From the Heart: Kevin De Angelis

‘The most important key to achieving great success is to decide upon your goal and launch, get started, take action, and move.’ ~John Wooden

I love the immediate connection with other runners and it just might be one of my favorite things about running. I feel like I have an instant friend when I spot a ‘26.2’ bumper sticker or when I’m standing in line with someone sporting a race shirt. For a sport that primarily focuses on individual results, it’s actually surprisingly social. With my schedule, I don’t get to take advantage of a lot of group runs, but I got lucky on a Thursday night and was able to drop in for the Portland Running Company Thursday Night Group Run. The run was fun, but even better than that was meeting Kevin, our leader. I loved hearing the events he’s done and ones he’s got on the calendar, but what inspired me was that this man has lost 45 pounds the old fashioned way. Kevin was nice enough to share his journey:

Fear can be a powerful motivator. In my case, it came in 2012 in the form of one compound word: “pre-diabetic”. I’ve been an on-and-off again runner for decades. My first race was the 1979 Super Bowl Sunday 10K in Redondo Beach, California, when I was 20 years old. Tendonitis in my right knee caused me to stop running in the early 1980s and I began to gain weight gradually. By 1992, I’d packed on 20 pounds and decided it was time to start exercising again. Mindful of the tendonitis, I joined a gym, bought the nicest bicycle I could afford and began cycling in earnest. Cycling,weightlifting and aerobics (yup, aerobics – I was usually the only guy in a class of 20 very fit women which provided motivation of its own) made the weight melt off.

I stopped cycling in 2001 after an angry driver tried to run me off a mountain road. My weight slowly crept up so I decided to try running again. I ran three 10K races between 2004 and 2005 and finished my first half marathon in 2005. Unfortunately, I re-injured my right knee a few weeks after the half and once again stopped exercising.

By 2012 I was 50 pounds overweight and feeling lethargic. My wife Tammy pushed me to get a check up and when I did, I discovered that my blood pressure was dangerously high and that I was pre-diabetic.The doctor said that if I didn’t want to develop Type 2 diabetes and risk losing limbs or my vision, I’d better lose at least 30 pounds. That scared the hell out of me and motivated me to begin my journey back to health. It wasn’t easy and I couldn’t have done it without Tammy’s love and support.

The first two weeks were pure hell because I was hungry all the time. Instead of an 800-calorie, fat-laden breakfast I began my day with one serving of cereal and a cup of yogurt. Instead of three huge helpings for dinner, I ate one normal portion. I drank lots of water and started walking two miles everyday. The weight started coming off and the hunger subsided. My clothes became loose and people started to notice.

After walking regularly for about a month, I decided to see how far I could run. It was pitiful – I was winded after just a quarter of a mile. Disappointed with myself, I set a goal to run a 10k race later that year. I registered for Pints to Pasta and by race day in September, I was down 30 pounds and finished easily. Since then, I’ve lost 15 more pounds and have run two 5k races, five or six more 10s, an 8k, a15k, 12 half marathons and four full marathons, including Rome in 2014. It’s a constant battle to maintain a healthy lifestyle and stay motivated, but so far I’m sticking with the program. Wish me luck!
Come wish Kevin luck in person on Thursday nights at the Beaverton PRC Group Run on Scholls Ferry Road. Runs go so much faster when you have people to keep you company and, if that isn’t motivation enough, Portland Running Company has a little added incentive. For every group run you check in for, you earn a $1 credit towards a purchase. In the fall, the numbers will be tallied and participants can have a mini shopping spree. The run starts at 6PM and they hit the pavement rain or shine, so dress accordingly.

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