Happy Monday, BWRC! This week’s Member Spotlight Monday is Joey Jao. Joey talks about the role running played for him in choosing to live a healthier life and how BWRC helped him in training for his first marathon last fall. Continue reading below for his answers to our questions!

Q: How long have you been a runner?

Joey: I have been running for 9 years.

Q: Why did you start running?

Joey: All of my friends and family around my age were having children. I absolutely loved having them around, but I was at my heaviest in 2008, and it was sometimes difficult for me to keep up with them. My dad passed away when I was in high school so I always just assumed that I would have the same fate as him. As I saw these kids growing up, it dawned on me that I could make changes and live a longer, healthier life.  I started exercising and eating better, and lost 50lbs in a year. After that year I felt like I needed to find the next thing.  That next thing was running.

Q: How did you find BWRC?

Joey: Last year, I signed up for the 2017 Chicago Marathon, and I needed somewhere to train. I saw that there was a running group in Schaumburg which is close to where I live so I started showing up and fell in love with the group.

Q: Why did you join BWRC?

Joey: I originally joined BWRC because I needed someone to keep me accountable with my training. I keep coming back because the group is so welcoming to everyone, regardless of experience or pace, and I want to be a part of that.

Q: Why do you run?

Joey: Running gives me a break from the world and time to be completely in the moment and sometimes lost in my thoughts. Between work, school, marriage, and caring for a child with special needs, it is easy to just skip taking care of yourself.  There will always be things that need to be taken care of, but running gives me a quick escape to take care of myself, not only physically but mentally as well.

Q: Do you have any upcoming races or goals we should know about?

Joey: I don’t have any races lined up this year. My goals are to have sub-30min 5K and a sub 5hr marathon.

Q: What does BWRC mean to you?

Joey: Even though I have only been running with BWRC for less than a year, it represents good friendship. You know how you have those friends who you might not see for years, and then you finally see them, and nothing has changed between you? You reminisce about the time you were chased by skunks or that time you broke out in a full out dance party in the middle of the forest preserve (both of those happened to me last year with BWRC). You pick up exactly where you left off. No eye rolls or judgement, just pure happiness and excitement to see each other. That’s how I feel whenever I meet up for a run with BWRC.