Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Hilo’s Three Amigos, Nakasone, Blinn and Pavao, are Maniacs

Nakasone, Blinn & Pavao

In preparing to write this story the first thought that came to mind was the great 1986 comedy film starring Chevy Chase, Steve Martin and Martin Short called “The Three Amigos.”

Right here in Hilo we have our own sort of Three Amigos and their friendship comes through with their love for running, more importantly marathon running.

DJ Blinn, Harvey Nakasone and Steve Pavao are characters in their own right, in the world of endurance running.

The trio have built a relationship through spending hours on the road and becoming what they proudly call themselves, “Maniacs,” “Marathon Maniacs” to be precise.

“We’ve been running together for over five years,” Pavao said.  “Harvey was the first Maniac on this island and he recruited us to become Maniacs.”

To be a Marathon Maniac is no simple task and for these Three Amigos that accomplishment came as a result of running two marathons (distances of 26.2 miles) within 15 days of each other.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with running or walking a marathon, try doing 44 laps around Liliuokalani Gardens in less than 7 hours and that will give you an idea.

“I became a Maniac in September 2007,” Nakasone said.  “I believe I was the first one to become a Maniac from this island and now we have quite a few.”

These Maniacal Amigos will reinstate their credentials on October 30 and November 6 when they run in the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C. and the following weekend with the New York City Marathon.

“Harvey was the one that came up with the idea,” Pavao said.  “He has run the Marine Corps Marathon once before and thought it would be great for all of us to do it along with the NYC Marathon the following Sunday.”

Both Blinn and Nakasone are former United States Marines and running in D.C. will be something special for them, according to Blinn.

“I’m a Vietnam Veteran and I have never been to D.C. to see the Vietnam Wall,” Blinn said.  “I want to pay tribute to my fallen comrades.”

Blinn served in Vietnam in 1967 and just thinking about visiting the Wall brought tears to his eyes.

“I know this will be an emotional experience and an opportunity of a lifetime,” Blinn said,

The trio have never done the NYC Marathon and they decided on that race precisely for the reason that it was the following weekend from the Marine Corp race.

“I’ve done the Marine Corps Marathon before and knew DJ would be interested in doing it since he is a former Marine,” Nakasone said.  “I plan on taking him to see the Vietnam Wall and I’m sure it will be an emotional experience for us all.”

In preparation for marathons the Hilo Maniacal Amigos will run together every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.

“We enjoy the post run camaraderie,” Pavao said.  “We often travel together and bunk together to keep cost down.”

Last month the amigos ran on Kauai and they shared a room to keep expenses down, but more importantly to enjoy the bond they share together as runners.

“I have run about 25 marathons with them over the years,” Pavao said.  “And now we have started to run half marathons as well.”

Nakasone has complete 28 marathons and Blinn, the senior member of the group at age 62, has finished an incredible 104 marathons to date.

“I run for health reasons,” Nakasone said.  “I have Type II Diabetes and my mother and grandmother both died from diabetes.”

While running has kept Nakasone’s diabetes in check he also reaped the reward of losing 30 pounds from his dedication to the sport.

A new Marathon Maniac sister organization has been created called the Half Marathon Fanatics and Blinn, Pavao and Nakasone became the first from the Big Island to qualify as Half Fanatics when he completing two half marathons within the two week requirement.

“The half marathon has become the most popular running distance in America and I’m trying to get people from Hawaii to qualify in becoming a Half Fanatic,” Nakasone said.  “We now have five Half Fanatics from the Big Island and I’m sure we can get lots more by the end of this year.”

The qualifications for membership are the same, only the runners qualify by running half marathons (13.1 miles) instead of marathon, according to Pavao.

The Three Maniac Amigos will leave on their journey on Oct. 27 and have a couple of days in D.C. to acclimate before sharing in the Marine Corp Marathon together.

“We’ll take an Amtrak train to NYC from D.C. on Nov 2nd,” Pavao said.  “That will give us a few days in the Big Apple before the Big race.”

Pavao has his sights on breaking four hours for both marathons and will use the D.C. marathon as a training run for NYC.

“I am actually hoping I can run a faster time in NYC,” he said.

Whatever the Hilo Maniac Amigos do on the East Coast, one thing is for certain, they’ll be having fun doing it!

And someday should you happen to see a healthy, happy senior jogging laps up and down Shower Drive in 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.

October 17, 2011 Posted by | Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 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