Take the Photo and Run

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It was a perfect autumn day. It was clear and cool, with early morning temperature in the high 40’s but expected to warm up to 70’s Fahrenheit. Excitement was heating up the nippy air. Beautiful day to run the marathon! This was my third half-marathon race. And I even took pictures while running it.

Waiting to start. This was how far I was from the starting line.

There was a sea of people that day. Nice to be in this good company of athletes and wannabe-athletes. This was the annual IMT Des Moines Marathon (which also includes the half-marathon and 5K run). I learned that there were more than 8,000 runners that morning, and perhaps thousands more family and friends who were there to support and to cheer.

It took a few minutes after the official time begun before I even cross the starting line.
Iowa Capitol in the distance. I was trying to follow the pace runner with the red sign 2:20 (that is the goal time I want to finish the half marathon)
Court house building ahead. Can you still see the 2:20 pace runner?

I kept on taking pictures to amuse myself. I also took photos of all the mile markers as motivation for myself of how much distance I already covered. Somehow I missed the mile 2 marker as I was oblivious of other things, like keeping up with the pace runner that I wanted to follow, while watching other runners and not stepping on their toes, for it was crowded.

Mile 3 marker. Where’s the 2:20 pace runner? I think I fell behind already. O well, I’ll just enjoy the run.
After running through city streets we entered Water Works Park, and it was a change of scenery.
Mile 4 marker
Mile 5 marker

I was in mile 5 when there were several runners going the opposite direction, meaning that I was still on my way further and they were on their way back already. Are you kidding me? I must be running slow! The eventual winner of Des Moines half marathon was a Kenyan with a blistering time of 1 hour, 3 minutes and 18 seconds. That was really more than twice faster than my pace.

I was still going upstream, while others were already heading back.

There were several water stations along the way. They offer water and Gatorade. There were even different stations that handed out pretzels, candies, gummy bear, energy gels and power bars. I stopped on most of them and took whatever they offer. Hey, they’re free.  And I don’t even have to say trick or treat!

Gatorade station

Along the route were signs that kind of encourages the runners to go on. There was one that said “Run as if you stole something.” Maybe I should have stolen the prize money for the winner when I passed the starting line and I could have run faster. Playing in my head was the Steve Miller Band song “Take the money and run.” Hoo, hoo, hoo! Here are the other signs.

Why can’t they hand them now in the water station?
I am a Filipino, and I can run fast too. Specially if I am being chased by a rabid dog! (see previous post here)

Besides the spectators on the side of the road cheering the runners, there were also several singers and local rock bands playing, boosting our moods and electrifying the air.

local rock band
Mile 6 marker
I need a break. This kind of break. A breath-holding break, if you know what I mean.
water station
A different kind of station.
They even have an ambulance ready. But not for me. Not today.
Mile 7 marker. I am more than halfway!
Another music band
Mile 21 marker. Huh? Oh, that’s a marker for the full marathon.
Here’s the right one for me, the half marathon marker.
I am not Dave, but I’ll take the motivation. Thanks doggie!
Downtown Des Moines in the distance. That’s how far I need to go still?
Mile 9 marker
Gray’s Lake in downtown Des Moines. A beautiful day indeed!
Still in Gray’s Lake
Mile 10 marker. That’s the farthest I ran training for this half-marathon. It would be sheer determination from here on.

I was on my 10th mile, when a motorcade passed, alerting us to give way. It was the lead runner for the full marathon. He already ran 23 miles in the same time period that I was running! The next marathon runner that passed me was almost 5 minutes behind the leader.

The lead runner for the full marathon.
I learned that this was James Kirwa (#1), a Kenyan runner. He eventually won the race with the time of 2:16:54. It was his third consecutive year winning the Des Moines Marathon.
Mile 11 marker
Mile 12 marker. The next marker will say “FINISH”
This band was blaring heavy rock music when I passed by.
Finish strong? My legs were like jelly. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.
I can smell the finish line!
Finally! Finish time was 2 hours 29 minutes. Still close to my goal,while taking photos to boot.
I think I deserve one of those, please.
wearing it proudly

See you again next year! For now I need more ibuprofen.


(*all photos taken with my iPhone)


  1. Hi Doc,

    I just hope that you had fun when you joined the Des Moines annual Marathon.
    I always admire your passion to join this kind of activities to keep yourself
    physically and mentally fit. On the other hand, I want so share some article I read
    that may interest you since you are in a health care industry. See below.

    “Bad omen for Healtcare”
    Written by BY PHILIP S. CHUA, MD, FACS, FPCS

    US News and World Report writer Mary Brophy Marcus wrote an article a few years back about the critical shortages of physicians in the United States and the escalating cost of healthcare due to the malpractice crisis, which piece she titled Healthcare’s “Perfect Storm.”

    The title was, indeed, most appropriate, one that predicted an ominous future for the Americans. That bad omen came true. Today, there is a serious crisis in healthcare cost that is bankrupting Medicare and other private insurance companies and medical care providers in the United States, thanks to the mandated malpractice insurance for all physicians in America.

    The same crisis could wreak havoc to our own healthcare system in the Philippines and cause us and our family immeasurable pain and suffering, if we, the people, allow our legislators to pass a law mandating all physicians in the country to buy malpractice insurance as physicians in the United States are required to have.

    Since that US law was passed, malpractice lawsuits suddenly skyrocketed, malpractice lawyers mushroomed, and so with ambulance chasers and bills boards encouraging patients to sue physicians, medical staffs, clinics, and hospitals.

    Physicians were forced to practice defensive medicine, ordering more tests, X-rays, CT scans, MRI, etc., in order “to be extra careful” and protect themselves. Healthcare costs escalated. America has grown into a litigious society that it is today. Because of large settlement awards to plaintiffs, insurance companies had to jack up malpractice premiums to a prohibitive level. Unable to cope with the financial burden, many physicians called it quits. The vicious cycle continued leading to a present healthcare crisis in the United States.

    In her revealing and alarming essay, Mary Brophy Marcus related how a Las Vegas OB-GYN specialist with a thriving practice, seeing 40 patients a day and delivering 20 babies a week, had to fold his obstetrics practice after 12 years because of skyrocketing malpractice premiums in the United States. Although he had never been sued before, his malpractice rate jumped from $33,000 (more than 1.3 million pesos) to a more ridiculous $108,000 (almost 4.5 million pesos) a year! At an income tax (bracket) rate of almost 50%, this physician had to earn about $216,000 (almost 9 million pesos) a year just to be able to pay Uncle Sam the annual income tax and the malpractice premium of $108,000, with nothing left in his pocket for himself, his family, his office staff and other overhead expenses.

    The example the writer illustrated above is typical and widespread across North America, where currently there is a healthcare crisis, almost to a catastrophic proportion. The run-away malpractice insurance premium rate is forcing countless physicians, especially those specialists regularly performing high-risk procedures (heart surgeons, obstetricians, neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons, emergency room physicians, etc.) to curtail their practices or retire prematurely, or change career, to avoid debts or bankruptcy.

    “People are dying,” stated Loren Johnson, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians’ California chapter. The reason is because states are running low on vital medical specialists and services as a result of this malpractice crisis.

    The Washington County Hospital in Hagerstown, Maryland, like many other hospitals, had shut down their trauma center (emergency room) because of lack of physicians and the very costly malpractice premium. Many training hospitals are concerned that the high cost of malpractice premium they have to buy for their residents might cause them to close their programs. And this will further reduce the number of practicing physicians in the country, making healthcare even lesser accessible for the people.

    When both hands of the physicians are tied as a consequence of a prohibitive malpractice insurance premium, a coverage required by all hospitals in order for a physician to join the medical staff, they are essentially deprived of their individual constitutional right to practice their profession and art. And the ultimate victims who will suffer the brunt of all this are the people, the patients, especially the sickness-prone seniors and children.

    The potential profitability of filing a suit against a physician becomes a strong incentive for many patients to sue their physician at a drop of a hat.

    The crisis came to a head when St. Paul Companies, the largest malpractice insurers, dropped tens of thousands of physicians, leaving them naked, without any coverage at all, and scampering for other insurers. And this came at a prohibitive price because other insurers took advantage of this situation and raised their premiums. The reason for all this was the increase of medical lawsuits and the high-priced damage awards.

    In Las Vegas, for instance, one sees a billboard almost every mile, advertising personal injury lawyers, with a “no-legal-fee-if-we-lose” incentive, practically enticing people to sue their physicians.

    Can this kind of crisis happen in the Philippines? Yes, since we, Filipinos, are very fond of copying everything and anything from the United States. As a matter of fact, it appears many of our legislators are still bent on importing the scary and potentially devastating idea of mandating malpractice insurance coverage for every physician in the Philippines.

    Are these legislators misinformed, miserably careless, simply without foresight, or cleverly planning to invest in, or put up, malpractice insurance companies in the Philippines? If the reason is none of the above, then why in heaven’s name would they, who have sworn to serve and protect the interest and welfare of the Filipinos, could even think of importing a harmful piece of legislation, like the mandatory malpractice insurance for physicians in our country, when the same experiment has despondently failed in the United States and has been causing a healthcare havoc, pain, and suffering among the Americans? Only some of our legislators, malpractice lawyers, ambulance chasers, and insurance companies will benefit from a national suicidal law such as this.

    Why do we have to import mistakes, miseries and heartaches from abroad when we have more than enough of our share right here in our country? For Filipinos in the United States who have “seen the future,” this proposed law is sugar-coated poison that would kill our healthcare system and the medical profession, with the patients and their family as the ultimate victims of escalating cost of healthcare and less accessibility to medical care. Even our national coffers would eventually suffer tremendously.

    If we must, let us import from the United States ideas and programs that will be good for our people, and not a bad piece of legislation that has already been proven deleterious by the Americans themselves, who are now trying very hard to undo and correct their errors of the past. Let us learn from this bad experiment in the United States and not bring this killer dinosaur to our shores.

    Mandating our physicians to buy malpractice insurance in order “to protect the consumers in the event of a law suit” is like forcing these doctors to use a shotgun to get rid of a fly on the patient’s forehead. Passing this proposed cancerous law in itself would be the greatest malpractice of all, and we, the people, will hold each and every legislator accountable for his or her vote.

  2. it was definitely a near-perfect day for a race. I ran the marathon and loved it (mostly because I PR’d by a huge margin). I was a big fan of how the race went from the city to neighborhoods to a large green area, as if stripping away civilization mile by mile.

    Good luck with your future races!

  3. Congratulations for completing this marathon! Amazing how you ran & took photos! I know you’re so prepared for this, doc because I remember I read your rabid-dog-post before, hahaha! 😀

  4. What a swell run you had! Thanks for taking us with you. I am in awe of people who can make this commitment. The training is quite the task.

    We have a friend who we watch and cheer every year when he runs the Napa Marathon. You need to clock in under 4 hours to qualify for the Boston Marathon. He runs that one every other year or something. And he’s a good 10 years my senior! Well, we enjoy dining at one of Napa’s finest after. We also go wine tasting….

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