.
3. Chop apple into cubes and grapes into halves. Save in the fridge while cooking.
4. Spray frying pan, cook egg mix until well done (but not dry).
5. Toast English muffins.
6. On two separate plates: cut English muffin in half, place half of the egg mix on one halve, and use half a cup of Arugula. Add salt and pepper to taste. Close sandwich. Do the same on the other plate.
7. Last but not least, mix fruit with Agave and serve half the fruit plate on each plate.
8. Voila! You have a healthy, tasty, brunch! Add the Sun Tea for the perfect refreshing drink!

Sun Tea
Prep time: 2 minutes
Cook time: 24 hours
Yield: 2 liters

3-4 tea bags of your choice (Suggested: Peppermint tea)

1. Fill an extra-large mason jar with water, add 3 or 4 of your favourite tea bags, and cover with lid.
2. Place in sun for one full day and let the shining rays pour in heat and energy, bringing out the wonderful tea flavours.
3. Sweeten if so desired with natural sweetener, serve room temperature or cold over ice. Note: Garnish with mint leaves or lemon wedge.

Adapted from, Naoko Ikeda, and

Standing Room Only at April PPTC Meeting

The room was packed at the April 6th PPTC meeting. From the election results to NYRR CEO and President Mary Wittenberg, the agenda was full. Mary and her team took the floor after introductions by President Tom Meany and spoke for more than an hour. She covered a wide range of topics, many of which addressed questions that had been submitted previously by members. Here are some of the highlights:

• The date for the Brooklyn Half was to be confirmed at a meeting NYRR was having with city officials the following morning. Subsequently, Mary notified clubs that May 30th HAS been confirmed as the date for the Brooklyn Half. The plan is to reverse the course to start in Prospect Park and run towards Coney Island. Due to the condition of the boardwalk, only part of it is safe for running so more mileage than NYRR would like will need to be run in Prospect Park. (How many remember when the Brooklyn Half was four laps of Prospect Park?)

• In response to the suggestion that NYRR races start in the southern end of Central Park, closer to more mass transportation options, Mary responded that the Parks Department requires them to start as many races as possible in the northern of the Park where the bulk of runners would cause the least amount of interference to other Park users.

• When asked about it, Mary stated flatly that they had made a mistake and apologized for scheduling the Al Gordon race the day before our Cherry Tree. It was their understanding that no race was scheduled for that day. Their intention is to better coordinate with local clubs now that NYRR will be bringing races into the outer boroughs.

• On that subject, no plans have been finalized for specific races but taking races outside of Central Park is definitely in the NYRR plans.

• One way to reduce congestion at race starts would be to run men and women separately, which brought a mixed reaction.

• Having an inside location after winter races was discussed. There was no promise but, given the enthusiasm a number of members showed for the past practice to be reinstated, there was an indication that it would be considered.

President Tom Meany followed up with Mary to extend a standing invitation to return to speak to the members.

Managing Stress By Tom Meany, CTS, MHC, LPC

Managing Stress

By Tom Meany, CTS, MHC, LPC

Stress has been given a bad rap (and rep) in our present day culture. It usually carries a bad connotation, but there is actually good stress in our lives. You need a certain amount of stress just to read this article. Stress is anything that challenges us to mobilize resources to deal with it.

General stress is day in, day out stress, and it can be positive or negative. It’s the stress you need to get up and get dressed each day, the stress you need to read this article. If you went to work today, missed your train, spilled coffee, leaving stains on your shirt and arrived late for work, that’s negative general stress. If you got to work with no delays and received an unexpected promotion or bonus, that would be positive general stress. At the end of the day, it’s over, positive, negative or mixed, but you start again tomorrow.

So what can we do to manage our stress?

We do have reliable resources that we can control and rely upon to manage our stress. Primarily the first is:

1. REST. We cannot function if we don’t have enough rest, which generally means seven to eight hours of sleep per night. A car cannot start if the battery is dead.

2. NUTRITION. The car cannot run without fuel in the tank. Some people react to stress by over eating, some withdraw from eating. We need to have a balanced amount of nutritious food even if we don’t feel like eating. Not eating will make any physical symptoms worse.

3. EXERCISE. Distress can cause us to generate high levels of adrenaline in our system. Over time this creates fatigue or physical and or emotional exhaustion. Adrenaline needs to be physically processed out of our system. The best way to do this is to introduce oxygenated blood and the best way to do this is physical exercise. The more aerobic the exercise the better, but even going for a long walk can introduce needed oxygenated blood into our system.

4. COMMUNICATION. Talking about what distresses us does two things. One it is an emotional catharsis. It is allowing a waterfall of emotion to flow out from being built up inside us. It’s also gives us some perspective, so we can view things more objectively. This is the most single, therapeutic factor for managing stress. Sometimes we need to get things off our chest and sometimes we need to be the listener. The best people to speak with are usually those that share similar stressors.

5. SPIRITUAL BELIEF SYSTEM. By this it doesn’t necessarily mean being a member of a church or congregation, but that can be helpful. It means believing in the universal notion that good should overcome evil in the world. It’s the lens on the camera so that we can look at the tragedy of 9/11 and answer the question: Why would God allow 3,000 innocent people to be murdered? It’s our way of making sense of things of life.

6. RECREATION. Distress can often cause us to withdraw from things we enjoy in life: socializing with friends, traveling, exercising, having fun. There is a child within us all that needs to play and play often. Not having fun in our lives can, in itself, increase stress.

So we can’t control, the sight, the sound the smell of things that may remind us of the distress in our lives, but we can control developing and accessing our resources. It is as if we are a sailboat and knocked on its side by an unexpected wave. The first thing we need to do is take a deep breath and let the wave roll over us. The next thing we need to do is think of which resources we need to access. How can I straighten out my sailboat?. . .

- Do I need to take a rest, put my head down?

- Do I need a drink of water, or something to eat?

- Do I need to go for a walk, just to get some fresh air?

- Do I need to be with people, to talk or listen?

- Do I need to meditate or say a prayer?

- Do I need to plan being with friends or a workout?

If you’re managing the stress in your life adequately, share this information with anyone whom you know who is struggling.

Tom is a Certified Trauma Specialist by The Association for Traumatic Stress. He is is also a Licensed Mental Health Professional Counselor in New York & New Jersey.

In Memoriam: Sheila Hernandez

In Memoriam: Sheila Hernandez
Ken Levy
Sheila Hernandez was a frequent runner during the spring and summer months with the PPTC. My darling wife passed away from inflammatory breast cancer, a rare and fatal variant of the disease that strikes quickly and aggressively. IBC is frequently misdiagnosed and often impossible to detect with mammograms - and sonograms until it has already spread. The time from her diagnosis to passing was just four short months. During this time Sheila exhibited extraordinary courage and never once questioned 'why me?’ Her biggest complaint throughout her all too brief treatment was that she could not run.

A native of Medellin, Colombia, Sheila became a competitive runner, a real New Yorker and a proud employee of the Visiting Nurse Service. Running was her passion and she came by it instinctively. Medellin is located in part on the slopes of the Andes and Sheila would use the steep hills surrounding her home as a training ground to run to school and race her brothers. Her first-ever competitive race was a PPTC Summer Speed Series - a spontaneous decision we made when returning from Key Food and saw the runners warming up. She ran in her street clothes and jewelry and despite the insecurities she had about running with others, came in second place. Sheila's first NYC Marathon was the post 9/11 2001 race. Two months after that watershed event in her life she was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer. The news was devastating, of course, but the prognosis given Sheila's general health and tumor markers seemed excellent. Although she couldn't make the 2002 marathon, she continued to run in the Park and for qualifying races despite two surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatments that year. Sheila enthusiastically rejoined the fray in 2003 and ran up until that awful day in July 2007 when she was told the cancer had returned and had spread into her lungs.

Sheila's hope was to run the 2008 Marathon and we had every expectation she would. Plotting our way through the troubled water of this disease became a metaphor for her running another marathon. We planned a sensational trip for the Paris Marathon as part of her 50th birthday celebration. It was our rallying point. To my horror, she suddenly took a very bad turn two weeks following her birthday and passed away from acute respiratory distress on Saturday morning, November 3, 2007 - exactly 24 hours before the NYC Marathon starting shot. Her best friend Jenny told me Sheila was determined to run the Marathon - and chose the time of her passing so she could run this event that she was so passionate about, in spirit.

I miss so much the sight of Sheila running. Few things brought her such joy and peace. It has been difficult to return to the Park since. I've viewed it from a distance, still imagining her striding down the path while I pace her on my bicycle. I am grateful to Al Goldstein and all of you at the PPTC who knew her and encouraged her.

Meet The Members: Corre Kombol, By Amy Duquette

Meet The Members:

Corre Kombol

PPTC member Corre (pronounced Corey) is full of a very playful energy, always sporting a broad smile and sometimes wearing a cute shirt when she runs. Corre was awarded PPTC ‘Best New Member’ award last year. If there were a “Most Club Spirit” award, she’d be a hard contender to beat, not only because she runs every Tuesday night Speed Series, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday PPTC group run, but also because of the way she interacts with the her fellow runners, stirring up the social vibe, making it a little more fun to be there.

She won that ‘Best New Member’ award because of her spirit, dedication and positive attitude but she’s also had some impressive times in 2008. Corre finished the Brooklyn Half in 1:38, a 7:30 pace per mile, and the Team Championship five-mile race in 35:26, a 7:05 pace per mile. But don’t ask her because she doesn’t remember her times. She can’t recite how many miles she is currently running per week either but does admit that she has more fun training than racing. She believes in “…free running. Just being the runner that I’m proud of.” She does not focus on achieving PR’s and does not think much about her past races.

For Corre, running has been a way for her to find balance and control, a way to harness her abundance of energy and feel less anxiety. Corre had found herself at risk of losing control both figuratively and literally at different points in her life. For example, after her very first half marathon in Seattle at age 17, Corre in peed her pants at the finish line. She found it funny then and still laughs about it years later. She reflects on the symbolism in this loss of control. She typically pushes herself hard, not knowing when to stop and throughout her life she’s looked for a way to define limits for herself. Long distance running, which requires that she maintain her pace, offers the boundaries she needs.

Corre has always been active. As a child, born and raised at the base of Mt. Rainer in a town called Enumclaw, (“The Land of Evil Spirits”), WA, she hiked, rode horses, played on the farm and in the woods. She was right in the middle of six siblings. Her mother was a runner and in sixth grade Corre asked her if she could join her on a run. “I was a skinny kid. The run was really hard for me and my mind and body did not match up. I did not know why I could not go faster but I wanted to.” Her other siblings were all active, but none were runners. Corre continued this connection she established to her mother into junior high and high school. She was the captain of her track and cross country team in high school. It was here where she first discovered and appreciated the community aspect that running can offer. This continues to be one of her favorite parts about the sport. While many adults lose ties with old friends, Corre remains friends with her high school running friends even though she is living on the other side of the country. This May they will all run a half marathon together. Corre is also heading up an all ladies 200 mile Reach the Beach relay team in NH this September.

In college, Corre took a break from running for a period of time. Her parents were going through a divorce and Corre began experimenting with the partying lifestyle. But after this phase, she moved to Santa Barbara to work for an investment banking firm. The boss here decided to pay for her (and all employees) to receive personal training during their lunch hour. Corre took complete advantage and went five times a week. She then joined the track club that trainer coached and she once again submerged herself into running. She ran her first marathon shortly after in San Diego. Even though she was no stranger to distances and had completed a 30K, she found it “…nerve wracking and fun. But I was proud of how controlled I was.”

“Running is a place where I find clarity. It is my foundation to make me happy. It only helps me and does not hinder me.” The only time when she was hindered was during a long, tough winter in New York and swears that the cold weather is what brought on the tendinitis in her hip. Besides finding tendinitis in NYC, she found herself part of a running community again within the PPTC. The group runs provide the constant schedule she responds to and the park environment where the runs take place are reminiscent of her childhood surroundings. “My favorite part of the day is my run and I like the social component of it, but also the competition. You can tell a lot about a person when you run with them. In our group some of us always need to be in the lead and we are always inching ahead of each other. (One runner) is really honest in the way he runs and I really value his honesty. I’ve become very aware of others and the dynamic of people…my relationships have changed and I’ve also learned how to rely on people and be a better team player all through running.” Corre and her husband moved to NYC two and half years ago, where one of her brothers and a sister lives. She works in advertising for the Above the Influence anti-drug campaign geared towards teens and her husband is a photographer. She is deeply involved in yoga at Laughing Lotus in Manhattan. She finds yoga and running similar in that yoga also requires her to find and hold a pace for an extended period of time. Also, it “gets me out of my head.” When asked what her future goals may be, Corre says, “One of my gifts is that I am a casual runner. I don’t think people stop to be thankful for their gifts often enough in life. I just want to continue bettering who I am,” and for Corre a big part of that happens through running.