Had Joseph Coleman and Dale Spoonemore stepped on the scales together a couple years ago, the men would've tipped them at more than 700 pounds.
Coleman weighed 430 pounds, Spoonemore 330 pounds.
They're no longer the men they used to be.
Coleman has lost 200 pounds, Spoonemore 120 pounds. They got moving. They got healthy. They got fit.
And on Sunday, they got their marathon on.
On a rainy, blustery morning, they finished the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. They were among the thousands who defeated the elements and conquered the 26.2-mile course.
“It was brutal,” Spoonemore said.
But oh, so gratifying.
For anyone who saw the runners on the rain-drenched streets of Oklahoma City on Sunday and thought, “I'd like to do that, but I'm too old” or slow or whatever the reason may be, you need to hear the story of Joseph Coleman and Dale Spoonemore.
Coleman had ballooned to more than 400 pounds in March 2009 when a friend who was only slightly older and heavier than him had a heart attack and died.
A light bulb went on.
“I'm killing myself,” Coleman realized.
He sat down with his wife, Sara, and they decided to make some changes. They joined a gym. They gave up soda.
Coleman lost 80 pounds in only a couple months.
That was about the time that Spoonemore heard news of Coleman's weight loss. The two had been co-workers at an Oklahoma City software company before Coleman changed jobs, and Spoonemore couldn't believe that the guy he'd known had undergone such a transformation.
“If he can do it,” Spoonemore thought, “I can do it.”
Like Coleman, Spoonemore got active and cut out soda, but the latter was a hard habit to break. He had long downed four liters of Dr Pepper a day.
“Three thousand calories a day, I used to drink,” he said. “That doesn't even count my food.”
Coleman looked at his buddy.
“We were probably eating like 10,000 calories a day,” he said to Spoonemore.
“I don't see how we didn't,” Spoonemore said.
Spoonemore made sure he burned 2,000 more calories than he ate every day. If that meant he needed to do jumping jacks in the middle of his living room before going to bed, he would.
The more weight he lost, the more empowered he felt.
“Once I broke the Dr Pepper habit,” he said, “that was my I-can-do-anything moment.”
Walking turned into running. After doing the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in late 2009, Spoonemore decided he wanted to run the half marathon during the Memorial Marathon the next spring.
He wanted Coleman to run it with him.
Coleman had been working out at a gym, lifting weights and doing the elliptical. Running was not his thing.
“I wasn't able to run even three miles without stopping,” Coleman said. “When we first started, I couldn't even run a mile or two without feeling like I was gonna die.
“The first time I ran five miles without stopping, I was like, ‘Yes!'”
There have been other milestones for the two friends along the way. Running the 9.8-mile loop around Lake Hefner. Finishing the half marathon a year ago. Doing 20-mile training runs this year.
Before their final training run with the Oklahoma City Landrunners a week ago, a representative from the running club made a couple announcements.
“It's just a short, quick eight-mile run,” he said in conclusion.
That makes Coleman and Spoonemore laugh. A short, quick eight-mile run?
Sunday, they added a new milestone — 26.2 miles. Spoonemore finished the marathon in 5:31:12, Coleman in 5:40:42.
“We don't look like the typical marathon runners, that's for sure,” Spoonemore said.
Coleman piped up, “We look pretty goofy running. We look like major dorks out there, I think.”
The men chuckled.
“Now, I don't really care how I look or what people think about how I look,” Coleman said. “I'm going.
“I'm off the couch.”
IN THEIR WORDS
Were you inspired by the runners during the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon? Are you looking some encouragement to follow in their footsteps? Oklahoma City-area residents Joseph Coleman and Dale Spoonemore have gone from self-proclaimed couch potatoes to marathoners.
I stopped soda right off the bat. I have not had a Coke, except for when I was tricked one time at the State Fair. I thought it was tea, and I don't even drink tea, but we were walking around, and my wife had one of those little jugs. I was like, “Just let me get a little drink,” and it was root beer. I was like, “No, what did you do to me?” But that's not on the books. That's not official.
I just totally stopped it. I haven't looked back.
My philosophy is you should not drink your calories. You should eat them. I think a lot of people in their weight-loss journey instead of focusing on the things that your body needs to function, they put it in with all this other stuff you really don't need.
It was just like a total 180. It's hard to not overindulge yourself in food, especially when you've been used to that your whole life. Every day is sort of a challenge.
I keep a picture on my refrigerator, so every time I go into the fridge, I see how fat I was.
I started walking. Me and my wife would walk three miles every night. Then, I got bored. Then, I started trying to run. Once I did it, I kind of got addicted. I was like, “If I can do a 5K, maybe I can do a marathon.”
I get obsessed with things. It used to be food.
It's all mental. I've learned that with running.
A lot of people think it's so daunting. I used to, too. When I was 300 pounds, I was like, “Man, I wish I could lose weight, but it's so hard, and I've got to take pills.”
You just burn more than you eat every day. I wore a body bug. They have them on “The Biggest Loser,” and they measure how many calories your body burns. I made sure that I burned 2,000 more than I ate every day. There were no fancy pills that you had to take or magic food.
WANT TO GET MOVING?
You might not think of Oklahoma as a runner-friendly place, but a quick Google search tells you that there are running clubs Oklahoma City, Tulsa and even most of the bigger towns in the state.
While the running clubs generally have membership fees, most do a weekly training run that is free and open to the public.
You don't have to be an elite runner to participate. Heck, you don't even have to run. Walkers are welcome.
If the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon has inspired you to get moving, here's a look at some of the state's running clubs:
* Oklahoma City Landrunners: www.okcrunning.org
* Tulsa Running Club: www.tulsarunningclub.com
* Edmond Running Club: www.edmondrunningclub.com
* RunHers: www.RunHers.com