Friday, December 18, 2009

The fine art of self care
By Christine Boutross

In today’s fast pace world it seems too many that you just can't catch your breath.  We get caught up with work and projects at home and sometimes get stuck in tunnel vision, forgetting to just look at the people in our lives and smile, or lay on your back and daydream.  Living the fast paced life might accomplish a lot when it comes to earning a living or making your boss happy, but in time it will take a toll on your overall health and wellness.  A lifetime of stress, anxiety, and moving too fast can lead to adrenal failure, heart disease, ulcers, obesity (from all that fast food to go with the fast pace) and depression.

There are some simple steps that you can take to put just a little bit of self care into your day, and a little goes a long way! Here are some examples of things you can try:

Collect hugs during your day, either with your family, friends, or by starting new trend at work! Put a sign up at your desk advertising for free hugs.  Yes they might think you're crazy- but I bet some of your co-workers will cave in.  Hugging is like a quick massage; it feels good and helps you connect to those around you.  If your co-workers don't go for it, it will be good for a laugh and laughter is also good for your soul.

Get up 15 minutes early to get centered for your day. Before starting any of your tasks for the day, get yourself a nice warm drink, curl up somewhere cozy, and set positive intentions for the day.

Make your priorities.  If you are someone who has trouble sleeping at night because you have too much to do, make a list of three major things you have to do the next day, and three minor things.  Sorting these out in your head can sometimes stop the rampage that interrupts sleep and takes away your precious energy.

Keep a good stash of healthy foods around!  Avoiding the fast food trap will help you stay healthy and have higher energy levels.

Exercise at a level that feels good to you.  If this is new to you give yourself a little time to adjust and your body will start to crave it.  Exercise keeps your blood circulating, sweats out toxins, and sends a message to your body that you care enough about it to keep it going.  Make exercise a regular part of your week, even if it's a brisk walk around the block, or doing yoga with your kids.
And, slow down.  When you find yourself frantic, working late, eating while running around the house, ask yourself what is really going to happen if you slow down, let a work task wait until tomorrow morning, or just stop for a deep breath.  Chances are, nothing bad will happen if you slow your pace a little, but it will do you a world of good to reclaim some time for yourself in your days.

Christine Boutross is a certified Personal Trainer and a Holistic Health Counselor.
As a health counselor, she works with individuals who are struggling with eating healthy and living a balanced lifestyle.

Christine also does personal training privately and at NYSC. She is available for private training. Christine also teaches swimming and is available to teach swimming at Berkeley Carroll School.

Christine is offering a free 20 minute health history consultation to all PPTC members.

Please contact Christine at or 718 622 4198

Prospect Park Track Club - 40 Years

Prospect Park Track Club -  40 Years

As we celebrate 40 years of running in Brooklyn and beyond, we will bring you interviews with many members: founders, "old-timers", former members, greats past and present, and newcomers.  Rather than a profile of  "Meet the Members", our interviews will focus specifically on running while a member of PPTC.

Bob Falk
Interview by Paul Soskind

Bob Falk is a 66-year-old member who has been running since his freshman days in Brooklyn's Midwood High School, where he was a miler and half-miler.

P.S.  So you ran through college.  What then?
B.F. I joined the now defunct Bruce Track Club and competed in A.A.U. handicap events.  These events were not time handicaps, neither. You were given a distance in yards as your handicap.  The formula was based on the best times of the fastest runners; you put a pennant at the distance (in an 880, you might get 40, 50, or 60 yards less to run).

P.S.  How did you gravitate to the longer road distances?
B.F.  I saw the distances as a challenge.  Also, I had reached a point in life where I knew my times had peaked on the track.

P.S.  Is that what made you start running ultra marathons?
B.F. Yes, and it also presented a great sense of time in the unknown in trail races.

P.S. Name some you've completed.
B.F. The Old Dominion and the Western States.

P.S. What made you join PPTC?
B.F. In the 1980s, you guys had a strong ultra team with Johnny Kunul, Nathan Whiting, Lou Rios, Frank DeLeo, and Bill McMahon and Al Prawda.  You were winning team events and, and that motivated me to train harder, get some awards.

P.S. Getting back to the "shorter" road races, how would you say they differ from the 1970s to now?
B.F. First, the fields were smaller. A race of 2000 plus was unusual.  They were often broken up into races within races. So, you would have a separate Men Under 40, and a Women plus Men 40 and over as two separate races.  The competition was more intense.  The caliber of the fields was much better.  Many of today's age group winners or places would have been middle of the pack in the 1970s and early 80s.

P.S.  What do you attribute that to?
B.F.  First, people trained much harder.  There were less economic and family demands, so people had more time to train.  There were fewer recreational runners.

P.S.  So summing it up, Bob, what, in your view, is a "runner"?
B.F.  Someone who trains always on the edge between P.R.s and injury.  Someone who will push his teammates in training, but wants to slaughter his best friend in competition.  When you've trained to exhaustion, gotten these P.R.s, gone through crippling injury, fought your way back to compete again with no reservation, then you're a runner.

P.S. Thanks for your insights.

Any club member wishing to express their views on our club or the eve r changing racing scene, can contact me at 718-768-7987 or e-mail me at and I will be delighted to set up an interview.  Your thoughts are most welcome, and I encourage you to help us paint a picture of PPTC at 40

The Turkey Trot 2009 By Tom Meany

The Turkey Trot 2009
By Tom Meany

This was the Club’s 7th Turkey Trot race and by far our most successful. We had 2,000 entries! This was the most organizationally prepared race we have ever put on. This race commands a monthly meeting 12 months of the year solely dedicated to this event, with an increasing dedication to detail.   The new course was born out of necessity due to construction of the Wellhouse drive bridge, with great thanks to the creativity of Doug Olney. There was a great deal of positive feedback about the new course. It geographically spread out participants and spectators avoiding crowd congestion. The parking lot exit was taken off the course, which helped. The Club open forum and website received an overwhelming majority of positive feedback in addition to all the participants on race day.
 The Ford kids worked very positively, particularly under pressure at the finishline chute. Our new signage looked great and everyone was pleased with the high tech hat and fleece glove giveaways.         What you may not have noticed was that we had AIRES, a local hand radio team of 15 along the course, working with our own EMS team in coordination with the Bravo ambulance team monitoring the need for medical services. Fortunately there were none needed.
The volunteer core of 60 plus showed up at 7 A.M., worked registration, the parking lot, refreshment and water stations, finishline, and the clean up was over by 11 A.M.!
This was not without it’s challenges. We had 1290 finishers last year and we were targeting 1500 finishers this year, but in the beginning of November the projected numbers started to point closer to 2000! So the week of the race we ran out and purchased an additional 125 gallons of water, 4000 cups, 700 bagels, fruit, hot chocolate, etc. Almost everything was consumed on race day.
So the race was a great success, but there are always many lessons learned. I want to thank all the Club members who gave of their valuable time to volunteer. It’s much easier to give money than to give the most precious and valuable gift and that is your time. The great thing about volunteering is that it’s the gift that gives you back more than you give it.

What You Do Not Know Because You Are Not Me! Michael Ring

What You Do Not Know Because You Are Not Me!  Michael Ring

Back in October there was a lot of talk about a New York Times article about “plodders.”  Plodders have a place, but is it in a Marathon.  It hurt me; Juliet Macur said “Many of those slower runners, claiming that late is better than never, receive a finisher’s medal just like every other participant. Having traversed the same route as the fleeter-footed runners — perhaps in twice the amount of time — they get to call themselves marathoners.” Next to that line was the photo of the NYC Marathon finish line, with the clock showing 4:32:05. 

I was enraged.  How dare she define my accomplishment?  I was comment # 75, “This year I am gonna run a little slower so I can save a little energy to give a beat down to anybody who calls me a ’plodder’.” (Wow, 37 readers recommended my comment.)  But now I got over it.  But my goal for next year’s race is 4:32:04.

But it got me thinking; who is anyone to define anybody’s accomplishment?  I remembered a conversation I had with my teammate Julio Zavala.  I asked him about his experience as an Achilles Guide because one day I might not be able to run the NYC Marathon, but I sure do want to be on that course.  I asked him how they matched him with his athlete.  He said they made a very good match; they needed the skills and experience he had as a health worker because he had to physically assist the athlete in the restroom.  He was also a good match because he is a big strong guy.  He had to push a cart carrying a spare battery.  I said what battery?  He said the wheelchair had room for a spare battery but for 26.2 miles the chair needed three fully charged batteries.  I said, “Wait a minute, you mean this guy ran a marathon in an eclectic powered wheelchair?  What is the point; this is an athletic competition, not a NASCAR event.  This guy was driving.”

Julio corrected me.  He said “The effort that this man needed to control the joystick of his wheelchair for 26.2 miles was equal to or greater than the effort anyone needed to run it.”  After getting an 8am start, it was getting dark by the time he got to Central Park and he had lost the ability to control even his fingertips on the joystick.  The man also did not speak a word of English but Julio knew that getting to the finish line was a great accomplishment for this man; nobody deserved a finisher’s medal more than he did.

That is why whenever anyone asks me how I did in a marathon I always say “I won!”  So should the man Julio guided.

I would like to share the following letter I wrote to the coach of the Bishop Ford Students who helped us at the Turkey Trot:


I found myself a last minute volunteer (because I was a last minute non runner) at the Turkey Trot.  I had no "assignment", so after the registration was over I figured I would head over to the finish line and help make sure everyone returned their chip.  …the chip
My help was unneeded.  Your "kids" were doing a great job getting every chip back.  But they did more than that.  They made sure that everyone who just finished the race got a medal and was congratulated on his or her accomplishment. .
They also saw the big picture.  It was not just about trading chips for medals.  They did not argue with people who said they never got a chip.  They also knew that it was a good thing to give a medal to every kid in a stroller that was being pushed.  They were part of a crew that made every runner’s experience a good one. 
            I hope that they are at the finish line again next year when my kids and I run the race.

Michael Ring



By Tom Meany

Forty years ago, our Club founder, Harry Murphy decided he would like to see less drinking by Club members on New Year’s Eve. So he instituted a special New Year’s Day race with an added incentive: runners would be handicapped according to their ability. He assigned handicaps on one minute intervals from 12 minutes or so to zero or “scratch”.
This was a race where you had an opportunity to beat runners whom you would never catch or even see after the gun went off all year long. The race was for members and their guests, and guests were encouraged.
Harry knew how to handicap runners, mostly because he kept track of us all year and over the years and also because he had a gift, which was inherited to his predecessors. Now some members believed they could play on Harry’s warm sympathetic side, except on this day he was Ming The Merciless. I remember Bob Muller showing up with a leg bandaged and on crutches, all to no avail. And sometimes some of us were genuinely under the weather or injured, somehow Harry discerned the truth in assigning you a handicap or you were screwed.
  Registration was held at the Caton Inn on Coney Island Ave., across from the Parade Grounds and later in a Park’s office in the ball field building across the street. The race was originally held at 8:30 A.M.! Harry was a sign maker so we had hand painted oilcloth reusable numbers. They were white five-inch swatches with green numerals. The pinholes were encircled with rust. Later we used a community room in the basement of Bobby Fisher’s building.
Harry would take all the runners to the start and line runners horizontally across the road according handicap time. There would be 60 of us regardless of weather. This was before tights and Gore-Tex, most wore shorts. I remember races with temps in the high 30’s and rain blowing horizontally and Harry would go through the whole lineup twice before the actual start. Kurt Steiner, Harry’s sidekick would be there dressed in a high hat & tails. He had usually officiated at the midnight run in Central Park the night before.
There were usually medals for the first 25 and those were treasured awards. Harry kept the results in a green hardcover book, which we may have after this year’s race. We also ran a handicap race at the June Club picnic until we switched over to a relay race. This year’s race is dedicated to Harry.
None of us inherited Harry’s gift for handicapping, but last year Ralph Yozzo and I devised a handicapping methodology. Ralph compiled a database for all Club members using the most recent race results beforehand.We used this to assess a runner’s ability prior to race day, according to minute/mile pace for a 5K distance.  The range went from the fastest 6:15/mile pace to the slowest 14:45/ mile pace.
We had time slots at 30-second intervals giving us 18 time slots. We then calculated the actual finish time for each of the slots and assigned handicap times based on the finish time. So the first runner went off at gun time and 31 minutes the last runner took off.
The advantages of our system are that you know your exact starting time to the second upon registering.  It minimizes time spent standing out in the cold. The race is scored in a short period of time and we can use the same system each year.
So how did we do? Out of 24 runners, we had all finish within 7 minutes and of those, 17 finished within 3 minutes of each other.
The other part of Harry’s race is the reception after. It’s a potluck feast with everyone bringing something to eat or drink to feast on. And a new tradition has been added, a kind of biathlon, where some finishers bring their bathing suits and head for Coney Island after the race to participate in the annual Polar Bear swimming event.
I have been quoted as saying the Turkey Trot is the best way to start your Thanksgiving Day. Harry’s Handicap is the best way to celebrate and start the New Year with your running family.  See you there!

Registration will be at the Knights Of Columbus Hall On 10th Avenue  Between Prospect Park Southwest and 16TH Streets from 8:30-9:30 A.M.,  with the first runners off at 10 a.m. sharp. The start and finish will be at the traffic light on the inside loop roadway and 10th Avenue. This is a free, fun event for members and we ask $5 for non-member friends of PPTC members. Bring a dish to put on the buffet table (there will be sternos) to get the new year off to a satisfying start before those resolutions kick in! 



January can be tough training time but it is great party time.  And PPTC has the perfect occasion for you, with great music and food and a chance to see friends with clothes on, although running shoes are appropriate.  It is the PPTC Annual Dining and Dancing extravaganza taking place on January 29th at Grand Prospect Hall, on Prospect Avenue between 5th and 6th Avenues.  Parking is available and close to public transportation (R train to Prospect Avenue). 
In its very own version of a stimulus package, PPTC is holding the price at last year’s $55, a very reasonable amount for hors d’oeuvres, dinner and dessert and an open bar.  The music will get your feet tapping whether you lean towards swing, salsa, disco or move to a Caribbean beat.  There will be lots to celebrate from the Club’s 40th Anniversary to the 2009 achievements of PPTC runners.  Recommendation:  bring your loudest applause and whistles and appetite  - for food and fun. 
This year you can make your reservations online at or do it the time-honored way by sending a check to PPTC, PO Box 150658, Van Brunt Station, Brooklyn, NY 11215-0658.  Reservations are ABSOLUTELY REQUIRED and the deadline is January 22nd. 

Reserve now and invite family and friends - the more the merrier and we do intend for it to be merry!