Thursday, January 14, 2010

What You Do Not Know Because You Are Not Me, by Michael Ring

"Ya know it's cold, Michael is wearing (long) pants!"

Yea, that's what they say.  I am not so much into putting on what others think is an adequate amount of clothing.  It is not that I don't feel the cold; I just don't let it bother me so much.  But it does not always work out.

I once did a couple of laps of The Park when it was 25* and snowing pretty heavily.  When I finished the run I noticed that the snow was not melting against my bare legs. So it rinsed it off in a hot shower.  The weird thing was that after the hot shower the skin on my legs was still cold to the touch.  Then during the next week the skin was extremely dry and there was a great deal of pealing.  A few weeks later I showed my legs to my cousin, a runner and an MD.  She slapped my head and told me that another loop of the park would have caused permanent damage; I had first degree frost bite. Not so bad.

One of the NYC Marathons I ran back in the mid 90s was about 40* at the start.  It was so windy that some of the hospitality tents blew over.  They announced that runners should be weary of hypothermia.  They said the first sign of hypothermia is confusion.  That's funny, how do you know you are confused? (Anyway whose head is on so straight when they are running a marathon.) I started that race in my PPTC sweatshirt, a ski cap and a pair of gloves.  When I passed Union St in Park Slope, I felt warm enough to shed the sweatshirt, but I accidental gave the hat and gloves to my wife as well.  As soon as I got to Fort Greene I missed the hat and those gloves.  The run over the 59th St Bridge was kinda sucky.  My big problem was the fact that the tin foil sheet the give you after the finish does not work unless properly tapped down.  Also, our "reunion school" was almost at West End Ave.  Walking over there I had to pause to sit on a stoop.  After some indeterminable about of time I realized I needed to get up.  When I heaved myself up I realized that I did not know which way I was walking.  I suddenly realized that I WAS CONFUSED.  Luckily, I looked up and saw the PPTC banner directly across the street.  When I got into the cafeteria I remember being covered in every body's blanket and still shivering uncontrollably.  Then I felt the need to get sick, and I did.  Then I had some hot coco and felt fine.  That was no fun.

My worst experience with the cold was when I joined my wife for a ski trip to Killington Vermont.  I was not into skiing so I told her I would meet her at the ski lodge. Our hotel had a gym but I could not bring myself to get on that treadmill.  I asked the concierge how far it was to the lodge at the ski slope.  He said it was 12 miles, 6 miles down the road and one turn.  I could not get lost.  It was about 0 degrees outside the hotel, but sunny and there was no wind.  The road was well plowed and the snow was piled high along the shoulder.  I put on all my clothes; a wicking layer against my skin, an insulating layer and then a windbreaker.  I had 2 pairs of gloves, a hat and a balaclava.   

The first 6 miles was great but there were big problems when I made that turn.  It was all uphill and into the wind.  The sweat that had wicked away to my middle layer froze really fast.  When I say "middle layer" I am not just talking about my clothing.  My middle layer got real cold, really cold.  I realized my currant activity could be categorized as how stupid people get killed.  It took me a few minutes to find shelter.  I ran into a bar and asked the bartender if I could use the rest room.  I did not know why he was staring at me when I walked in till I looked in the mirror and saw the frozen spike of hair sticking out of the side of my head. 

When the cab came to take me back to the hotel I explained that I had no cash, only the subway token I keep in my shoe.  That token gets me home from anywhere when I am running back in Brooklyn.  I hoped he would let me go into my room to get his fare. He insisted that I only pay him with that token, that my story was worth more than cash.  I am sure that that token is still hanging from the rear view mirror of some cab in Vermont.

My wife would not have been waiting for me.  They closed the mountain because it was too cold to ski!

I have no stories to tell about running in hot weather because I don't.

Interview with Alex Kogut by Paul Soskind

Interview with Alex Kogut    

Alex is a 66-year-old former member living in Florida.  

P.S.: How did you get started?

Alex: I was working out in Jack LaLanne and some guys said we should augment our lifting with running. I met John Richardson of the Marine Park club, ran with them several times, but joined PPTC, because I knew more people there such as Harry, Walter Brown, Howie Basis, and you.

PS: When were you an active member?

Alex: During the club's heyday. I ran a p.r. of 3:27  at age forty, but I was a fourth echelon guy; ther were at least 20 guys my age under 3:10, another 15 between 2:58  and 2:50, and a core of ten or so in the2:30's to mid 2:40s.  

PS: How did you all train back then?

Alex: We would run on Sundays from the park up to Central Park and then return to the Parade Grounds; sometimes we'd throw in a 6 mile loop at Central Park.

PS: What was the hardest workout you remember doing?

Alex: In 1981 we went up to Central Park and ran seven six mile loops in subfreezing weather without water. We were prepping for the 60 km., which was then held in early March.  

PS: So it seems you gravitated to ultras.

Alex:  Yeah I wasn’t fast but I was strong and steady.

PS: Give me an example of one of your "not fast" times,

Alex: Well, I did a 4:09 for 50km up at Brattleboro Vermont on a very hilly course, but  you Bill McMahon, Roque Pizarro, and Bob Muller  were doing it in the 3:30s to3:40s, and the winner ran about 3:00.

PS Are you still running?  

Alex: Sadly no. I thought I was indestructible, probably didn’t back off when I should have so now I can only do a couple of very easy miles a week. I do miss it.

PS Thanks for a window into our past.

Interview with Mike Rieman, by Paul Soskind

Mike Rieman is a long time PPTC member, board member and past PPTC president  

PS :What motivated you to become club president?

M.R:. John Roselli had to step down and I was the only one willing to take on the responsibilities.

P.S. What were your major challenges?

M.R. The club was losing members; many top runners had stopped competing, or had gone to other more active clubs. I tried to attract new members and make the club more inclusive.

P.S. How did you become a member?

M.R. I had been a once or twice times a week runner, got hooked on the idea of running NYC, and after doing so in 1979,  I began joining some of the PPTC regulars in their early morning loops around the park .Back then , you had to be asked to join. I was honored when  asked  by Monte Davis, and hope all our current members feel the same sense of pride and honor.  

P,S, What were the highs and lows of those years?

M.R. There were no lows, but many highs. Running with the groups taught me pacing and how to adjust my training. After races we would hang out together. People didn't just scatter and go home or wherever. I remember after one especially hot Hispanic Half in August sharing some beers with other PPTCers. I miss those days; we were very together regardless of age or ability levels.

PS Thank you for your thoughts, insights and experience.