For years this column has been talking about finding ways to make exercise fun. According to research everything we do in life should be fun, as it can be used to reduce stress.
Following that advice Hilo Internist, Dr. Aaron Morita and his family, has for years looked for ways to lead a fun and happy life.
At the end of January Doc Morita and several of his friends and family members went to the Happiest Place on Earth – Disney Land as they ran in the Tinkerbell Half Marathon (13.1 miles).
“Our family is filled with Disney fans, especially my wife and daughter in law, Amanda,” Morita said. “Amanda discovered online that Disneyland was having its inaugural Tinker Bell half-marathon the end of January and became extremely excited about running it as it is the first event.”
Doc Morita jumped at the ‘perfect’ opportunity to do a vacation where they could all travel as a family and be able to run together.
“The race also created opportunities for us to do a whole bunch of training runs together, which is a lot nicer than running all by yourself,” he said. “So here’s a great chance to add another wonderful chapter in Our Book of Memories, which will include a week of visiting other places in California, all as a family.”
Doc Morita will be joined by daughter in law Amanda Morita-Zen, Amanda’s friend LesliAnn Kikuchi, his 15 year old niece Jaqueline Okazaki, wife Pat and son Brandon, along with 89 year old father in law Masa Okazaki.
“My father in law knows that the secret to living long includes exercising daily and gardening,” Morita said.
The event is going to be fun for the Morita clan, not just because of the Disneyland trip, but the group has added a bit of craziness.
“Amanda decided to get wings to run for Tinkerbell, so my wife bought a pair for me online from the Disney store and I’ll wear them while running,” Doc Morita said.
Amanda Morita-Zen is no stranger to the Disneyland fun as she has participated in several.
“I have done the Disneyland Half and Disneyworld Wine and Dine Half in the past and they have been my favorite races,” Morita Zen said. “They are the best because they are so much fun as you get to take pictures with characters while the run goes through the various theme parks. They also give the best finisher medals.”
A good college friend of Brandon and Amanda, Lesliann Kikuchi, will also make the trip although she doesn’t consider herself a long distance runner.
“They somehow convinced me to do this year’s Honolulu marathon and I saw it as a great challenge for myself,” Kikuchi said. “I’ve been waking up early on weekend mornings, which took some discipline, to get out there and do the training.”
Kikuchi read the book “Born to Run” which provided her with necessary inspiration to get out there every day to train.
“I work as a physical therapist and it is part of my job to educate clients on injury prevention and running technique,” she said. “It was fascinating to see it from the other side as I was the athlete right there in the trenches with all the other runners working out.”
Kikuchi believes that the Disneyland Tinkerbell is a reward for all the hard work and training put in for the Honolulu Marathon.
“It is like the cherry on the top,” Kikuchi said of Tinkerbell. “I’m going out there and run with my friends, absorb the sights and sounds, and run wherever my legs take me.”
The Tinkerbell Half Marathon is so popular that it sold out a month before the Jan 29, 2012 race event.
After completing the half marathon the group had nothing but praise for the experience.
“Great weather, great energy, a perfect day for the inaugural Tinkerbell run,” Kikuchi said. “I looked around and saw tutus, tinkerbells and Peter Pans galore. Running is the greatest thing that binds all, no matter where we are on earth.”
“I had a great time running with my family,” Morita Zen said. “We go to run through Disneyland and saw the characters and parade floats. We put our minds to it and finished together.”
As for first time runner, 15 year old Jackie Okazaki, both experiences, Disneyland and finishing the half marathon, was a very rewarding experience.
“At mile 10 my feet got sore and I learned from Uncle Aaron (Morita) to just keep running and thinking ‘gotta get the medal!’ Okazaki said.
Researchers are discovering the power of emotion and believe that negative emotions make you feel bad and can harm your physical and mental health.
The Morita’s are a success story in the arena of long distance running because they do it as a family and they make the experience enjoyable to all.
So learn a good lesson from the Doc Morita and his family by making what you do in life ‘FUN’.
And someday should you happen to see a fun loving jogger doing laps around Hawaiian Paradise Park be sure to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”
Email the Big Dog at firstname.lastname@example.org.