Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Hawaiian Idol Winner an Island Natural

Kalona Purugganan

   “Let food by thy medicine, and medicine by thy food,” Hippocrates.

   The above quote was brought to my attention when I was interviewing Kalona Purugganan for this column.

   Purugganan is the Vitamins Manager at Island Naturals Mauka in Kealakekua and she is a firm believer in good health through exercise and diet.

   “I provide customers with the help they need to include the right supplements and or body care products for optimal health,” she said.  “I love it.  Alternative medicine and natural remedies are effective and economical.”

   After work Purugganan can be found doing a variety of activities in order to stay healthy and to improve her overall fitness.

   “When I became a mother (seven years ago) I started running again and making better decisions for my health,” Purugganan said.

   “I’ve always been somewhat health conscious thanks to my Mom who never let us drink soda and made sure we ate our fruits and veggies,” she said.

   The big change for Purugganan came when she started working for the well known Health Food Store some five years ago.

   “When I took my job here at Island Naturals I stopped eating fast food, something that I can’t believe I ever did,” she said.  “I have learned to appreciate the importance of an organic diet, taking vitamin supplements, and cleansing.”

   Besides adopting an organic diet Purugganan will also start each day with a good breakfast and throughout the day stay well hydrated, consuming lots of water.

   Purugganan grew up in the sleepy rural village of Laupahoehoe and in high school dabbled in cross country, junior basketball and cheer lead for one year.  “Those high school activities were enough to get me started,” she said with a grin.

   Today this 27 year old will average 35 miles of running per week, when not training for any races.  She will also include stretching and breathing routines into her weekly exercise program and compliment everything with strength training.

   “Running is my base or foundation,” she said.  “Over the years I’ve combined it with typical weight training, yoga, resistant machines and dance. I think it is important to have variation in one’s exercise regime.  The only thing that always remains for me though is running.”

   Being a busy single parent with full time job Purugganan needs to adapt to the constant demands on her in order to find the time to exercise.

   “Time is of the essence and right now I am learning to be flexible,” she said.  “I’ve been doing a stretching for athlete’s routine for years and now I fit it into my workout schedule at least three times per week for 30 to 45 minutes each time.”

   Purugganan’s talents extend far beyond health and fitness as she is also a singer and songwriter.

   “I won the Hawaiian Idol last year (www.myspace.com/kalonazloveletters) and I performed one of my songs on the new local TV show, Entertain Me, which aired two months ago,” she said.  “Music is my passion and I often get ideas for songs when I am running.”

  Purugganan would like to be able to run three marathons (a marathon is 26.2-miles) this year and then give biathlons a try next year.

   “I’m hoping to do the Kona Marathon in June,” she said.  “Then I’ll do either the Maui or Kauai Marathon, depending on my work schedule, and return to do the Honolulu Marathon again this year.”

   As Purugganan develops into a competitive athlete she plans on adding bicycling and swimming to her fitness regime.

   “My long term goal is to someday compete in the Ironman World Triathlon,” she said.  “I know they hold some spots for us Kamaina.”

   Purugganan has set her goals high for the future and reminded me that above all else, “I am a mother.”  Her daughter just completed her first track season, at age seven, and appears to be running in her mother’s shoes.

   “Anything active and fun I can do with my daughter whether its hula, swimming at the beach, basketball, tennis, playing at the park or just dancing around the house, I consider as my cross training,” she said.

   “I am also leading a life that supports and utilizes sustainable and environmental practices,” she proudly stated.

   Since Purugganan began this interview with a quote by Hippocrates, I find it appropriate to close the interview with a Chinese Proverb that says, “He that takes medicine and neglects diet, wastes the skill of the physician.”

April 28, 2010 Posted by | Health and Fitness | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Three Time BIIM Champion, Michael Georgi, Returns

Jason Florimonte, 2009 BIIM winner. Photo by Tim Wright

Preparations are underway for the 13th Annual Big Island International Marathon, Half-Marathon, and 5K scheduled for Sunday, March 21.

   The event was the brainchild of Roland Higashi, former owner of Creative Arts, and George Miyashiro who owned Jack’s Tours.  The two businessmen elicited the help of running Guru Karl Kunz and the Big Dog to help make their vision happen.

   “We wanted to help stimulate the visitor industry for Hilo and thought that runners from Japan and elsewhere would find us an attractive place to visit,” Higashi said.

   The inaugural Big Island International Marathon (26.2-miles) race was held in 1997 and the winner was Michael Georgi of Honolulu.

  Georgi, a Punahou Social Studies Teacher and longtime track and cross-country coach, ran the certified marathon course in 2 hours, 41 minutes and 15 seconds at age 45 and returned the following year for his second consecutive victory.

   Georgi became a regular fixture in the Hilo race running eight of the first nine BIIM’s while finishing first three times, a BIIM record, third three times and fifth twice.

   “The first eight miles of the course took its toll on me during my last two appearances (2006 and ’07),” Georgi said.  “After the 2007 race I decided to take a hiatus from doing this course.”

   Now at age 57, after taking a two year break from the BIIM, Georgi has decided to challenge the course once again.

   “I like doing the BIIM because of the beauty of the first eight miles,” he said.  “I much prefer the BIIM to the Honolulu Marathon due to the scenery and lack of crowds.”

   The Honolulu Marathon will typically have more than 20,000 runners at the starting line compared to the BIIM which has 250 marathoners and another 350 half-marathoners beginning at the 6 am start in Pepeekeo.

   During the 1980’s Hilo hosted a smaller marathon that ran totally within the Hilo district which saw Georgi win in 1985.

   “I ran the original Hilo Marathon twice during the 1980’s,” Georgi said.  “I finished second in 1982 to Ruben Chappins with a time of 2:29:55 and returned in 1985 to win in 2:32:04.”

   The original Hilo Marathon course was a double, out and back loop that went from Bayfront out to Richardson Beach Park twice.  The course was relatively flat and was never certified and some say it may have been a tad bit short of the 26.2-mile requirement.

  Since 1997 the BIIM has been measured precisely by HELCO engineer, Curt Beck, and the race has obtained a USATF certificate making it a legitimate qualifier for the prestigious Boston Marathon in April.

   Add in a bunch of rolling hills from Pepeekeo to Honolii and the BIIM is a challenging marathon that takes runners through some of the most beautiful areas in paradise.

   Georgi currently owns two age group records when, at age 45, he ran 2:41.15 (45-49 age group record) and at age 52 he finished in 2:56:58 (50-54 age record) to go with his three overall BIIM victories. 

   Now, at age 57, Georgi has his sights on breaking the 55 to 59 age group record currently held by Texan, Larry Linchovsky, with a time of 3:16:48.

    “My realistic goal is to finish the marathon respectably and uninjured,” Georgi said.

   When Georgi laces up his shoes for the start of this year’s marathon he will be joined by 250 other 26.2-mile enthusiast plus another 350 half-marathon runners.  Both races sold out three weeks ago and has made BIIM one of the most attractive small marathons around.

   “We’re going to have to see if we can increase the participants’ spots for the 2011 race,” Higashi said.  “We will try to increase at a slow, reasonable rate, as to minimize the impact to our community.”

   In conjunction with the three races hosted by BIIM on Sunday there will be a Carbo Load Dinner Party at the Moku Ola room of the Hilo Hawaiian on Friday starting at 6 pm.  The all you can eat pasta party cost $21 at the door and includes a hula show and lucky number giveaways. 

   Then on Saturday the BIIM will host a Health and Fitness Expo from noon to 6 pm at the Hilo Hawaiian.  Vendors from around the island will be on hand with free samples.

   Ki Mana Academy Massage will be giving free massages, Island Naturals free samples, and more.

   For more information on any of the events hosted by the BIIM call 969-7400.

One of my favorite quotes on running in a 26.2-mile marathon comes from Martine Costello when he said, “You’re running on guts. On fumes. Your muscles twitch. You throw up. You’re delirious. But you keep running because there’s no way out of this hell you’re in, because there’s no way you’re not crossing the finish line.  It’s a misery that non-runners don’t understand.”

March 15, 2010 Posted by | Marathon Running, Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Island Naturals Offering Free Samples at BIIM Expo

Island Naturals at Hilo, Kona and Pahoa offers the best in natural foods

happy customers at isle naturals

Health Food Store – Island Naturals

   Island Naturals, located in Hilo, Pahoa and Kona will be hosting a free sample booth at the Big Island International Marathon from noon to 6 pm on Saturday, March 20 at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel’s Moku Ola Room.

   Store owner, Russell Ruderman, is a long time supporter of the Big Dog and continues to support health and fitness activities in our community.

Wide selection of organic fruits and veggies

The Health and Fitness Expo hosted by the BIIM will also feature free massages by Ki Mana Academy and have running store guru, Jason Brasewell, from the Big Island Running Company bringing over hundreds of items for purchase.

   Other vendors will be on hand and the Expo is free and open to the public.

March 10, 2010 Posted by | Health and Fitness, Running on the Big Island | , , , , | 2 Comments

Ocean View’s Don Zimbeck preparing to run Big Island Marathon

Don Zimbeck going strong at 68

It wasn’t that many years ago when exercise conscious people were hard to find.  Today with the graying of our baby boomers we began to see their physical challenges growing with them as they raise the bar in what they can accomplish.

   In 1970 there was only one runner in his 50’s that crossed the finish line of the New York City Marathon.  Four decades later, with the running boom in full force, the percentage of runners over 50 completing a marathon (26.2-miles) has soared.

   Running USA claims that age 50 plus marathon finishers make up 18 percent of the total number crossing the finish line across the United States.  Research shows that a large part of that growth comes from newcomers who are starting to run at an older age and that the “baby boomers” are pushing their boundaries.

   In 2000 the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C. had a 65 and older age division.  This year they had a 75 and over division to accommodate the growing number of people who refuse to allow age to interfere with what they can and cannot do physically.

   Right here, on our beautiful island, 68 year old Don Zimbeck from Ocean View is training to do the Big Island International Marathon (Hilo Marathon) in March.

   “I’m trying hard to finish the Hilo Marathon this year,” Zimbeck said.  “I have never done a marathon in Hawaii and it has been more than twenty years since I did my last one.”

   Although he has not done a marathon since 1989 Zimbeck has decided that it was time to give another 26.2-mile race a try.

  “I ran a marathon when I was 48 years old in 3 hours 17 minutes and 44 seconds,” he said.  “Today I’m realizing how difficult it is to train for something that long in distance and I’m just hoping I can do it.”

   Zimbeck credits much of his physical abilities to his mixed strenuous workouts.

   “We have chores in the tradition of the Karate Kid,” he said. “Push the wheel barrow up the hill, carry water buckets, O’O the rocks, climb and trim trees, split the firewood.”

  Zimbeck considers himself a low level recreational runner with no formal training. 

   “I did some racing in my 40’s, but not before or much since,” he said.  “We are a little remote here (Ocean View) and I haven’t yet found an Over-the-Hill or Shovel-Ready class running group in our neighborhood.”

   Despite the lack of training partners or groups Zimbeck has made some strides in preparing for his long distance race by running five days per week.

   “Presently I am using a simplified Jack Daniels (author or several running books) concept – repeats, tempo, intervals, easy recovery and long recovery,” Zimbeck said.  “For shorter races I try more intensity and for longer ones, like the Hilo Marathon, I’ll do longer training runs with recovery days off.”

   Recently Zimbeck did a 16 mile run on the Crater Rim Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and began to realize how difficult it is to train for a marathon especially when the body is getting close to 70 years of age.

   But Zimbeck is smart and will back off when his body tells him in order to avoid injuries.

   “I am fairy tough as a runner if I can avoid long layoffs,” he said.  “I try to limit the intensity of the workouts and will run mostly on grass or dirt.  I also rotate my shoes which might help a little in avoiding injuries.”

  Zimbeck grew up in Colorado where he played football and tennis in high school and continued with tennis in college.

  He didn’t get involved in running until 1981 while waiting for his daughter to have gymnastics lessons at the Casper, Wyoming YMCA.

  “I decided to go out for a jog while my daughter was having lessons and I met some real runners,” he said.  “I ended up joining the Windy City Striders Club and I learned about leaning into the wind.  I started to do some shorter races and in 1984 did my first marathon.”

   During the 80’s Zimbeck ran in six Bolder Boulder 10K’s and finished four marathons.  It was during his three year stint teaching school in Pahala that Zimbeck bought his lot in Ocean View and in 2000 built his home.

   It was also during the mid-80’s that Zimbeck set all of his racing personal records by finishing a 5K (3.1-miles) in 18:57, 10K in 40:46, half marathon in 1:29:36 and his marathon PR of 3:17.

    “All my races during the 1980’s were at altitude, but not at the high temperature and humidity like we have here,” he said.

   “I feel better if I’m relatively fit and running is the fastest, easiest way to stay relatively fit,” he said.  “Now I can run in the mood-enhancing sunshine of our beautiful island.”

      And once Zimbeck finishes the Hilo Marathon, what else could be on his accomplishment list?

    “I’m trying to run most of the races on this Island, at least once,” he said.

     Donald Zimbeck is currently the oldest person registered to do the March 21 Hilo Marathon.  Besides the full 26.2-mile marathon there will also be a half-marathon (13.1-miles) for which Hilo’s Robert Karp at age 77 is currently the oldest registered participant.

    The Hilo event will also host a 5K (3.1-mile) run/walk that is open to people of all ages.  Deadline for entering any of the three events is February 27, after which time a late fee will be assessed.

    For more information go to www.hilomarathon.org or call 969-7400.


   Coming up on Friday, March 19, is the Big Island International Marathon’s Carbo Load Party in the Hilo Hawaiian’s Moku Ola Rooms starting at 6 pm.

   The all you can eat pasta dinner includes a hula show, random lucky number prizes and featured guest MC Israel Gonzales from Lava 105 radio.  Cost is $16.50 in advance or $21 at the door and the public is invited.

   On Saturday, March 20, from noon to 6pm the BIIM will host a Health and Fitness Expo with free massage from Ki Mana, free taste samples from Island Naturals, running shoes and clothing from Big Island Running Company and more.  This event is free and the public is encouraged to attend.

   For more information on any of the events associated with the Big Island Marathon contact the Big Dog at 969-7400 or visit their web site at www.hilomarathon.org.

   And someday should you happen to see a happy race director jogging around Liliuokalani Gardens remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”

   Email the Big Dog at waiakeabigdog@aol.com.

February 22, 2010 Posted by | Events, Health and Fitness, Marathon Running, Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments