Interview with Josam Mulinyawe –
By Life in the Day of a Runner
First of all, let me start off by saying that Josam is a personal friend of mine and someone who has come to represent to me the true heart of a runner. He is encouraging, inspirational and pushes you to keep going "just a little further" because that is exactly what he does.
I first met Josam in 2012 when we were training for Ragnar Relay Napa 2012. After several months of training and prepping for Ragnar ,we finally got to spend almost 48 hours together in van traversing almost 200 miles while all 12 of us runners each ran our legs of the relay. It was a TOTAL BLAST!! Ragnar will stand out as one of the most memorable races that I have done mostly because of the awesome people I got to spend time with and the lessons I have learned from each one. Let me tell you a little secret: If you can spend 48 hours travelling around in a van with 11 other stinky, hungry and tired runners and when the relay is over, you still like each other, well you know you have a FRIEND for LIFE!
Josam has been on an incredible weight loss journey and in a very short period of time, he has not only lost a ton of weight, but he has gone from running a 12K to becoming an ULTRA-MARATHONER. In fact, in just a few weeks, he will be running his first 100K and a bunch of our Ragnar team members will be heading up to the race location to pace and support him in this endeavor. We are all very proud and look to him for inspiration. As you read through his interview questions, I think you will agree that he has come far in a very short period of time. I hope that you too will be inspired.
Rachel - First of all I want to congratulate you on an amazing journey that you have had! There has been an incredible transformation in your life and you have lost quite a bit of weight because of it. How did this transformation come about and how did running play a part?
Josam - Prior to 2011, my wife and I would have goals of losing weight. In January 2011, I told my wife that I’m going to end this and would challenge myself to lose weight. My weight was 245 lbs. and I didn’t have any end goal. I just want to lose weight and see where it goes from there. I’m very patient in losing weight and didn’t care how long it takes as long as I see progress being made.
I had lunch with my friend, Rich(ard) Mijares, the first/second Friday of January 2011, and he asked me if I want to run the 100th Bay to Breakers. My first question was “How far is the run?”. He said 12k about 7.5 miles. The longest I’ve run before is about 5 miles around Lake Merced in San Francisco and that was in high school. Next, he said it’s the first time they are giving away medals and it’s not until May. I said “OK, I’ll sign-up.” It’s perfect timing since I’m trying to lose weight. He said we’ll run a 5k race before Bay to Breakers to get your feet wet.
Rachel - What has been the most difficult issue when dealing with being overweight and running?
Josam - Overweight is too nice of a word. I was obese and started running the next day after my lunch with Rich. I wore my skechers at the time since that’s the only pair of “running” shoes I have. I went for about a mile run just around my neighborhood. I noticed immediately I was out of shape. It was hard to breathe while running.
Rachel - Do you believe there are stereotypes of being an overweight runner? Have you had to deal with this yourself and how have you handled it?
Josam - My first 5k I saw lots of runners in all shapes and sizes, so I don’t think there are stereotypes. I didn’t hear anything said about me that would offend me. The running community I believe is composed of intelligent and well mannered people. The funny thing is I never heard some of my friends say the word “FAT” until now that I’ve lost a lot of weight.
Rachel - What has been the biggest lesson you have learned about yourself and your body because of running?
Josam - I love running. Because of running, I have learned a lot about my body on how much it needs to eat and how much it can burn. I’m very good in Math, so running and eating became like a game. I didn’t count calories. I’m a big rice eater, so I started reducing my rice intake to 8 oz. cooked for lunch and same for dinner. After six months, I reduced my rice intake to 6 oz. then now to 4 oz. for lunch and not much carbs for dinner unless I have a race end of the week.
Rachel - How has running helped you with your physical and mental health?
Josam - Before running, I used to have headaches and sometimes get dizzy. Because of running, I feel good physically and mentally. My blood test results are all in control and within the good range.
Rachel - How has the circle of friends and family accepted the “new you?”
Josam - They are all very supportive and happy for me. I just hope at least one or more of them would try running and see the benefits of it.
Rachel - How have your eating habits changed since you began this journey and has this made you a better runner?
Josam - One thing I said to myself before losing weight is I want to eat anything I like and want. My taste buds have changed and eating salad for dinner sounds so delicious. I’m staying away from fried stuff and fatty foods most of the time. I eat in proportion now where I used to eat at buffets and really stuff myself for no reason.
Rachel - You just finished running AR50 on April 6, 2013 and on May 4, 2013 you will be running MIWOK 100. You have come a long in a very short time. Where do you see your journey taking you next?
Josam - My goal for AR50 was to finish under 11 hours and have fun. I have accomplished my goal at AR50 which qualifies me for WS100. I hope to get picked in the lottery and run WS100. Miwok 100k is to prepare me for my first 100 miler in July, TRT100. My journey is to keep running and checking off all these races in my 50 gallon bucket list. The beauty of running is I get to explore new places, sometimes making family vacations. Running is definitely not a boring sport if you go places.
Rachel - What advice would you give to someone who is overweight and wants to start running but isn’t sure where to start?
Josam - I’m lucky that my first pair of running shoes I fell in love right away and worked for me. I would say spend the money on shoes. My running clothes I try to find on clearance or outlets and spend less there. Happy feet and legs will make you run more and love it. I find that signing-up for a race is a big motivator. It is always in the back of my mind that I have to train.
Rachel - Will you come back and give me another interview on ultra-running?
Josam - Of course, I love talking about running. I’m a student of the sport and will continue learning as long as I keep on running. Thank you for the interview.