Monday, September 14, 2009

Meet The Members: Michael Ring By: Amy Duquette

Meet The Members: Michael Ring
By: Amy Duquette

For a person who joined his high school track team as a way to get out of attending gym class, but later went on to run 15 consecutive NYC marathons, Michael Ring definitely was not a born-runner. However, he grew to love the sport. Brooklyn born and raised, Michael is now dedicated to running and to the Prospect Park Track Club as a board and committee member. His 15 marathons provide him automatic entry into the race every year, and “I plan on running it every year” he says. However, Michael had a rough start with marathoning, failing his first attempt as a teen, which led to a complete hiatus from running for ten years.

Michael considered himself a “…spaz in high school. I was not an athlete at all…no one in my family runs. But, if you got on a varsity team you could skip gym and get a 95 in the class. Track was the only sport that did not require a try-out.” That narrowed it down; he joined the Sheepshead Bay High track team. He never scored a point for the team, but “there is no bench warming in track and no matter when you finished the entire team is waiting and cheering for you, just like at the NYRR’s Team Championship race.” Somewhere in his sophomore or junior year his coach encouraged him to try a 5K race outside of high school competition. He finished this race in the middle of the pack rather than at the tail end where he came in among the very competitive high school competition. This new placement felt very satisfying.

High from his success and maybe biting off more than he could chew, at age 17 Michael attempted his first NYC marathon in 1979 “…without having heard of hydration or pacing. In Bed-Sty I got thirsty and drank water. Lots of water. Then I threw it all up in Queens.” While being taken care of by the medics, he passed out and remained laying on the cement for some time. This ‘DNF’ kept him away from running for the next decade. Currently, runners have to be over 18 to run the NYC marathon. “I like to think it was because of me” Michael jokes.
He went on to college and then graduate school at Stony Brook for his Master’s Degree in social work. While driving back home to NYC from school one November he got stuck in the marathon traffic. “I exploded with rage..hitting things and crying. It was a massive sense of incompletion and I decided that I needed to finish it.” He gave himself time to train, properly this time, for his next marathon. In 1993 he decided to “ as long as I was conscious” and finished the task in 4:11. He has run every year since, as well as a few marathons outside of NYC. In 2000 he ran one on Randall’s Island consisting of 26 one mile loops. Only 9 competitors entered this race. Michael finished under 4 hours, a goal he had set for himself, finishing in 3:58. “I was not looking at the scenery, but just focusing on the race.” When asked how he got through 26 of the same loop, Michael attributed it to listening in on his wife’s birthing classes, which taught distinguishing between pain that is permanent versus pain that is not as a helpful factor. His twins Sabrina and Nicholas, were born that same year.

With the arrival of twins came a lack of sleep. He began to believe, “sleep is irrelevant. When I heard that alarm clock I’d say ‘just shake it off and run’.” As a new father he let go of his training goals and ran as often and as much as possible, but never two days in a row. “I never got injured training like this.”

He sees reasons for staying active through running on a broad scale. His twins are now 9 years old and his intensions are to keep up with the children, whom he stays out of work to care for. They run together now and he’d like to continue this as they get older. His son came to him at age 6 asking to run and his daughter has already stated that she wants to run the marathon with him one day. “I have a lot to lose by not being a fit parent.”

Michael continues to be “marathon ready with about two weeks notice.” He sees the marathon as a bit scary, “it’s like rolling the dice. You don’t really know what will happen. And other people are counting on me and planning their day around me. It’s the only time I feel pressure.” However, he likes the marathon distance and appreciates that “it’s the only race where everyone gets an award for perseverance.” Michael persevered in an ultra-marathon in 1998 completing 31 miles, 19 loops of Prospect Park lake. “The faster guys hung out afterward waiting for us all to finish.” Being able to interact with the elites of the sport is something that Michael finds unique to running.

This social aspect of running is one of Michael’s favorite parts. It’s his feeling that the sport is getting better as it welcomes more interaction and less “sizing up the competition” at the start lines. “If I were single and 25 again I think this would be a great place to find a date. Look, we’re all in our underwear, well, close, so we get that part out of the way. And we know we both like something of deep value; running.”

Being a part of a local track club encourages the social aspect of the sport as well. He will not forgot the call from then PPTC president Bobby Fischer, whom he did not even know at the time, after his first race back in 1993. “I did a 10 mile race in Central Park and he called me just to ask how it was. My family did not even call me!”

Michael currently cares for his children full time after having worked as a Dean of Students for over 18 years, but he does not see that as a job he’d go back to. He’d like to be a NYC tour guide, perhaps even a running tour guide, and actually has his license to do so. Running fills up much of the extra time he’s gained. His future running goals include breaking a four hour marathon again after the age of 60. This time would qualify him for Boston. “I don’t know if I’d run it. That’s irrelevant, I might, but I just want to qualify.”

Along with his odd beginnings as a runner and his long time love affair with the sport, Michael’s family thinks he’s “crazy because I choose not to work. I think if there is a scale of normalcy, I’m right outside that edge. I do say whatever I’m thinking…Hey, I’m a New Yorka.”

PPTC NYC Marathon Activities

As a group we will be running the last 10 miles of the course. We will meet at under the 59th Street Bridge and be ready to run by 8 a.m. As usual this run will be supported by a rolling aid station (captained by our own Diana Ortiz!). There will be Gatorade, cold water and energy food waiting for us before we enter the Willis Ave Bridge (1st Ave and 125th St) and as we enter Central Park (at Engineers Gate). At the “finish line” (the Tavern on the Green parking lot) there will be more goodies waiting for us. This event is free and open to the public. We just ask that you let us know if you are goanna join us. We do need a second car to make this work for all our runners. Can we count on you?
The importance of this run cannot be stressed enough. Seven days later you will be running this same route after covering 16 miles. You will have the memory of how easy and fun it was with fresh feet and how close the finish line is. This is also a great run for someone who is not running the NYC Marathon: It is a way to “have a taste” of the Marathon.
On the Thursday before the Marathon, the Shamrock Athletic Club usually has a great marathon pasta party at Buckley’s Restaurant, located on Nostrand Ave. and Avenue S, at 7pm and invites PPTC members to join them. As of this writing, arrangements have not been finalized but mark your calendars! Oh, did I mention that this affair is free of charge (except for a gratuity for the wait staff), thanks to the generous hosts — the Buckley Family. We will keep you posted – on the Runner’s Forum and email blast.
We are also renting our own buses to the start. They will be leaving from Prospect Park West and 9th Street and will take you to Fort Wadsworth. The cost is $10 for members $15 for “friends.” All seats are prepaid and go quickly. Members can reserve seats immediately; non-member reservations will be taken starting October 1st. There are no walk-ons – reservations are required.
If you are taking the PPTC bus, you will need to be at 9th Street and Prospect Park West by 6:15 a.m. to be checked in.

PPTC Supports 2 Reach the Beach Teams

On September 18th and 19th, 14 PPTC members are spending a long weekend running the length of the state of New Hampshire. They are participants on two relay teams - one all women, the other coed - who are competing in the 11th annual Reach the Beach relay. The race starts on Friday in northern New Hampshire at Cannon Mountain, passes by (but fortunately does not climb) Mount Washington, the highest peak in the northeast, circles around Lake Winnipesaukee, one of the largest lakes in New England, and finally ends 210 miles and anywhere from 24 to 30 hours later at Hampton Beach, midway along New Hampshire's 18-mile (shortest in the U.S.) seacoast. About 400 teams with up to 12 runners each have entered the race.

During the relay, each runner will complete 3 separate legs that range from 3 to 9 miles in distance. Overall each person will cover a total of 14 to 22 miles during their runs. The terrain along the way varies significantly - often rolling hills and not a lot of flat until the last few miles. Everyone will have to endure at least one nighttime run, the luckiest having to complete their legs at 2, 3, 4 o'clock in the morning! They will get to spend lots of quality time with their teammates as they travel by van between the relay points.

The team captains, Corre Kombol and Staci Pearson, requested that PPTC help to defray some of the teams' travel costs, which includes van rental, gasoline and tolls, and food supplies. The PPTC Board has agreed to provide funding for their efforts. After the race is over, the club will reimburse $30 to each eligible PPTC member. To be eligible for the reimbursement, runners must be members since September 2008 or have represented the club in 3 races in 2009.

We wish them well in their efforts, and the teams have promised to provide a complete race report that will appear in a future newsletter.



TOM BYRNES and Friends

Coach Tony and Charlene pass along their congrats to all the PPTC members who ran and/or helped support the NYRRC Club Championship race Saturday August 8 in Central. Everyone ran their best and did the Club proud. The cheering section, refreshments and good companionship couldn't have been better! Tom Meany echoed similar sentiments the following morning, mentioning that even the kids that were supervised as their parents ran the 5 mile race seemed to enjoy the times.

What cell phones can do! Bobby Fisher checking in from Nova Scotia from the umteenth mile of his Nova Scotia bike tour Saturday August 8th.

Hey, did you know? Did you realize? We’re old and getting older! PPTC’s will be 40 !!! A new age group category! Imagine, the 40th anniversary of PPTC, 1970-2010. The anniversary committee already as been formed and the word at this point is that there’s always room for one more. Got PPTC memorabilia, artifacts, stories in your head, memories in your heart, pictures both of individuals and/or TEAM PPTC, when did you come on board, how long have you been running with PPTC, got any old Nike Waffle Trainers that were once ‘’the’‘ shoes to wear, old bibs from races ‘back in the day’...more to come about this at PPTC monthly meetings and in this newsletter.

Drug testing with USADA at the NYC Half, Wayne Bailey,Tom Byrnes, Natacha Ferrari and PPTC friends Randi Lass, Ric Pascarela, and Mike Potter.Up close and personal talking running, racing, and training with some of the country’s top athletes. Nice way to spend a Sunday morning in August. Interested in hooking up and volunteering with this, give Tom Byrnes a holler.

PPTC friend and former member Al Puma’s death in August brings PPTC sympathies and condolences to his family and friends.

On behalf of many PPTCers and friends, Jason Horowitz sums up the close of this summer’s Summer Speed Series 5K’s by thanking Michael Ring, the race director, the PPTC Board, many PPTC vols, as well as Al Goldstein himself,for continuing to make the summer speed series one of the most enjoyable experiences in competitive running
"The beautiful summer evenings, no hassle - showing up 15 minutes before the race,the comraderie among the runners after the race, supportive volunteers, 'This is what running should always be
about.' " Jason and the rest of us I'm sure are all looking forward to the continuation of this great PPTC tradition come next spring/

Helen Dole certainly had a lot to talk with her students about when they asked her to write that post vacation 500 words or less composition "‘What I Did on My Summer Vacation" on her first day back at work in her classroom . For the rest of us, it was more a matter of ''will she or wont she ?" Come back to the hood ,that is. A summer in Colorado is tough, hey, someone has to do it. Glad it could be PPTC's Helen Dole.

Hey all you speedoes and speedettes, do you swim? can you swim? Great cross training for runner’s tired and achey bodies and bones. Can you imagine swimming a 6.2 mile race ? Labor Day weekend Sunday September 6th Robert Matson spearheaded a group to hook up with USADA drug testng swimmers at an international 10k swimming competition out and back along the shore of Governor’s Island in lower NYC Harbor. Can't wait until Robert gets talks to talk about this one.

Thanks to Richard Weaver for passing along the news that former PPTC board member Susan Tomasi had surgery to her achilles tendon and had been in a cast for ten weeks just prior to having it removed at the end of August. She had to go to physical therapy and late August found her still unable to put any weight on her foot. We don't have any details of how the injury occurred but the
doctor thinks this merits Susan a better handicap at Harry’s Handicap on New Years day 2010 running. Heal well Susan.

Very early August 23rd, PPTCers Anne Perzeszty, Arthur Gonzalez and Doug Olney headed over to Flushing Meadows Park to compete in the first-ever NYRR Sprint Triathlon. It was worth the trip because all three placed in their age groups! Anne was 1st, Arthur finished 2nd, and Doug came in 3rd. Anne received an additional special recognition for being the oldest competitor. Next stop, Hawaii...........

Where did the summer heat go? Harry Murphy would always remind us that if you paid your dues running and training in July and August, come the cool autumn, you'd find yourself ready to rock and roll at those fall races.

See you out there PPTC!