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.