HARLINGEN – For Fernando Soares, MD, MBA, FAAP, a Neonatologist at Driscoll Children’s Specialty Center – Harlingen, running the 2019 TCS New York City Marathon provided a sense of euphoria.
“Our bodies are amazing machines,” said Dr. Soares, looking back at the marathon. “The feeling of accomplishment once you cross that finish line is hard to describe. Almost anyone can run a marathon with appropriate planning and training, in a period as short as six months.”
For Dr. Soares, running was a change from his usual routine. He was a longtime recreational soccer player who started as a child in Brazil and played into adulthood, finally stepping away from the sport three years ago when it became too rigorous.
A friend suggested running to stay healthy – something Dr. Soares said he never liked doing. After a rough start, including knee and back pain, a fall and a dog bite his first few months, Dr. Soares stuck with his new pastime. Three years later, he has completed three half-marathons, and on Nov. 3, the TCS New York City Marathon.
“I wanted to run my first marathon in a major metropolitan area where I could really experience the grandiosity of such an event. In this specific case of the New York City Marathon, the officials estimated over two million people by the sidelines cheering up the racers. And we’re talking about school bands, church choirs and groups of families and friends who have done that for decades. I need all the help I can get!” said Dr. Soares. Cooler weather and the fact that his wife is from the state of New York were other reasons he selected the marathon.
Exercise isn’t the only reason Dr. Soares runs. He also takes part in running events to raise awareness for the issue of premature births, a special cause to him as a neonatologist, raising funds for the March of Dimes and its March for Babies campaign.
To prepare for the 26.2-mile marathon, Dr. Soares followed a training schedule that included multiple runs a week, longer runs on the weekends and a half-marathon in Brownsville. He also focused on healthy eating and losing weight to avoid any unnecessary strains or injuries to his knees and lower back. “I should have trained a little bit more, but due to my hectic schedule, I didn’t train as much as I wanted. Nevertheless, if I had not trained as much as I had, I would not have finished the race,” said Dr. Soares.
During the marathon, Dr. Soares started feeling plantar pain – pain at the bottom of the feet – as well as ankle pain on mile 16. By mile 20, he started having cramps in both thighs, which led him to intermittently walk and run the rest of the event. He would finish the marathon in 5 hours, 34 minutes and 1 second, at an average pace of 12:33 minutes a mile.
“I thought I was going to be done with just one marathon under my belt. But I am considering running another one again in a year. I’m focusing on recovering now and I have not made that decision yet,” said Dr. Soares.