Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

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

Keaau’s Robert Karp Staying Fit at Age 77

Karp running Hilo half marathon in March

What would it take to get sedentary people out the door to start exercising?  Many people find it difficult to locate the necessary motivation to begin and stay with a regular exercise program.

     For Robert Karp the spark plug of motivation came from his annual physical checkup when it was revealed that he was overweight, had high cholesterol and elevated blood pressure.

   “In the mid 1970’s my doctor gave me some pills and told me to lose about 40 to 45 pounds,” Karp said.  “Not wanting to take pills for the rest of my life I started running.”

   Karp was in his 40’s when he realized that he would need to exercise regularly if he was to avoid all the trappings of over indulgence and the health problems associated with it. 

   Starting out was no easy task for a man that could barley run 100 yards.  “At first I could only run the distance between two telephone poles before I had to walk to catch my breath,” he said.  “Slowly I was able to increase the number of poles without slowing to catch my breath and eventually I switched to timing and increasing my running increments.”

  Before long this middle aged man was jogging for 35 minutes straight and he had even started to take his running shoes on work related trips to Oahu.  It was on Oahu, at one of his management seminars, that Karp discovered an even better way of getting into and staying in shape.

   “I was at a seminar in Makaha for a few days and there I learned that running for an hour is only part of the picture.  We were told that when running, the body will shift from burning carbohydrates to fat after about 40 minutes,” he said.

  The following morning Karp went out for a one hour run for the first time.  Since that time Karp has never gone out for less than an hour, except when doing short races.

   It didn’t happen overnight, but with a little patience and perseverance Karp’s weight came down and he was off the pills that his doctor had prescribed.  In July 1981 Karp ran his first marathon, a distance of 26.2 miles, in Hilo. 

   “My doctor was so impressed with what I was able to do that he and his wife started running,” Karp said.

   Karp grew up in West Chicago during the ‘30’s and played football and ran track while in high school.  “I ran the high hurdles in my earlier years in high school and during my senior year I earned my letter in the mile and half-mile,” he said.

    It was during his senior year of high school that Karp broke the school record for the half-mile and came within three tenths of a second of breaking the mile record.

    Karp enlisted in the Air Force in 1952 during the Korean War and got his BBA in accounting at the University of Hawaii, Manoa in 1960.

   “My working career was entirely in Hawaii and primarily in the accounting management and financial controllership in the sugar and macadamia industries,” he said.

    In the late 60’s Karp was transferred from Olokele Sugar on Kauai to Pepeekeo Sugar on the Big Island and eventually worked at Paauhau Sugar, Laupahoehoe Sugar, Hamakua Sugar and finally Ka’u Sugar.  It was in the mid 70’s working at Laupahoehoe where Karp started to run and earned his Manoa MBA.

   Eight years ago Karp was returning to Hilo from the Kona Toys for Tots Parade on his motorcycle when he got into a serious accident.

    “The last thing I could remember was rolling back on my throttle as we crossed the bridge at Papaaloa around 3 p.m.  The biker behind me said that for some reason after we started to accelerate on the bridge my head moved forward, down and to the left and I started to cross the centerline,” Karp said.

   Karp slammed his bike into the guardrail on the opposite side of the road after crossing the bridge.  An ambulance took him to Hilo Hospital where he spent the next two weeks in intensive care and the following two weeks recovering.

   To continue to exist, Karp needed two pints of blood, stitches and pins to secure his crushed left hand, two metal plates were installed to stabilize and strengthen his broken left arm above the wrist and his broken left leg above his bolted left ankle.

  There were three broken ribs, a collapsed right lung, along with scrapes and bruises almost everywhere.  Had he not been wearing his helmet his story would have ended that afternoon in November 2001.

   Karp retired in July 2007 and today this 77 year old as he continues to exercise on a regular basis.  “I’ll walk briskly for over an hour two to three times a week with an occasional two hour jaunt,” he said.

    “On those mornings that I’m not on the road I’ll do about 45 minutes of exercises such as push-ups, sit-ups, weights, toe-touching, a little stretching and HealthRider time,” he said.

   Karp will also keep an eye on what he eats, although he will eat just about everything, he controls the amount that he eats and when he eats.

    Eight years following his near death accident Karp is preparing for a half-marathon (13.1-miles) that will be hosted by the Big Island International Marathon Association in March.

    “My goal for the half-marathon is to complete the race in a reasonable time, all things considered.  When you have set definitive goals and reasonable goals you have developed a guide or map to follow for your achievement and success,” he said.

November 23, 2009 Posted by | Profiles, Running on the Big Island | , | Leave a comment

Dr. D’Angelo Returns to Hilo Practice After 2nd Deployment

Dr. D'Angelo

LTC Joseph D'Angelo

Veteran’s Day is rapidly approaching and it’s a time to reflect and give thanks to the brave men and women that have served and are serving in our military.

The first commemoration of Veterans or Armistice Day came on November 11, 1919 when President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed that date to remember those that died in our country’s service following World War I.

Today we use the holiday to reflect with solemn pride the heroism of those who died and who serviced our country as we show gratitude for their service.

There are many Veterans living in our community who served their country during periods of war.  Robert Karp served in the Korean War, DJ Blinn was a marine in Vietnam and Dr. Joseph D’Angelo who recently returned from his second combat deployment are just a few of the thousands of Veterans from the Big Island.

Lt. Colonel Joseph D’Angelo, MD, has been in the US Army National Guard since July 2002.  He served in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005 and most recently served in Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom, returning to family and practice in Hilo a few weeks ago.

“This is just something I have to do and it’s something I want to do,” D’Angelo said of his deployments.

While in Afghanistan D’Angelo was able to work out on a regular basis to stay in great shape. “The first two months I was at a Forward Operating Base with more amenities and a bigger gym, he said. “The last month was the best time as I was at a small Combat Outpost.  Both of these were in Eastern Afghanistan, a couple of hours north of Jalalabad.”
D’Angelo was located at the “front lines” and his outpost was mortared several times, with night time attacks on the COP several times a week.

“Despite the combat none of our guys were hurt on my watch, except usually by their own doing,” D’Angelo said.  “There were gym accidents, dehydration, as well as viruses, etc.”

On some evenings the attacks came while D’Angelo was in the gym during his workouts which required him to run to his station, and when the all clear was given he returned to the gym.

 “I was much more disciplined with my workout regimen which consisted of an hour ride on a stationary bike,” he said.  “Usually I’d find riding a stationary bike boring, but I read a good book, Last of the Mohicans, and it kept me interested and on the bike longer than my experience had in the past.”

In the larger camp D’Angelo ran the walkway around the helicopter landing zone and learned the hard way about the force of a Black Hawk landing, “I was thrust forward by the force of a Black Hawk into a barely controlled sprint,” he said.

At the smaller camp running was considered too dangerous, given the enemy activity in the area, and D’Angelo was limited to the stationary bike for his aerobic work outs.

For an anaerobic workout D’Angelo focused on his upper body by lifting weights and was very pleased with his progress as he lost some weight and added some muscle tone.

“One thing that helped was working with a very good Air Force Physician’s Assistant who was formerly a personal trainer and had the body of a small, young, Arnold,” D’Angelo said.

From the Physician’s Assistant, D’Angelo learned to do dumb bell curls, dumb bell press, rows, flies and proper sit ups.  “I found that with a single bar bench press it puts too much unnatural stress on the shoulder and rotator cuff and that this is one of the most common injuries,” D’Angelo said.

Dr. D’Angelo staying in shape during deployment

During his last deployment to Iraq D’Angelo began training in Tae Kwon Do and is now a black belt.  “I am hoping to test soon for my 2nd Dan (degree) next year,” he said.  “I also try to do Army Combatives, a combined martial arts form of close hand to hand combat, whenever I can, and prior to deployment, I did Krav Maga, the Israeli martial art.”

 Part of being in the National Guard requires D‘Angelo to participate in general drills once a month and two weeks a year, but his Hilo office remains open providing substitute coverage for him during those periods.

D’Angelo was born in New York and traveled all over the country as his father was employed by the government.  “We moved around a lot so I never really felt that I had a home base or a home town, until I moved to Hilo,” he said.

As a well know pediatrician and pediatric cardiologist in Hilo, D’Angelo has finally found himself a home.  “I’ve lived and practiced here for more than 10 years, which is quite a bit longer than anywhere else that I have ever lived,” he said.

At age 45 D’Angelo is a great role model as he takes good care of his body and promotes health and fitness to his patients.

A proud father of two “wonderful” children, Grace 14 and Vincent 13, D’Angelo enjoys sharing his love for running with them as the three have entered run/walk community events in the past.

Primarily a vegetarian, D’Angelo has added fish to his diet since moving to Hilo.  “I am fundamentally a follower the Tao and consider myself a cross between being Buddhist and Catholic,” he said.

Since returning home D’Angelo has joined Penn’s Fitness gym.  “I decided to keep doing those workouts at home, but I might as well take advantage of all the machines.  Plus they have the punching bags,” he said.

D’Angelo is due for another deployment in about 18 months or around February 2011.

On Wednesday D’Angelo, along with several other veterans, will be on hand to participate in the Veteran’s Day 5K run/walk hosted by Big Dog Productions.

The 3.1-mile run/walk will start at 7:30 am from the entrance to Moku Ola (Coconut Island).  The public is invited to participate and are asked to bring a canned good to be donated to the Hawaii Island Food Basket.

Post event refreshments will be provided and Veterans, including D’Angelo, will be asked to address those in attendance.

November 8, 2009 Posted by | Health and Fitness, Profiles | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment