Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Eric Kuwana learning love of running through wife Cindy

Cindy & Eric Kuwana

One of the many things about being married is that the love that you have for each other can grow into friendship and blossom into respect and admiration.

For Eric and Cindy Kuwana their six year marriage has produced many exercise related benefits.

Cindy, a long time distance runner, provides the role model that Eric need to get off the coach and onto the roads.

Recently Eric completed his first marathon (26.2 miles) and credits his wife as being his primary motivation.

“I never played any sports in High School and I was never really motivated to do much of anything until I saw my wife finish her first marathon,” Eric Kuwana said.

Kuwana grew up in Hilo and was a 1992 Viking graduate and he now works as the sales manager at S. Tokunaga Store.

“I run the largest shoreline fishing tournament in the state,” Kuwana said.  “The inception of this tournament was in 2004 and since has grown to over 500 participants.”

Kuwana also gives much of the credit for the fishing tournament success to his wife.

“Every June, with the help of my wife, we’ve been putting on this fishing tournament,” he said. 

And how did Eric get involved with his first marathon experience, you might ask?

“My wife signed me up to do the Honolulu Marathon in December 2011 and I did it to prove to myself that I could complete a marathon,” Kuwana said. “It was never a goal of mine to do a marathon, but with my wife’s urging I did it with a finishing time of 5:43:49.”

Eric’s wife did her first marathon in December 2010, six months after being in a serious car accident that set her training schedule back. 

“I was the driver in that auto accident that my wife was in and I still have occasional aches and pains since we were t-boned,” Kuwana said.

Part of that glowing admiration that Kuwana has for his wife was in seeing her cross that finish line in 8 hours and 3 minutes two years ago.

Better trained and better prepared Cindy was able to complete the 2011 marathon nearly an hour faster, finishing in 7:15.

“When my wife took me on my first training run, which was less than 2 miles, I thought it was hell,” Kuwana said.  “I’ve come a long way since starting training this past February.”

Through his wife’s guidance Kuwana has made great strides in his health and fitness needs.

“I have taken up stand up paddle boarding and will also accompany my wife to Kiwi Fitness for Turbo kick class,” Kuwana said.  “I also took up R.I.P.P.E.D. exercise classes for better fitness,” he said.

R.I.P.P.E.D. stands for Resistance, Intervals, Power, Ply metrics, Endurance and Diet and Kuwana swears by it high intensity fitness level.

“I attend the class every Thursday at Kiwi Fitness and that helps my wife and I cross train,” Kuwana said.  “Most people think that 5 or 8 pound weights are light but, I encourage all to attend this class as you will be humbled, like I was, 10 minutes into the class.”

Running is also an important feature to his fitness routine, but Kuwana is smart enough to know that rest days are also important in staying injury free by taking Friday’s and Saturday’s as his days off.

“Following the 2011 marathon Cindy and I took time off and went on a planned trip to Las Vegas,” Kuwana said.  “We will start back up with our running at the end of January, running anywhere from 8 to 15 miles a week, which is plenty enough.”

Kuwana has added a series of shorter races, 5K’s (3.1 miles) to his annual routine by doing the Hilo 5K and EMS 5K, but his favorite distance has become the half marathon (13.1 miles) as it is not as strenuous to prepare for as the marathon.

“The marathon training schedule is very time consuming and we need to do it rain or shine,” he said.  “Not to mention that we have to wake up early and run every Sunday.”

Kuwana admits to having no regular diet, except when he is preparing for a marathon event.

“I will cut down on meat consumption as we get closer to the marathon and then eat more carbs, pastas, the week before the marathon,” he said.

Today Kuwana has set high standards for future exercise related goals.

“For someone who never exercised or participated in any sports growing up, I’d like to continue on this health quest in support of my wife,” he said.  “Cindy was diagnosed with high blood pressure in April 2010 and that’s her driving force of why she exercises.”

Now Eric supports his wife in her effort to lower her medication.

“Cindy hasn’t had to increase her dose in medication and helping her maintain that is enough of a goal for my future,” he said. “I still plan to continue running and would like to Stand Up Paddle more as time permits.”

Eric and Cindy Kuwana are in a great relationship where each helps the other with important things in their lives.

Friendship and respect play an important role in any relationship and the Kuwana’s are well on their way to accomplishing both.

And someday should you see a happily married retired teacher come jogging through the streets of Hilo remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”

February 6, 2012 Posted by | Profiles | , , , , | Leave a comment

Marathon Finishers Tee Shirt a merit badge for Kuwana

Honolulu Marathon finisher Cindy Kuwana

Sometimes in life it takes a lot of pain and ill health before people get motivated enough to make changes to their lifestyle.

Such was the case for Cindy Kuwana who, after years of smoking, realized that making necessary changes would enhance her quality of life.

After 15 years of smoking cigarettes Kuwana found herself having horrible sinus infections and bronchitis occurring in her body every three months.

“I was in my late 20’s and I was so tired of being sick so often,” she said.  “With Doctor Melanie Arakaki telling me I should quit smoking I finally decided to listen and try since she said it would probably help my sinus problems.”

For the past 2.5 years Kuwana has been smoke free, but her quitting has been a tough and difficult process.

“I must admit that it was hard and I fell off the wagon a couple of times,” she said.  “But it didn’t discourage me as I was determined to kick the habit and improve my health.”

Born and raised in Hilo, Kuwana started playing sports in elementary school where she tried her hand at tennis before switching sports in high school. She is a 1994 graduate of Waiakea High School where she ran cross country for two years.

Currently Kuwana works as the office manager for Ululani Pharmacy and got involved with the running community since quitting smoking.

“I started walking on the treadmill just to get some exercise which led to running a couple of 5K (3.1 mile) races,” Kuwana said.

With the encouragement of Dr. Arakaki and her physical therapist, Guy Nakao, Kuwana decided to join a regular Sunday running group made up primarily of health care professionals in Hilo which did long distance training in preparation for the Honolulu Marathon.

“Guy and Melanie encouraged me and my Uncle Charles Sakoda inspired me to train for the Honolulu Marathon (26.2 miles),” Kuwana said.

“I give much credit to Guy from Nakao Physical Therapy who kept on telling me to get fit,” she said.  “Uncle Charles inspired me as he is a regular marathon finisher who keeps at it even with his injuries.  Dr. Arakaki and the Sunday running gang had given me the confidence and inner strength to take on something that big.”

Kuwana started training with the Sunday group in 2009 and was preparing to do her first marathon when she came down with a serious injury.

“I was doing too much too soon,” Kuwana said of her injury.  “I ended up with plantar fasciitis and tendonitis in my foot and could barely walk.”

But Kuwana, with her new found level of confidence, never gave up and trained again in 2010 by doing two short runs of 2 to 3 miles during the week and then added a long run on 7 to 8 miles with her running group on Sunday.

“I’ll do the Elliptical trainer and Bowflex weight training on other days and I also try to give myself at least one day of complete rest to allow myself and muscles a break and time to recover,” Kuwana said.

In June of 2010 Kuwana had another set back in trying to achieve her goal of running her first marathon when she got into an automobile accident that put a strain on her body.

“The car accident set me back on my training as my body needed time to heal from the injuries. The marathon training has been tough both mentally and physically,” she said.

Kuwana took an entire month off from running following the car accident to recuperate from her injuries.

“Taking a month off to recover from my injuries had to be the most frustrating, but humbling experience,” she said.

Kuwana never fully recovered from her car accident injuries and continues to see a physical therapist twice a week.

A few weeks prior to this past December’s Honolulu Marathon Kuwana was able to do her longest training run with her Sunday running group of 17 miles.

“With all that I had to deal with the past two years in trying to run my first marathon my only goal going into the December race was just to finish,” Kuwana said.  “I was hoping to finish around six hours or a little over, but just finishing was my main goal.”

And finish she did, in 8 hours and three minutes covering the 26.2 mile course in Honolulu.

“Call me crazy, but I took a huge gamble taking on marathon training only to have my body fail me on the big day.  None the less I’m happy that I got my finishers shirt, even though I needed to walk at the very end,” she said.

“I’m glad I could finish this race and am proud of my finisher tee shirt and medal,” Kuwana said.  “It was a good experience and I have lots of people to thank for their enormous amount of encouragement.

Kuwana is a great example of someone who, despite many obstacles, maintained a goal and worked at it until it was achieved.

Of course, her biggest achievement to all of her accomplishments was in quitting smoking, which was then followed by having a positive network of helpful and encouraging people.

Dr. Arakaki, Guy Nakao and Uncle Charles Sakoda, along with her Sunday running group all played an important role in her success to leading a more healthy and productive lifestyle.

Congratulations Cindy Kuwana and hopefully your story will inspire others to raise the bar on their health and fitness needs.


Coming up on Sunday, Feb 6 is Big Dogs Lovers Day 5K run/walk.  The event is a benefit for the Hawaii Island Food Basket and participants are encouraged to bring a non perishable food item to serve as their entry fee.

The 5K (3.1-mile) Run or Walk begins at 7:30 am from the parking area of Coconut Island in Hilo.

Post race refreshments provided by Marlene and Archie Hapai.   Just show up, sign in and have some fun.  Keith Aoki from Anheuser-Bush will give a Vidration sports drink to each finisher while supplies last.

There will be a special award recognition to couples that holds hands while running or walking the entire 3.1 mile distance. 

For more information contact Wayne “Big Dog” Joseph at 969-7400.

And someday should you happen to see a happy and healthy senior citizen jogging around Hilo remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”

Email the Big Dog at waiakeabigdog@aol.com.

February 1, 2011 Posted by | Profiles | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Big Islanders Do Well at Honolulu Marathon

Doc Morita, in yellow, finishes 11th consecutive Honolulu Marathon

Big Island runners showed their talents in distance running during the Honolulu Marathon on Sunday with several producing impressive results.

Jason Braswell, owner of the Big Island Running Company in Kailua-Kona, Pahoa’s Trevor Johannsen and Laupahoehoe’s Alan Ryan ran with the top 50 of the world’s best distance runners during the 26.2 mile endurance race which had over 23,000 participants registered to do the event.

Braswell finished 34th overall for the men in a time of 2 hours, 55 minutes and 4 seconds, Johannsen, 37th; in 2:56:08; while Ryan finished 40th in 2:56:14.

“I’m not really pleased with my finishing time today,” Ryan said during a telephone interview.  “I was hoping to run 2:50 or faster but by 15K (9.6 miles) I started to fall off my 6:30 per mile pace and knew it wasn’t going to happen today.”

Ryan was coming off a 2:50 performance from the New York City Marathon last month and was hoping to ride the crest of his peak performance before feeling his legs start to give out at Honolulu.

“I wasn’t feeling good during the second half of the race and just went into a survival mode,” Ryan said.  “This was the end of a long season for me and now I’ll take a break before starting up again for the Boston Marathon in April.”

Hilo Internist, Dr. Aaron Morita, was joined by his running group which consisted of two physicians, several registered nurses and a couple of long time running companions.

“I improved a little on my time from last year,” Morita said.  “I followed my doctors’ advice and lost a little weight, 15 pounds, which made it easier for me to run.”

Morita completed his 11th consecutive Honolulu Marathon in 5 hours and 25 seconds and may have been able to break the 5 hour barrier if not for a pit stop.

“At about mile 23 I had to stop and pee,” Morita said.  “It ended up costing me my sub 5 hour performance.”

Morita and his Big Island running group of 15 were headed to Big City Diner later that evening for a post race gathering.

Doc Morita and his Sunday running group proudly display their finisher tee shirts

Morita and his Big Island running group of 15 were headed to Big City Diner later that evening for a post race gathering.

“We had a nice mixture of experienced and first time runners going with us this year,” he said.  “Losing the weight made me feel better and I had more energy at the finish, but I still need to lose a few more pounds.”

First time marathon runners that trained with Doc Morita and his group were Cindy Kuwana, 8:03:25; and Jennifer Maninga, 6:51:31.

 “It didn’t go as planned as I was hoping to run around 6 hours 30 minutes,” Kuwana said.  “I feel a little disappointed because of my time as I had to walk the second half of the race due to an injury I got in June from a car accident.”

Kuwana was a passenger in a car that was broadsided and still has back problems and an abdominal strain.

“I guess the main thing is that I was able to finish the race,” she said.  “I probably could have come in 20 minutes sooner if not for two port–a-potty stops as the lines to get in were so long.”

“Despite everything I had a lot of fun and made new friends,” Kuwana said.  “Overall it was a good experience.”

Maninga, a registered nurse, stopped along the course to help give CPR to a runner that needed help around mile 20.

“There was another man administering the CPR and I stopped to help,” she said.  “We assisted until the paramedics could get there, but I think he’s okay and will be fine.”

Maninga also had race jitters and stopped three times to use the portable toilets.

My stops for the toilet and for aiding with CPR probably added 45 minutes to my time,” she said.  “This was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do physically and I have a new found respect for all the training and preparation that goes into running a marathon.”

Maninga credits her Sunday running group with Doc Morita as helping her finish her first marathon.

“They are the most amazing and supportive group that I’ve ever been with and thanks to them I was able to finish today,” she said.  “Before I even reached the finish line I had tears in my eyes and I needed the crying release for such an emotional experience.”

Hilo’s Marie Kuramoto finished in 5:17:11 one week after running in the Las Vegas Marathon in 4 hours and 13 minutes, placing third in the 60 to 64 age division and allowing the marathon veteran a qualifying time in the prestigious Boston Marathon.

“I’m still on cloud 9 after doing Vegas and I had decided to take my time in Honolulu this weekend as I was still nursing a tender right hip,” Kuramoto said.

Kuramoto belongs to a running group called Marathon Maniacs and to be in that group an individual needs to be able to complete two or more marathons within a 16 day period.

Despite being a cancer survivor Kuramoto has never allowed her illness to interfere with her training for long distance races.

“I just try to do the best I can with what I have,” she said.

Kenya’s Nicholas Chelimo won the race in 2:15:18 while Belainesh Gebre from Flagstaff, Arizona claimed the overall women’s title in 2:32:13.

Related link:  https://waynejoseph.wordpress.com/2010/12/13/big-islanders-finish-2010-honolulu-marathon-results/

December 13, 2010 Posted by | Marathon Running | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hilo Medical Professionals Headed to do the Honolulu Marathon

Doc Morita to notch yet another marathon finish

More than 250 Big Island residents will be lacing up their shoes on Sunday, Dec. 12, for the Annual running of the Honolulu Marathon.

With an estimated field of 25,000 the Honolulu Marathon ranks as one of the top ten largest marathons in the world.  The economic value to the state exceeds $100 million and ranks this marathon as the largest financial sporting event in the State of Hawaii far exceeding the revenue brought in by the Pro Bowl or by the Professional Golf Association.

Each year Big Island residents will train for the event before making the pilgrimage to Oahu to run the 26.2 mile course along with some of the world’s fastest distance runners.

In Hilo a small contingent of medical professionals have been doing a long Sunday run together in preparation for Honolulu.

Led by veteran marathoner, Hilo Internist, Dr. Aaron Morita who will be doing his 11th consecutive Honolulu Marathon, the group is a mixture of experienced and first time distance runners.

“Those in our group that run with us regularly are doctor’s Melanie Arakaki, Sara Chiu, and David Nakamura with registered nurses Imelda Tamayo, Noemi Arzaga, Gina Durant and Jennifer Maninga, along with recovery room technician Dave Adachi and Ululani Pharmacy office manager Cindy Kuwana,  ” Doc Morita said.

Morita will also meet up with a number of family members and friends in Honolulu, most of whom are in the medical field as well, making their group one of the largest, or at the very least one of the most educated in the marathon.

“We are planning an after marathon dinner at the Big City Diner in Kaimuki together with our supporters, friends and relatives,” Morita said.

Morita’s group just finished doing a 20 mile run on Sunday, Nov. 28, and the plan now is for all of them to begin their taper, decrease in mileage, before heading to Oahu and the excitement of doing one of the world’s largest marathons.

Cindy Kuwana

Cindy Kuwana trained with the group last year, but never realized her dream of doing her first marathon as she needed to stop training due to an injury.

“I’ve been training this entire year, with 17 miles being my longest run thus far,” Kuwana said.  “Since being in a side-impact automobile accident this past June, trying to recover from those injuries and doing my marathon training has been tough, both mentally and physically.”

Kuwana needed to take off a month from her training to recover from the auto accident and she describes the layoff as being the most frustrating and a humbling experience.

“I’m just hoping to cross the finish line for my first marathon,” she said.  “Anytime would be a good time since it would be such an accomplishment in itself.  Hopefully I’ll finish around six hours or a little over, but I don’t want to get too ahead of myself.

Jennifer Maninga

Another new comer to the marathon is Jennifer Maninga who has finished the Kona, Kauai and Maui half marathons, but never a full 26.2 event.

“I chose Honolulu because of the team that I train with, they always run the Honolulu Marathon,” Maninga said.  “I was compelled to join the team.”

Last year Maninga met the Hilo medical group while in Honolulu and felt the excitement permeating in the air.

“I could feel the excitement, but I also saw the pain and told myself that it would never be me running that distance,” she said.  “Now I know, never to say never!”

When asked what time she’d be finishing in Maninga replied with a wide grin, “I think we have to be in by midnight right?”

“I have a time in mind, but if I speak it, I will feel the pressure to make that time,” she said.  “Just the thought of finishing is pressure enough.”

“Running a marathon is something that I haven’t accomplished in my life,” Maninga said.  “It’s something that I never thought I could do.”

Lenny Baybayan

Another first time marathoner lacing up his shoes in Honolulu will be Leonard Baybayan, Jr. who began his training for the event back in April.

“This past February my wife, two daughters and six year old son walked the Great Aloha run and I told them I wanted to try next year,” Baybayan said.  “So I started my training in April and as my runs got longer my confidence began to grow.”

Baybayan started with long runs of six miles and increased gradually to eight, then ten and went all the way to 22 miles.

When Baybayan asked his family what they thought of his idea to go to Honolulu and run his first marathon his wife said “go” his daughters said “are you crazy” and his son didn’t care.

Like all the other first time marathoners Baybayan hasn’t set a time to finish the 26.2 miles and is just hoping to be able to cross the finish line.

“My personal goal for my first marathon is to reach the finish line and running it from start to finish,” he said.  “I don’t have a set time to finish it in as I don’t want to get discouraged if I don’t achieve that goal and not run again.”

Last weekend Doc Morita and the rest of his group received by mail their Official Running Number Pick-up Cards from the Honolulu Marathon.

“Receiving our packet pick up information has raised our excitement levels in addition to knowing that the marathon is only a few days away,” Morita said.   “I was assigned race number 703 and my wife commented that I must be an old-timer for this marathon as my number has gotten a lot smaller although I don’t run any faster than before.” 

Pat Bigold, the Director of Media Relations for the Honolulu Marathon, provided the 254 names of Big Islanders preregistered to do the race. 

Good luck to all those taking part in the years Honolulu Marathon.

Related link:  https://waynejoseph.wordpress.com/2010/12/09/254-big-islanders-signed-up-to-do-2010-honolulu-marathon/

December 9, 2010 Posted by | Marathon Running, Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments