One thing I’ve learned over the years is that the best way to maintain an exercise program is to be repetitive.
I’ve been waking up at 4:40 am every morning for over a decade, brush my teeth, stretch, put my running shoes on and hit the road by 5 am. It’s the same routine from Monday through Friday, and then on the weekends I give myself an extra hour of sleep before hitting the road.
My route doesn’t vary either, making my way along Nanialii Drive in Paradise Park and then up the hills of Shower Drive all the way to the highway and back down again.
The great thing about being repetitive is that I just do it without giving it much thought and without ever making excuses.
But for repetitive runners like me one of the few perils that I encounter is irresponsible dog owners that allow their dogs to roam free.
I’ve had an ongoing problem with one dog that has been off its property at least 10 to 12 times over the past few years and I’ve had to ward off its attacks with loud yelling for their owners to chain the animal up.
I was even confronted by the owner one day who said, “My dog has as much right to be running on the road as you, and if you don’t like it find someplace else to run.” Of course this is not true as we have a leash law and dogs are not permitted to roam free.
Everything came to a breaking point a few weeks ago when the animal decided to escalate our relationship by sinking its teeth into my leg, just above the ankle bone, which left six teeth marks and three prominent punctures which drew blood.
I’m partially at fault because I did not notify the Humane Society the 10 to 12 times that the dog came running after me, barking and growling.
I have since filled a police report and have notified the Humane Society.
This was the second complaint filed against the same dog within the last two months and, according to the Humane Society, the owner of the property must now appear in court.
But my case is not unique as many walkers, bike riders, joggers, and the like have been accosted by loose animals.
I didn’t realize this but once you’ve been bitten and file a police report the officer issues a citation to the dog owner and the Humane Society is notified which often results in a court date being issued.
The case then goes to the County Prosecutors Office and they will determine whether or not to pursue liability and seek monetary damages if you required medical attention.
According to Deputy Prosecutor Cody Frenz more than 80 percent of all dangerous dog citations end up in court.
“Victims of dangerous dogs can call the prosecutor’s office and provide the number on the police report to find out when the case will appear before a judge,” Frenz said.
“Citations issued by the police ends up going to the Prosecutors Office and depending on the severity of the case there is a potential for trail,” she said.
Donna Whitaker, Executive Director of the Hawaii Island Humane Society, estimated that seventy-five percent of referred police reports on dangerous dogs make it to court.
Whitaker does advise people who are confronted by loose dogs to make an attempt to speak with the owner prior to reporting the incident to the Humane Society.
“I think the first time we should try to keep the lines of communication open by talking with the owner of the dog,” Whitaker said. “If you don’t get a reasonable response or if the dog is habitually loose, then by all means call the Humane Society.”
“I see some people walking around my neighborhood carrying sticks to protect themselves against loose dogs, but I don’t think I could ever strike a dog,” Whitaker said.
Whitaker believes that the Humane Society is powerless in solving the problem against dangerous dogs saying that the courts have all the teeth in these types of matters.
“We rely on people to obey the law,” she said. “And we try our best to educate people on responsible pet ownership. If it gets to court it’s up to the judge to tell the pet owner what needs to be done.”
Officer Sandor Finkey at the Keaau police station answered a number of my questions and was extremely helpful in leading me through the process.
“Personally I would report every loose dog to the Humane Society and would advise that anyone threatened or bitten by a loose dog file a police report,” Finkey said.
Finkey also suggested that if the Humane Society isn’t open to take your call that you call the police non-emergency number at 935-3311 to report the loose dog.
“Our stance here at the police department is that we want to prevent people from being bitten by dogs and we ask the public’s help in reporting strays,” he said. “We do not permit dogs to stray and will issue a citation to the owner which could carry a $25 fine.”
I also asked a few of my exercise buddies for advice and here is what they shared:
Chris Seymour, owner of Hilo Bike Hub, believes that dogs instinctually want to chase and offered this advice:
“Dogs love to chase and we humans want to try to get away as fast as we can, but the faster we run the faster the dog will run,” Seymour said. “Keeping this in mind I’ll slow down and will start yelling ‘Go Home’.”
“Most dogs also understand ‘NO’ so this is another thing to keep in mind,” he said. “If you are persistently chased by the same dog, carry a water bottle with a fairly strong mixture of Chili Pepper water and if he gets close enough, squirt him in the face.”
Retired special education teacher, Sharon Lehman, follows the water bottle theory, but instead of chili pepper she uses a mixture of water and a fair amount of ammonia.
“It does sting like the devil and stinks like anything,” Lehman said, “but it does no lasting damage to the dog. After being sprayed the first time just the smell of the ammonia will usually send the critter running in the opposite direction.”
Hilo’s Jerry Chang said, “I know most people would be in a panic, but I was told to face the dog and firmly say “SIT! Then pray that it does.”
Firefighter Joe Wedemann swears by the effectiveness of pepper spray which is legal and available in Hilo.
“I always take pepper spray with me,” Wedemann said. “I’ve had to spray more than one dog in my years of running or biking and it worked every time.”
The message I’m trying to send here is to contact the proper authorities whenever a loose animal threatens your right to walk, run or bike on public property and do not wait until it actually bites you or someone else.
Remember to call the Humane Society to report a loose/stray dog and if it is after business hours call the police non-emergency number, 935-3311.
To learn more about the dog bite issue readers should go to the County’s website and check section 4-31.
And someday should you see a jogger doing repetitive laps up and down Shower Drive in HPP remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”
Email the Big Dog at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why do people ride bikes? For exercise, for freedom, to feel like a kid again, to reduce their carbon footprint? Or perhaps it’s the easiest way to get from point A to point B, to avoid traffic and save money on gas? Whatever an individual’s motivation to ride, it is no doubt that the most common result is an increased sense of wellbeing.
Bike commuters, including many UH Hilo students, along with recreational and fitness cyclists, need to be armed with knowledge about cycling to feel safe on the streets and trails, but more importantly, to enjoy the ride.
“Educated bicyclists lead by example,” said Chris Seymour, a UH Hilo Hawaiian language student and owner of the Hilo Bike Hub. “When more cyclists are riding safely, wearing protective gear and signaling correctly, more cyclists will follow suit.”
Seymour, whose bicycle shop has been in business for almost 18 years, has been riding bikes on Big Island roads and trails for over 25 years. “I’ve probably ridden over 200,000 miles on this island to date,” he said.
Although Seymour has noticed an increase in cyclists on Big Island streets over the years, he’s also noticed an increase in bike-related accidents.
Statistically, according to the League of American Bicyclists, the most car-bike accidents occur due to cyclists riding on the wrong side of the road.
“The best advice I can offer is to ride your bike like you would drive your car,” offers Seymour. “Being predictable is the biggest precaution a cyclist can make. When I ride predictably, respectfully, and intelligently, cars almost always give me the right of way.”
Dr. Mike Tanabe is a professor of plant science, and also teaches the Kinesiology 117 course on mountain biking at UH Hilo. The course is offered every semester on Fridays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Developed by Tanabe himself in the fall of 1993, he has now taught it for 34 consecutive semesters.
“At the time the course was first offered, the Intercollegiate Mountain Biking Association told me that it was probably the only course of its kind offered at the college level,” he said.
Tanabe’s main goal is to empower students by becoming safer cyclists.
According to Tanabe, the most common cycling rules that students are not aware of upon entering his class are: to ride with the flow of traffic, to obey the same laws as motorists, and to be careful when using the front brake while riding down steep hills. The first two align directly with those that Seymour emphasizes.
• Wear a helmet.
• At night use both a front and back light.
• Use the rightmost lane that heads in the direction you are traveling.
• Obey all traffic control devices, including stop signs, lights and lane markings.
• Always look back and use hand and arm signals to indicate your intention to stop, merge or turn.
• Have your bike safety-checked by a professional.
From time to time readers of this column will approach me and ask where I find people to write about.
I’m not a shy person and often times I will approach complete strangers who look healthy and fit and talk with them about their methods of staying in shape.
Recently, on a hike in Volcanoes National Park with my wife Randee, I overheard a healthy looking man explaining to a group of tourist about Halemaumau’s activity. That man turned out to be Erik Storm who is a tour guide for Bike Volcano.
“My position at Bike Volcano entails talking to groups of visitors from around the world at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park,” Storm said.
“I will discuss geology, botany and cultural dynamics along the way as I show them the beauty of the Park using trail bikes,” he said.
Storm got his start in sports at an early age and his favorite became soccer as he began to learn the game at age five.
“I played at the goalie position through high school and was varsity captain for two year,” Storm said. “I received a scholarship to play for the Washington Huskies, but I was not ready for the challenge of higher education at that time in my life and decided to leave UW after one year so that I could travel.”
Storm went on to discovering the joy in snowboarding and mountain biking and today will ride his bike between 40 to 50 miles per week.
“My wife and I will take our dogs out hiking over in Kau which is also great exercise,” he said. “I don’t necessarily workout, I just believe that consistent good exercise is a very important part of staying in shape.”
Storm has also been motivated by a variety of people that live in East Hawaii and credits University of Hawaii at Hilo professor, Dr. Tanabe, along with John and Mindy Clark as inspirational people who keeps him cycling.
“I have some friends here locally that I look up to as far as good people and healthy role models and most of them still ride bikes frequently,” he said.
“One of my favorite professors, Dr. Tanabe, still rides, along with the Clarks with whom I used to work with at Kalapana Tropical’s, that keep me motivated.”
Storm also credit Chris Seymour, owner of the Hilo Bike Hub, with keeping him active in the biking community.
“Chris used to laugh at me when I first bought one of the specialized bikes from him because I would hardly use it,” Storm said. “Chris would come over to my home and see that the tires had no tread wear on them at all and the whole bike was basically brand new and just sitting for months.”
Through Seymour’s urging Storm has now logged over 3,000 miles on his once new bike and owes much of his fitness riding to Mr. Seymour.
“Staying in shape and healthy is important to me because it straight up makes me feel good,” Storm said. “I also believe that a healthy mind is a big part of being healthy and I believe in keeping my mind sharp.”
Storm involves himself heavily in the Arts through music in order to keep his mind clear and strong.
“Art and music are both great ways to accomplish a well rounded healthy lifestyle,” Storm said. “I am also a big time plant nerd so I study the different dynamics of plants, mostly the native species, as well as the different varieties of orchids – I love orchids.”
Besides working as a tour guide Storm is also the owner/designer for Absouloot Design Hawaii and is a music producer/performer.
“Absouloot Design is a company I started up about seven years ago and we specialize in promotional tools for bands and artists here in Hawaii,” he said. “This business has been very successful over the past few years and we will be expanding it even more very soon.”
Storm will also perform live and is a recent member of a group called the Moemoea Collective.
“I am very inspired by musicians like the Funky De La Monsta, Hans Fahling and Moku and Kalei Young who all keep that musical fire blazing here on the Big Island,” Storm said.
Storm’s healthy lifestyle also extends to his intake of food where he will make good choices choosing to eat fresh local products over fast food and processed packaged foods.
“I don’t really eat out at restaurants very much,” he said. “I prefer a home cooked meal and I will spend as much time in the kitchen as I can cooking.
Storm will also add supplements to his diet which include antioxidants and probiotics which according to him keeps his body functioning at a high caliber.
“I believe that I can do anything if I set my mind to it and that true strength lies within our hearts,” he said.
Storm has overcome a variety of obstacles in his life through staying positive and motivated, while maintain a strong belief in himself.
“While good exercise and a healthy diet are an important part of staying healthy, a good attitude and hard work will take you to the next level,” he said. “Attitude shows a lot about someone. If you have a bad attitude then that comes back around and you get exactly what you put into life.”
Erik Storm is one of the many people that I’ve run into that tries to maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle and has become a newest member of the Running with the Big Dog column.
The Big Island International Marathon is offering an “Early Bird” entry for all three races in which they host. Participants can receive 50 percent off the full marathon (26.2-miles), half-marathon (13.1-miles) or the 5K (3.1-mile) run/walk if mailed in by November 1.
The “Early Bird” acts as an incentive in getting people to sign up well in advance for the March 21, 2010 event and allows them enough preparation time to successfully complete the respective distances.
During the marathon and half-marathon races a volunteer, Ryan Mason, will follow the last runner on his bicycle. Mason informs the aid stations and police officers alone the route that the last runner has passed. This allows these sections of the course to be reopened to the general public.
Mason does a service for the BIIM event as it is no easy task for someone who is a competitive cyclist. To accomplish this task he needs to spend nearly five hours as the trail bike sweep.
Growing up in Long Beach, California, Mason got into traditional team sports at an early age as he played baseball from the time he could hit a ball off a tee, up through high school.
“I enjoyed playing baseball and the camaraderie with other players, however I grew to feel awkward and out of place in the game,” Mason said.
Mason was a pretty good pitcher on the local baseball teams and he even tried his hand at football and golf, before discovering his love for surfing while in junior high.
“I really enjoyed surfing as it was much different than the other activities I was involved in earlier and it brought a strong connection between me and nature,” he said.
In high school Mason broadened his athletic experiences by running cross-country and track and finally cycling.
“During my junior year in high school I started my first job at Jax Bicycle Center (Long Beach) as a cashier. I developed a good relationship with the other employees including the manager of the store who knew of my running experience and helped in the procurement of my first road bike,” Mason said.
In 2003, at the young age of 22, Mason moved to the Big Island in his quest to expand his life experiences.
Six years ago he landed a job with Chris Seymour at the Hilo Bike Hub as a mechanic while he continues to pursue a degree in Philosophy and in Linguistics at the University of Hawaii Hilo.
“The completion of two degrees will hopefully come to fruition this spring,” he said.
Since age 16 Mason’s life has been filled with cycling which has now become his primary form of exercise.
“I’ve become immersed in not only a new sport, but a new culture. That is one thing about cycling that is so amazing and which continues to renew my love for the sport.
Cycling is used as a means for multiple purposes, which is one thing that many sports cannot claim. Some use bicycles primarily for transportation, others for recreational use and fitness, while others integrate it within their lives as a competitive activity,” Mason said.
Mason will get out and ride for about two hours, and sometimes up to four or five hours, three to five times per week, depending on his school schedule.
“During the summer I was lucky to be able to ride much more than during the academic season. There are five formal rides in Hilo which go on early in the morning where riders meet up and cycle together for about two to three hours,” he said.
What helps Mason is that during the school year he will write out a riding schedule every three weeks in advance. “Having a written schedule seems to be one of the best ways of keeping myself accountable.
September to January is the off season in cycling and so mountain bikes come out as well as the crazy, brakeless, fixed gears. This provides for a break from the training regimen and a little fun with a different rig,” he said.
At 28 years of age Mason has a busy life, working a part time job, attending school full time and raising a two year old daughter, Rylie.
“It is great to be living in Hawaii where you can be outdoors year round. I have never understood the craze over using aerobic gym equipment when the weather is nice. It s too bad there is no indoor rock climbing gym in Hilo, which is an indoor exercise that I do enjoy,” he said.
And Mason offers the following advice for those who would like to get into competitive cycling. “Cycling specifically, can be a very taxing sport physically, mentally, and emotionally. I know many people who tried it, got very engaged in the sport, and then just up and quit a year or two later because of the time involvement and the unpredictability of strength gains.
The classic mistake in cycling is to shift to a very hard gear and pedal at a slow cadence (RPM) and feel like one is getting a good workout, especially aerobically. This is actually a bad way to train your body.
Maintaining a cadence of 70 to 90 RPM during the ride will help build the body and heart’s strength, the muscle growth will follow,” he said.
So if you’re looking to expand your exercise routine and thinking of giving cycling a try you can drop by Hilo Bike Hub in Hilo and ask for Ryan Mason.
And if you ever see a bike rider bringing up the rear of a marathon event remember to say thank you for someone who is truly giving of their time to help an event run more efficiently.