“Since crossing the finish line of a race has been part of my bucket list, I decided to make a go of it,” says Lora Tansengco, an obstetrician-gynecologist and triathlete.

A Running To-Do List

In 2008, Lora was 44 years old. She had old pair of running shoes and Polar running watch from her husband. “That remained unused for a year, until I was persuaded to finally join a race,” she recalls.

She also had something else with her: an item on a bucket list she wanted to cross off. Lora wanted to approach this the most professional way as possible – since she is a doctor – and searched for a coach that would help her get started in running. The most popular online result brought up Coach Rio de la Cruz, and Lora knew she found someone who could help.

Lora didn’t have to wait for a long time to start training under Coach Rio – just a few days after she decided that she wanted to run, she found him in her neighborhood park waiting for a trainee. “I took that as a sign that I had to train to run and finish 5K. Rio and I struck a friendship that would inspire me to love the sport and aspire to be an athlete,” Lora shared.

Lora completed her first 5K, and had managed to tick an item off her list – but crossing the finish line once was no longer enough: “I guess I enjoyed it so much that I signed up for a 10K race the month after. I found the 10K more enjoyable because the pace was more relaxed.”

Eventually, Lora would find that it was time to go the distance – specifically, 21 kilometers. “In 2009, my husband commissioned Rio to coach him for his first and second full marathons – the Milo Marathon and the Singapore Marathon. I refused to go to Singapore to just be a cheerleader, so I signed up for my first half marathon in Singapore.”

After 21K, Lora decided it was double or nothing: “2010 was my busiest year because I managed to finish three full marathons: the Hong Kong marathon in February, the Bull Runner Dream Marathon in Many, and the ING New York Marathon in November.” Lora also added the BMW Berlin Marathon and the Bank of America Chicago Marathon to her running resume. “I was hooked. I did many other small races, collecting many medals and a few podium finishes for those under the “Doctor” category.”

What started as a simple item to cross off her bucket list had transformed into a life-changing pursuit. “At such an advanced age, who would think I could sustain a career as a doctor who led an athletic lifestyle?”

Photo by Charisma Lico, Edge of Light; Make-up by April Feliciano; Hair by Jannet Saberon. Clothes by Running Skirts, Shoes by Saucony, and Shoelaces by EZLaces – all from www.atletaako.com.

Photo by Charisma Lico, Edge of Light; Make-up by April Feliciano; Hair by Jannet Saberon. Clothes by SOAS and Alii Sport from www.atletaako.com.

Practicing Excellence

Lora’s quickly expanding running resume runs in parallel to an incredibly busy life. “I discovered my love for sports at quite an advanced age because I spent most of my younger years being a nerd,” she jokes. “I grew up in a family where excellence in academics was always the goal.” Lora has since manifested this excellence since her school days: she graduated cum laude in UP Diliman, then went to the UP College of Medicine. She took up her residency training in obstetrics and gynecology, and served as chief resident of the department. She also became a Clinical Associate Professor at the UP College of Medicine and attained a Master’s degree in Clinical Epidemiology as well. Lora held positions at the Asian Hospital and the Medical Center as the Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Presently, she is one of the Vice-Chairs at St. Luke’s Global City.

“And more important than all my administrative and clinical duties is my devotion to family,” Lora adds. She proudly proclaims that she is a ‘stage mother’ to her daughter, a college freshman and member of the UP Pep Squad, and a wife to a busy CFO.

It was then no surprise that Lora would show as much dedication to her sport and active lifestyle. A lot of people have asked Lora, who is now 51, how she does it. “When do I train? It is actually quite simple. I train before I work and then again, after I work. If I have a patient, I can’t train, of course. If my husband and daughter need me, I can’t train, of course.”

Don’t Quit

In 2013, Lora was accompanying her husband to his first Ironman 70.3 race in Cebu, but found that, while she was happy to offer her support, being on the sidelines did not feel as satisfying. At this point, Lora found training for three disciplines to be “outrageous,” but she changed her mind after a chance encounter. “I saw Coach Kaye Lopez with her Fit+ Academy students who were all doing the triathlon. She told me that training for a triathlon was actually easier on the body than training for a full marathon.” Lora heeded the coach’s advice, and soon found herself as one of Fit+ Academy’s students.

There was, however, one roadblock on her way to being a triathlete: “I’m terrified of the open sea,” Lora shared. She sought the help of Nonoy Basa, a professional swim coach. “I started from not being able to cross a 25-meter pool without stopping, to finishing a 1.5 kilometer open water swim last November. And I’m awfully proud of that accomplishment.”

“One of my greatest motivators to train is the friendships I’ve fostered in the triathlon community. Post-training is mostly spent with my training buddies dining and enjoying the food and the company,” Lora shares. As she continues to join more races, Lora creates more relationships and is well-loved by the people she meets, continuing to be an inspiration to other women.

Lora would insist that she isn’t, despite all her accomplishments. “Training is definitely hard, can be excruciatingly painful, oftentimes frustrating. Sometimes I even question myself – especially in the middle of a long race when my calves are cramping and my blisters are burning – why am I doing this? Why do I sit on the saddle for three or four hours biking under the sun? Why do I go back and forth 50 times in a pool very early in the morning or at night after work? Why do I care about how I should run after having biked 40 kilometers? I can’t quite explain why I keep doing it, despite my eternally dead toenails. I guess the more logical reasons are for good health, less stress, less depression over getting old, avoidance of obesity. But I can give you many other practical but irrational answers that can perhaps encourage other women to have a more active lifestyle. I can eat whatever I want, no pork barred. I can still wear that little black dress and look good in it. Heck at my age, I can still wear a two-piece bikini with just a few forgivable bulges and cellulite in between. And I don’t really know if it’s true, but they say I still look young for my age. If I can do it, so can a lot of other women out there.”

“During our initiations into the medical sorority Phi Lambda Delta, we were made to memorize the poem ‘Don’t Quit.’ It was supposed to guide us through our difficult years in medical school. Lora shares the poem:

When things go wrong as they sometimes will, When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill. When the funds are low and the debts are high. And you want to smile, but you have to sigh. When cares are pressing you down a bit, rest if you must, but don’t you quit… The silver tint in the clouds of doubt, And you never can tell how close you are. It might be near when it seems afar. So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit. It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

Photo by Charisma Lico, Edge of Light; Make-up by April Feliciano; Hair by Jannet Saberon. Clothes by Running Skirts, Shoes by Saucony, and Shoelaces by EZLaces – all from www.atletaako.com.

Photo by Charisma Lico, Edge of Light; Make-up by April Feliciano; Hair by Jannet Saberon. Clothes by SOAS and Alii Sport from www.atletaako.com.

Lora’s Journey

Photos from Lora Tansengco

Pin It on Pinterest