The breaking point for Brendan Carpenter came during a high school class trip to Canada’s Wonderland when an attendant at the Drop Tower tried to close the safety bar over him but the bar wouldn’t fit. “They couldn’t shut the thing,” the Peterborough, Ont. native says. “So, they had to kick me off of it and all my friends were still on it.” At the time, Carpenter weighed 350 pounds and had been diagnosed with a thyroid issue that caused a slow metabolism. “My health definitely wasn’t good,” he says. It was in this moment that Carpenter realized he needed to make a drastic lifestyle change. Fast forward six years and he’s shed 160 pounds and run three half-marathons, including the 2017 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon.
Running did not come naturally to Carpenter, though. In fact, initially, he avoided it. “I didn’t want to be the guy that was really loud on the treadmill,” he says. He started his weight loss by taking up healthy cooking, dialling back the drinking and hopping on the elliptical and recumbent bike at the gym, but after a few years of working out his weight loss plateaued and he began to lose hope. That was when his girlfriend Erika, a Type-1 diabetic, decided to run the Niagara Women’s Half-Marathon. Being a supportive boyfriend, Carpenter agreed to help her train. But it was a rude awakening when he realized he couldn’t keep up. So, he started running consistently, logging miles on the treadmill. He worked his way up to running 8K and was amazed with the results. “Fifty pounds shredded off really quickly from that.”
But what inspired him to try racing was watching Erika cross the finish line of her half-marathon, knowing everything she’d gone through to get there. “It was just really hard on her body,” he says. But it was the happiest he’d ever seen her, and the experience got him thinking. “I was like, ‘I wonder if I could do one of these?’”
“I never pictured myself running a full [marathon], but I never pictured myself running a half either.” – Brendan Carpenter
Carpenter entered a local radio draw for a free entry into the Peterborough YMCA Half-Marathon and he won. But it gave him only a month to train. He ran alone, continuing to log miles on the treadmill with no coach and no semblance of a training plan. “All my runs were just go as hard as possible for as long as possible,” he says. He didn’t even taper for the race, going out for a 15K run the day before. “I didn’t even taper off because I didn’t know what it meant,” he says. But after finishing the half-marathon in a time of 1:34, he was already looking for his next one.
Since then, Carpenter has dropped his weight down to 190 pounds and his half-marathon time down to 1:33. He’s also joined Runner’s Life, a run club in Peterborough, and has been introduced to proper warm-ups, intervals and tempos. He now runs six days a week, logging 80K and can’t get enough of it. “It’s definitely addicting,” he says. “There’s nothing better than going out on a summer’s day, going out with a couple people or even by yourself, listening to a podcast. And then coming home. You’ve got your workout done. You feel good about yourself.”
I was asked the other night “what was the turning point that made you want to start losing weight?” ⬇️ • Consciously I had a feeling of what that point was but subconsciously I almost didn’t want to share it with them because I was embarrassed that I let it get to that point (350lbs). Two key times ring a bell of when I wanted to make a change. The first was years ago just after high school having to get an extra seatbelt on a plane, to attach to my regular seatbelt. The second was being at @canadaswonderland and not being able to fit into the seat on drop zone. Both of those embarrassments continue to push me to this day. Start by making small changes, and have small goals. Don’t start out guns a blazing. You will see changes, it takes time. Everyone is different, but don’t give up !🙅🏻♂️ • After this mornings workout at @goodlifefitness, we are back into #jacksonspark tonight for another @runnerslife workout. 4x2k with lots of rest plus warm up and cool down ! 🏃 • #transformation #weightloss #weightlossmotivation #inspire #weightlossjourney #running #run #running #runnersofinstagram #nike #newbalance #asics #underarmour #runner #motivation #5k #marathon #sundayrunday #garmin #runnerclick #canadianrunning #weightlossjourney #weightloss #weightlosstransformation #throwbackthursday #fat #menshealth #fitspo #asicsfrontrunner #fitfam
Despite a disappointing result at last year’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon due to a leg cramp in the last 400m resulting from a sodium deficiency, Carpenter plans on returning to the race this fall to give it another try. He still thinks of it as his favourite race, mainly because his family was there to support him. “My mom and my dad came down to watch me and they greeted me at the finish line, which was pretty cool,” he says. “They’d supported me when I was bigger so, that meant a lot to me.” Looking to the future, Carpenter has big goals, eventually wanting to attempt a full marathon. “The overall goal is qualifying for Boston in 2020,” he says. “I never pictured myself running a full, but I never pictured myself running a half either.”