Doctors on the run by Jenara Regis Newman (Sun Star, Monday, May 26, 2008)

RUNNING., not away from, but for fitness and fun.

Through the years, many doctors have engaged in the sport. Early this year, five of them participated in the Hong Kong marathon: anesthesiologist Nicole Chua, opthalmologist Potenciano Larrazabal III, cardiac surgeon Peter Mancao, pulmonologist Alberto Santos, and dermatologist, Vicente Verallo.

Sun.Star Cebu (SSC): Aside from the five of you, are there other doctors who run?

Dr. Mancao: There have been doctors who have taken it as a sport before us like my father Mike, Jovito Lee, Nick Escario,
Jesus Fran, Jose Yu.

SSC: What made you take up running? What do you get out of it?

Dr. Chua: I was into brisk walking when, in 2004, I read how to make the transition from walking to running in a magazine.

So I started to run instead of walk. I like the sport because it is a solo sport. I don’t have to wait for others. I set my own time, my own pace. It’s also low maintenance. All you need is a good pair of running shoes. I run for my health. I can eat anything without gaining weight. I run three times a week.

Dr. Larrazabal: I started to run in December 2005. I’m a very active person and used to play a lot of basketball. I injured one of my fingers in a game and found it very hard to operate. Dr. Douglas del Prado invited me to join a 10-kilometer race. I finished it but I took a lot of time. I was challenged to do better and continued to run. I felt better, and my stamina was greater. I didn’t feel tired after seeing many patients and I could eat what I want without gaining weight.

Dr. Mancao: When I was training in Huston, every time I would go home, I’d meet people running. One day, a friend suggested: why don’t run we run? That started it. I stopped for 10 years when I got back home because of the heat. What made me run again was when I walked up from the first floor to the third floor of the hospital, I found myself out of breath.

So I started to do tread mill, and to run again to get fit. Now I can run up and down the hospital without gasping for breath.

Running has become a habit I cannot stop. It’s also the best sport for surgeons like Yong (Dr. Larrazabal) and me because it’s not a contact sport so it’s easier to keep our hands and fingers safe.

Dr. Santos: I started to run about eight years ago. In the Lung Society to which I belong, there is a yearly run. I joined it, found it fun and now it’s my way if keeping myself fit. I do short runs three days a week, a long run on weekends. I also do cross-training like swimming.

Dr. Verallo: I was into biking. In 1984-85, I biked a lot. When I came back here, I wanted to go back to cycling but I found the streets unsafe.. So I stopped. My practice here started in 1988. In 1994, I felt the need to trim down, so I started to run.

SSC: Dr.Larrazabal, I understand you have a running club?

Dr. Larrazabal: We have the Run for Sight Foundation. We have a yearly major run, the University Run. In 2006, we also had a run for Guimaras and what we raised my father doubled to give to the church in Guimaras for livelihood projects for people affected by the oil spill.

Dr. Mancao: We have other runs in the foundation: Run For Youth Heart, World Heart Day, Pink October Run. In all the runs we organize, there is always a doctor’s category.

SSC: You all participated in the Hong Kong marathon and other marathons. What’s the reason for running a marathon and why do it?

Dr. Chua: If you’re already running, it seems like the ultimate goal and it’s in my list of things to do before I reach 40. A sort of self-actualization.

Dr. Verallo: Participating in a marathon is the dream, the ultimate goal of any runner. Hong Kong was my third try. I did the Pasig Run in 2006 and the Milo Marathon in 2007, and finished all. It’s tiring but there’s this feeling of elation when you finish the race.

Dr. Santos: I was challenged and encouraged by my brother-in-law Ted Tecson last year to join. I did only five- and 10-kilometer runs before the Hong Kong Marathon. I wanted to know my capabilities and my limitations because running is a tough act to do.

Dr. Larrazabal: Every runner’s goal is to finish the marathon, which is a 42-kilometer run named after the distance between Marathon (note: a town) and Athens, Greece. It is said that a Greek ran that distance to warn Athens that the enemy was coming. I did the Pasig Marathon in April 2007, the Milo Marathon, also in 2007 and the New York Marathon. Hong Kong was my fourth.

Dr. Mancao: It’s the challenge. There’s a mind game when you’re running: the body says no, the mind says go. You look back and you train again. I trained for New York, but not for Hong Kong which I intended to join but only for half the race.

But after accomplishing that, my colleagues urged me to go on and continued to finish it.

SSC: You train for a marathon?

Dr. Santos: In other places, there are marathon clinics for those who want to join the marathon. Since we do not have that here, my wife Maureen bought me a book which had an 18-week program that instructs you how many miles to run, when to rest, what to eat. You have to be careful about injuries. I did a lot of practice runs and prayed a lot of rosaries for the marathon.

Dr. Larrazabal: One must train for a marathon in order to succeed. It’s not just running. It’s timing, pacing, diet.

SSC: Will you be joining another marathon?

Dr. Verallo: My running in the marathon is not competitive, just an achievement. I will join another marathon but I do not
know which one yet. I’m hoping to run outside the country.

Dr. Santos: I might join a local run, maybe Pasig or Milo. It’s hard to prepare. It’s no joke. You have to wake up early. All this, aside from our work.

Dr. Chua: There will be a next (one). I’m aiming for Singapore in December.

Dr. Mancao: There are five major marathons in the world: New York, Chicago, Boston, London, Berlin. Yong and I aim to do all with Chicago in October as our next target.

Dr. Larrazabal: I aim to do other marathons all over the world. We were supposed to do China, but we decided to do Chicago to have time for our body to recover from the Hong Kong marathon. I recommend running to everyone because it is an inexpensive sport. Not only will you live longer, the quality for your life is better. Once you’re running, you avoid late nights, drinking, and smoking.

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