Updated: October 7, 2013 1:28PM
Change came in a big way for Miguel Blancarte Jr.
And the 26-year-old from Little Village is running with it. On Sunday, he’ll run his second half-marathon.
Thousands of others will also run the 17th annual Chicago Half Marathon and the Hyundai Hope On Wheels 5K on the South Side.
The difference with Blancarte is about 196 pounds.
In January 2012, he weighed 344. Since then, he joined a gym and changed his life. By October, he began running. He ran his first 5K in November. He ran his first half-marathon this summer. Then he did the Chicago Triathlon.
It began with accepting who he was.
‘‘After trying so many different diets year after year and not seeing the results that I wanted, I became happy with the person I was and with how I looked,’’ he said in an email interview. ‘‘I realized that continuing to go through life with disliking the way I looked or feeling bad with how I looked was pointless. I accepted how I looked and was happy and confident with myself.
‘‘However, while I accepted how I looked, I could not accept some realities. I have goals in life that I would like to achieve, and I came to realize that the goals were senseless if I did not have the time to accomplish them. The path I was walking was a perilous one because I was putting many years of my life in jeopardy. At 24-25 years old, I was risking shaving off years of my life, a reality that I could not accept. And as my doctor mentioned, I was seeing death in my 40s.’’
Though he joined a gym, he did not expect anything too dramatic. Even a 50-pound loss seemed laughable to him. He had support, the two biggest were sisters Alma Yvonne and Claudia.
‘‘I don’t think I would’ve had such a great journey if it wasn’t for their attention, help and cheers,’’ he said.
The first four weeks at the gym were a tough push, but he persevered. Blancarte, a graduate of Brown, holds several jobs and does volunteer work. So change began to be noticed. By May 2012, his clothes fit ‘‘very, very loosely.’’ As part of celebrating his birthday, he went shopping for pants in size 36 or 38, quite the change from 44 or 46.
‘‘The biggest indicator of visible weight-loss results was my belt,’’ he said. ‘‘I came home after shopping with my mom on my birthday and realized that my old belt was not only durable but extremely worn out! I had gone through so many of the belt holes and this was the only reason why my pants didn’t fall off!’’
He doesn’t set goals for his second half-marathon but thinks beating his first time of 1:56:21 on July 21 in the 2013 Chicago Rock ’n’ Roll Half Marathon would be nice.
The 13.1-mile course begins and ends in Jackson Park and includes scenic runs along the South Side lakefront.
But his training for the Chicago Half Marathon has lagged because of training for the Chicago Triathlon, in which he successfully completed the Olympic distance in August.
Running is more than a healthy choice.
‘‘I adopted running because I truly enjoyed it — it’s an incredible sport, and it allows you to gather your thoughts,’’ he said.
Next up will be the Chicago Marathon in October. Blancarte dreams of running the 20th-anniversary Maratona di Roma on March 23, 2014, so he can take his mother to Rome.