Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Determined Kona woman, Dawn Velasquez, can do anything

A little sibling rivalry can be a good thing and a healthy way of getting oneself into better shape.  This has worked well for Dawn Velasquez while she was growing up with her younger brother, and has turned her into a lifelong runner.

In 1991 Velasquez had been asked by a friend to run in her first race, a 4 miler sponsored by the American Lung Association.

“I had spent the last couple of years dealing with a mild but developing asthmatic condition and I was hoping that running would strengthen my lungs,” Velasquez said.

The race she is talking about was called Superkids, and many other races would follow as a result of the positive outcome.

“My brother Ke’o was also entered in Superkids and although 4 years my junior he was always markedly faster,” she said.  “It was also the only race where we came in to within 50 feet of each other and it got me hooked on running.”

Velasquez was always an active child and can’t remember a time when she was not interested in sports activity.

“Playing in the outdoors was a huge part of my childhood,” she said.  “Nothing serious or intensely competitive, mind you, just unstructured, informal, fun types of sports.”

It also meant playing baseball with rubber slippers for bases, skateboarding, volleyball, mountain biking and horseback riding.

When she was 11 years old the family got a tiny little 8 inch color television, and Velasquez developed a love for watching ice skating.

You’re probably wondering how all this was possible?  Well, Velasquez was home schooled from first grade through 11th grade and graduated a year early.

“My lack of traditional education meant that I did not participate in the standard sports,” she said.  “Instead I started hula classes, continued trail riding and formed my own roller hockey team called  the Acres Bladers.”

Today Velasquez is an office manager for a real estate appraisal company in Kona.

“It is quite a change from my  past, which included 8 years on an organic farm and another 6 years in the construction and landscaping industry.

Because her office appraisal job goes from Monday through Friday from 8:30 to 4 pm,  barring office emergencies, Velasquez finds it easy to do structured workouts.
Monday through Friday she does farm work from 6am to 8 am, “before my real job begins,” she explains with a wide grin.

Monday and Wednesdays  are dedicated to paddling practice.

Tuesday evening its hula practice; Thursday evening a run “if I’m not working in the Master Gardener demonstration garden or taking care of landscaping events.”

Saturdays are canoe racing or distance training, plus usually landscaping work, and Sunday’s “I ride my horse if at all possible.”

And of course it all starts off with putting the right fuel to get this busy profession all started and to keep her going throughout the day.

“My diet is not terribly strict, but I am conscious of what I eat, since I’m not always a meat eater.  I consciously try to get enough protein through multiple sources,” she said.  “I really like fresh salads with a variety of toppings.”

Velasquez would prefer organic or at least natural foods.  She also does indulge in the normal vices but believes in everything in moderation.

“I might have coffee a couple of days a week, have an alcoholic drink on the weekend, generally opt for water instead of soda and indulge in my sweet tooth here and there and I don’t smoke” she said.

If she approaches a competitive event the rules change and she gets stricter with her intake.

“If I have a competition approaching I am extra careful to get my nutrition and fluids,” she said.  “If I train too hard and don’t eat properly my body is quick to let me know.”

And Velasquez reflects on having a younger brother to help push her through those difficult times.

“My running career started off rather haphazardly due to medical reasons and the desire to do what my friends did.  My brother Ke’o helped me a lot as I was never unusually talented but I held my own in local races,” Velasquez said.  “I think it help a lot to have a sibling to train with.”

Ke’o and his sister tried to motivate each other and from that they would enter every 5K race that came along.

As the brother and sister matured, so did their goals, as both would enter their first marathon in 1988 (26.2 mile distance). 

It became the springboard for a great sibling relationship as both fell in love with running.

Dawn Velasquez did the Volcano Wilderness Run’s 10 miler ten years in a row before the National Park closed it down.

Another goal was accomplished when Velasquez wanted to paddle through the Molokai channel and so she did.

She is a determined person who sets her sites on something then goes out and achieves it.

What’s up next for this young woman?  

“I want to haul a backpack all around the summit of Haleakala, now that I have been every main peak around the Big Island.  I would also like to go back to taking yoga class once a week.  It feels so beneficial after a tense day.”

And yes, Ironman may be in her future.

Who knows, nothing can stop this determined woman!

And someday should you happen to come passing a retired public school teacher jogging around Hilo remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”


September 17, 2012 Posted by | Profiles | , , | 1 Comment

Exercise, Diet & Love for a Healthy Heart

115 runners & walkers line up for pre race instuctions for the Big Dog Valentine's Day Event

   Often, in the health and fitness world, the main focus is placed on exercise and diet as the key components to living a long and productive life.

   We all know the benefits of regular physical exercise and how it can keep at bay many of the ailments afflicting millions of Americans each year.

   Thirty minutes of moderate, prolonged exercise, in which your heart rate is elevated can help you reduce your chances of getting hypertension, diabetes, certain cancers, and it can control your waist line from increasing.

   Add a healthy diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables and you have increased your chances of being productive well into your 80’s and 90’s.

   One thing often overlooked when considering overall health is love.  Yes, love! 

   How you feel about your spouse, your children and yourself play an important role in longevity. 

   Recent research into the subject of love have found that happily married people live longer and that relationship has a huge impact on their overall health.

   Research  into the positive effects of love by Dr. Dean Omish on 10 thousand married men who had high risk factors such as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and diabetes, found that the men who felt loved by their wives experienced half the amount of angina (chest pains) compared to men who didn’t feel loved by their wives.

   Another study done in 2007 found that simply putting your affectionate feelings down on paper can lower your cholesterol level.  The five week study had volunteers write about their feeling of loved ones in 20 minute sessions, three times per day.  At the end of the fifth week all were found to have significantly lowered their cholesterol levels.

   Love can be a magically tool that could add years to your life and is an important component that leads to better health.

   On Sunday Big Dog Productions hosted a Valentine’s Day 3.2-mile run/walk with special categories for couples which included husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend, father/daughter, and mother/son.

   With the theme being Valentine’s Day recognition was giving to those who brought their partner to spend some time exercising together.

Jason & Melissa Braswell

   Heading the list of couples during the morning run/walk were Jason and Melissa Braswell, owners of the Big Island Running Company in Kailua-Kona.

   The Braswell’s not only love to run, they love to be around runners and will often enter a variety of running and walking events throughout the Big Island.

   “We always love to get together in Hilo and meet old friend and to make new ones,” Jason Braswell said after finishing third overall.

   Wife Melissa, who finished second for the women and 14th overall, enjoyed the large event hosted by Big Dog Productions and was complimentary of the volunteers.

   “This was a good race, well organized and with a great turnout,” she said.  “This was one of my better races as I didn’t go out too fast and I didn’t burn out at the end.”

The Sekiyas

Husband and wife, Josh and KC Stallsmith, was the second married couple to cross the finish line and gave the Braswell’s a run for their money as the couple finished 12th and 13th overall in a race with 115 participants.

  Also traveling over from the Kona side to do Big Dog’s Valentine Day 3.2-miler was the Sekiya family with husband and wife Dale and Sharon and their son DJ.

  “We came to Hilo for the weekend and wanted to watch the Vulcan’s play baseball,” Dale Sekiya said.  “We read about this event in the newspaper and thought it would be a good idea to come out and participate.”

   The Vulcan’s dropped the first game of a double header on Saturday and the Sekiya’s left during the 8th inning of the second game with the score tied 2-2.

   “We were really hungry and wanted to grab something to eat,” Sharron Sekiya said.  “We don’t often get a chance to see UHH play and coming out today to do this run was a good way to end out weekend.

   The overall winner was Volcano resident, Billy Barnett, who clocking in with a time of 17 minutes 33 seconds and was followed by Honokaa cross country star Chris Mosch in 17:53.

   The top woman was KC Stallsmith, 23:01, with Melissa Braswell, 23:17, taking second and Dawn Velasquez claiming third in 23:20.

  In the boyfriend girlfriend category it was Nick Mildon and Katie Mennenga showing what love is all about by running together and finishing 20th and 21st respectively in an identical time of 24:02.

  Isabel and Rick Camp, along with James and Shauna Hank, won the father/daughter group while Micah Kanehailua and his mom Esther won the mother/son division.

   There was even an Aunt/nephew division which was won by Waiakea Athletic Trainer, Kalei Namohala and her nephew, Micah.

   The best part about Sunday’s run/walk was to see the many new people that came out on Valentine’s Day to have fun with family and friends while getting some great exercise in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

    Love alone can’t cure all that’s ailing you, but if you’re one of the very fortunate people in this world that can give and receive love; and when you include exercise and a healthy diet, you are reaping the benefits of a truly wonderful life.

   Here’s wishing all of you a Happy Valentine’s Day everyday!

For complete results from the Big Dog’s Valentine’s Day event go to: https://waynejoseph.wordpress.com/2010/02/14/big-dogs-valentines-day-runwalk-results/

February 15, 2010 Posted by | Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments