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CARA Member Spotlight - Meet TyKeith Nelson!

Updated: Dec 22, 2020

At CARA, it is our members who make our running community truly special. Get to know CARA member TyKeith Nelson! TyKeith started running in 2016, and has been chasing his marathon goals with the support of the CARA Summer Marathon Training program ever since. A skilled photographer, you can likely find him out running with a camera in hand. Get to know more about TyKeith below!


Tell us about your running journey! How did you start running?

In 2004, I weighed over 250lbs. During that time I lost over 80lbs. Fast forward to 2016, I started running. The reason I became a runner was because I was bored with my regular gym routine. I was thinking “what more I can do,” so I decided to run a marathon.

What is your personal connection to CARA?

I was introduced to CARA through a charity I ran for. I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into. At that moment I realized that CARA was more than a running group. CARA became my doctor, my lawyer, my mother, my therapist, and most importantly my family. I was shocked when I was asked to become a group leader after the first year. I was happy to know CARA saw me for who I am and made me feel like I was valued. I don’t see myself running with any organization other than CARA. I’ve learned so much from this group and I wouldn’t change that for anything.

What does running mean to you?

Running is life. It’s like the air I breathe. It’s my freedom. Running isn’t judgemental. It doesn’t see color. It’s my Superpower.

Describe your most memorable running experience.

At mile 23 of my first marathon in 2017, I met a guy who I’ll never forget. He saw me struggling. He said, “I’m not going to leave you. We’re to finish this race together.” I walked, he walked. I ran, he ran. We finished that race one step at a time. He was my guardian angel. I wish I knew his name. Eight marathons later, I thank him.

What is your favorite running book or movie? How has this book/movie inspired, motivated, or educated you as a runner?

My favorite book is Who Moved My Cheese, which has absolutely nothing to do with running but has everything to do with running. The book has four characters who live in a maze. Two little people, named Hem and Haw, and two mice, named Sniff and Scurry. As they travel the maze looking for cheese, it becomes clear that their journey isn't just to find food – it's a quest to better understand life, who you are, and most importantly what you are capable of.

Do you have any pre/post-race superstitions or traditions? Where did these come from?

During training, I sort of run with a camera. I post videos and pictures every week after our long runs. It’s my way of giving back. After every marathon, I go for a nice slice of pizza no matter what country I run in. Of course, there’s nothing better than Chicago-style pizza.

What advice would you offer to a new runner or someone who wants to start running?

You are here for a reason. It’s not in you to give up. It’s not an option.

Do you have a running mantra or quote that inspires you?

I don’t have a mantra, but I have a song I listen to. It's a song by Pat Metheny called “The Way Up.” I always play it during my last 6 miles. It makes what appears to be impossible, possible.

If you could go for a run with a famous runner, who would it be and why?

I don't have a famous runner but I’d like to run with Gordon Parks, Romare Bearden, and Andy Warhol if they were somehow famous runners. I'd like to know what they were thinking while creating greatness. Like running, art and imagery inspire me to become better than I was the day before.

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The Chicago Area Runners Association, CARA, is a non-profit organization committed to serving and advocating for the local running community. We are Chicagoland’s running club, providing accessible opportunities for all runners to train, race, learn, be social and volunteer. 

CARA, with over 10,000 members, is the nation’s third-largest running club, serving as the voice of local runners, as well as providing over 1,300 dates of programming and events per year.

 

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