Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

‘Wanna-be’ Kohala runner is now the ‘Real Deal’

Melody Niefeld

“Running is cheaper than therapy” as stated on a bumper sticker you will see on a Kohala cross country coach Melody Niefeld car.

A self described one time wanna be runner, Niefeld has transformed herself into the real deal of competitive long distance runners on the Big Island.

“Please keep in mind that running is a hobby for me,” a humble Niefeld said.  “I don’t consider myself an expert in any sense nor even an accomplished runner.”

Niefeld was the first woman to cross the finish line in the Big Island Half Marathon (13.1 miles) in March 2011 and at the age of 55 qualified for the prestigious Boston Marathon when she ran Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota.

Despite all the recent running success Niefeld wasn’t always a confident or successful distance runner.

“Throughout nearly 30 years of my life, from age 20 to 50, I could define myself as a ‘wanna-be’ runner,” she said.  “I would give my running shoes a work out for a couple of months and then let them collect dust.”

As a teen in high school in the chilly Midwest of Minnesota Niefeld participate in one of the few sports available to girls during the pre Patsy Mink days of Title IX, track and field.

“I was a sprinter in high school and I did synchronized swimming for four years (1970-’74).” Niefeld said. 

Niefeld ran the 100, 220 and 440 yard events, along with the 440 and 880 medley relays qualifying for state competition in her freshman, junior and senior years.

It was at the University of Minnesota that Niefeld was exposed to the caliber of collegiate sports in competitive swimming doing the breast stroke.

Niefeld grew up in rural Minnesota on a farm and spent 10 years teaching before making the move to the Big Island.

“I needed a respite from the unforgiving cold climate,” she said.  “The nearby university was advertising for teachers to apply for Hawaii teaching positions and since it was during the dead of winter the offer enticed me.”

Niefeld’s move to Kohala came 15 years ago as she continues to enjoy the experience.

“The climate and topography are a stark contrast to Minnesota and the genuine friendliness akin to rural USA is welcoming,” Niefeld said.

Niefeld serves as the Kohala School counselor for grades 9 through 12 and also teaches two classes to seniors in College Prep Skills.

“Everyday seems to scream by,” Niefeld said.  “I enjoy the student contact time and the diversity my job entails.  As counselor I am humanly engaged with the kids and the most potent ingredient within that human engagement is holding aspirations.”

Niefeld believes in the power, or what she calls the magic, of being with students.

“When the light shines in the eyes of students I am able to hold aspirations for a student,” she said.  “As they sort out their life goals, plan their future and make the transition to adulthood.”

Niefeld’s attitude and high energy level that she brings with her to Kohala is exciting and what contribute to her overall fitness and inner glow.

“I spend a lot of time traversing the school campus to contact students, teachers and the administration, which allows me to inadvertently cross train while I work,” she said.

During her off duty time Niefeld will run 30 to 50 miles per week which includes stretching exercises with the Cowboy cross country team.

“At home I’ll include crunches, pushups, and a few light weights,” Niefeld said.  “I cross train on a stationary bike on occasions and would like to introduce swimming two times per week.”

As for diet, Niefeld is on a ‘SEE FOOD’ diet.

“I am not much of a gate-keeper when it comes to my food intake,” she said.  “If I like it, I eat it.  My metabolism seems to be rather high, so I am not vigilant about calories unless I plan on running a 20 miler.”

Niefeld will consume scrambled eggs for breakfast, most morning, and a simple sandwich with fruit and dessert for lunch for this talented athlete.

“My evening meal varies but is generally balanced,” she said.  “I do not smoke or drink alcohol and am generally quite sensitive to any food or beverage with caffeine.”

Most Sunday’s you can find this school counselor doing a 15 to 22 mile run, starting from her home in Hawi, along the coastal highway going out as far as Kawaihae.

“The long runs have almost become a spiritual means to cleanse and renew myself from my work week,” Niefeld said.  “For 2 to 3 hours my mind and body are held captive to my wandering thoughts.  I have a chance to process, contemplate, and plan ongoing life events.”

Melody Niefeld is an exceptional athlete who at one time considered herself a wanna be runner and has transformed herself into one of the best age group runners in Hawaii.

“I am a believer in the mental, physical and emotional benefits which are attributed to running and daily exercise,” she said.  “I am no longer a ‘wanna be’ runner, my tennis shoes hit the pavement daily.”

And someday should you happen to see a senior runner giving thanks for the many blessings of what life has to offer remember to smile, say ‘woof’ and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”

November 21, 2011 Posted by | Profiles | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exercise paying off for West Hawai’i’s Jo Iwane

Jo Iwane

Who says exercise doesn’t pay off?

You don’t need to look far to see the dramatic results that regular physical exercise can produce on the body, mind and spirit.

Plato had it right when he wrote:  “Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.”

Many of the major diseases that plague our society are preventable if we choose to exercise regularly and eat sensibly.

Retired elementary school teacher, JoAnn Iwane, is a shining example of someone who developed Type 2 Diabetes and did something to overcome it.

“I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes about five years ago,” Iwane said.  “I have struggled with my weight for most of my adult life and didn’t do anything about it until I developed diabetes.”

Iwane grew up in Kealakekua during a time in which girl’s participation in sports was not encouraged.

“I grew up during the 50’s and 60’s,” she said.  “We did play some sports, but it was just a part of our physical education program in school.”

Growing up in Kona, Iwane recalls that there were no athletic teams at Konawaena High School and that she and others of her gender where reduced to playing half court basketball during her PE classes.

“My husband remembers the weird way I held a baseball bat because I didn’t know any other way,” Iwane said.  “Those were the days prior to Title IX and we have lots to be appreciative to our late Representative, Patsy Mink, who made legislation that provided for the girl’s sports programs that almost equal the boy’s today.”

After spending 30 years in the classrooms of Kealakehe, Kahakai and Konawaena Elementary Schools, Iwane retired in from teaching in 2002.

“Besides teaching I also needed to ‘moonlight’ to help put my three daughters through college by teaching early childhood education classes at the UH-West Hawai’i campus,” she said.

With Iwane’s busy work schedule and the raising of her children the years slipped by without much exercise until the day came when her doctor told her the bad news, that she had developed a disease that could have been prevented.

“I actually started to go to the gym about 10 years ago, but I didn’t change my eating habits and my weight continued to go up,” Iwane said.

Today Iwane has made some great progress as she lost 10 pounds and will exercise regularly.

“I go to Pacific Island Fitness Gym at 5 am, five days a week to do 30 minutes of cardio workouts,” she said.  “I will alternate between the treadmill and the elliptical trainer, and then I’ll do 10 to 15 minutes of weight training.”

Every Monday you’ll find this soon to be 64 year old doing her favorite thing, yoga.

“My Monday yoga class is my favorite thing to do at the gym as I am working on building core strength and balance,” Iwane said.  “As I get older I become more prone to tripping and falling, so this is a major concern of mine.”

Iwane has also returned to eating a more healthy diet, with fewer calories.

“I love salads and vegetables of all kinds,” she said.  “I try to eat fruit from our coffee farm like bananas, tangerines, oranges and avocados.”

Iwane has also reduced her consumption of carbohydrates and has moved to eating more fish and chicken rather than red meat.

“I love to cook healthy meals for my husband, Elbert, and me,” she said.  “I love to go to the local farmer’s market to buy fresh vegetables and the like.”

The great news is that her efforts to change her diet, lose weight and maintain a regular exercise program has paid big dividends.

“Because of my regular exercise and losing those 10 pounds over the past few months, I am no longer clinically diabetic, according to my doctor,” Iwane said with great pride. “My sugar levels have been very low for at least six months and my doctor says I’m the poster child for exercise and diet leading to no longer being diabetic!”

And Iwane is not done as she has set the bar even higher for improving her overall health.

“My goal is to get off all of my diabetes meds completely,” Iwane said.  “My dosages are being reduced every time I see the doctor, so I am hopeful this will happen soon.”

Type 2 diabetes is a preventable disease through maintaining a healthy weight, regular physical exercise and a good diet.

JoAnn Iwane is a retired, senior citizen who is making the most of her situation by turning a negative into a positive. 

According to Iwane part of her motivation in staying healthy as she ages is to see her two grandchildren, Maile and Logan grow up.

“You have to make exercise a regular part of your routine,” Iwane said. “We all have excuses why we don’t, but we need to just do it.  For people like me who love to eat, just watch what you put in your mouth and try to eat as ‘clean’ as possible.”

Someone once said, “In order to change we must be sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

And someday should you happen to see a happy, healthy, retired senior citizen doing what he loves to do – which is run – remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”

Email the Big Dog at waiakeabigdog@aol.com.

May 30, 2011 Posted by | Profiles | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Christine Wolf lacing up her shoes to run Hilo Marathon

Christine Wolf prepares for Hilo Marathon

Sometimes in sports, as it is in life, just a few words can open the doors to equal opportunity and fairness for all of us.

   In 1972 a 37-word law provided half the American population with the same health and fitness opportunities as everyone else.  It stated, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

   The Title IX Educational Amendment, written by our own Congresswoman Patsy Mink, opened a new era of equal opportunity for women in this country.

   “During the ‘60’s I wrote a letter of complaint to our local school board that girls were denied many opportunities,” Christine Wolf said.  “I was informed by our geriatric high school principal that as I matured I would find out that fitness just wasn’t very important for girls.”

  Wolf was just one of more than 100 million Americans that were denied the same opportunities that boys had while growing up.

   “Looking back, there was an ongoing theme in my life, insofar as trying to live an active, athletic sort of life, but feeling that my options for that were limited by my gender,” Wolf said.

   If there were any organized competitive sports offered to girls during the 60’s, when Wolf was in middle and secondary school, she would have wanted to participate.

   “I wanted to be a jock,” she said.  “I wanted to be involved in many classes and extracurricular activities that were only offered to boys in our little backwater school district of Annawan, Illinois.”

   In high school Wolf did take a proactive approach about physical fitness as she began to practice yoga.

   “I became self-taught in yoga by reading whatever books on the subject that I could find,” she said.  “I thought yoga was ‘groovy’ and I actually managed to structure myself a daily routine and stick to it for a few years.”

   During her college years Wolf attended two art schools in Michigan and in Manhattan, respectively, neither of which offered any physical education requirements or sporting activities.

   By the time Wolf finished college Title IX was in full bloom and this Midwesterner fitness fortunes took a positive change for gender equity.

  “I moved back to Illinois after college and found a Nautilus Gym that recently opened near my work place and they had announced that they were going to allow membership for women,” Wolf said.  “The novelty of the idea, engaging in a male sport, enticed me to join and eventually lifting weights every morning before work was part of my normal routine.”

   Wolf’s job as a graphic designer led her to accepting a position at a print shop in Waipahu, Oahu in 1983 where she eventually met and married John Luchau.

  “John was an avid runner with many marathons under his belt,” she said.  “He soon had me out pounding the many bike and pedestrian trails on Leeward Oahu.”

   Wolf maintained a frequent presence in a local gym and dabbled in running on occasion; all the while thinking that someday she should give a marathon (distance of 26.2-miles) a try.

   “I kept saying I will run a marathon before I reach the age of 35, then it was 40, then 45,” Wolf said.  “As each birthday passed I just pushed the goal further back.”

   Wolf and her husband moved to Paradise Park in 1992 where they spent several years building their home together. 

   “As I approached my 50th birthday I was just about to give up on the whole ‘I wanna be a jock’ dream and toyed with the idea of just sinking into a sedentary old age,” she said.  “It was during this period that I saw a flyer for a new yoga studio just opening in HPP called Wisdom Way Yoga Center.”

   The first yoga session renewed Wolf’s vigor in wanting to be active again as she took the more strenuous form of yoga called Ashtanga. 

   “Ashtanga is a high energy practice emphasizing vigorous, continuous movement, which elevates heart rate and body temperature.”

   The new form of yoga introduced to Wolf provided her with the discipline and physical fitness level that she was looking for.

   “I can honestly give Ashtanga yoga the credit for bringing me to a renewed relationship with my body,” Wolf said.  “By 2007 I had the confidence to once again attempt running as I tried a few 5K’s (3.1-mile) races along with the Volcano 10-mile Rim Run that year.”

   In 2008 Wolf was looking at running her first marathon, a dream that she had since college, and set her goal to just finish the beautiful 26.2-mile course of the Big Island International in Hilo.

   “My goal was just to finish one marathon just to prove I could and then retire from running,” Wolf said.  “But once I finished the Hilo Marathon I began feeling competitive and began planning to run it again the following year.”

   Wolf did her second Hilo Marathon in 2009 and crossed the finish line in 5 hours and 13 seconds.  This year Wolf is lacing up her shoes again and will take on the Hilo Marathon scheduled for March 21.

   “Last year I barely missed breaking 5 hours so this year I’m hoping to take about 15 to 20 minutes off my time to finish around 4:45,” she said.

   To prepare Wolf is now running around 45 to 50 miles per week with varying daily distances. She will also cross train by doing a 10-mile bike ride on the days she doesn’t run and she enjoys a love hate relationship with her workouts.

   “I still don’t really enjoy training, though I have my moments when the mood and the motion come together and I feel great,” she said.

   Soon we will see how Christine Wolf will do on her third marathon race.  In the meantime, if you’re women, let’s give thanks for the foresight and inspiration given to your gender by the late Patsy Mink.

March 8, 2010 Posted by | Marathon Running, Profiles, Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Maryann Mandaloniz loves her Early Morning Runs

Running early in the morning can be a great way to start your day.

   Ever wonder why some people seem more motivated and consistent in their daily exercise routine than others?

   The number one reason for people who don’t exercise regularly is that they don’t have the time.  Many people complain about not being able to do fitness workouts, yet many others accomplish so much more.

   Successful people that exercise regularly aren’t more talented, more motivated or more affluent than those who don’t.  The difference between those that do and those that don’t may lie in effective time management.

   Part of my secret for staying with a regular running and walking program is that I locked into a certain time each day and then to stayed with it.  Morning workouts are ideal for me because my body is fresh and lacks the distractions and fatigue from a full day of work.

   I’ve found that once I committed myself to waking early and getting out the door each morning that it becomes a positive habit, and something that I no longer think about, I just go out and do it.

   The same is true for Hilo born Maryann Mandaloniz who has been getting up at 3 a.m. each morning for the past 31 years so that she can put in a 2 hour run.

   “I started running when my children were young and that would be the only time I could get out and have my husband home with them,” Mandaloniz said.  “I like the early mornings and when I started working it seemed the best time to do my exercise.”

   By 3:30 every morning Mandaloniz is out the door and meets up with a friend, Dolores Bugado, before jogging down town and around Banyan Drive, then up to the Prince Kuhio Plaza before heading back to Banyan and home.

   “I enjoy the mornings as it just seems to be the best time to get out.  No traffic and clean beautiful air,” she said.

   While growing up during the 1960’s and early 70’s Mandaloniz attended St. Joseph School in Hilo and was one of the many women in our country who suffered from not having a Title IX sports program.

   “I didn’t play any organized sports in school because the catholic school that I attended only had a boy’s basketball team,” she said.

   It was only after getting married and starting a family did Mandaloniz start a regular exercise routine. 

   “I started to run to lose weight and 31 years later I’m still doing it,” she said.

   Mandaloniz works as an Educational Assistant for the Department of Education at E.B. De Silva School and at age 55 she finds that the running allows her to keep up with the youngsters.

   “The running keeps my weight down and keeps me healthy and able to keep up with my grandchildren and my preschoolers at work,” she said.

   Mandaloniz also watches what she eats as she stopped consuming red meat and will, on occasion, eat chicken or fish.  “I eat a lot of tofu and vegetables,” she said.  “I also enjoy a glass or two of red wine every night.”

   To stay motivated Mandaloniz is aided by her running partner, Dolores Bugado, as they both try to keep each other going each day.

   “Having a friend to run with and waking each other up in the morning to get each other going, even if it’s raining, is important,” Mandaloniz said.  “We will chat during the entire 2 hour run as we watch people going off to work.”

   Mandaloniz will sometimes add a swim to her fitness day or she will take a late afternoon walk. 

   “I like to swim, but I can’t do that too often.  At school sometimes we get together with other teachers and do some sort of aerobics,” she said.

   The best time for this active woman is the early mornings and, starting on her fourth decade, she discovered that this early morning routine suits her best. 

   “I find that I can get lazy in the afternoons and will make excuses not to exercise, so early morning work best for me.”

   Last month Mandaloniz went to Las Vegas to participate in the Vegas half-marathon (13.1-miles). 

   “It was a fun experience to do the Vegas race, even though it was 34 degrees,” she said.

   The Vegas race was nothing new for Mandaloniz as she has completed six Honolulu Marathons (26.2-miles), the Volcano 10-miler and ran the Hilo to Waimea Saddle Road Relay.

   “I plan on doing more races this year,” she said.  “I enjoy doing half marathons because I come in feeling no pain and ready to run the next day.”

   “I’d like to continue running for the rest of my life as it is a great way to stay fit and healthy.”

   Mandaloniz is a good example of someone that has found the right time for exercise and has incorporated a positive habit into her lifestyle.

   “Exercise has always been important to me.  It is a commitment that I made to myself more than 30 years ago.  If for some reason I would not run for a day or two my husband would beg me by the second day to go out for a run,” Mandaloniz said.

January 18, 2010 Posted by | Health and Fitness, Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment