Dr. Arakaki continues to give back
Everyone knows that regular exercise is a great ticket to living a long, productive life. Aerobic exercise strengths the heart and helps avoid the many problems associated with a sedentary lifestyle.
For many people staying on a regular fitness program can be challenging, especially with a busy career and family demands.
For family physician, Melanie Arakaki, running has become a time to de-stress with the high demands made of her in her profession.
“My schedule is pretty hectic, so exercising is one of the few times I have completely to myself. It is my treat to myself,” Arakaki said.
Arakaki is married and has two daughters, Jade age 7 and Jenna age 4 and she has made exercise a priority in her life. “I was in the marching band and managed the soccer and cross-country teams in high school. I didn’t actually play any sports as I couldn’t even run a mile back then,” she said.
Arakaki was born and raised in Hilo and graduated from Hilo High in 1989. “I got started in running in college at UH Manoa mostly to keep my roommate company,” she said.
Doctor Arakaki has become an accomplished runner having done several EMS 5K’s (3.1-miles) and the Great Aloha Run (8-miles), but her favorite race was when she ran in and finished the Honolulu Marathon (26.2 miles).
“I ran my first Honolulu Marathon in 2006 (5 hours 16 minutes) mostly because of peer pressure from Dr’s Morita and Nakamura. Then I got pregnant in 2007 and therefore missed the race that year, only to lose the baby when I was five months along,” Arakaki said.
When she got the okay from her doctor Arakaki began training for her second marathon which she finished in 2008. “I ran the 2008 race (4:56) about 20 minutes faster than my first Honolulu Marathon,” she said.
Current she is training on doing her third Honolulu Marathon, scheduled for December of this year, and she is doing it for a cause.
“I had debated about running for a cause for a while and it just so happened that a postcard for Team in Training arrived in my mailbox on one of those days that I had been thinking about it. So I signed up,” Arakaki said.
Money raised for “Team in Training” goes to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as it provides funds for valuable research which can save lives.
“The Leukemia and Lymphoma society strikes a cord with me because I have a cousin and an aunt who are lymphoma survivors. I also lost a dear patient and friend to the disease and recently one of my college friends lost his wife to leukemia, leaving him to raise his two children alone,” she said.
Arakaki has even set up a web page to help bring awareness to the group. “Blood-related cancers can affect everyone, our children in particular. As a parent of two healthy daughters, I can only imagine how frightening it must be to see a child going through rounds of chemotherapy, or how devastating it would be to actually lose a child or love one to these cancers,” her web site explains.
To train for her marathon Arakaki will do a couple of short runs during the week and once per week she will head to Spencer’s Gym to work on the elliptical or stationary bike.
“On Sunday’s I run do a long run (8 to 9 miles) with Dr. Morita, Dave Adachi, Dr. Nakamura and Cindy Fuke. One of the newer members to our group is Dr. Sara Chiu, a child psychiatrist, who will be running her first marathon this December,” Arakaki said.
Arakaki will increase her Sunday mileage by one to two miles every week until the marathon, capping out at about 22 to 24 miles in November.
“I try to exercise at least six times a week, even it’s only for 20 to 30 minutes,” she said.
Arakaki will also try to watch what she eats, but admits to having a sweet tooth. “I’m working on it, but I love sweets. Uh, this is another reason why exercise is important, gotta burn off those calories,” she said.
Come December Arakaki will toe the line at the start of the Honolulu Marathon and will dedicate her race to her Aunty Else Agena and cousin Fay Castillo, who have survived lymphoma.
“I also want to dedicate my run to the late Doreen Tao, beloved teacher and friend, and the late coach Wade Ishibashi, who lost their hard-fought battles to lymphoma and leukemia, respectively.
I have also dedicated this marathon to Jennifer Villanueva, wife of our college friend, Mike, who passed away from leukemia a few weeks ago. For all the courage and strength and lessons of hope and love, running a marathon seems pale in comparison,” Arakaki said.
To visit Dr. Melanie Arakaki’s, “Team in Training” site go to http://pages.teamintraining.org/hi/honolulu09/marakaki.