Carlos Orosco weighed 650 pounds in 2016 before getting bariatric surgery and beginning to become an avid runner. Picture: Family photo

Washington - Carlos Orosco just discovered that he'd lost some weight, taking him down to 167 pounds (75 kg) , which was to be expected. Sure, he began Sunday weighing 175 pounds (over 79kg). 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 (215 kg) - 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 (42km ) challenge, though not without some issues related to his postoperative 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 (294kg) 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 (45 kg) before having a laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy in December 2016. Orosco went "cold turkey" by eliminating fast foods, fried foods, alcohol 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 (I58 kg). Then, in September 2017, he ran his first 5K race, to honor 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."

In October 2018, Orosco ran his first half-marathon, and he completed his fifth two weeks.

"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 6 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 (28 km), 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. The surgery Orosco went through left him with another issue: he wasn't always able to keep down the cups of water offered to him along the route.

"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.

"We call him our Saginaw sensation," a co-owner of the gym, Rwaida Bates, said of Orosco. "He has inspired others to reach out that were scared of coming into a fitness facility."

"He is so inspirational and such a wonderful person - everyone needs a Carlos in their lives," she added.

Calling the scene at the finishing area "some of the most heartwarming, inspirational moments of my life," Rwaida described Orosco as "a very humble person" who "has come out of his shell so much more since he's been out and doing runs."

"He was quiet and more reserved at first, but . . . began to open up more and has since blossomed," she said of the soft-spoken 42-year-old.

"I just try to take it in stride, and if people see me as an inspiration, I appreciate it," Orosco said. "I find it very humbling, and take it as an incredible compliment. If there's things I can do/say that help people get to a healthier lifestyle, then I'm going to do whatever I can."

The Washington Post