It all started from a physical education teacher at Hilo Union School according to Amy Okura and that is where she fell in love with movement.
“When I was in Hilo Union I loved the P.E. fitness tests we did and I raced with the boys at recess,” Okura said. “I started playing AYSO when I was 10 and what I initially lacked in skill I made up for in determination and enthusiasm.”
Today Okura works as a legal assistant at Okura and Associates where she occasionally finds her job quite stressful.
“I specialize in getting Medicaid to pay nursing home costs for our clients, this tends to be a very emotional and financially stressful time for people as they are watching their loved ones go though injuries, illness, and transitioning into a nursing home, which without the help of Medicaid cost most people about $12,0000 a month.”
Okura has a lot deadlines to meet which makes her job that much more stressful.
“There is unexpected turn of events to deal with on short term notice,” she said. “Sometimes I have long days, but my biggest challenge is to always remember to be patient and kind to others who are going through an entirely different stress.”
Okura remembers the advice she was given at middle school P.E. class which was to relieve stress just keep on moving.
“My P.E. teachers all taught me that movement while playing is the best way to relive the outside influences of stress.” Okura said.
Play she does, Okura favorite activity is swing dancing.
“I love to dance,” she said. “I dance Lindy Hop and other variations of swing dancing with the Hilo Hep Cats; I’ve also started dancing the Argentine Tango with Tango en las Rocas.
Besides dance Okura is going through a 12 week fitness program with her own fitness coach.
“I am in a three month fitness program with Stefanie Basso,” Okura said. “I am in no way aiming to be a competitive figure builder, I just want to get stronger and feel better about myself.”
The program currently has her doing strength training 4 days a week and cardio 6 days a week.
“For the sake of maintaining balance in my life, my ideal week includes 1 to 2 nights of dancing and about 3 days of running and working out,” Okura said. “Actually, an ideal week would include 7 nights of dancing, but I’m trying to be realistic.”
For diet Okura admits to liking meat with just a little fruit and vegetables.
“Everybody responds differently to foods,” she said. “I truly believe that the joy of life is enhanced by eating beautiful, flavorful food.”
Some of the foods that delight Okura’s palate are Brussels sprouts squash, nuts, fish, and quality local grass-fed beef. She also loves dark chocolate, wine, cheese, micro/draft beer, and French fries.
“As long as I stay active and eat a mainly clean diet, my body gives me honest feedback about how it feels with what I’m putting into it,” Okura said.
Okura is trying to stay active; she even entered her first race this past March.
“I started running again this past year, I was so slow when I first started,” she said.
“I was extremely anemic and my heart couldn’t handle the aerobic activity,” Okura said. “With the consistent encouragement of several friends and a lot if iron supplements, I slowly started to run more often.”
Like most runners Okura likes to run with friends to push her farther and at others time she like the solitude of running alone.
“I run alone for my peaceful meditation time,” Okura said. “I like running with friends to push my pace and distance.”
Friends can keep you from falling off pace, and in Okura’s case it could lead to your first organized race, the Hilo Half Marathon held the past March.
“My only goal for that race was to not walk any portion of the 13.1 mile race, and I didn’t,” Okura said.
Since March Okura has been doing a variety of events, including the Volcano Rainforest 10 K run.
“I was pleased with my performance at the Rainforest 10K and can hardly wait to push myself again at the next race,” Okura said.
She doesn’t have to wait long as Okura and several of her friends have signed up for the Hana Relays on Maui.
“I am already looking forward to the next race after that and I believe the Great Aloha Run is in February and then I’ll give the Hilo Half another try, setting my target time a little higher,” she said.
Okura’s exercise related goals are fairly simple; “I just want to do better and better and have more and more fun with it,” she said.
She’s on track for achieving both her goals.
“I love the way working out and running keeps my body fit and healthy,” Okura said. “I love the quality of sleep that I get when I am active. I love the way the endorphins feel.”
And it doesn’t end there as the list of energy packed benefits is limitless.
As her P.E. middle school teacher from Hilo was right in that there are many good reasons for keeping the body moving.
“My moods are less subject to forces outside of myself, my personal relationships are healthier, easier, and more enjoyable,” Okura said. “Exercising brings a better me to the table, in whatever I am doing.”
And someday should you happen to see a tall, thin jogger remember to say ‘woof’ and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.’
Justin Gillette won his fifth Kona Marathon in a time of 2 hours 37 minutes. The Indiana native is also the owner of the Big Island Marathon course record. Related link: http://waynejoseph.wordpress.com/2011/07/06/gillette-wins-hilo-and-kona-marathons-with-a-2-second-difference/
Thank you for hosting another terrific marathon. This was my third Hilo marathon and my girlfriends third 5K and it still manages to exceed all of our expectations. I was blown away with the attitude of the volunteers who had to deal with the weather for hours. We love combining the run with a few days of R&R - beaches, snorkeling, caves and lava tubes.
My girlfriend joined me for the final stretch as we crossed the finish line together holding hands raised high above our heads celebrating our accomplishment. If you have a picture of me #74 (time 3:33:00) and my girlfriend (#345) crossing the finish line it would be very special. Shortly after the race I proposed to her on a bridge in Liliuokalani Gardens. A picture of us crossing the finish line together would be so symbolic of the life we plan to share together.
Thanks again to you and all your volunteers. Click photo to enlarge
Dale and soon to be, Laurie Forner
What is a bandit? A person who runs in a race without paying an entry fee and without a running number.
Bandits are like shoplifters, they take from the race without really knowing they are doing anything wrong. There are a few people that will walk through a supermarket and snack on the grapes in the produce department of take a cup of coffee and drink it while shopping, never paying for what they have consumed.
The Hilo Marathon spends thousands of dollars getting road closure permits, paying for off duty police officers, providing for aid stations, and more. Those bandits that did not pay for any of these services stole from the race.
Further, when we are at capacity and sell out in the marathon and half marathon that means that we only have enough room on the buses to take people to the starting line that are actually in the race.
It also means that supplies at aid station can only accommodate a certain number of runners. If we allow bandits to run then those that paid to be in the race will be short changed.
Road Runners Clubs of America, the governing body for many certified and insured races such as the Hilo Marathon, suggest that bandits, when caught, should be banned from all RRCA events for one year the first time and banned for life the second time they are caught.
BIIM will strictly enforce the NO BANDIT Rule in its races and those caught will be banned from any and all future races.
That is why it is extremely important to wear your running number in the front, chest to stomach level, while participating in the BIIM (Hilo Marathon). Those without running numbers prominently in the front will be consider BANDITS Your running number is proof that you belong in the race.
Also, switching or wearing someone else’s running number is prohibited. Both (the owner of the number and the one wearing the number) will be disqualified.
Police have been advised to not stop traffic along the course for anyone without a running number in the chest to stomach area. Aid stations have been advised to not give out water, Gatorade or any other supplies to people without running numbers.
As of today, December 21, 2011 the half marathon is 85 percent sold out and the full marathon is currently 60 percent sold.
The 5K run or walk will stay open for registration until March 2012, but the half marathon will probable close as it reaches capacity.
The BIIM has increased its slots for 2012, but with the popularity of the Half Marathon those slots are quickly filling up. Last year the entire race sold out by January.
If you are considering entering one of the three races you should sign up as soon as possible, especially for the Half Marathon.
Go to www.hilomarathon.org to sign up on line or to download a race application.