If running a marathon is a test of courage, dedication and performing your best even while in pain, then Dr. Leonardo Vando is a winner.
The 38-year-old psychiatrist and Riverdalian ran his first New York City Marathon on Sunday.
Dr. Vando, an accomplished tri-athlete who regularly works out at the Riverdale YM-YMHA, battled knee and foot injuries that limited his ability to run the way he planned. He finished the notoriously difficult 26.2-mile course with a time of 4:59.
“I have to redeem that time. I am definitely running it again. I wasn’t even tired. I just couldn’t step on my leg,” Dr. Vando said, alluding to nagging knee and foot injuries that prevented him from running the 8:20 mile pace he hoped to run.
Dr. Vando, who specializes in addiction disorders, described himself as a competitive person and wanted to run hard. He said he is not discouraged by this year’s effort and is preparing for next year’s marathon. “I am already designing my training regime starting next week,” he said.
Running the New York Marathon was the culmination of a desire for Dr. Vando that began 15-years ago. “The first time I thought about it was in 1998, when I took a break from medical school,” he said. I really made a commitment two years ago, when my wife Jasmine was in a serious car accident and could not walk for three months.”
Dr. Vando said his wife has fully recovered from the accident and regularly runs five-kilometer races today. “She comes from a family of runners, so it gave me inspiration,” he said.
Dr. Vando ran along most parts of the marathon route in training sessions, so he was familiar with the course, including the final 13 miles. “I am very excited. I have to watch my excitement,” he said in an interview before the race. “I’d see the marathon and get upset because I knew I had to run it.”
However, Dr. Vando admitted he was not in top form. “I’ve been injured the past six months with patella tendinitis and a stress fracture in my foot,” he said. “I haven’t been able to run much. If I do four hours, it will be a miracle.”