Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

RN & Puna Paddler, Jolene Hughes, Stays in Shape

Jolene Hughes paddles for the Puna Canoe Club

   I have always been an advocate for organized sports that start children out at an early age learning the value of regular physical exercise.

   As a child I grew up playing Little League Baseball and on Parks and Recreation Basketball teams.  As I grew older I became involved with organized sports in high school and continued playing while in the Army and in college with intramural sports.

  “The evidence supporting sports participation for young people is overwhelming…It has the power to combat everything from racism to low self-image, to the high school drop-out rate,” Sue Castle, Executive Producer of PBS Sports wrote.

   When you consider what youth sports programs can do to help girls in our community the evidence is staggering:  girls participating in high school athletics are 92 percent less likely to get involved in drugs, 80 percent less likely to get pregnant and three times more likely to graduate than non-athletes.

   Such is the case for Keaau’s Jolene Hughes who has always reaped the benefits of sports related exercise which she continues to this day.

  Hughes grew up in a small town in western Pennsylvania where she was active in sports.  “I was always active in school sports playing basketball in high school and later at Penn State University I played on the basketball and softball intramural teams,” she said.

   Hughes graduated from Penn State in 1983 with a degree in Nursing and has been a Registered Nurse for the past 26 years.

   “After college I moved to New England and worked as a nurse in Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Rhode Island,” Hughes said.

   In 2003 Hughes and her family decided to make Hilo their permanent home in order to be closer to one of their daughters that had graduated from the University of Hawaii at Hilo that same year.

   Today this 47 year old, mother of three, stays in great shape by running a few days per week and by doing a variety of water sports.

   “I started running about seven years ago after I had surgery on my right Achilles tendon,” she said.  “I was suffering from osteomylitis (a bone infection), an affliction that began in college.  I had a hard time wearing shoes for many years as I usually wore clogs when I worked as an RN in the emergency room.”

   Hughes decided to start running because of her desire to participate in triathlons and she wanted to advance in her running ability. 

   “I have a love/hate relationship with running.  I love the way I feel when I’m all done with my workout,” she said.

   In 2008 Hughes ran her first marathon (26.2-miles) in Honolulu, finishing in 4 hours and 57 minutes.  In 2009 she returned to Honolulu to run it again and finished in 4:57.

   “I was hoping to improve on my time from one year to the next, but I figured 4:57 was okay, seeing as I was a year older this time around,” Hughes said.

   Hughes will run three times per week when not training for a marathon, more often when in training.  She can also be found paddling her one man canoe around Hilo Bay on a regular basis.

   Five years ago Hughes joined her step daughter as novice paddlers with the Puna Canoe Club and today both are active within the paddling community.

   “Exercise has always been a part of my life because I always feel mentally and physically healthier when I am consistently active,” Hughes said. 

   As an RN in the Angiography Lab at Hilo Medical Center Hughes finds her job challenging and exciting and something that she looks forward to doing. 

   “I really enjoy my job and often, when I get off work at 3 p.m., I will go and do a workout before heading home to Keaau,” she said.

   The Hughes children all played sports in high school and continue to be active in college. 

   “I have twin daughters who are attending Boston College and a 19 year old son going to school at UH Manoa,” she said.   “As a recent ‘empty nester’ I find I have more time to exercise than ever before.  My husband, Michael, is my number one fan and supporter and recently he started paddling with me.”

   And what goals does Jolene Hughes have in store for meeting her health and fitness needs in 2010?

   “I just plan to keep exercising to stay in shape and I look forward to the many races I have ahead of me, both on land and in the sea,” she said.   “I recommend to anyone starting out that you need to put your mind to it.”

   We are fortunate to have members of the Health Care Industry, such as Jolene Hughes, who lead by example as they practice what they preach to their patients. 

   If you’re not into a regular exercise fitness routine then it’s time to follow Jolene’s lead and get up, get out and be active.


January 26, 2010 Posted by | Canoe Racing, Profiles, Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments