Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Grassroot support growing to save UHH cross country program

Some members of the UHH women’s cross country team

“It is a sad day when UH Hilo cuts the only sport that has a connection to traditional Hawaiian culture (makahiki),” Kamehameha chemistry teacher Joel Truesdell said.

Truesdell is referring to the latest announcement from the Vulcan athletic department to cut both the men’s and women’s cross country programs in order to meet the projected 10 percent budget deficit.

“It shows a lack of sensitivity or awareness to the cultural basis of sport in our Hawaiian community,” Truesdell said.  “All we are left with are imported games.”

Along with being a teacher at the Kamehameha-Keaau campus Truesdell is also the head women’s cross country coach for the Warriors and an advocate for distance running.

The UHH cross country program is a non revenue generating sport and, like most business decisions, found itself at the bottom of the priority list and at the top of the chopping block of UHH Athletic Director Dexter Irvine.

“Our kids are devastated,” UHH cross country coach Jaime Guerpo said.  “I broke the news to them a few days ago and since that time we’ve been looking at ways to try to come up with the $100,000 needed each year to keep us going.”

Guerpo has been coaching the cross country program at UHH since 1999 and has taken a budget cut ever year.

“I feel it’s my duty to keep the program going,” Guerpo said.  “I understand that the administration had to make the cuts to keep the athletic program going and we’ve always made do with what we got and have produced a very successful program.”

Guerpo is even willing to coach the team without compensation if it would help salvage the program.

“I’d give up my pay in a heartbeat if that is what it would take to keep this program going,” he said.  “We’re looking at all sorts of ways to help keep cross country alive at UHH.”

Over the years Guerpo had heavily recruited local athletes from around the state to run on his men’s and women’s teams.

Currently Christian Liberty’s Justin Pang, Keoni and Nick Ucker, Keaau’s Nick Hagemann and Liliana DeSmither, Kau’s Kapua Lapera, Waiakea’s James Imai, and Hilo’s Stefano Barbis are members of the team.

Several of the current and former UHH cross country runners were winners of the Big Island Road Runners scholarship.

“We were all in shock when Coach Jaime broke the news to us a few days ago,” Imai said.  “We’re still hoping we can find a way to keep the programs alive.”

The BIRR, along with the Big Island International Marathon, Honolulu Marathon, and Big Island Running Company have all been contacted to lend their support towards helping to keep running alive at UHH.

These UHH runners have also been highly visible in the community, often found at the finish lines of the Big Island Interscholastic Federation cross country and track and field finish lines as they help give back to the sport in which they love dearly.

Guerpo and his runners have also been strong support/volunteers at Hawai’i Island Special Olympics and numerous County Parks and Recreation track and field meets as they serve as strong role models for our community.

“We also help out with the Big Island Marathon each year by setting up hundreds of cones and barricades along the 26.2 mile course at 3:00 a.m. and then collecting and returning them when the event is over,” Guerpo said.

“The UHH cross country team are not self-promoters, but are contributors in ways that are not always recognized in public forums,” Faith Nance, the cross country representative on the Vulcan Athletic Club said.

“Many of the talented high school runners who choose to remain at home have the opportunity to continue to participate in a sport that can become a lifelong avocation and a strong foundation for a healthy lifestyle,” Nance said.

Dozens of emails poured into the Big Dog’s mail box in support of looking at ways of keeping the cross country program alive at UH Hilo.

 “At least UH Manoa gets it,” Truesdell said.  “They have a full complement of the sports that are traditionally based such as cross country, track and field, swimming and sailing.”  

The UHH athletic department made their decision to cut cross country without getting community input which has many local residents upset because they feel they are stake holders in higher education.

“It seems to me that UH Hilo should reach out to the community before making this decision,” Truesdell said.  “The people here will take care of their own if given the opportunity or challenge.”

Guerpo continues to look over a variety of scenarios to see if something can be salvaged.

Vulcan runners support many local community races

“If we have to give something up then I’d like to see the women’s team saved as this would at least come into Title 9 compliance of gender equity, “Guerpo said.

 If the UHH decision makers were to come to BIIF cross country meet they would see the connections.  Keeping a sport like this will maintain and strengthen ties to the community that are priceless.

“A University’s cross country program provides a valuable benefit not only to the team members, but also to the entire university and surrounding community by inspiring everyone to get more active,” Jason Braswell, owner of the Big Island Running Company said.

“Collegiate cross country is particularly inspirational to middle school and high school students who get to see where their running can lead them,” Braswell said.

With the continued growth of the Big Island International Marathon and BIIF cross county programs the continuation of a university running team would be responding to the interest of a growing segment of our community.

We all hope that Athletic Director Dexter Irvin will reconsider his decision to cut an important sports program and instead become part of the solution in promoting something that has deep seeded roots in our culturally based community.

If anyone in the community would like to help save the UHH cross country program please contact the Big Dog at waiakeabigdog@aol.com or call 969-7400.

Related link:  https://waynejoseph.wordpress.com/2011/04/18/uhh-athletics-suspends-cross-country-cheerleading-press-release/

April 18, 2011 Posted by | Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

RN Imelda Tamayo reduces stress with Exercise

We’ve all heard the saying that ‘exercise relieves stress’, but did you know that there is nothing that relieves exercise?

There are no short cuts or substitutes for what is the master of stress relief, exercise.

Having a bad day?  Working long hours?  Feeling down and depressed?  Then choose what will do your body the best, get out for a long walk or take a dip in the ocean.

For registered nurse, Imelda Tamayo, working 12 hour shifts at the Hilo Medical Center’s Cardiovascular Unit can be difficult and stress ridden.

“The cardio unit takes care of patients with heart problems such as heart attacks, arrhythmia’s, heart failure and the like,” Tamayo said.  “Many of our patients need monitoring of their heart and some days can be very stressful, especially when the acuity of the unit is very high.”

Over time Tamayo discovered that if she took walks around Liliuokalani Gardens or the Hilo High track it would relieve her stress levels.

“I didn’t do much exercise until a few years ago,” she said.  “I found myself too stressed from work and I need to relieve that stress so I channeled that stress into exercising.”

For Tamayo those short walks soon progressed into longer walks and eventually into short runs.

“At first I couldn’t even run a mile without stopping to catch my breath,” Tamayo said.  “I eventually worked my way up to running three miles, then signed up for my first 5K (3.1 miles) race.”

A few years ago Tamayo participated in the EMS run in Hilo and then later that same year signed up to do the Volcano 5 mile run in the National Park.

“I had never done a trail run before,” Tamayo said of the Volcano event, “and this race encouraged me to want to do even longer distances.”

With the momentum of exercise success Tamayo found herself continually challenging herself to go further and further with each accomplishment.

In 2008 she completed the Big Island Marathon’s 10.8 mile race and then trained for and successful completed her first full marathon (26.2 miles) in Honolulu that same year.

What’s interesting about this 33 year old RN is she was a late bloomer in the area of exercise as she never participated in any sports while growing up in Hilo.

“My parents are originally from the Philippines, but I was born in Hilo,” she said.  “I don’t think I would be what I am today if it weren’t for my parents as they worked very hard so that I could get the education I needed to have a successful career.”

Tamayo runs each Sunday with a group of medical professionals and gives them a lot of credit for her running success.

“The group encourages everyone, regardless of their ability, and has always been of great support to me and all the other members of the group,” she said.

In 2009 some members of her running group challenged each other to do the “HI 5”, which is to run all five State of Hawaii marathons in the same year.

“I don’t know if it were the drinks that made us do our pact, but we all agreed that we would run the Big Island, Kona, Kauai, Maui and Honolulu marathons for 2010,” Tamayo said.

We’ve all heard the saying that ‘exercise relieves stress’, but did you know that there is nothing that relieves exercise?

There are no short cuts or substitutes for what is the master of stress relief, exercise.

Having a bad day?  Working long hours?  Feeling down and depressed?  Then choose what will do your body the best, get out for a long walk or take a dip in the ocean.

For registered nurse, Imelda Tamayo, working 12 hour shifts at the Hilo Medical Center’s Cardiovascular Unit can be difficult and stress ridden.

“The cardio unit takes care of patients with heart problems such as heart attacks, arrhythmia’s, heart failure and the like,” Tamayo said.  “Many of our patients need monitoring of their heart and some days can be very stressful, especially when the acuity of the unit is very high.”

Over time Tamayo discovered that if she took walks around Liliuokalani Gardens or the Hilo High track it would relieve her stress levels.

“I didn’t do much exercise until a few years ago,” she said.  “I found myself too stressed from work and I need to relieve that stress so I channeled that stress into exercising.”

For Tamayo those short walks soon progressed into longer walks and eventually into short runs.

“At first I couldn’t even run a mile without stopping to catch my breath,” Tamayo said.  “I eventually worked my way up to running three miles, then signed up for my first 5K (3.1 miles) race.”

A few years ago Tamayo participated in the EMS run in Hilo and then later that same year signed up to do the Volcano 5 mile run in the National Park.

“I had never done a trail run before,” Tamayo said of the Volcano event, “and this race encouraged me to want to do even longer distances.”

With the momentum of exercise success Tamayo found herself continually challenging herself to go further and further with each accomplishment.

In 2008 she completed the Big Island Marathon’s 10.8 mile race and then trained for and successful completed her first full marathon (26.2 miles) in Honolulu that same year.

What’s interesting about this 33 year old RN is she was a late bloomer in the area of exercise as she never participated in any sports while growing up in Hilo.

“My parents are originally from the Philippines, but I was born in Hilo,” she said.  “I don’t think I would be what I am today if it weren’t for my parents as they worked very hard so that I could get the education I needed to have a successful career.”

Tamayo runs each Sunday with a group of medical professionals and gives them a lot of credit for her running success.

“The group encourages everyone, regardless of their ability, and has always been of great support to me and all the other members of the group,” she said.

In 2009 some members of her running group challenged each other to do the “HI 5”, which is to run all five State of Hawaii marathons in the same year.

“I don’t know if it were the drinks that made us do our pact, but we all agreed that we would run the Big Island, Kona, Kauai, Maui and Honolulu marathons for 2010,” Tamayo said.

Tamayo lived up to her pact and in 2010 completed all five of the marathons in the state with some of the members of her Sunday running group.

“The trips to these runs was so enjoyable due to the company I had with me,” she said.  “The experience was fun and very memorable and I especially enjoyed the camaraderie we had during our outing together for meals and shopping time.”

Her bond with the group grew stronger as she continues to run each Sunday with them in Hilo if she is off from work.

“I like to run with the Sunday group because they are just so supportive and continue to encourage one another,” she said.  “It doesn’t matter if you run at a slow pace or a fast pace, someone is always there to encourage you on.  They are just a wonderful group of people.”

As an added twist Tamayo and her group have added biking after their long Sunday run as a means of relieving some of the aches and pains of running.

“I think biking after the runs helps to stretch some of my leg muscles and I find that I’m not as sore,” she said.

In 2011 Tamayo is doing a series of half marathon races, starting the year with the Big Island half, with the Volcano and Kauai half marathons to follow and she’ll end the year by doing the Honolulu Marathon.

“As a future goal I would like to do at least one mainland marathon,” Tamayo said.  “If I had to do one I think I would like to do the San Francisco marathon and maybe 2012 will be the year that I do that one.”

Imelda Tamayo is an inspiration of someone with no athletic background stumbling on stress relief by starting a walking program and then slowly increasing to a point where she can now do five marathons in one year.

Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person’s physical, emotional, and mental states,” Carol Welch wrote.

“Exercise is the medicine for all that ails us,” says the Big Dog.

And someday should you happen to see a regular jogger come passing through the back streets of East Hawaii remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”

April 12, 2011 Posted by | Profiles, Running on the Big Island | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hilo’s Dr. Z staying motivated despite serious ankle injuries

Dr. Z

The older we get the more we begin to realize the many lessons that life provides us and the more we appreciate the precious gift afforded to us.

Good mental, physical and spiritual health, along with productive longevity is recognized as the key components in a happy life.

For Dr. Michelle Zalenski, also known as Dr. Z, doing something she had done many time before became the catalyst of what was to become a challenging endeavor.

“I used to jump off a wall into the ocean, something I had done many times before,” Dr. Z said. “The last time I tried it I must have hit at a bad angle or likely hit one of the few rocks on the mostly sandy bottom.”

Dr. Z learned that day, some three years ago, that sometimes injuries can occur when you least expect them.

“It was not a particularly high jump, but the angle and impact resulted in multiple fractures/dislocation,” she said.  “My foot was dangling from my ankle/leg.”

The result was that Dr. Z required a plate and nine screws which were necessary for all the parts to stay together and heal.  The healing process took over a year with the aid of crutches and later a walking cane followed by a year of limping due to the lack of not have full flexibility.

“This certainly helped me to realize that life can change in an instant,” she said.

Dr. Zalenski is a Hilo psychologist who works from what she calls a positive, strengths-based approach.

“I believe that teaching people how to reach goals is great, but one of the best ways to learn is through example,” she said.

Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Dr. Z was active on the swim, soccer, bowling, track and basketball teams.

Ankle x-ray of Dr. Z

“I also golfed and we played many pick-up sports in the neighborhood,” the Steeler fan said.

Dr. Zalenski started coming to Oahu during the 1990’s to visit her best friend from college and later took a job working for Hale Kipa in Honolulu as a summer counselor and later became a school counselor with the Department of Education.

“I moved to the Big Island in 2003 after completing my doctoral program and was given a job offer,” she said.

What is remarkable about this 39 year old is that despite having a plate and screws placed into her ankle she decided last year to tackle the Honolulu Marathon, a distance of 26.2 miles.

Marathons in itself are not easy for anyone to accomplish, but add together the physical handicap that Dr. Z deals with plus her build of 5’ 10” and 243 pounds and you have a mighty task at hand.

“I think the real appeal for running a marathon was to push myself,” Dr. Z explained.  “When people think of marathons, they think big.”

After shattering her ankle in 2007 walking had even become a struggle and that accident brought all of her activities to a screeching halt as she knew she had to slow down.

It wasn’t’ until 18 months ago that Dr. Z started taking steps without having to limp due to the lack of full movement in her ankle.

“I knew that the Honolulu Marathon would be a walking/jogging event for me,” she said.  “The challenge motivated me to push myself and I believed it to be an excellent way to improve my fitness and overall health.”

Six months before this past December’s marathon Dr. Z began making a conscious effort to increase her daily steps as she scheduled regular walks with friends.

Dr. Z #6098 finishes Honolulu Marathon with friends

“We began increasing our walking time and distance over those six months until I felt confident enough to know I could do this,” she said.

Dr. Z also had to overcome that additional burden of having a sedentary job so she would park the farthest distance from the building, always use the stairs, and take every opportunity to walk between her appointments.

“I also incorporated the elliptical for at least an hour several days a week and stayed active with yard work and activities on the weekend,” she said.

Adding a pedometer helped her stay focused on her steps as she tried to increase her daily activities.

“I started focusing on footwear and I tried four different shoes before finding the one that would best work for the marathon and have the necessary features for my related foot issues,” she said.

Dr. Zalenski looked for comfort, support and motion control to help her through her upcoming goal and eventually made the right choice that suited her needs best.

By Thanksgiving weekend Dr. Z had accepted an invitation from a friend to join him on an 18 mile course with included a 1000 foot elevation climb. Completing it provided her with the additional boost in confidence.

Needless to say Dr. Z completed the Honolulu Marathon finishing in a time of 8 hours 17 minutes and 25 seconds.

Dr. Zalenski provides a great example of someone in the medical profession that practices what they preach in health and fitness.  She wants to remain in an active lifestyle as she will look for other community events to participate in.

“One of my next goals is a 40 by 40,” she said.  “I would like to lose 40 pounds by my 40th birthday.  I have a little over three months to accomplish that goal, so it would be realistic and attainable.”

Good luck Dr. Z in setting the bar higher in your life.  As Richard Monckton Milnes wrote, “The virtue lies in the struggle, not in the prize.”

And someday should you happen to see a struggling jogger come passing through the back streets of Paradise Park remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”

Email the Big Dog at waiakeabigdog@aol.com.

February 21, 2011 Posted by | Profiles, Running on the Big Island | , , , , , | Leave a comment

2011 Pro Bowl brings in $28.1 million into local economy

2011 NFL Pro Bowl in Hawai‘i

The NFL returned to Hawai‘i for the 2011 Pro Bowl, with 49,311 spectators gathering at the Aloha Stadium to watch the AFC go head to head with the NFC on Jan. 30, 2011. Of the 49,311 in attendance, 21,204 were visitors, of which 17,048 came specifically to Hawai‘i to attend the Pro Bowl, accounting for $28.15 million in visitor spending. This indicates that, for a large majority of visiting fans, the Pro Bowl is a planned vacation activity.  HTA recently released a survey that showed that the average length of stay for visitors to the Pro Bowl was 10.75 days, up from 9.08 days in 2009. Even more impressive was the staggering 13.4 million viewers who tuned in to watch the game, just under 1997’s Pro Bowl viewership all-time high of 13.5 million.  

“We are pleased with this year’s increase in Pro Bowl viewership, as it is a positive indication that Hawai‘i is getting exposure,” said Mike Story, HTA’s tourism brand manager. “Many people on the mainland are braving winter storms, and seeing a tropical island that boasts beautiful weather year-round is definitely something that will help influence their decision to come to our islands.”

 The number one sporting event for Hawaii’s economy is the Honolulu Marathon which is held each December bringing in an estimated $100 million to the local economy.

February 15, 2011 Posted by | Events | , , | 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.

PAW PRINTS:

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