THE WASHINGTON POST – Carlos Orosco discovered on Monday morning he’d lost some weight, taking him down to 167 pounds, which was to be expected. Sure, he began on Sunday weighing 175 pounds. But that was before he had completed his first marathon.
None of that probably would have been expected just three years ago. That’s because Orosco proceeded to lose an enormous amount of weight – 475 pounds – en route to that moment of triumph.
Now, after having gastric sleeve surgery and making a major commitment to fitness, the 42-year-old Michigan resident has conquered a 26.2-mile challenge, though not without some issues related to his post-operative condition. He is looking forward to continuing his journey by running even greater distances.
“I lost a lot of time being heavy,” Orosco told The Washington Post in a phone interview. “A lot of opportunities went by when I was heavy, because it didn’t allow me to do the things that I wanted to do.
“Now that I can do things, it’s no longer a question of do I want to, but, ‘Yes, let’s do it, let’s go for it’.”
A native of Saginaw County, Michigan, Orosco weighed 650 pounds in 2016 and had become beset with related health problems. He dealt with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, ulcers in his legs, blood infections and “extreme gout”.
Two events compelled him to make a radical change. One was a physician’s warning that his “life expectancy was really uncertain,” as Orosco put it. The other was his sister’s pregnancy.
“I knew I was going to be an uncle, and really needed to be around for a long time,” Orosco said, calling that “one of the most motivating factors in this whole process.”
The first step was to lose approximately 100 pounds before having a laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy in December 2016. Orosco went “cold turkey” by eliminating fast foods, fried foods and carbonated beverages. “Everything I was doing,” he said, “I cut out.”
Following the surgery, Orosco continued his regimen of walking and eating healthy foods, and he steadily lost weight until he “plateaued,” as he said on the Today show earlier this year, at approximately 350 pounds. Then, in September 2017, he ran his first 5K race, to honour a close family friend who had died. And Orosco “fell in love” with what he experienced. “It was the first time I had been around that kind of atmosphere – the post-race, prerace, just how supportive all of the participants and everybody out there watching were,” he told The Post. “It was a great thing to be a part of, and that’s really what got me hooked on it.”
5K races turned into 10Ks, and then 10-milers. In October 2018, Orosco ran his first half-marathon, and he completed his fifth two weeks ago as a tune up for the full 26.2 miles at the Detroit Free Press/TCF Bank Marathon on Sunday.
“It was the most difficult – mentally, physically, emotionally – thing that I have ever done in my life,” Orosco said of the Detroit marathon, which he completed in an official time of six hours, 31 minutes and 14 seconds.
Katelyn Trepkowski, an experienced runner and friend, helped Orosco make it to the finish line, an act he described as “incredibly selfless”. The longest Orosco had run in training was 18 miles, and he was worried about how he might fare once he pushed past that distance.
Sure enough, “the 18-through-22 monster jumped up and got me,” Orosco said, recalling how he began to experience symptoms of dehydration, including blurry vision and feeling lightheaded.
“We went all-out for the finish, and crossed the line, and it was an overwhelming experience,” he said.
Orosco and Trepkowski shared an embrace at the finish line, but he soon discovered there were others also lining up to give him a hug. Several members and staffers from his gym in Saginaw, Michigan, had made the trip to Detroit to cheer him on.
“He is so inspirational and such a wonderful person – everyone needs a Carlos in their lives,” Co-owner of the gym Rwaida Bates said.