Posted on 07 March 2013.
RIF #88 Hideki Kinoshita after the Comrades Marathon
This week’s Run It Fast – The Club profile is Hideki Kinoshita #88, also known as Kino, Kino the Maniac, Kino the superhero, and Kino the Awesome. Okay, the last 3 titles are ones that I gave him but after you read his profile, I’m sure you will agree with me!
Check out this amazing runner’s story:
Name: Hideki Kinoshita aka Kino
RIF #: 88
Years Running: 4.5 years (my first marathon was on 2008/09/21)
Favorite Race Distance: The Marathon (26.2mi / 42.2km)
Favorite PR: 2012 Fargo Marathon (Fargo, ND), 3:19:12 (7:36 min/mile)
Favorite Race: Comrades Marathon (56 mi ultra in Durban, South Africa)
Favorite Bling: 50 States Marathon Club – Certified Finisher Plaque
Next Race: Lower Potomac River Marathon (Piney Point, MD) on 2013/03/10 / LA Marathon (Los Angeles, CA) on 2013/03/17
What Makes You FEEL Fast?: I feel fast when I’m passing other runners during the second half of a race, and right before the finish line.
FUN RUNNING QUESTIONS
Why did you start running?
From 2006 to 2008, my main hobby was skiing and snowboarding. I was a ski trip “maniac”, hitting the slopes more than 20 days per winter. I enjoyed traveling to different states to glide on fresh powder. Some of my favorite places were Whistler (BC), Canyons (UT), Steamboat Springs (CO), Mount Tremblant (QC), & Stratton (VT). I relished the camaraderie of traveling together and renting cabins, then enjoyed being in the fresh and scenic outdoors. These are some of the same reasons that would later attract me to the sport of distance running.
When spring would roll around melting the leftover snow, I would go through ski trip withdrawal because I could not find anything to replace the excitement of these frequent weekend trips. Reflecting back on the previous weekend’s ski trip, and making plans for the next one, would help make each painful workweek more bearable. I needed a new summertime hobby that could carry me over to the next ski season. I didn’t realize it at first, but the answer to this was: Running.
At my first job, my co-worker Yasuaki Shimizu would often share his stories of training with his PoweredByDimSum NYC running group friends and the frequent New York Road Runners (NYRR) races he ran. I enjoyed listening to him, but had no desire to join him. He finally suckered me into running my first race, the inaugural Japan Day 4-miler in Central Park on 2007/06/03. Interestingly, I would go on to run my 100th marathon + ultra exactly 5 years later, to the date. The Japan Day race was started to celebrate Japanese culture in NYC. We were both Japanese-Americans, working for a Japanese firm, so it was hard for me to turn him down. I begrudgingly agreed to run. I did no training and this 4 mile distance was double the length of any distance I had ever run before. I was 28 at the time, and I made the rookie mistake of going out too fast. Of course I did, I was after all a rookie. The later miles were miserable. I ran the entire distance in 35:31 (8:52 min/mile) without having to walk and was happy to have finished, but swore off running races. It was that painful.
Then 5 months later, that same co-worker Yasu asked me to go cheer for him in the 2007 NYC Marathon. I was free and had never seen a marathon live. Since this event is NYC’s biggest one day event, I figured why not. Little would I know, November 4, 2007 would be a turning point and forever change my life. After cheering in Central Park around Mile 24 for Yasu and another friend Melissa Hon, then seeing thousands of runners cheerfully running the final portion of the race, I was inspired to take up running. I immediately aimed to run a full marathon within one year’s time, by Fall 2008.
The very next day, I registered to become an NYRR member, joined my very first running club, and signed up for a series of upcoming races. I outdid my initial goal of running one marathon a year later by running the Yonkers Marathon (9/2008), Chicago Marathon (10/2008), & the Philadelphia Marathon (11/2008) in less than a 3 month time span, thus unknowingly qualifying me for the Marathon Maniacs with my very first three marathons. After I learned about the Maniacs and joining as MM #1382 in 2/2009, things became, well… maniacal thereafter.
It’s been 4.5 years since my first marathon, and I’ve now run 125 of them in all 50 states & DC, 26 states & DC into my second round, 7 countries, and 4 continents, including 23 ultramarathons, 6 of which were 100 milers. Just when I complete one goal, a new goal pops into mind. First it was 50 States then Titanium (the highest Marathon Maniacs level), and now it’s the 50sub4 Club (a sub-4 hour marathon in all 50 states), 7 Continents, and Boston Qualifying. The fun never stops.
Kino at the Fargo Marathon with RIF #92 Steven and friend Benny Tam
Which of your running routes makes you the happiest and why?
Running the loop in Central Park in Manhattan, NYC makes me happiest. It was here where I was reborn, from couch potato to runner. It is where I have run over 50 local races, where I train with my NYC Niketown @TeamRunNYC, and is my favorite place in my favorite city in the world.
There is hardly a time where you’re in Central Park and you do not spot another runner along the paths and loops. Whenever I run there, I am always able to spot a familiar face and exchange a “good job” with them. It’s always an added bonus to be able to catch up with them to hear about their most recent and upcoming running adventures.
It is this luxury of having a convenient central oasis within an immense concrete jungle where good friends can congregate that makes Frederick Law Olmsted’s Central Park such a special place. If it were not for this 1.3 square mile swath of land, I can almost guarantee that I would have never discovered the joys and transformative power that the simple act of quickly stepping one foot in front of the other possesses.
Have you ever worn a costume during a race? What was it and for what race?
Oh have I worn a costume during a race? Let’s see, I have dressed up and run marathons and ultras as a Viking, Three Wolf Moon Man, Old Spice Guy, The Burger King, and Thor. I love dressing up for big time races, especially the NYC Marathon. In all 3 of the NYCM’s that I have run, I have dressed up each time. For the 2012 NYC Marathon, I was supposed to run dressed as Darth Vader, along with my band of Star Wars characters, but sadly Hurricane Sandy altered those plans.
My fondest costume running memory was easily the 2011 NYC Marathon, in which I ran as the Avenger Thor, along with my super hero friends who ran dressed as Superman, Batgirl, Captain America, Ironman, Mr. Incredible, and Super Mario. It is so much fun to run in costume in big city races because there are so many kids and enthusiastic fans cheering along the route. You end up energizing the crowd if they like your outfit, and in turn you get to feed off their energy and enjoy the race experience even more. It’s always hilarious to hear all the wrong names you are called. As Thor, I was mistaken for a viking, Optimus Prime the Transformer, and He-Man.
Another great aspect of costume running is that since it allows you to stand out, you can use that additional attention to your benefit. For this race as Thor, I draped my Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) TeamHOPE charity running team jersey over my hammer, an essential part of Thor’s attire. Even though the hammer was becoming a burden over the marathon distance, I ran with it and ended up raising $1,000 for PanCAN. It was also a special experience to help my charity runner teammate, Travis Simpson, finish his very first marathon.
Kino as Thor at the NYC Marathon
Why do you race?
I race because it gives me a sense of personal fulfillment and accomplishment, especially if my performance sets a new personal record (PR) time or distance. I believe these feelings are the main reason why any of us are willing to undertake the journey of 26.2 miles on foot. Successfully conquering such goals adds purpose to life. Becoming a marathon finisher arms you with the newfound belief in yourself that if you are able accomplish what you set out to do, other obstacles in life do not feel as daunting. This feeling is further amplified when one becomes a 100 miler finisher. Such accomplishments instill a new feeling of confidence that carry over into other aspects in life, improving your overall psyche and individual satisfaction.
The next reason is that running races is simply fun, no matter how painful it may feel at times. Ultras are a different kind of painful “fun”, which I’ll save for another Q&A. The whole experience of traveling with friends and loved ones to a race and hanging out with other friends from far off places, gives marathon weekends a memorable reunion feeling to them. Running races is a great excuse to travel and visit worthwhile destinations, especially to places you have never been before or otherwise would never have visited had it not been for that particular race. Marathons tend to be during the most temperate times of year, so they take place during some of the best times of year to visit said location.
I enjoy being around other runners. Runners tend to share a laid back outlook and be genuinely kind. I immediately noticed this when I started becoming friends with other long distance runners. I have heard other marathoners and ultra runners making the same remarks countless times. I believe that since runners voluntarily put themselves into and endure high pain threshold situations, this allows them to be better able to empathize with others who are less fortunate. From my experience, runners are an overwhelmingly caring and compassionate group of people. Running also makes me a better person.
Umstead 100 with friends and fellow RIFers
Another reason that I choose to run is for its health benefits. It is a great activity for weight loss, weight gain prevention, improving the cardiovascular system, increasing endurance, heightening alertness, and strengthening the immune system. Whenever I go for a morning run, I don’t require coffee to keep me awake and am a lot more productive for the rest of the day. Additionally, since I have become a runner it has become extremely rare for me to catch a cold, despite the lack of daily sleep I get.
The last main reason why I like to run races is that it is a great way to draw awareness to under-represented causes. I choose to continually run my races for these three small charities:
I have been drawn to help each of these nonprofits for various reasons ranging from a painful loss, a desire to improve our community, and wanting to honor heroes of this modern age. Each fundraising page above will explain what I find so special about each organization and how they help those in need with the donations they receive. I have run over 55 marathons and ultras for these great causes and with the support of the loving running community, have been fortunate to raise over $64,000 for them. I feel very blessed by the steadfast encouragement of friends and followers who continue to pour in moral and financial support for my various charity fundraising endeavors. Thanks to my involvement in philanthropy, I have met such amazingly wonderful people who champion the same causes and provide me with tremendous inspiration. Running is what single-handedly provided me with the impetus and motivation to become involved.
Kino at the Turtle Marathon with friends
What running moment are you most proud of?
It is hard to narrow down a single proud running moment. Some moments that come to mind are:
- 2008 Yonkers Marathon (Yonkers, NY) in 5:00:15 was my first marathon finish. I was the 4th to last to cross the finish line out of 93 finishers.
- 2009 Asbury Park Relay Marathon (Asbury Park, NJ) in 3:59:41 was my first sub-4 marathon. It took me until my 15th marathon to finally break the elusive 4 hour barrier. I had friends Marco Cheung and Mike Moschitta to help pace me at the end.
- 2010 Javelina Jundred (Fountain Hills, AZ) in 28:23:21 was my first 100 miler finish. I had run 3 straight weeks of double marathons in 6 different states to build up to this race. My local Phoenix friend Amy Wang helped pace me for 15 miles.
- 2011 North Coast 24-Hour Endurance Run (Cleveland, OH) with 104.79 miles was my 24 hour ultra PR. It was the USA Track & Field 24 Hour National Championships, and I placed 29th. This race took place a week after the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on NY & DC. I put together a last minute fundraiser based on per mile pledges, raising $5,550 for the Mount Sinai Medical Center WTC Health Program. The pledges were what kept me going and not quit. It was a nice quick trip to Ohio with my long-time friend Jackie Choi, who is an accomplished ultra runner.
- 2011 Berlin Marathon (Berlin, GER) in 3:38:21 was a huge unexpected 10 minute PR. My closest running friend Steven Thunder Lee decided to forgo running at his pace to pace me on the back half all the way to the finish line. I would later lower my marathon PR to 3:19:12 at the 2012 Fargo Marathon the next May, but lost to Thunder by 5 seconds as we raced to the finish line.
- 2012 Comrades Marathon (Durban, ZAF) 56 miler in 9:37:39 was Marathon / Ultra #100. It was a fun trip with so many good friends from NYC, Houston, & Dallas.
- 2012 Honolulu Marathon (Honolulu, HI) in 3:58:52 was my 50th State Marathon and a ton of friends from NYC and Cali came out to celebrate with Steven Thunder Lee & me for finishing Round 1 of the 50 States. Pacers and friends Derrick Tsang, Rick Thiounn, & Dave Carlsson helped me out big time on the second half of this race. I barely broke 4 hours, making this my 41st sub-4 state. I currently have 5 more sub-4 states to go to finish my 50sub4 goal.
One last thing from Kino:
I look forward to more proud running moments and enjoy being your Run It Fast teammate. It is great to meet RIF members at races all over the country. Special thanks to Joshua Holmes for forming this club and his constant encouragement, and to Lisa Gonzales who took the time to put together this Q&A!
So you agree with me, right? He’s pretty amazing. I think he’s awesome, not only for running so many marathons/ultras and continuing to set PRs and bigger goals, but for doing so much to give back while he’s doing it. The thing that I love most about reading his profile though is the joy that he gets from running with friends and meeting new friends along the way. You can see that in the photos he sent along with his profile. Only one of them was of just him (I had to twist his arm to get the Thor pic. and the rest were with runners and friends who made it more special for him. Even his best running moments are not all about him. We at Run It Fast are extremely proud to have someone as big-hearted and inspiring as Kino in The Club!
Thank you for sharing your incredible journey with us Kino. Good luck at the Lower Potomac River Marathon and the LA Marathon!
If you’d like to join Run It Fast – The Club or would like more information about it, please click this link:
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[All photos submitted by Hideki Kinoshita and the Kino as Thor pic by Otto Lam]