Club Meetings for Prospect Park Track Club (PPTC)

Ben and I have been members of our running club, Prospect Park Track Club, for two years now. I wrote about what we were looking for in a running club when we joined and all of those things are still true (well, except we don’t really make it out for weekly runs). In adulthood, it’s rather difficult to make friends, but thanks to PPTC, Ben and I have a lovely thriving social life in Brooklyn. In these two years, we’ve made several wonderful friends through PPTC.

Along with weekly runs, PPTC has a number of other events, such as parties, food runs, themed social fun runs, and monthly club meetings. Our meetings are held on the first Monday of every month (unless it’s a holiday, then it gets moved to the second Monday) at 7 pm at Da Nonna Rosa. Normally I say the best thing about the meeting is that there’s free pizza, and not the cheap dollar slices either. I’m talking really good, proper, hot, fresh, oven-baked pizza. The pizzas are made downstairs and then brought upstairs to their event room, where we have our meeting. The club is great about making sure to have different kinds of pizzas, even vegan, to cater to different types of diet (except paleo — it’s not pizza without a proper crust). My favorite is the sausage and broccoli rabe. Ben’s favorite is the ravioli pizza, where cheese ravioli are placed on top of cheese pizza; it’s too heavy for me, but that pizza is a crowd pleaser.

In a typical club meeting, either the pizza gets delivered first, we get our food, and the club meeting starts, or the President opens the meeting with a few remarks and then we get our food. After we all get our pizza, new members are asked to stand up and introduce themselves (name, when and why they joined, and what race they’re training for). The next part is when anyone who completed a recent race is invited to talk about it. Depending on the number of people and the time of year, this can take a while. And finally we have our guest speaker come and give their presentation. Our guest speakers vary. Sometimes they’re club members who talk about different topics in running (e.g., age grading, City Strides, NYC Marathon pre-race preparation) and sometimes we have outside speakers who talk about injury prevention, different types of therapy for injuries, stretching, strength training, training philosophies, and more.

By far, the most popular marathon for PPTC is the New York City Marathon, as expected since for us, NYC Marathon is a local race. We devote two club meetings to it. The month before the race, we have a panel of PPTC members who ran the NYC Marathon before to give their advice and tips on how to be ready for the logistical nightmare that is the NYC Marathon. In case you don’t know, you need to be in Staten Island HOURS before you run because the Verrazano Bridge is shut down for the marathon. The panelists discuss the pros and cons of taking a ferry vs the PPTC bus, things you need with you before the start, tips about different parts of the route, and our post-race gathering location where hot beverages, beer, food, and cheers are waiting for the runners.

The meeting after the NYC Marathon we forgo having a speaker altogether and instead, the meeting is reserved for having our members describe their NYC Marathon experience. THIS is my most favorite meeting of the year. As I said before, normally the pizza is my favorite part, but for one meeting a year, the sharing of the race experience is the best part of this meeting.

One by one, people stand up and talk. For many, the marathon was a triumphant crown after weeks of hard training, or overcoming adversity. For a few, it was a disappointment because of injuries or bad luck. For almost everyone, NYC Marathon was an emotional journey; I loved listening to them and following vicariously as they summarized their training and how it all came out on that Sunday, November 5th. Often people found the humor in a hard situation, and we laughed at the absurd. But over and over again, I was on the verge of tears (and it wasn’t only me) because I was moved by what people were saying. One of our members made an incredible comeback to complete his 30th marathon as he was paralyzed over three years ago because of an incredibly rare disease. Others had injuries, personal hardships, disappointments, and failings that they were trying to overcome. They talked about how much support, hope, and above all love from other club members that they received that helped them with their training and running. Over and over again, I kept on hearing how much strength people drew from the club in order to go out and achieve their goals, or at the very least to lick their wounds and salvage themselves to go back out and fight another day.

I love how supportive the club is no matter what type of runner you are. People are just as eager and happy for you if you PR in a 4+hour marathon as they would be for BQ time. The best stories, honestly, came from the slower runners. This year, we happened to get a lot of people who ran together in the marathon there at the meeting, so we got to hear each person’s perspective. There was what pretty much sounded like a perfect set-up for a rom-com (boy and girl meet at the start of the race, run together, but are separated toward the end of the race because boy gets debilitating cramps and he sends her off because he wants her to make her time goal, and then boy has to find girl at the end of the race). Two PPTC members have what is now an “infamous” rivalry going on where each tries to beat each other’s PR (one says the rivalry is one-sided, but we beg to differ). They jokingly described passing each other at different points along the route. Other club members described what they saw as they passed those two. It was a riot.

Every year, I am overwhelmed by how much love there is the room. It reaffirms why Ben and I are members and yes, I feel #blessed to be a part of PPTC. I wrote this for an Instagram post that I help manage for PPTC and it captures how I feel.

(sung to Rent‘s “Season of Love”)

Forty-six thousand one hundred forty-five yards
Forty-six thousand one hundred forty-five moments so dear
Forty-six thousand one hundred forty-five yards
How do you measure a marathon?

In daylight, in sunsets
In cowbells, in Strava kudos
In inches, in miles
In laughter, in stride

In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure a year in PPTC?

How about love?
How about love?
How about love?
Measure in love
Seasons of love
Seasons of love

10 thoughts on “Club Meetings for Prospect Park Track Club (PPTC)

  1. LMAO I was 80% sure that caption was you! So good! Sad I missed the meeting this year after bursting into tears telling my NYCM story last year.

  2. Awww, I love this!!!!
    I’ve had some good running club experiences, but lately–and I haven’t actually shared this with anyone–I’ve seen cliques start to form within the groups (I’m in two different, large running clubs). I’ve never been popular so I somehow (lol) never manage to make it to these special cliques. Not to say the original club isn’t awesome, but it bothers me that some people make the club even more exclusive when it’s meant to be welcoming to everyone. Anyways, I wish I lived in NY so I can be in your run club ❤

    • I would love to have you here in NY (if only you enjoyed cold weather). I think in any large club, inevitably there are cliques, and we have a few too. But most of the social groups within the club are loosely formed based on other interests (there’s a rock climbing one) or time (very early morning runners) and thankfully, they’re open to letting anyone join in if people are interested. Every once in a while, they’ll throw out a message on the FB site saying, “Hey, we’re here. If you want to join us, let us know and we’ll give you the deets.”

      The only time in my life I was popular was when I was living in Toronto and that was because I was from “exotic California.” It was a weird feeling and I was happy to going back to not exactly unpopular, but middling level likeability when I moved to NY.

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