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
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. Warwick N.Y.
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 . P.S. So that's how you joined PPTC. Prospect Park
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.