Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Having fun is key in running for Hilo’s Doc Morita and family

L to R Amanda Morita-Zen, Lesliann Kikuchi, Aaron Morita, Jackie Okazaki

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 waiakeabigdog@aol.com.


February 27, 2012 Posted by | Health and Fitness, Profiles | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Start the New Year right by Making Healthy Resolutions for 2012

Howard Ainsley

Happy New Year and with it comes the promise and hopes of a new beginning.  My resolution for 2012 is to love more and judge less.

With a long term relationship and a devoted belief in the value of exercise, that portion of my life is well taken care of.  Most resolutions come at the beginning of each year in the area of health and fitness as many in our community wish to shed pounds in order to improve their mental and physical state of well being.

An hour a day will keep the doctor away!   Of course I substituted an hour for an apple because in this case if that hour is spent walking five times a week we can improve our health in a variety of ways.

A Harvard alumni study of 11,000 men showed that we can cut our risk of stroke by 50 percent if we simply made the time and effort to walk for a half hour, every other day.

Another 20 year study of female nurses showed a substantial reduction in the risk of heart disease for those that followed just a 30 minute a day regular walking program.

And yes, if you’re looking to lose weight get out and pace walk (a brisk walk) five days a week.

The value of walking regularly is quite long with benefits coming in the area of lower blood pressure and the reduction in Type 2 Diabetes.

Walking will improve our overall fitness level and can lower the amount of sick days we take from work. 

If all of us committed ourselves to a regular walking program we could lower the cost of health care insurance. As well as possibly put some prescription drug companies out of business or at least make a large dent in their enormous profit margin.

Of course walking is not the panacea for all that ails us, but it sure increases our odds of living a longer, healthier, and more productive life.

At the start of each year I see new faces in my neighborhood getting out and walking.  With the progression of a few weeks those faces disappear as the onset of the New Year enthusiasm disappears for a variety of reasons.

We must all understand that overall fitness is not a passing fad, but a lifelong marriage. 

If we are fully committed to that marriage it blossoms and the fruits of our discipline will pay off down the road with a loyal partner that has our well being as a top priority.

I asked two Big Island physicians along with the CEO of the Hilo Medical Center what their resolutions were for the upcoming year along with their hopes for their patients.

Howard Ainsley, Chief Executive Officer of the Hilo Medical Center pointed me in the direction of what the Greek physician Herophilus had to say on the subject,  “Wellness is fundamental to all we do and experience, when health is absent, wisdom cannot reveal itself, art cannot become manifest, strength cannot be exerted, wealth is useless, and reason is powerless,” Herophilus said.

“In 2012, I renew my dedication to improving my own health and that of our community,” Ainsley said.  “Personally, I resolve to take full advantage of Hawaii County and enjoy more locally grown foods.  Cycling and swimming more often and regularly joining friends on the tennis court will bring a greater sense of wellness in the New Year.  Ainsley is enthusiastic about leading the East Hawaii hospitals into a new era that emphasizes keeping our ‘Ohana well’.

“This year, my goal is to bring our hospitals together with the State Departments of Health and Education, and the Hawaii Island Healthcare Alliance. So that when we enter 2012 we have an island wide process of wellness education, health screenings, and fitness, with the result of having a healthier population living in this island paradise,” Ainsley said.

Doc Green and kids

Kona’s Emergency Room doctor, Josh Green, had this to say:

“I am resolved to spend more quality time with my family, reading with my five year old daughter Maia and playing outside with my one year old son, Sam,” Doc Green said.  “For my patients I’d like to see us, myself included, get much more exercise and give up the worst foods like soda.”



Doc Morita

Hilo Internist, Doctor Aaron Morita had some ambitious goals.

 “In 2012 I wish to do better at following and also promote the Scout Oath and the Scout Law to everyone in our community including my patients.  The Scout Oath is as follows:  “On My Honor, I will do my Best to do my duty to God and my Country and to Obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”  The 12 points of the Scout Law:  “A Scout IS Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent.”       These values instilled into each one of us on Planet Earth would create an ideal society and world peace with a whole lot less taxes!” Morita said.

 No matter what your resolutions for 2012, be sure to include regular physical exercise and a healthy diet to do your part in helping reduce the health care expense in this great country of ours.

 Wishing all of you the Healthiest and Happiest New Year and may we someday meet up on the roads doing a brisk walk around East Hawaii.

 And someday should you happen to see a happy, healthy walker in your neighborhood remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”

January 2, 2012 Posted by | Health and Fitness | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Doc Morita & Sunday running group signing up for Tinker Bell

Tinker Bell Medal

Tinker Bell Half Marathon

Dr. Aaron Morita sent me the following announcement as he and a part of his Sunday running group will be participating.

“I really want to get this medal,” Doc Morita said.  “And we are encouraging our Hilo group to dress in costumes.”

The first-ever Tinker Bell Half Marathon medal, which features a pair of fairy wings, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Disneyland park and a spinning Tinker Bell figurine.

The inaugural race weekend at Disneyland Resort is January 27-29, 2012, and will be hosted by the city of Anaheim and Disneyland. The course takes runners on a 13.1-mile trek through the Disneyland and Disney California Adventure theme parks as well as past several city of Anaheim landmarks. It’s the second women-specific runDisney race weekend, joining the Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World Resort.

Already the Tinker Bell Half Marathon is more than half full, so if you want one of the new medals, you better grab your sneakers, get signed up at runDisney.com and start running!

July 5, 2011 Posted by | Events | , , , | 1 Comment

Big Islanders Running Honolulu Marathon on Sunday

At the end of 26 miles this is always a favorite site

Feeling nervous, a little anxious and starting to question your ability to go the distance?  Then you must be one of the nearly 300 runners from the Big Island that’s preparing to head to Oahu this weekend to run in the Honolulu Marathon.

More than 24,000 people from around the world will be lacing up their shows and drinking lots of water as they prepare to take part in the 37th running of the Honolulu Marathon on Sunday. 

“Honolulu will be my first marathon and I’m doing it because of positive peer pressure,” Hilo physician, Dr. Sara Chiu, said.

Dr. Chiu

Chiu is making a giant step from her usually 5K (3.1-mile) races to doing the “Big Dance” in Honolulu (the marathon distance is 26.2-miles).

“I knew Dr. Melanie Arakaki was a runner here, so I contacted her for suggested routes to train,” Chiu said.  It didn’t take long before Chiu was running with a Sunday group, in Hilo, made up of health care professions.

“On my first group run Dr. Aaron Morita told me that I had plenty of time to train for Honolulu as a beginner and he encouraged me to register,” she said.

Chiu is hoping to cross the finish line around six hours.  “I have modest goals with this race, but I’m proud to say that I’ve become a runner and have already planned more races for 2010,” she said.

Doc Morita is well known in the marathon community as he has done nine previous Honolulu Marathons in a row.

When Morita was asked why he keeps going back to Honolulu to do the marathon he gave a list of 31 different reasons why he enjoys the thrill and agony of doing Honolulu’s largest sporting event.

Morita hopes to finish this year’s race in “about 5 hours or so.”  “I simply wish to finish in a reasonable time and get the finisher T-shirt,” he said.

This year’s race has more meaning than some of the past races he has done as Morita will be running with his future daughter-in-law, Amanda Zen.  “Amanda will be running her first marathon at age 26.  We just complete our long 23-mile run together two Sundays ago and I am looking forward to running with her,” Morita said.

Michelle Lawrence

Also making her marathon debut will be Hilo’s Michelle Lawrence.  “I started running for exercise with a friend of mine who was training for her third marathon,” Lawrence said.  “I had never run more than two miles at a time before and as my mileage started reaching 6 or 7 miles, I found a confidence in myself that I’d never had before.

Lawrence prepared for Honolulu by following a running/walking interval program which started out as running for 4 minutes and walking for one minute until she built up her endurance.

As the race continues to get closer Lawrence consistently reminds herself that she can do it.  “It’s not a matter of if I will finish, I know I can do that, I have prepared as much as I can and can’t wait until all this hard work pays off,” she said.

Lawrence is expecting to cross the finish line around six hours, “hoping for a better time, but we’ll see how it goes,” she said.

But not everyone that had registered for the marathon is making the trek this weekend.  Waiakea’s athletic trainer, Kalei Namohala, needs to curtail her plans due to the recent pay cuts imposed on state employees.

“I had to change my plans about running this year’s Honolulu Marathon,” Namohala said.  “Since the furlough has hit me I’m unable to afford to travel to Honolulu for the marathon.  I really am sad about it.”

Husband and wife, Merle and Stan Costales, owners of Sports Line in Hilo are geared up for their marathon experience.  “This will be Merle’s first time and she is just hoping to enjoy the atmosphere and finish,” husband Stan said.

Costales is making his second consecutive Honolulu appearance as he finished last year’s race and enjoyed the adrenaline rush so much that he decided to return.  “It is just an incredible experience, with more than 20,000 runners, that I’m still on a high from last year.  I’m hoping I can break 5 hours this year,” he said.

The Honolulu race had registered more than 22,000 marathon enthusiast going into the final week of registration, according to event spokesman, Pat Bigold.

“We’ve registered more people this year than we had last year,” Bigold said.  Last year the Honolulu Marathon had 14,407 entries from Japan, compared to 1,532 from the mainland, 742 for other foreign countries and 6,003 Hawaii residents.

The Honolulu Marathon also holds a Mayors 10K (6.2-miles) Race Day Walk for which they expect another 4,000 to 5,000 participants, mainly from Japan.

“We usually get about 1,300 people registering in the final week leading up to the marathon,” Bigold said.  The late entry fee for those procrastinators is now $225 per person and it all adds up to making the Honolulu Marathon the most financially rewarding sporting event in the state, bringing in a whooping $100 million to our sagging economy.

Following is a list of Big Island that are preregistered to do the Honolulu Marathon on Sunday:

Richard Marsh CAPTAIN COOK Aaron Dixon HVNP
Diana Payne CAPTAIN COOK Eric Duerr HVNP
Michael Hasselbring HAWI Ricky Yamato KAILUA
Josie Abitong HILO Charles Aftoora KAILUA KONA
Dave Adachi HILO Victoria Akana KAILUA KONA
Tiana Aina HILO Doug Andrews KAILUA KONA
Kentaro Aoki HILO Twila Ashley KAILUA KONA
Melvin Arai HILO Lisa Aukai KAILUA KONA
Melanie Arakaki HILO Judy Bassett KAILUA KONA
Ruby Arzaga HILO Melissa Bergfalk KAILUA KONA
Jo Ann Aurello HILO Samuel Brown KAILUA KONA
Derek Awong HILO Kerstin Busse KAILUA KONA
Brenda Awong HILO Joann Caufield KAILUA KONA
Ferdinand Babas HILO Dane Decker KAILUA KONA
Pascual Bacor HILO Wilfredo Duran KAILUA KONA
Morgen Bahurinsky HILO Nadiline Frendo KAILUA KONA
Robert Belcher HILO Marvis Hanano KAILUA KONA
Betty Ben HILO Derek Haspe KAILUA KONA
Hiroko Blattler HILO Hideichi Ito KAILUA KONA
Dennis Blinn HILO John Jacobson KAILUA KONA
Wanda Bowles HILO Shelly Johnson KAILUA KONA
Hope Braceros HILO Jon Jokiel KAILUA KONA
Gerard Callo HILO Maile Lawrence KAILUA KONA
Sara Chiu HILO Anita Leao KAILUA KONA
Lee Collins HILO Craig Leeper KAILUA KONA
Stanley Costales HILO Katherine Louie KAILUA KONA
Merle Costales HILO Deanna Marks KAILUA KONA
Vicki Daniel HILO Alison McBride KAILUA KONA
Heather Dansdill HILO Melissa Murar KAILUA KONA
Gina Durante HILO Brooke Myers KAILUA KONA
Laura Ebesugawa HILO Sonja Navarro KAILUA KONA
Ian Ebesugawa HILO Douglas Nelson KAILUA KONA
Rachael Eichelberger-Iga HILO Lisa Oroc-Perea KAILUA KONA
Lindsay Englund HILO Chelsea Park KAILUA KONA
Stan Fortuna Jr. HILO Jono Perea KAILUA KONA
John Furumo HILO Angelina Pinnell KAILUA KONA
Paul Furumo HILO Diane Quitiquit KAILUA KONA
Norbert Furumo HILO Bud Quitiquit KAILUA KONA
Kimberly Furumo HILO Herman Rafol KAILUA KONA
David Hammes HILO Jim Ragual KAILUA KONA
Alexander Hatzis HILO James Sakai KAILUA KONA
Yoko Hayano HILO Cathy Shea KAILUA KONA
Yoshiyuki Hayashi HILO Sandra Shepherd KAILUA KONA
Chris Hirayama HILO Betsy Solis KAILUA KONA
Shannon Hoehna HILO Tasha Starr KAILUA KONA
Kerri Inglis HILO Vanessa Swanson KAILUA KONA
Esther Kanehailua HILO Rosemary Taylor KAILUA KONA
Takayuki Kitai HILO Mark Thomas KAILUA KONA
Hugh Kobayashi HILO Vinnie Vasquez KAILUA KONA
Nicola Koyama HILO Kevin Vessel KAILUA KONA
Tomio Kurakami HILO Roberto Villamil KAILUA KONA
Marie Kuramoto HILO Lisa Vos KAILUA KONA
Michelle Lawrence HILO Geoff Whitener KAILUA KONA
Jenny Lee HILO Judy Ann Williams KAILUA KONA
Gregory Lum Ho HILO Beth Wilson KAILUA KONA
Lani Manaytay HILO Scott Wilson KAILUA KONA
Mary Ann Mandaloniz HILO Jules Coenen KAILUA- KONA
Sally Marrack HILO Rhonda Minardi KAILUA- KONA
Lionel Meyer HILO Melanie Kelekolio KAILUAKONA
Brent Meyer HILO Tiapepe Ulufale KAILUAKONA
Zachary Montizor HILO Laura Bollman KAILUA-KONA
Lorilyn Montizor HILO David Bowden KAILUA-KONA
Aaron Morita HILO Hazel Brackett KAILUA-KONA
David Nakamura HILO Lisa Bryant KAILUA-KONA
Harvey Nakasone HILO Lorrin Ching KAILUA-KONA
Deborah Namohala HILO Gentry Clark KAILUA-KONA
Eva Naniole HILO Annette Crisanti KAILUA-KONA
Satoru Negishi HILO Julie Davis Hudnell Debina KAILUA-KONA
Anthony Nolta HILO Kristin Drost KAILUA-KONA
Thomas Oakes HILO Janette du Monceaux KAILUA-KONA
Richard Otani HILO Martin Grassberger KAILUA-KONA
Steven Pavao HILO Karen Hale KAILUA-KONA
Randi-Ann Riingen HILO Michael Hamilton KAILUA-KONA
Yoshihiko Saito HILO Wallace Haunio KAILUA-KONA
Sabrina Sakata HILO Chieko Hayashi KAILUA-KONA
Allison Sakoda HILO Hiroshi Hayashi KAILUA-KONA
Charles Sakoda HILO Penn Henderson KAILUA-KONA
Lyric Santiago HILO Taunya Hicks KAILUA-KONA
Miya Shibano HILO Sarah Higgins KAILUA-KONA
Rudolph Spencer HILO Dawn Hirata KAILUA-KONA
Jacklyn Spencer HILO Mellissa Kimitete KAILUA-KONA
Robin Spencer HILO Albert King Martinez KAILUA-KONA
Kimberly Sugawa-Fujinaga HILO Amanda Kopp KAILUA-KONA
Robert Taira HILO Douglas Leopola KAILUA-KONA
Alan Takane HILO Karen Marengi KAILUA-KONA
Dawna Takane HILO John Matsushita KAILUA-KONA
Nikka Takane HILO Marjorie Murphy KAILUA-KONA
Imelda Tamayo HILO Ryan Nuckols KAILUA-KONA
Daigo Tomono HILO Jeannette Park KAILUA-KONA
Dee Torres HILO Shigeki Shirakuni KAILUA-KONA
Ricky Tsubota HILO Junko Shirakuni KAILUA-KONA
James Tuscany HILO Jeff Strang KAILUA-KONA
Jasmine Urasaki HILO Lena Tanaka KAILUA-KONA
Lee Urasaki HILO Guy Toyama KAILUA-KONA
Ko Watanabe HILO Sayo Tsukamoto KAILUA-KONA
Uilani Wills HILO Shoyo Tsukamoto KAILUA-KONA
Donna Wong Yuen HILO Mikilani Van Osdol KAILUA-KONA
Catherine Yamanaka HILO Douglas WIlkerson KAILUA-KONA
Ray Yamashita HILO Kelly Williamson KAILUA-KONA
Toshie Yamashita HILO Nicole Wippert KAILUA-KONA
Uichi Yamashita HILO Keiko Scott KAILUE KONA
Kohei Yamazaki HILO Cowman A-Moo-Ha KAMUELA
Masami Yutani HILO Andrea Bess KAMUELA
James Gannon HOLUALOA Jason Chin KAMUELA
Angela Gannon HOLUALOA Elizabeth Chock KAMUELA
Sandra Kimball HOLUALOA Sharon Cislo KAMUELA
Jon Kunitake HOLUALOA Daena Craven KAMUELA
Kelly Lewi HOLUALOA William Davis KAMUELA
Christopher Smith HOLUALOA Gina Ervin KAMUELA
Junya Yumita HOLUALOA Monina Esguerra KAMUELA
Tommy Adkins HONAKAA Manu Hanano KAMUELA
Edith Nonner HONAKAA Kevin Ho KAMUELA
Peter Cahill HONAUNAU Michael Hrynevych KAMUELA
David Spaulding HONAUNAU Uvonne Lindsey KAMUELA
Diane Wolking HONAUNAU Joe Loschiavo KAMUELA
Jessica Abner HONOKAA Kevin Lynch KAMUELA
Ryan Gentry HONOKAA Ernestene Martinson KAMUELA
Villamor Gentry HONOKAA Susan Nixon KAMUELA
Mark Nakashima HONOKAA Jason Nixon KAMUELA
Victor Eisen PAHOA Ernie Nourrie KAMUELA
Arvin Munoz PAHOA Paula Nourrie KAMUELA
Marc Osuch PAHOA Jeffrey Palama KAMUELA
Darren Rosario PAPAIKOU Caryn Palama KAMUELA
Sandi Rosario PAPAIKOU Mark Ravaglia KAMUELA
Francis Alcain PEPEEKEO Sylvia Ravaglia KAMUELA
Mike Brown PEPEEKEO Curtis Vana KAMUELA
Shaif Jetha PUAKO Masahiko Watanabe KAMUELA
Marta Caproni VOLCANO Masaki Watanabe KAMUELA
Bryson Manuel VOLCANO Hiroshi Yamada KAMUELA
Angela Miyashiro VOLCANO Akamai Cornillez KAPAAU
Lyman Perry VOLCANO Morgan Miller KAPAAU
J Ashford WAIKOLOA Susan Cordell KEAAU
Ellen Carvalho WAIKOLOA Daimen Hisashima KEAAU
Michael Cservenak WAIKOLOA Rochelle Hodson KEAAU
Katherine Donovan WAIKOLOA Jolene Hughes KEAAU
Carlos Fuentes WAIKOLOA Jahna Lau KEAAU
Peter Hoffman WAIKOLOA Seonaid Nakata KEAAU
Michael King WAIKOLOA Dale Pinkley KEAAU
Jessica Robinson WAIKOLOA Mel Vigilla KEAAU
Ellie Sumic WAIKOLOA Rani Tanimoto KEALAKEKOA
Ashley Yeager WAIKOLOA Lorylen Lindsey KEALAKEKUA
Melissa Keenan WAKOLOA Jay Plasman KEALAKEKUA
Peter Bianchi MOUNTAIN VIEW Brandi Stacher KEALAKEKUA
Ruth Rivera MOUNTAIN VIEW Yarden Dankner KEAUHOU
Froilan Rivera MOUNTAIN VIEW Ellen Grace Leung KEEAU
Charles Bostwick MT VIEW Jomar Matias KEEAU
Nick Muragin NINOLE Colleen Fratinardo LAUPAHOEHOE
Una Burns OCEAN VIEW Felipe Sales PAHALA

December 11, 2009 Posted by | Events, Health and Fitness | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dr. Arakaki continues to give back

Dr. Melanie Arakaki with daughters Jade (7) and Jenna (4)

Dr. Melanie Arakaki with daughters Jade (7) and Jenna (4)

     Everyone knows that regular exercise is a great ticket to living a long, productive life.  Aerobic exercise strengths the heart and helps avoid the many problems associated with a sedentary lifestyle.

    For many people staying on a regular fitness program can be challenging, especially with a busy career and family demands.

   For family physician, Melanie Arakaki, running has become a time to de-stress with the high demands made of her in her profession.

   “My schedule is pretty hectic, so exercising is one of the few times I have completely to myself.  It is my treat to myself,” Arakaki said.

     Arakaki is married and has two daughters, Jade age 7 and Jenna age 4 and she has made exercise a priority in her life.  “I was in the marching band and managed the soccer and cross-country teams in high school.  I didn’t actually play any sports as I couldn’t even run a mile back then,” she said.

    Arakaki was born and raised in Hilo and graduated from Hilo High in 1989.  “I got started in running in college at UH Manoa mostly to keep my roommate company,” she said.

  Doctor Arakaki has become an accomplished runner having done several EMS 5K’s (3.1-miles) and the Great Aloha Run (8-miles), but her favorite race was when she ran in and finished the Honolulu Marathon (26.2 miles).

   “I ran my first Honolulu Marathon in 2006 (5 hours 16 minutes) mostly because of peer pressure from Dr’s Morita and Nakamura.  Then I got pregnant in 2007 and therefore missed the race that year, only to lose the baby when I was five months along,” Arakaki said.

   When she got the okay from her doctor Arakaki began training for her second marathon which she finished in 2008.  “I ran the 2008 race (4:56) about 20 minutes faster than my first Honolulu Marathon,” she said.

   Current she is training on doing her third Honolulu Marathon, scheduled for December of this year, and she is doing it for a cause.

   “I had debated about running for a cause for a while and it just so happened that a postcard for Team in Training arrived in my mailbox on one of those days that I had been thinking about it.  So I signed up,” Arakaki said.

Dr. Mel & kids at Hilo track
Dr. Mel & kids at Hilo track

Money raised for “Team in Training” goes to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as it provides funds for valuable research which can save lives.

    “The Leukemia and Lymphoma society strikes a cord with me because I have a cousin and an aunt who are lymphoma survivors.  I also lost a dear patient and friend to the disease and recently one of my college friends lost his wife to leukemia, leaving him to raise his two children alone,” she said.

      Arakaki has even set up a web page to help bring awareness to the group.  “Blood-related cancers can affect everyone, our children in particular.  As a parent of two healthy daughters, I can only imagine how frightening it must be to see a child going through rounds of chemotherapy, or how devastating it would be to actually lose a child or love one to these cancers,” her web site explains.

    To train for her marathon Arakaki will do a couple of short runs during the week and once per week she will head to Spencer’s Gym to work on the elliptical or stationary bike.

    “On Sunday’s I run do a long run (8 to 9 miles) with Dr. Morita, Dave Adachi, Dr. Nakamura and Cindy Fuke.  One of the newer members to our group is Dr. Sara Chiu, a child psychiatrist, who will be running her first marathon this December,” Arakaki said.

    Arakaki will increase her Sunday mileage by one to two miles every week until the marathon, capping out at about 22 to 24 miles in November.

   “I try to exercise at least six times a week, even it’s only for 20 to 30 minutes,” she said.

    Arakaki will also try to watch what she eats, but admits to having a sweet tooth.  “I’m working on it, but I love sweets.  Uh, this is another reason why exercise is important, gotta burn off those calories,” she said.

     Come December Arakaki will toe the line at the start of the Honolulu Marathon and will dedicate her race to her Aunty Else Agena and cousin Fay Castillo, who have survived lymphoma.

    “I also want to dedicate my run to the late Doreen Tao, beloved teacher and friend, and the late coach Wade Ishibashi, who lost their hard-fought battles to lymphoma and leukemia, respectively.

   I have also dedicated this marathon to Jennifer Villanueva, wife of our college friend, Mike, who passed away from leukemia a few weeks ago.  For all the courage and strength and lessons of hope and love, running a marathon seems pale in comparison,” Arakaki said.

   To visit Dr. Melanie Arakaki’s, “Team in Training” site go to http://pages.teamintraining.org/hi/honolulu09/marakaki.

August 17, 2009 Posted by | Health and Fitness, Marathon Running, Profiles, Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment