Lynn Arakaki has shed significant weight since she started running. Photos by Oscar A. Hernandez
Kaimuki mom dedicated to fitness
By Stacy Yuen Hernandez
Each year, on the second Sunday of December, while most of Oahu sleeps, thousands of runners gather on Ala Moana Boulevard before the crack of dawn to take part in a ritual of sorts — the Honolulu Marathon.
All of these runners have a story to tell about their journey to the starting line (some more exciting than others), but this year, there is one story that begs to be shared.
Those who know me, know that I have been an avid runner for most of my life. I often take for granted the fact that I am fortunate that running comes easily for me. It certainly isn’t the case for a lot of people. That thought hit home when I met Lynn Arakaki.
I met Lynn at Waialae Elementary Public Charter School, where our kids attend. The 41-year-old customer service manager, wife and mother of two never considered herself even remotely athletic, but her life has suddenly taken a dramatic turn toward fitness.
You see, 15 months ago, in September 2010, Lynn signed up for a fitness campaign at her workplace, Hawaii Information Consortium/eHawaii.gov. At 5 feet 9 inches tall she tipped the scales at 238.8 pounds.
“I was 120 pounds when I graduated from high school but my metabolism has never been good,” says Lynn. Plagued with back injuries, partly due to her weight, which kept her out of work for months at a time, and a lifestyle of inactivity, her weight spiraled out of control.
Her goal when she signed up for the fitness campaign was simply to get healthy, but with a fierce determination and strong support system she has accomplished so much more. Encouraged by her friend, Celia Main, Lynn was inspired to sign up for her first race — the Old Pali Road 4.4 mile run.
“I remember it rained that morning and I had a spiritual feeling. I walked the race but at that point made a commitment to live healthy and lose the weight,” she recalls. “After that race, I continued walking, then jogging, and now I’m almost a 9-minute-per-mile runner.” She maintains motivation by running with friends, cross-training twice a week with Zumba and participating in Sunday road races.
In the past year as her weight steadily dropped, she has competed in distances from 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) to the recent P.F. Chang’s 30K (18.6 miles) and has set her sights on completing the Honolulu Marathon in 5 hours.
Now, as one of Lynn’s running partners (I am honored that she refers to me as her “coach”), I have witnessed her improvement first-hand.
She now runs 30 to 40 miles a week with three of those 6 to 8 mile runs at the crack of dawn before work. I join her on these runs and we do silly things like race to the top of Diamond Head. I don’t show her any mercy because she is now a runner. With those long legs, she hammers the downhills leaving me in the dust. I usually pretend I’m not trying.
Today, she is 166 pounds, having dropped a whopping 72 pounds since her first weigh-in 15 months ago. Her goal is to get down to 155 and maintain that weight with regular exercise and a controlled diet.
“I still eat whatever I want, just a whole lot less,” she says. “Instead of half a pizza and six beers, I’ll have two slices of pizza and stop at two beers.”
Lynn says she is inspired by seeing results and the “awe and shock” expressed by family and friends who are proud of her determination in reaching her fitness goals.
Healthy living has become a way of life and she is happy to share her secret with others.
“You have to find something that you like doing to stay motivated. There are days I don’t want to get up and run, but I just do it and I’m always happy I did.”
Good luck to Lynn and the more than 20,000 runners in this year’s Honolulu Marathon. May you reach your goals. •IO
Marathon to honor oldest female runner
Kailua’s Gladys “Glady” Burrill, 92, who has earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest woman to compete in a marathon, will be inducted into the Honolulu Marathon Hall of Fame on Dec. 8. Burrill set the record as oldest female marathoner at last year’s Honolulu Marathon.
The ceremony will take place at the Hawai‘i Convention Center at the Honolulu Marathon Expo. The expo runs from Dec. 7-10 and is open to the public.
This year, Glady is lending her support to the Lokahi Giving Project and leading the Honolulu Marathon Race Day Walk. Everyone who pays the $70 to enter the Race Day Walk and specifies the code, “Team Gladyator,” will have the entire fee go to Lokahi. To sign up for the Race Day Walk, go to www.honolulumarathon.org or www.khon2.com/content/lokahi/default.aspx