Running ahead

Parra says marathons foster discipline in life, career
October 9th, 2023

Dr. Carlos Parra running in the 2023 Boston Marathon

Athletics have always been a big part of Dr. Carlos Parra’s life. Parra, director of postdoctoral periodontics at Texas A&M School of Dentistry, played in recreational soccer leagues before the pandemic, but when they were temporarily shut down in 2020, he discovered a new sport – running.

“There were no leagues or anything; they were closed, so I started running,” Parra said. “After a while I thought, ‘Why don’t I try to qualify for Boston?’”

Founded in 1897, the world-famous Boston Marathon attracts tens of thousands of participants each year. Parra previously lived in Boston and was in the city at the time of the marathon bombing in 2013. He first qualified to run the race in 2022 and ran it again in 2023. He is also confirmed for the 2024 marathon.

“I placed at last April’s 127th Boston Marathon,” he said. “I finished 670 out of 30,131 with a time of 2 hours, 40 minutes and 34 seconds.”

In addition to the Boston Marathon, Parra has also run the TCS New York City Marathon and recently competed in a 100K ultramarathon.

“It was actually 106 kilometers [about 66 miles], on the trails in Virginia,” he said. “It was one day. I ran 14 hours and 43 minutes.”

Parra said he loves the challenge of marathons and ultramarathons. Aside from the endurance needed to run such a distance, he said he enjoys the challenge of preparing for long races. He runs every day with an average daily mileage of 9.4 miles this year, and he has to plan his diet according to what will best fuel his body for training. He loves the planning and strategy, adding that the benefits of running have even helped his career as a dentist.

Dr. Parra participating in a 66 mile, or 106 kilometer, run in Virginia

“It helps me disconnect and break up stress,” he said. “It also helps me keep a schedule and stay organized. I think if more people were into running, it would help them in their everyday lives.

“I’m also setting a little bit of an example,” he said. “One of my residents is training for the Dallas Marathon in December. He’s always asking me for advice. My dad and other friends outside of work are starting to run, too.”

Parra said he has no plans to slow down any time soon. His future goals include continuing to train and run every day and to participate in more ultramarathons. He also has a long-term goal to run in each of the World Marathon Majors, which includes the Boston Marathon, TCS New York City Marathon, Bank of America Chicago Marathon, TCS London Marathon, Tokyo Marathon and BMW Berlin Marathon. Two down, four to go.

“If you can run a marathon, you can do anything,” Parra said. “If you have the discipline for a marathon, you can work long hours, you can stay late, you can review papers. People see what you’re doing, and maybe that can help them be inspired.”

— Caleb Vierkant