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My Story
by Ven Kalyanaraman Sharma

Way back in February of last year, I started running. I had never run longer than half a mile prior to that. Then I weighed 190 pounds. The world saw me as a clinically obese short ( I am 5 feet 5 inches tall) person. I had joked describing my appearance as "under-tall" rather than over weight. If you really think about it, if I had been taller by maybe one foot, then the world would have seen nothing abnormal with my appearance.

I trained for my first running event, the St. Patrick's Day 10K, held here in Washington D.C. I completed it in one full hour and six minutes. I didn't stop. I picked up a book titled the Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer and followed a 16-week training program that the author of the book prescribed. I successfully ran my first marathon in a small park called Wards Island, located in Manhattan, New York. It took me 4:52 to complete the marathon. While this was a miraculous milestone, I didn't stop. I motivated myself to run the Marine Corps Marathon organized by the U.S. Marines here in Washington D.C in October. In the process I also wanted to reach my dream target weight (which I thought was never possible) of 130 pounds while training for the same. Based upon an online ideal weight calculator and given my height of 5 feet, 5 inches, I set my goal to be 130 pounds. I trained for and successfully completed October 28th's Marine Corps Marathon that was held ( in spite of the tumultuous press in the wake of September 11th incidents) in 4:17. Just a few weeks prior to this, and before my 35th birthday (which was September 1st, 2001), I reached my goal weight of 128 pounds, hence exceeding my dream target.

I still didn't stop. I ran another 26.2-mile event - Maryland's Marathon in the Parks, finishing it in 4:18 minutes. I'm now training to run the George Washington Birthday marathon slated for February 17th here in Washington D.C and organized by the D.C road runners http://www.dcroadrunners.org/.

My goal is to better my PR( personal record) by 20 to 30 minutes. Eventually I want to run the Boston marathon in 2003. To qualify for that race, I need to run a prior marathon in 3:15.

I visit your site almost daily. Yes I'd like to find out every now and then whether I am training correctly. February 20th, 2002 will mark the end of my first full year of running. There have been many benefits that I enjoyed during this period. How about if I told you that I went from a size 39" waist pants to a size 29" waist pants in less than six months? How about if I told you I lost 60 pounds in about the same time? And I have God-willing, successfully managed to stay this way ever since. How about if I told you that my overall attitude towards life, work, family, the Washington Wizards team, etc. have all been positive right through?.

I want to share my experience with as many people as I can. It's very simple. If a clinically obese, under- tall person like me can accomplish the things that I've done, so can the untold number of sports fans who will never shoot some hoops with Michael Jordan or throw a pass to Eddie George. By running in marathons, 10-milers, or whatever be the distance, a sports fan like me can actually "compete" with the likes of elite athletes such as former Olympic competitor and Boston Marathon champion Bill Rodgers. I know of one sports aficionado who just loves Michael Jordan. And who would want to be like Mike? And that's yours truly. Jordan is my hero. When Jordan nets 50 plus points, I am delighted. How do I react to it you ask? I hit the track and run 20 laps in 35 minutes, a pace that is pretty brisk pace for a majority of runners. Not for the president of the U.S, mind you!

I want others to enjoy similar benefits that I've experienced. I want others to think that they can accomplish what I have done.

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