When Marathon Calls, Running on Impulse is a Case of Mind Over Pain

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Dr. Randeep Suneja broke his previous record, finishing in 2:29:08 at the Katy Half Marathon last Saturday, February 6

By Jawahar Malhotra

KATY: He hadn’t really planned for it since his all-consuming work schedule really didn’t allow for him to take off for the routine training it would take to run the 13.1 miles in a half marathon. But the call of marathon running was too great for him to pass up; the exhilarating high of the long distance run, the connection with other runners, pushing back the pain in the legs and rhythmic gulps for breaths of air was an exciting experience he could not push away.

“It had been a year since I had run (see IAN dated Dec 19, 2014) and after reading the posts from friend on Facebook who ran the Houston Marathon two weeks earlier, I felt really nostalgic,” recalled Dr. Randeep Suneja, 55 as he paused briefly between patients at his busy clinic in Katy, “and felt I was missing out. I really got inspired by all their stories.” A cardiologist with a busy practice, he trots rather than walks around his clinic, zipping between patients, and hardly had the time to commit to the strenuous demands of regular long distance running.

Still, Suneja called Alain Ducante, a former marine who had started the group called Gotta Run Katy (gottarunkaty.com) a few years as a way to form kinship among marathoners and exercise too. The group has grown to 150 people who meet three times a week for an hour and Suneja had joined two years ago, but had been an infrequent participant.

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After the race, Suneja posed with fellow runners and Board members of the Katy ISD Foundation which raises money for school projects.

“I called Alain and asked him if he could train me one-on-one to run in the Katy Half Marathon slated for February 6. With 19 days to prepare, Alain was skeptical that I could be ready, but I was doggedly persistent,” smiled Suneja, “and determined to do it.” Alain cautiously agreed, concerned about any running injuries that might occur with ambitious training, and the two worked out a rigorous training schedule, running 3 to 4 times a week, starting at 5 am and Suneja progressed well and at a fast pace.

He registered two weeks before the race and ran for the Katy ISD Foundation, a non-profit that raises money for classroom projects in Katy schools. In an act of solidarity, on the spur of the moment, his two partners in the clinic Dr. Ramamanohara Pai, 46 and Dr. Kamalakannan Desikan, 42 decided to run too, though they had scarcely prepared for the race (they each finished in 2:20).

It was a breezy, sunny morning last Saturday, February 6 when Suneja took to the starting gun and he had mentally committed to breaking his previous record of 2 hours and 33 minutes and went all out beating it by nearly 4 minutes, coming in at 2:29:08 and was elated. “Remarkably, I didn’t ache or feel sore afterwards at all,” said Suneja, still grinning after his achievement.

To top it off, by Tuesday, February 9, Suneja found out that he had become the second highest fundraiser among the marathoners, and first from the Katy ISD heart foundation runners, to raise $6,500 for the KISD Education Foundation.

Dr. Randeep Suneja is based at Cardiology Center of Houston in Katy; 281-646-9000, houstoncardiology.com

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