Member Spotlight: Priya Seshan

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Where do you live?
I’m originally from Cleveland, Ohio, but have resided in NYC (Williamsburg, Brooklyn) since 1997.

What event are you running with Team for Kids?
The Bank of America Chicago Marathon, my 13th marathon and 4th Chicago Marathon. It’s my first time running for TFK.

What excites you most about running your event with Team for Kids?
Having been a Young Runners Coach at Henry Street School for International Studies from 2004-2007, I saw firsthand the positives that resulted from young people being involved in a running program. Many of the young people I had on our team had never been on a team before, and they learned how to not only work with one another, but set goals, pursue them, and accomplish them. They also learned how to persevere when things got tough, and I saw their self concept change positively over the course of being on the team. In the end, it was a very close knit group. The things they learned while running translated to the big picture of life, and they carried those lessons with them, even years later. I want other students to have the same opportunity. As a public school employee, I’ve seen first-hand how having a positive and physical outlet for youth is so important, especially in Title 1 schools and schools with little extra resources.

Where is your favorite place to run and why?
My usual run is from the Williamsburg Bridge to over the Pulaski Bridge and back. There’s something so nice about being able to see the city from those bridges. For a long run, I really like to run over the Williamsburg Bridge, then across the Brooklyn Bridge, then run to the Manhattan Bridge and go over and back; I then run along the Brooklyn Navy Yard back to Williamsburg. It’s about 10 miles.

What is your favorite post-run meal?
Veggie burritos, chocolate milk, ice cream. The best part of a long run is being able to eat whatever suits me that day.

When did your relationship with running begin and why?
I started running at age 12, when I was in 7th grade. I ran the 800 and came in second to last in a track meet and swore that I would never run again. Then at the start of 9th grade, when I was 14, I tried out for every sport and activity imaginable and got cut. I joined the school cross country team with a friend as a last resort because they didn’t cut. My friend ended up quitting after a few weeks, but I was hooked. I ended up being good at it and went to the Ohio high school state cross country meet a few times. I ran a semester in college competitively for a D1 school, but then I took a break from running until I was 29 years old. I’ve been running since then, just for fun. I’ve focused mostly on marathons and half marathons, although I did run a 50 mile race (JFK 50 mile) when I turned 40 years old.  I’m proud to say that I am a masters age group runner and still running after all these years.

Do you have any pre-race rituals or superstitions, if so, please explain?
I had so many superstitions as a kid when I was competitive, so now I keep it simple. For marathons, I just wear a sign that has my name stitched on it in shiny silver sequins. It’s a bit self indulgent, but I wore it for my first marathon, so I wear it in each one. I figure marathon day is the day that one can go all out and wear something out of the ordinary!

Why did you choose to run this event?
In the fall of 2015, I received an email from a former student I coached on a Young Runners team. He was graduating with his AA degree and was now n his twenties. He wrote to tell me that the lessons I had taught him on the running team when he was in sixth grade had stuck with him throughout his high school and college years, and he had utilized them in pursuing his goals. He said that he remembered an experience at a practice, when he and several team members could not run 200 meters without stopping and wanted to quit.   I had talked to them about mental toughness: to not give up and tell yourself that you can’t do it;  if you continue and persevere, you will accomplish what you set out to do. He said that he had adopted that thinking for all he does in life. When I read that, I felt so happy and felt so gratified. I knew I had to run for TFK to make sure that other young people were exposed to running programs and could have the same experience of being on a team and growing as young people. Also, it was a way to do something to honor the kids that I had coached.

Tell us a little more about yourself
I’m a school social worker for Pathways to Graduation, a public high school equivalency program for young people ages 17 to 21. Most of the young people I work with have been formerly incarcerated and/or court involved. I also work on a very part time basis for YCS at NYRR, and  am a run pacer for New York City’s Nike+ NRC.  I’ve run one 50 miler (JFK 50 Mile) and survived, and really enjoy the camaraderie of marathons and NYRR races. My PR for the half is 1:48:27 and for the marathon it is 3:59:26. I’m coming back from being injured, but despite that I hope to smash my marathon PR in Chicago this year!

Connect with Priya via the links below:

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