Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Paul Suskind Interviewed past PPTC president Al Goldstein and Roque Pizarro

Paul Soskind Interviewed past PPTC president Al Goldstein   and Roque Pizarro

Interview with Al Goldstein

P.S.:  You were a basketball star in college, did that lead you into running?

Al: Not at that early stage of my life. It happened many years later. I had become an accomplished handball player competed at the Coney Island courts(where the MET AAU championships are still held), and at some point noticed that my legs were going .One of my buddies suggested that I do a bit of running to get some strength and endurance back , so I climbed the very tall fence at Lincoln High to do laps on the track.

P.S.:  So how did that lead into racing and marathons?

Al: One day I noticed a group of guys doing multple lops around the entire school block; they were at it for quite some time, and I asked why they were running so much. They replied that they were prepping for a marathon. It sparked my interest, and I began doing mileage with them. Soon, I was keeping up, and thought about doing a race.

P.S.:  So you jumped into a 5k?

Al: NO, my first race in 1976 was the then 20k Marathon Tune-up in Central Park. I wanted to run 8 minutes flat, but ened up averaging 8:01/mile.

P.S.:  Tell us about your first marathon.

Al: It was NY in 1977. I wanted to run well under 5 hours. It was a beautiful, clear, crisp day in October. ON the 59th  Street Bridge, they had but a lane of carpet for the runners. I even got a piece as a memento after the race!

P.S.:  you followed that first milestone with many more races; tell us about some high points. Al I continued to improve greatly after 1977, training with Bob Muller and Harry Murphy, (while not being allowed to join PPTC until my times improved.) I brought my marathon time down to a 3:23 as a 60 year old, and my 10k down to about 42 minutes.

P.S.:  What led you to the PPTC presidency?  

Al: By default. There were no committees, no election; Mike Rieman had decided someone else had to take it over, I had been retired from my school job, and figured I would be able to devote enough time.

P.S.:  How do you feel we've improved as a running club since then?

Al:  We're more inclusive. Our leadership structure and our committees enable us to have a greater outreach, not only to other runners, but also the community at large. Just look at how many races we put on directly, plus the ones we've helped mentor (e.g. Good Shepherd 5k) and the programs we've embraced ( the PPTC  Youth) and you can see how we we benefit many more people.

P.S.:  On behalf of all, I greatly appreciate what you've shared with us.PPTCers  

Interview with Roque Pizarro

(Roque was a PPTC speedster in the 1980s that ran several sub 1:20 half marathons and one race of a lifetime)

P.S. When did you get into athletics?

Roque In high school up in Warwick N.Y. I played baseball and soccer and soon realized that I was much faster than anyone else., so I went out for track.. We trained on a gravel track, but our regional meets were held on a 5 lap/mile (352 yd.) red clay track, running in tennis shoes or Keds.

P.S. Not exactly the cushy stuff of 2010!

Roque  Also, we had no cross-country or indoor season, so you came out in March, struggled to get into shape by late April/early May and hoped to peak for a couple of good races by the time it ended in early June.

P.S. So what was your banner race in high school?

Roque Strangely, it was a 2 mile. I was having good races in the880, but my coach believed that I could use my speed to an advantage and dethrone the reigning regional champ.

P.S.So you ran from the front?

Roque No, I initially went out fast,but slowed down about 1/3 into the race. He passed me thinking I was tiring, but I hung back until three laps to go \, when I unleashed a ferocious kick, holding it to the finish line, beating him soundly.

P.S. So that was your greatest raced?

Roque No, that happened when I was in my 30s, after I came out of the Air Force. When I got back from Thailand, I began to train again; first upstate in Buffalo and then on the outside of Prospect Park. P.S. So that's how you joined PPTC.

Roque Not quite! Back then you couldn’t just join, you were recruited. Harry Murphy saw me running laps and must have been clocking me because he asked me to join. Those laps were between 20 and 22 minutes on the outside, so they entered me in  the Puerto Rican Hispanic Half  in Central Park, summer of 1978. I ran a sub 1:29 that first half, dying the second loop, after doing a sub 36 minute first one.

P,S. So what happened after that?

Roque  Both Bob Muller and Harry helped me train properly. Up until then I"d nere done more than 2 loops on the outside (about 7.5 miles) i began doing longer runs, especially on Sundays, when  a group would run from the Tennis Courts at the Parade ground to Central Park and back.

P.S. so how did this change in training pay off?

Roque My one great race of a lifetime. It was a 20k in Central Park, then used as a Marathon tuneup, similar to the course used in Grete's Great Gallop. I lined up in the first row along with Pete Squires (Yonkers Marathon winner) Gary Murcke, Tony Colon, and Art Hall, thinking that they would pull me into a faster pace. The first full loop was a low 35, but this time with my longer training I found myself not fading after we went up the Westside hills. I was actually hanging with the leaders! Near the end ,when Murcke and Squires stepped it up another notch with about a mile and a half left, I had to let them pull away, but I stayed close to Tony Colon and ran for dear life! I wasn't really shot at the end; I felt I could keep going like that for another mile or so, it was just that my legs couldn't turn over any faster.

P.S. So how did it end up?

Roque It was a 1;12:46 for 20Km., abou 5:48 /mile.

P.S. That give our current Subvet runners something to go for!. Based on your experiences, what advice would you like to pass on to our aspiring runners?

Roque. First, develop a sense of your limits and abilities and work within them, not beyond them. I could never do the mileage necessary to translate my 10k and half marathon times into a great marathon. Based on my times in those distances I should have done a sub 2:40, but I could never train the mileage nec. essary without starting to hurt. That "s where knowing your limits and working within them comes in. If you are blessed with raw speed, stick to shorter races, not  everyone is cut out to do marathons. Any time I ran outside my comfort zone , I was really hurting, stick to what you can do best.

P.S. Thank you for your inspiration.

Several of our members told us about their first race....

Pat Perlo-

My first race was in 1980... Women's Mini Marathon... I don't remember my time.  My mother was very excited and sent me off to the 2nd Avenue deli for turkey sandwiches to celebrate.  She thought it was a very big deal ... which indeed it was.  I did the marathon in 1982 - 4:27:39.. equal that now and I'd be in Boston.  Any rate after the marathon, I was ordered to take a bath in epsom salts... I could not get out of the tub.  I have not taken a bath since 1982.

Darby Brooks

My first race was in January of this year.  It was the New York Road Runners Grid Iron.  Only 4 miles.  But cold.  Very cold.  I was ecstatic when I finished.  Though, on my next run about 3 days later I partially tore a ligament in my knee and couldn't run for 4 months.  So mixed feelings about that.

I do remember being very nervous the night before.  I hadn't actually meant to register for that race, so when I got an email from NYRR I was surprised.  But I decided to run it anyway.  I googled what to do for your first race.  I pinned my bib on my shirt, and put my d-tag on my shoe.  I laid out all my clothes, and packed a bag.  And then I barely slept.

I still don't sleep well the night before a race.  Though I'm no longer anxious, I think I'm excited.  And I worry about oversleeping. 

Maggie Deschamps

My first race proved to be a real turning point for me and it's an amusing story.
In my early 20's I swam competitively and only ran for cross-training. I never considered running competitively, as all my running back then was at a comfortable pace. I'd always been a swimmer and swimming was my sport. 

After moving to Long Island in my late 20's I decided to run in the local Lynbrook 10k race to familiarize myself with the neighborhood. I lined up with the other 100 or so runners thinking, OK, this should be a fun run. 

By about mile 2 I hear people along the side shouting, " 1st woman!, 1st woman coming !" I'm looking around and up ahead and I don't see her. Where is she, I'm thinking. I keep running and I keep hearing the same thing. 

By about mile 4 it dawns on me that I am the 1st woman! Oh no, now I have to run really fast! No easier run. So I crank up my pace, I've now got a police escort ahead of me!

I finish the race to loud cheers, breaking my 1st finish line tape and well, after that I was hooked!!
I still find racing as exciting and fun as my 1st race and that's why I'm still at it!


It was the 1985 Turkey Trot in Prospect Park.  It was a bone soaking , rainy morning but it never occurred to me to "bag" the race due to weather.  I ran with my heart and loved every, wet minute of it.  As I approached the finish line I felt like an olympian.  As I crossed that line I  knew that I could do anything that I put my mind to.  For me it was the start of something that I love to do to this day.  It is probably the best self image builder  that I have ever found.  Like Nike says, JUST DO IT.

Michael Rieman

My first race? I think that was one in Prospect Park sponsored by a shoe company. We were given t-shirts that read "Kinney shoes. Run to be fit." I believe Jeff Derecki was there, and told me I looked happy as I ran through the lower transverse. But it is the second race that really surprised me: a trail race in Van Cortlandt Park.
Since I didn't know any better, I believed that the instruction about "going into the hills" meant there would be a roadway like the one at the zoo hill. Was I surprised by the real trail, complete with rocks and holes in the ground, that I found. The "flats" at the end seemed like a heart-stopper.I managed to be one of the first fifty or seventy-five guys to complete the course though, and received a little medal. I was totally proud, and also totally wiped out...but I was hooked on races.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Great Running Feats… The 4-Minute Mile

Great Running Feats… The 4-Minute Mile

By Jim Israel, PPTC Member www.mistergripes.com

The ‘Dream Mile’ – I certainly remember the moment: opening the New York Times sports section one May morning, this nine-year-old observes a photograph of Roger Bannister for the first time: an utterly exhausted man being propped up by other runners immediately after he had broken the 4-minute mile barrier. The feat, considered impossible by many [It was believed then that the ‘mental’ barrier to a sub-4-minute time was too much to overcome.] shocked the world.

Back then, though, this writer was intrigued by another aspect of the story: Roger Bannister was a physician, just like my father. I wondered as I read the article: my dad, and all his colleagues, it seemed, worked insane hours; patient care was the absolute priority above everything else in their lives.  If Bannister was indeed a doctor, how on earth did he manage to accomplish that feat?

In fact, Roger Bannister did run that sub-4-minute mile despite an unwavering dedication to medicine. Just examine his daily schedule: a 24-year-old intern at a London hospital, Dr. Bannister was in charge of a 40-patient ward, taking patient histories, writing up notes during lectures, initiating and completing independent-study experiments on the potential of human physiognomy, serving as secretary of the Medical Society, maintaining a social life that included nights out with friends drinking and debating art and politics, and even acting in an Oscar Wilde play.

Training? At lunch, he took the Underground two stops to a quarter-mile track, changed into his running gear, and basically ran fartleks for 35 minutes: short sprints, interspersed with longer runs. All jammed into barely a half-an-hour, and then back to the hospital. No time even for warm-ups.

And, for the longest stretch, he did all this by himself. No coach, not even a stopwatch, it’s claimed.

Much like the contest going on then between Russia and the US to launch a satellite into space, Roger Bannister was competing in a global contest with two other milers to break four minutes:  Wes Santee, running for the University of Kansas, and John Landy, an Australian, who was to become one of the great milers of all time. All three, fully cognizant of each other, were aiming for immortality. The urgency to break the mile record was not lost on any of the three.

Dr. Bannister had competed in the Helsinki Olympics of 1952, finishing a devastating fourth in the 1500-meter event. Ridiculed in the press – he was the favorite – Dr. Bannister began training in earnest, running longer distances on cricket fields near his family’s home on weekends. His fitness improved dramatically, and his times in successive mile races began to improve.

On May 2 1953, Dr. Bannister ran a 4:03:06, his best time by over 4 seconds, and a new British record. The British press, elated, began to view Bannister as the man who could break the record. Edmund Hilary’s expedition to climb Mount Everest occurred at this time as well. Sir Hilary’s Everest ascent and Bannister’s efforts to break the mile barrier, the press concluded, were proof the British Empire was not going to fade away just yet.

And, after that race, Roger Bannister finally hired a coach; he was Franz Stampfl, who emigrated from Austria prior to World War II and was, in fact, detained by the British during the war because of his Germanic origins. At an initial get-acquainted meeting, Mr. Stampfl recommended that Mr. Bannister step up his training. Bannister protested, insisting his hospital schedule was too arduous; Mr. Stampfl, a man of few words, replied, “Do both.”

With increases in quarter-mile sprints and overall mileage along with inspirational talks by his coach, Bannister quickly improved his times. In late 1953, he ran a 4:02 mile; he and Stampfl sensed that the time had come to take up the challenge once and for all.

The venue was selected: at an Oxford University track meet, on May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister was going to attempt to break four minutes for a mile. Astounding as it seems, Dr. Bannister worked at the hospital that morning, and took an afternoon train to Oxford for a 6 pm start. 1,200, mostly students, were on hand to watch. There were two ‘rabbits’ – runners who participated for the sole purpose of assuring that  Bannister maintain pre-determined quarter-mile times – in the race, each one focusing on specific laps.

First lap: Bannister in 57.5, with him and his rabbits already well ahead of the field.

Half-mile [2 laps]: 1:58

Three laps: 3:00:04… The small crowd now stood, clapping, voices raised into an uproar.

At 1,500 meters, his face drained of color and contorted by effort, Bannister had a time of 3:43, a world record time. Fifty yards from the finish, he was exhausted completely, but forced himself on. At the finish, his legs buckled as he collapsed.

The time was announced over a loudspeaker:  “Number Forty-One, R.G. Bannister, of the Amateur Athletic Association…with a time that is a new meet and track record.

“The time is THREE….” As soon as ‘three’ is pronounced, nothing else is heard. The cheering was too loud and raucous.  Sir Roger Bannister, who, in this writer’s opinion, should be lauded as a magnificent example of the amateur athlete and a man who refused to compromise on a full and meaningful life, had run a 3:59:04 mile. Now 81 and still practicing medicine, he became an immortal on that cool May evening 56 years ago.

Friday, September 24, 2010

NYC Marathon Activities

On Saturday, October 30, The Prospect Park Track Club is sponsoring a group run of the last 10 miles of the NYC Marathon course.  We will meet under the 59th Street Bridge at 1st Avenue and be ready to run by 8 a.m...  As usual this run will be supported by a rolling aid station.  There will be Gatorade, cold water and energy food waiting for us before we cross the Willis Ave Bridge (1st Avenue and 125th Street) and as we enter Central Park (90th Street 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 going to join us.

The importance of this run cannot be stressed enough.   Eight 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 Marathon Sunday, we are happy to announce that JackRabbit Sports has joined us in transporting Brooklyn runners to the start.  Buses will be leaving from the front of their Brooklyn store, 151 7th Avenue between Garfield and Carroll (note new location this year) and will take you to Fort Wadsworth.  Buses will leave promptly at 6 AM and will not wait.  JackRabbit will be open starting at 5 AM on Marathon Sunday. They will be providing goodie bags, a bathroom, a place to be warm and dry, and the opportunity to purchase any last minute items.

The cost for bus transportation is $10 for PPTC members and $15 for “friends.”  All seats are prepaid and go quickly.  There are no walk-ons – reservations are required.  If you are taking the PPTC bus, you will need to be in front of Jack Rabbit Sports no later than 5:45 a.m. to be checked in.   Click here (or go to www.pptc.org if you are holding a piece of paper) for a link to our Google Checkout to reserve your place on the bus
After the race, we have our own Marathon reunion area.  You can meet your friends and family at PS 87, located on West 77th Street between Columbus and Amsterdam. It is just 2 blocks from the finish line.  We will provide hot chocolate, fruit, cold soda, bagels an indoor restroom with a place to change.  This event is free and open to the public.  We just ask that you let us know if you are going to join us.  We will transport your bag of stuff from our bus to the reunion.

Questions:  Membership@pptc.org  or 718-595-2049

Saturday, September 4, 2010





Maggie DesChamps reports that after  checking the results of the NYRRC Club Team Champs in Central Park Saturday August 7th PPTC,  women placed 11th out of 30 in the open division. PPTC  also placed 11th in the masters women division . Congrats to our top 5 women: Helen, Rebecca, Maggie, Julia, and Danielle. Tom Tobin reports that PPTC Men's 50+ team took 14th.  Hey   beautiful weather for the race as well!

                                          Team Championship 5 Miler Race

Jason Horowitz and family spending time kayaking and water sports stuff at the Gowanus Boat Club ‘s Coffee Pier location in Red Hook..  Whatever floats your boat Jason!

Tom Byrnes finished 4th in men’s 60-69 at the  Smith Point Inaugural Sprint Triathlon Sunday August 8th. Catching the sunrise coming up over the Atlantic was well worth getting up at 345am to dress, eat, and then drive to the race staging area by 530am . So too were the comments from athletes seeing  PPTC colors after seeing Tom in his PPTC summer lightweight jacket at the post race awards and gathering .

Sprint triathlons are lots of fun for those who can swim and bike in addition to run. The Smith Point race was 1/3 mile open water bay swim, 20 k -12.4 miles- on the bike, and a 5k run. The clock ticks from when you start the swim and ends when you cross the finish line at the end of the 5k. 

A one liner to remember from Michael Ring: “ Ya’ Can't have a bad day on Governors Island.”  How about Coney island?

 PPTC’s Deanna ran into Gary Greene second week of August  on crutches after a two-week hospital stay for an abscess in his foot.  Not sure when he will be back on the track. Here’s hoping that he has a swift recovery.

While out for four on the bike on the inside loop second week of August , whom do I see running barefoot up the zoo hill early evening but Tom Tobin. Almost didn’t recognize him without the running shoes.  ”The Sauconys are in the shop….” And, as Tobin  recommends ,  “It helps to run on the white line.”

Tom’s barefooting must’ve helped at the Battle of Brooklyn 10 miler on Sunday August 22nd , check the race results section to see how well PPTC fared.

Hooking up with Zoe Boswick Levine for her ‘’Stairs of Death’’ workout up Lookout ‘’Mountain” Wednesday mornings at 625am  at Bartel Pritchard makes mid week  running workouts  ‘interesting’. 

Bobby Fisher rode the two day Farm Ride at Amherst Massachusetts the weekend of August 21-22. 76 miles on Saturday and another 40 plus on Sunday, not a race just a fine ride with BBQs at rest stops and overnites at the UMASS dorms.He put the wraps on August with his 72 mile North Fork Farm Ride Sunday the 29th, starting and ending at Greenport High Sschool. Bobby is quickly becoming the Louie Rios of PPTC cyclists!
Gil Torres’s father  passed away late Monday evening August 23rd after a progressive decline from Alzheimer's. Gil  reports that fortunately his dad was never in pain and transitioned peacefully to his rest. Gil was  with him during his final week and found that caring for him during his illness was a very intimate experience which he’ll  treasure forever. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Gil, Irene, Christopher and Keith.
Ron Rice reports that Tommy Hart's Knee Surgery was performed ,
Friday Aug 27th   and that  he is rested comfortably at St Vincent's Hospital
on Bard Ave in Staten Island. Rehab next but at home or outpatient remains to be seen. It’s hard for Tommy to sit still to heal well so that’s another challenge. Tommy is the race director of the summer 5k  series at Fort Hamilton Army base which has provided many PPTCers the opportunity to strut their stuff on Tuesdays during July and August. Heal well Tommy. 

The Summer Speed Series was put to bed for the 2010 year but PPTC suggested to Race Director Mike Ring that it might be very interesting to tally overall stats as far as how many races there were this year, how many runners showed up, average temps, weather profile, repeat medal winners, the number of children conceived at post race get togethers, you know, the usual stuff…..

Thanks to Geoff Vincent for coordinating the PPTC events/race calendar and reminding us of all the fall Half Marathons that are looming on the horizon. Pick your pain!    

See you on the roads……………………….  

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Half-Marathon Wrap Up by Geoffrey Vincent

Half-Marathon Wrap Up

It’s almost Labor Day, and as the temperatures retreat from their Summer highs many of you are probably  thinking of getting out there and lining up for a half-marathon.  Whether you’re doing it as part of your marathon training or just doing it because you like the distance, you should find something here that suits you.

This first one is a bit of a hike but if you feel like taking Jet Blue up to Rochester on Sunday, September 12 there’s a half-marathon option to the MVP Health Care Rochester Marathon.  The course is fairly flat and you can always carbo-load the night before one of Rochester’s infamous Garbage Plates (if you’ve got to ask you probably couldn’t handle it).

The following Sunday, September 19, head on down to Mount Vernon, VA for the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon for the first-time-ever chance to run from Virginia to Maryland over the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.  Or crank up the volume (make sure your amp goes to 11) and head on down to the City of Brotherly Love for the ING Rock’n’Roll Philadelphia ½ Marathon.  Closer to home take a ride up to Wappingers Falls for the Dutchess County Classic or head for the hills of Yonkers and run one loop of the Yonkers Marathon course.

This year’s race was unfortunately sold out at press time, so mark your calendar for next year for the half option at the Adirondack Marathon Distance Festival in Schroon Lake, NY.  You can still hop the PATH train on Sunday, September 26 to the Newport Liberty Half Marathon over in Jersey City and enjoy the views of the other side of the Statue of Liberty.

Heading into October and on Saturday, 2nd why not take a ride up North for the New Hampshire Half Marathon in Bristol, NH – it shares the course with the NH Marathon (billed as “The most beautiful marathon in New England”).  Another early sell-out was the Hamptons Half-Marathon in East Hampton, NY – maybe you’ll get lucky next year and stay at the Byrnes Family Compound on Dune Road.

There’s a full race card on Sunday, October 3 with no less than five half-marathons to choose from, including the Ridegefield Pamby Half Marathon in Ridgefield, CT, the Jersey Shore Half Marathon in Sandy Hook, NJ and the Putnam County Fall Classic ½ Marathon in Brewster, NY.  For those of you who like a little dirt in their lives you should check out the Paine to pain Half-Marathon Trail Race in New Rochelle, NY.  Finally, this one’s for the ladies – and only for the ladies – the Divas Half Marathon in Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, NY.

With a new course for 2010, this year’s ING Hartford Half Marathon on October 9 follows the marathon route for the first mile then heads off to West Hartford before looping back to finish in Hartford, CT.

The last race in the NYRR Half Marathon Series is the Staten Island Half-Marathon on Sunday, October 10.  Elsewhere there’s the Westchester Medical Center Running Festival in White Plains, NY, the Harvest Half Marathon in Red Hook, NY (that’s the Upstate Red Hook – not Brooklyn), the Beaverkill Mountain Road Race in Lewbeach, NY.  Sadly the hugely popular Mohawk-Hudson River Half Marathon from Cohoes to Albany has also sold out for this year.

Sunday, October 17 it’s all about the Jersey Shore.  If you’re feeling lucky head down to Atlantic City for the half-marathon portion of the Atlantic City Marathon, or else check out the Seaside Half Marathon in Seaside Heights, NJ.

Finally, on Sunday, October 31 I’m giving a big shout-out to my Albany Running Exchange friends and their Hairy Gorilla Half Marathon up in Voorheesville, NY.  Don’t let the Halloween costumes fool you – this is a serious trail half with some very serious trail runners!

Details for any of the races can be found by clicking on them in the calendar.  Wherever you decide to run - run fast and run safe!