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Open Mic Friday: The Running Laminator

Posted Jul 11 2008 4:14pm

Open_mic_fridayThis week we have the absolute pleasure of learning more aboutThe Running Laminator.  Outside of his great running stories, Tom and I enjoyhis blogfor both the information and his writing style.  He has many great posts and at least two are part of theKnow How sectionof running information in the Lounge - one onrehydrationand the other on the topic of howrunning is art. He is yet another runner that I hope someday to go for a run and then sit down and get to know better.

I remember reading your story of how your mom "inspired" you to start running with a comment about your growing belly.  That got you started, but what kept you running?

Yeah, looking back, it's hard to fathom how I turned responding to mom's side comment made in passing one fateful night four years ago into a lifelong passion for the sport.  All I can say is that inspiration comes in many forms.  (For those who missed the story, you can find a short recap here – link: Once I began running regularly, I started to see positive benefits far beyond downsizing my pot belly.  Ibecame more self-confident in my knowledge and abilities.  I became a more positive influence on friends and family.  I developed a deeper understanding and appreciation of the importance of proper nutrition and exercise.  Running has, in many ways, also helped me to be a better doctor.  Pretty soon, all these other benefits superceded my original reason for hitting the road, so now, I keep running mainly to improve my life as well as the lives of those around me.

Tell us about what you do for your "real job" outside of running?Lam4_2

I work as a pediatric endocrinologist at a prominent children's hospital in Bronx, NY.  This long and cool sounding title gives me the privilege of seeing and treating kids of all ages who have a variety of hormone problems.  The list of diseases which can be attributed to a hormonal issue is extensive, and varies from such common conditions as obesity, diabetes, short stature, hypothyroidism, and menstrual irregularity to more rare and esoteric diseases like ambiguous genitalia, pituitary tumors, diabetes insipidus (loss of fluid balance), and premature or delayed puberty.  Although the work can sometimes be very frustrating, especially when dealing with kids and parents who constantly miss important appointments or forget to take  medication, the job for the most part is very satisfying and rewarding because it allows me to work closely with children in helping them live a healthier and more fulfilling life.

How has your running changed/influenced the advice you give to your patients?

The funny thing is that I rarely talk about running with any of my patients, not that I wouldn't want to.  Sadly, most of the kids and adolescents I see for obesity lead such sedentary lives that merely walking around the block twice a week is more exercise than they can handle.  What running has done for me however is teach me how to motivate my patients and their families to be an active participant in the way they choose to live their lives.  I also find myself using the knowledge I've gained on proper nutrition for running to provide better dietary counseling for families dealing with obesity and diabetes.

Lam1How are you feeling for your August marathon?  What are your goals for the marathon?

I think I'm ready for it (San Francisco Marathon, 8/3).  Either that or I'm just glad that the intense training is almost over.  I admit I've overtrained a bit in this last 16 week training cycle.  I've been running more miles per week this month than I've ever done in preparation for any of my previous marathons, so my body isn't feeling as fresh as it normally is right now.  I think after an extended taper though, I'll be ready and excited to run the 26.2.  As for my goals for the race, I'm keeping them conservative because I intended this to be a fun run when I first signed up for the race.  I love the city of San Francisco, and the marathon coincides with my birthday, so I'm running this one as my own birthday party for myself.  I'll be enjoying the crowds and soaking in the sights while reflecting on my running accomplishments of the past year and making plans for the next year.  Time-wise, I'd like to run under  3:05 and get as close to 3:00 as I can.  If not, then I'd be happy if I can do better than the 3:08:18 I ran last year at NYCM or even just re-qualifying for Boston again.  But if something doesn't go well or we get some freaky weather that day, I think I'll be okay with just crossing the finishing line at whatever time as long as I had fun doing it.

How do you handle your marathon taper?  Do you get a bad case of "taper madness"?

Marathon tapering isn't so bad for me because usually by the time I get there, I've been training hard for so long that my muscles welcome the decreased mileage.  I also know that during this rest and recovery period, my muscles are getting stronger with each mile that I DON'T run, so I'm happy to lay low for a while and let the rebuilding process take its course.  Instead, I use my time to study the course, set up goals and devise an effective strategy to deal with the difficult portions of the course.  I feel that the tapering period is the time to prepare the body psychologically for running 26.2 after the more physical aspect of training is over.

What is your advice for marathoners?Lam2

I don't consider myself an expert marathoner by any means, but if I had to offer one piece of advice for people attempting the distance, I'd simply remind them to "respect the distance".  Do not think of it as simply as 4 times 10K, 2 times a half marathon, or 6.2 miles more than a 20 mile long run.  No matter how many of them you've run, or how well you think you run, 26.2 miles is still really, really far!  A lot of things can go right and a lot of things can go wrong when you're out there for so long.  Because of that, it really pays to be diligent and patient in your training and preparation for running that distance.

What is your most interesting running habit/quirk?

Everyone who've run with me know this already, but I am absolutely cannot run without a bandana on my head.  As of last count, I have bandanas in 36 different variations of colors and patterns.  (Yes, I'm trying to get to 56 to match Heinz ketchup!) Personally, I find this to be the most essential piece of running gear (more so than my iPod or even my Garmin 305) because of its versatility.  On cold winter mornings, I use it as a warm covering for my head.  On hot summer nights, I use it to keep the sweat from stinging my eyes and to dry my face somewhat afterwards.  Even when it rains or snows, my bandana helps me by providing a little protection against the precipitation.  As of yet, I still have notLam3found a weather pattern where wearing a bandana does not offer at least some benefit.  To be honest, even if it weren't so useful, I'd still consider wearing it just because it makes me feel a little more hardcore when I run.

What do you do when you are not running?

When I'm not running, I'm recovering and planning my next run, of course! Either that or I'm thinking or blogging about running.  Didn't someone famous once say that life is simply a series of great runs and everything else is just what happens in between?  If not, I'm claiming this as my own running quote!  When I have time left over after all of that, I play hormone doctor to a bunch of kids at the children's hospital where I work at.  And when I'm really free, I like to read/write fiction and poetry, watch/play sports, especially baseball and basketball and poker (although it's debatable whether that should be considered a sport), and travel!

Who is your running hero?

I hope I don't sound too elitist or conceded when I say this, but I really consider myself my own running hero.  Although there are plenty of amazing runners I admire and respect like Steve Prefontaine, George Sheehan, Bill Rodgers, and more recently Ryan Hall, Brian Sell, and Bernard Lagat, I feel as if I'm a hero onto myself because I'm the only one who knows and truly understands the sacrifices I've made and the obstacles I've had to deal with in order to run so well in this stage of my life.  I know I am not an elite runner, but considering all that I've accomplished in my young running career despite a very busy professional life, I find myself being wowed by my achievements all the time.  I challenge and encourage everyone to run as if they were their own running heroes, so that at the end of the day, you can say it proud like Dr. George Sheehan, "I have met my hero, and he is me."

What is your advice for runners?

For my fellow runners, I'd recommend that everyone set up some short and long term goals for themselves.   Whether it'd be to run a marathon or a half-marathon, run faster for shorter race distances, improve your overall fitness and stamina so you can beat your best friend in ball or even just to lose an extra pound or two by a certain date, it's important to know for yourself why it is that you run and establish your own personal motivation for hitting the roads.  Ultimately, these goals which are important to you will be what keeps you coming back even when the going gets tough (which it almost inevitably will!).

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