Outside the Office
Running Towards Good Healthby George Raley
I was born in 1947, the second of six boys in rural Southern Maryland. My family took meals together, ate the same food, Mom packed the same school lunches, and yet I was the only one of a family of eight who had a weight problem. I blamed it on genetics, and despite yo-yo dieting for most of my life, I accepted that I would always be overweight. I am six feet tall and weighed 280 pounds at my heaviest. I wore a size 50 jacket, 44 pants, and shorts and T's were XXL. In my early 40's I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and went on medication. My exercise consisted of light jogging three days a week.
Before: One year before starting diet and exercise
My wife and I moved to Rising Sun over a decade ago and eventually Dr. Weidner became our family physician.
Once a year I would schedule a check-up. Dr. Weidner would renew my blood pressure medication, order lab
work, and end with a gentle but firm reminder about losing weight. My oldest son got married eight years
ago and I went on another of my crash diets. I lost forty pounds for the wedding, but then I quickly began
to regain the weight and soon was back to about 275 lbs. Dr. Weidner suggested a diet that had a lot
in common with Atkins and South Beach, both which are based on lowering carbohydrate intake.
Six years ago I decided on what I call Atkins modified. I deliberately started before Easter so I avoided the whole candy orgy associated with that holiday as I basically ceased to eat any food with sugar. I started on what Atkins calls the induction diet. I tried to eliminate caffeinated coffee but at the time I commuted 100 miles per day, leaving home at 5:30 AM and returning around 6:00 PM. I lasted a week and decided the regular coffee would be one of my 'modifications.' I carefully tracked carbs during the diet. Because I have a compulsive streak, I followed my diet routine every day. For me it was easier than "giving myself a break" as it was easier than "falling off the wagon" then trying to get back on. I have totally eliminated some foods that are a weakness for me like most things considered snack foods. Popcorn done the old fashioned way was my one permitted snack.
The weight dropped off rapidly. Folks began to notice. After assuring them that I wasnt the victim of a terminal illness, they usually wanted to know details. I initially found myself preaching then realized that was a mistake. If anyone asks, I believe the low carb diet works along with exercise. When folks say they can't run, I suggest walking.
I increased my jogging and my speed and distance began to pick up. A neighbor remarked that I was now running instead of walking. I never told him I thought I was running before. Running became something I looked forward to as opposed to a chore. I set an initial weight goal of 200. I reached this in about three months. I then lowered my goal to what I weighed when I graduated high school: 185. I achieved this by September. At my next visit to Dr. Weidner, he suggested that I try discontinuing my blood pressure medication. At first I cut my prescription in half and I totally stopped the medication the following year.
I continued to increase my running. Eventually I was running every day and in 2007 a relative convinced me to run a 6.9 mile leg of the Baltimore Marathon as part of a team relay. I had never run competitive races or this distance before and was pleased with a 10 minute mile.
Today I weigh 175, wear a size 40 Jacket, size 36 pants, and have eliminated the XX in front of the L on shorts and T's, often wearing "M's." The race in 2007 convinced me I could continue to improve distance and time. I ran the 2008 Baltimore half marathon (13.1 miles) in just over 2 hours. I ran the Rodney Caesar half marathon in Wilmington the day before my 62nd birthday and just missed breaking the 2 hour mark. I ran a half marathon in Frederick in May 2009 and finished at 1:56. These times typically put me in the top 25% of all finishers and are most respectable for my sex and age group. I recently ran a 5K (3.1 mile) in Perryville and finished 1st in the over 60 bracket. In addition, I finished before all the 50 year olds and passed the third place 40's finisher. I ran just under an 8 minute mile.
In my 50's, I couldn't walk up a flight of stairs without breathing heavily. Physically, I feel the combination of diet and exercises have reversed aging for me. I take no medicine except a prescribed inhaler for allergies and a self prescribed baby aspirin and multi-vitamin. I run 6 miles every morning, regardless of the weather, except when rare circumstances interfere. Running works for me as I can take my gear wherever I go. Recent research shows that after about 30 minutes the brain begins to produce endorphins that cause what has long been called "runners high." I get this feeling almost every morning. It's a nice bonus as I tell friends that at that point I know I feel as good as anyone in the world.
Mr. Raley turned 64 in March, 2011 and set new personal records for himself in the half marathon and 5K. On May 7, 2011, he ran the Frederick Running Festival Half Marathon in one hour, forty minutes and twenty-one seconds (1:40:21). On June 5, 2011 in the Bel Air Town Run he ran the 5K 22:13 minutes. Well done Mr. Raley!
Mr. Raley continues to excel, most recently running the Boston Marathon in 4 hours, 24 minutes, and 19 seconds! Read more at CecilDaily.com
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