Everybody’s running from something—and at the annual Long Island Marathon on May 3, thousands of streetwise athletes will aim to hit their stride and cross the finish line before fatigue puts up a wall.
Woodbury’s Dr. Robert Monaco, a veterinary practitioner at Old Country Animal Clinic in Plainview, will join his fellow runners for his 13th jaunt in the Long Island Half Marathon; his 32nd marathon entry in total. Monaco’s been a runner for about 15 years and a tri-athlete for the last three years. Besides Long Island, he’s hit the ground running in races upstate, in Connecticut and beyond.
“Now it’s a streak and I can’t stop,” said Monaco about his 13th trip to the marathon. “I do it for physical fitness, but in truth I started because my nephew dared me and my brother to run a marathon. I’m the only one that took the dare and is still running.”
Monaco said he continued to run because of all the benefits associated with the sport. Besides the obvious health benefits, Monaco said the act of running can help scrub the mind clean in just a few short miles.
“It’s a great way to solve a problem,” he said. “Go for a 10 mile run and it solves everything. It’s also a great way to zone out for a bit and just not think of anything in particular at all.”
While the average, everyday run is a great way to cleanse the mind, full and half marathons are more daunting endeavors that require training, focus and strategy. Monaco said that full marathons especially demand every ounce of dedication in a runner’s body.
“Good runners can run a half marathon. To run a full marathon, you have to be trained, as well as mentally and physically prepared,” he said. “It is tough. Very tough. That is why I run half marathons.”
Monaco runs with the Greater Long Island Running Club, as well as Long Island Road Runners. Joining these organizations for marathons and training exercises on weekends, affords Monaco the opportunity to enjoy plenty of camaraderie with his fellow runners. He also gets to spend quality time with a certain four-legged runner, his dog Jake.
A veterinary practitioner, Monaco wrote the book on getting healthy through running with your dog, literally. Titled ER To PR: Veterinary Medicine On The Run, the book gives a sneak peek behind the scenes at a veterinary clinic, using humor and drama to describe his hectic life as a vet while also trying to achieve his running personal records.
At his veterinary clinic, though he serves all animals, including dogs and cats, Manaco is one of the few local vets that specializes in birds and exotic animals. Monaco uses this same all-encompassing approach to his life as a runner, never turning down an opportunity to hit the streets and run down some goals.
“We have this thing called ‘race day magic,’” he said. “The adrenaline you get is sometimes enough to pull you through. And the crowds cheering goes a long way. All of these things help you run faster and longer than you ever thought you could.”