Q: How long have you been a runner?

Praveen: I have been running for the past 2 and half years. Yeah, not a long time ago and I can’t believe that I am still running. I was new to long distance running with no stamina nor mental strength. The longest I had run was 800 meters and that was when I was 10 years old. So it was no brainer; the key was to take baby steps. The first year it was all run-walk, initially it was more walk minutes and less run and gradually improved with more run minutes and less walk. This helped me build the stamina and prepared the mind for long distance running. 2 years of forcing my legs to work hard, giving lot of pain and running lot of miles, now I can say “I am a runner”.

Q: Why did you start running?

Praveen: I am a great lover of food who like tasting different cuisine and if the food is good will hog it. No control at all. I was a couch potato; binge watching, eating junk, no exercise routine and the list goes on and on. February 2016 is when it all started. My wife and kid were going on vacation to India and my wife asked me to weigh her luggage before going to the airport. I stepped on the weighing machine and could not believe my eyes. It was showing 197 pounds. I checked if something other than me was on the machine. Nope nothing…I weighed again; no changes. That made me think, “how will I lose these extra pounds?” No a typical couch potato I did not do anything about it and left it there.

After a week or so at work one of my colleague asked me if I wanted to run a half marathon and join group of people (colleagues) who were planning to train for it at Busse Woods. I laughed at him. “Me and running, no way; not my cup of tea.” But they kept on pushing me. “Why not? Just give it a try. Train for some days, if you can, then do it, otherwise quit.” That was the push this 197 pounder needed. So I registered for my first half marathon (Chicagoland Spring 1/2 marathon at Busse). Yup it was a couch to 13 mile (LOL). The race was just three months away and the training started. The first few days of the training were just walking on the treadmill to get the feel of it and the long runs we planned to run at Busse. I still remember my first long run. The temperature was around 35 degrees and the plan was to run 4 miles. We started jogging and after 0.2 miles I stopped. I could not run any more. I was huffing and puffing, my heart was pounding harder, and I was ready to quit. As they say the group always helps when you are down. A couple of my friends said they would walk with me and we started walking for 2 miles into Busse and back and my journey to lose those dreaded extra pounds started. This journey which started for weight loss became a passion and I started loving it. Now it has become part of my life.

After eight months of run/walk, three half marathons, one 10K, and a healthy eating habit (thanks to my wife), I lost 35 pounds. Phew that was hard; but as runners say, you got to do what you go to do.

Q: How did you find BWRC and why did you join?

Praveen: Nov 2016 – One of my colleagues at work put this crazy idea of running Chicago Marathon into my head. At that point I was just an amateur run/walker who got into running 8 months ago and both physically and mentally I was not at all ready for a full marathon. Like my first half marathon, my running friends started pushing me to register for the Chicago full. That small push definitely helped me to register with a hope that I would not get selected in the lottery. To my surprise, after a month I got an email which said, “Congratulations! You have received an entry into the 2017 Bank of America Chicago Marathon.” I was ecstatic and at the same time clueless. Ecstatic with the thought of running a full marathon, clueless on how to climb the huge MOUNTAIN in front of me!

Even though I ran with group of friends I ended up running alone as each of them were running at their own pace. The majority of the time I ended up not completing my long runs as I was getting bored. So I needed some formal group training and I joined CARA and started running with the 10:30 group. A few months into my training, I started admiring the runners, their commitment and discipline. Experienced runners with their valuable suggestions and guidance made me dumbfounded. To name a few Jim, Amanda, Emily (our site coordinators), Coach John (Nutrition expert), Peggy (my group leader), and many more. Every long run at Busse made me love running even more. Around August 2017 I saw a “Home Sweet Home” post on Facebook from John Wall with just a map. At that point of time, I had no clue what that map (Busse 7.3 mile loop) was and what was happening. The following weekend after our long run, Jim told me that they were planning to continue running in Busse once CARA summer training was over and I could join the group if I was interested in continuing running with them. It was a no brainer for me; I joined BWRC. Our first race as the BWRC group was in Lake Zurich at the Alpine Races half marathon and I PRd by 15 minutes which I will never forget in my life. And my journey with BWRC started..I can proudly say I was with BWRC from the start.

Q: Why do you run?

Praveen: That’s an interesting question. The same has been asked by many people in last two and half years. Some ask out of curiosity, some think I am crazy, and some are jealous that I run.

My answer is very simple. I run because it’s fun. I run because I get to spend time with my running family. I run because it makes me healthy. I run because I like the pain (LOL). I run because I love to eat and drink. I like to take selfies after runs (LOL).

“3.1, 6.2, 13.1, 26.2 – To some these are just numbers. To me it’s hours of training, dedication, sweat, pain, renewal, sacrifice, perseverance and determination.”

My running mantra is “Enjoy your run, make conversations with fellow runners, divert the mind, listen to the body. You are not here to win the take it easy and have fun.”

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

Praveen: I am running the Chicago Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon on July 22nd and might run another half before October which I have yet to decide. My next big race after that will be the Chicago Marathon in October for which I am currently training. I will not say that I don’t have a goal and I just run for fun. Nope, I do have a goal in my mind to finish my full marathon under 4 hours 40 minutes and half marathon under 2:10 minutes.

Q: What does BWRC mean to you?

Praveen: BWRC = “Family”. BWRC has become an integral part of my life and I am so happy with that.

This group motivates you when you run, cheers you up when you are down, misses you when you’re are not around, helps you when you get injured, guides you at each and every step, and always wishes you the the best. What else does one need in a group? BWRC runners rock!

Life is beautiful and I am one happy runner. All the credit goes to BWRC.