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Fat to Marathon Number 6, San Diego CA

I started out at close to 300 pounds. I wasn't going to be running like that. At 276, I got on the treadmill. A few weeks later I had heart failure.

Not many days after I was in ICU I went to watch the Boston Marathon. It took 55 minutes to walk home just under a mile. Sunday, May 31st, I completed my sixth marathon in San Diego, CA.

I have been on MFP just 4 years now. It's going pretty well. I am not dead yet.

As I ran along the route, which for the most part is really beautiful, I was grateful. A few people clapped, and I said "Thanks for cheering on the old fat guy." Or, "you are just doing that because I am not dead."

It was a lot of fun. Then I got to mile 17 and the wheels fell off. I got leg cramps of the Charlie Horse variety. I thought I had overcome them. I ran 3 marathons without incident. I managed to down 15 Endurolyte capsules, 3 GU gels and 15 packets of salt.

Here are the highlights from my day:

Michelle - He was 78-year-old gentleman from Normandy, France. I noticed his shirt Seven Continent Marathon Finisher! I had to know the story. He was seven during the D-Day invasion of Normandy. He started running at 53, completed over 30 marathons, and here he was running with me. One of those 7 marathons was in Antarctica when it was -35 degrees!

Light Shows - Because it was a Rock 'n Roll marathon, they had a number of live bands and some music stops. The under passes had light shows! Light My Fire, I Love Rock n Roll, Tush, Smoke on the Water and a dozen other tunes blasted from the side of the road.

The Effing Hill - I have run enough marathons to know what it takes to get to the finish line. This one took more than I had. At mile 21 there was a huge hill. It was more of a small mountain. We ran up the freeway back towards downtown. I saw one guy try to run it, and he failed. Everyone else walked. It took 16 minutes for that mile.

The San Diego Cop - He was at the top of the aformentioned hill. I told him he could shoot me and I wouldn't tell anyone.

Vera - To fight off the leg cramps, I took salt at every stop they had it. In mile 23 there were no more salt stops left. I had drunk 5 bottles of water and 2 bottles of Gatorade. The cramps persisted. Vera was an on foot race medic and gave me enough salt to finish the race. Amazing!

Michigan Man - I passed him 20 times on the course. I kept telling him that if an old fat guy beat him, he would never live it down. He passed me 30 feet before the finish line.

Harriett Thompson - The oldest woman to ever finish a marathon. I passed her. She's 92.

My Kids - My older kids live in San Diego. They came out to meet me at mile 19. I was so cramped up I could hardly walk, forget running. I got salt, a banana and some Gatorade. They walked about a half mile with me. I cried. I have run a lot of races alone, ones with no one at the finish line. This time they were there. I cried some more.

97 votes + -


celticlass69 wrote 85 months ago:
So many inspiring events! I'd never have imagined it. How hard you worked to get there and to finish. You are such an inspiration! I wonder have you ever thought of collecting these little anecdotes? I can just see you chatting up people as your running. I don't know how you do it! Stay strong and run on! :)
johnwhitent wrote 85 months ago:
Interesting and fun group of characters you met there, a real perk of group events.
daperfectmix wrote 85 months ago:
Your blog is so inspiring!
Anonymous wrote 85 months ago:
To weight loss Pile on the veggies to the foods you love to eat, like add more veggies to your pizza and less of the meat and cheese. You are still eating what you love but with less calories.
Time2LoseWeightNOW wrote 85 months ago:
I love the perspective on this blog, makes me feel like I could have been there with you. This may be my favorite of yours , David!
deeannhill wrote 85 months ago:
And I cried when I read about your kids being there. Way to go John! Such a great memory, plus God's let you be here to have it. #cancersucks #runningrocks
darrensurrey wrote 85 months ago:
6 marathons? Amazing!
jhoyett wrote 85 months ago:
Good stuff! I'm (still) working on a 30 minute 5K. This is the stuff that makes me feel like that's SILLY! I should be dreaming bigger dreams!
ccburn5 wrote 85 months ago:
Awesome work!!! Love reading about success stories!
GrannyCrayCray wrote 85 months ago:
Yep. I'll join @deeannhill on this one, I cried when I got to the part about your kids being there. Call me a sucker, but if your kids support you in ANYTHING you do then it is a testament to YOU as a parent. Hope this is me one day :)
Barbelizah wrote 85 months ago:
Your words at the end about your kids, made me cry a little. I just recently started running again, trying to stay active and beat obesity in the bum! And on my first race this year there was no one the finish line. No one there to walk back to the car with. To cheer for me, and I was so sad. It's always exciting to have someone there to support you.
janet0513 wrote 85 months ago:
You are so inspirational. Aside from the cramps, that sounds like a great experience.
annabellj wrote 85 months ago:
i cant tell u how proud I am to be your friend! you have been through a lot the past couple years and your still plugging away! keep at it!
lupiecat wrote 85 months ago:
I had to laugh at your comment about telling the cop to shoot you! I told someone that in a bootcamp 2 hour workout the same thing! But it's amazing how our will to persevere overcomes our weak flesh! Love your stories!
karrie830 wrote 85 months ago:
I was just reading the April Fitness and gadgets blog.
Its no marathon and its not marathon related, but I have a question for you. I'am headed to the Grand Canyon this summer with a planned hike to the River and back. What would you recommend for the hike. I want to use a runtastic or a hiking app that I have on my android, but I know that the Grand Canyon has very little to no cell reception so I'am afraid a phone app may not work.

I used to have a runtastic wristband that works the same as the fitbit, I miss placed it and my dogs who love to chew on anything they can get a hold of found it before I could. I don't want another wristband and I alway lose pedometer.

Any suggestions.

Grand Canyon trip is scheduled for mid-August so I have a little time to figure something out. Please help.
andienectarinewharhol wrote 85 months ago:
Ok I think i love you. Or maybe just inspired by you. Awesome! You left me thinking that maybe just maybe i could do this too
dsjohndrow wrote 85 months ago:
There are lots of GPS apps, and quite a few step counters like Fitbit. I use the Fitbit One and it clips on the pocket. You can adjust your stride to make it more accurate. That way, phone or no phone, it will keep track.
karrie830 wrote 85 months ago:
Thanks for the advice I think I will set my phone to airplane mode and test a hiking app I also have a pedometer app I think one of these will work.
Fabu_lass wrote 85 months ago:
This is a really inspiring story, keep doing what you do. Thank you
jopapgh wrote 85 months ago:
Congratulations! I felt I was there with you.

I did not have the same weight to lose, but I was sedentary for a long time. I started to track my food and discovered running. I convinced myself that I could never run a marathon, then did, on my 51st birthday, followed by 5 more.

I got into London this past April, that I planned to use as a Boston Qualifier (need to cut 6 minutes), but had to defer until 2016 due to a fall on ice during training. My next is Baltimore in October.

I did once get passed in a marathon by a guy in a full Batman costume, including utility belt...
alantaylor1985 wrote 85 months ago:
Well done, such an inspiration.I am currently battling the couch to 5k app with aspirations of running a 10K in the future. I hope one day to be able to run a marathon, the feeling of accomplishment must be amazing.
littlelaura wrote 85 months ago:
This is why I love you as my friend. Pure inspiration.
Leahbcc wrote 85 months ago:
As always a true inspiration
Brig72mcs68 wrote 85 months ago:
wow good emotion. so sorry for helth problem before marathon. :)

June 6 2015 8h48 pm
csk0018 wrote 84 months ago:
What an amazing story! Congratulations on all of your accomplishments!!

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