Senior staff writer
Beech Grove High School athletic trainer Carl Palma weighed about 200 pounds and was about two-thirds of the way to a dramatic weight loss of 100 pounds over three years when he ran in the 2012 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon.
He now maintains a fit weight of 165 pounds and has a few photos of his bulky post-college years at home.
“I knew I couldn’t look like that,” said Palma, a former soccer player at the University of Indianapolis. “My mother (Susan Buchanan) urged me to run in the Mini because it would give me an end goal to drop weight.”
Susan watched out for her son’s health, but she had health battles after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010. She ran in the Mini from 1992-95. She died in October 2013, never having seen her son run in the event.
“Hers was the first phone call that I made after finishing my first two Minis,” Palma said.
He dedicated his run in last year’s race to his mother because it was the first time he competed in the 13.1-mile event since her death. The race includes a lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He turned in a career-best time of 1 hour, 43 minutes; a 33-minute improvement since his first Mini in 2010.
Palma was interviewed after the race on a live telecast on WTHR and broke down in tears. The interview was liked by more than 2,000 respondents on Channel 13’s Facebook page.
He trained vigorously after last year’s race and ran in his first full marathon in December in Hawaii, which he turned into a family vacation.
His focus will be on a different family member in this year’s race at 7:45 a.m. Saturday at West Washington Street and White River Parkway West Drive. His wife, Amanda, will be running in her first Mini.
“I’ll be running with her and encouraging her,” Palma explained. “This won’t be a competition for me because I’ll be pushing her. She will have my full attention.”
They will take part in a commemorative race that reaches its 500th mile at the 2.2-mile mark on West Michigan Street. The best viewing points are in Speedway along Main Street, the IMS and the “victory mile” on New York Street east of White River.
Palma’s traditional night-before regimen of eating pasta and trying to get plenty of sleep will be followed.
However, he will fall back on his superstitious routine on race day of waking up at 3:30 a.m., watching “Rocky IV” and then driving Downtown to stretch and warm up before the nation’s largest mini-marathon, airing live on Channel 13. Held in conjunction with the Mini are a 5K run, a 1.1-mile run/walk for children and a wheelchair race.
The couple have three children, Brenden 4, Mackenzie 2, and Aubree, 6 months.
He graduated from UIndy in 2008 with Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in athletic training and exercise science. He served as trainer at Frankfort and Greenwood high schools and has been at Beech Grove for four years.
Palma enjoys working with athletes and teaching training classes. He particularly works with athletes who are rehabilitating from injuries.
“You always have kids who work hard on any athletic team,” he said. “My hope is that I can push them to be the best that they are and to keep them healthy.”
He also is able to inspire them through his story of weight loss and his physical fitness regimen.