Mona Blackmon lives in Agana Heights. She was born in California (United States of America) because her father was in the military, but her family is originally from Guam and they returned there when she was a baby. She is a 36 years old professional in the finance business and has been walking and running for over a year.
Mona is a new runner who is motivated by her kids, her family and friends. She has lost over 30 pounds in the last year from running, and also has quit smoking after almost twenty years as a smoker. "Running has done so much for me and my family" - she says - "We spend quality time running. I am a very slow runner, but my kids still go with me. Either they ride their bikes or run circles around my route to prevent boredom. I get excited talking about running and have gotten many friends to join me at the 5k's or even running at a park once in a while. It is great!". Mona is really dedicated to running and more of her stories can be found at http://myrw.runnersworld.com/web/iwannarun
She does not officially belong to a running club. However, she is a proud member of the group called "Courage to Start" (part of John Bingham's Penguins) representing over a thousand runners everywhere. Mona tries to run at least four times a week - sometimes more, sometimes less - and usually she covers approximately 5k, always on different courses. Every once in a while, she will train on her favorite route which is about 4 miles. She usually run with one of her kids, or meet up with friends on certain days to run specific routes. She and her kids also enjoy running in the local 5k events each weekend.
Does she eat anything special before a run? "No. If I run a 5k in the morning, I just have my coffee and bring my frozen Gatorade for the run. If I run in the evenings, I don't eat dinner until after I run" Mona replies. There is no typical food from Guam that is popular to eat by runners before a run.
Runners in Guam run in all types of weather conditions, but there is not much difference. Guam is hot and humid. There are only have two seasons, the rainy and the dry one. So unless it is storming, runners run in the rain. In Guam there is no snow nor hail, for example. The best time to run is in a cool early evening, because the extreme heat really affects running. "I don't like running in the morning" - Mona says - "even at 6 or 7 am, it is already hot. I prefer to run after the sun goes down".
What does Mona wear when she run? "Dri-fit or Cool-max tops and biker shorts without the padding. I also wear Thorlo socks. When running a 5k, sometimes I would wear the previous year's T-shirt from the same event". She also like to run wearing reflective tape on her clothes when running at night, a visors (either day or night) and always carries a water bottle and a washcloth to wipe her sweat from her eyes. She owns four pairs of running shoes.
Mona listens to music only sometimes, when running. "I prefer something upbeat to help keep my feet moving. I don't really pay attention to what the song says, so long as the beat is there to help with my tempo and pace".
She periodically reads "Runner's World" and "Running Times".
Running in Guam is a growing activity, popular among both men and women: "If you consider a road race almost every weekend to be popular... yeah, I'd say it is popular. In fact, I see more and more people running everyday". Visiting runners are generally from Japan or Korea and they are advised to dress for warm weather when coming to Guam, so that's ok as they don't stand out. Some visitors actually join the road races, too. Guam is pretty modern and there are no particular religious or cultural activities, philosophies, or taboos that affect or limit running. Running shirtless? "I kind of prefer to see men running without shirts. What woman wouldn't?" laughs Mona.
The only thing to consider when running in Guam is if you are bringing a dog to a road race. It would be good if you did not let it loose afterwards, as people are scared of dogs, no matter how friendly. This is because dogs are definitely the main hazard in Guam. When running in a residential area, you may want to carry a stick, rocks or a dog dazer. Even the pets can be mean and many homeowners do not tie their dogs. On the wildlife side, in Guam there are only Brown Tree snakes, not rattlers or anything. These snakes like the power lines and the boonies. You hardly see them on the roads. As an additional safety precaution, avoid running alone at night. Stay away from deserted areas and it is actually safer to run at a park. There are several parks that have runners and walkers present at all hours of the day. The cars are dangerous when the roads are wet, late at night or early morning (when people have been out drinking): there have been few auto/pedestrian accidents, so runners on the roadways should be cautious.
We asked Mona if she ever runs in any organized races and she replied "Oh, yes! These are my favorites. I just love the raffles and the T-shirts. In fact, my kids and I collect the shirts. We've been lucky enough to win hotel accomodations, short trips and dinner tickets". Events 5k long are the most popular, but the 10k's are also common. In Guam they also have their share of marathons. Most of the road races are charity runs, sponsored by different businesses.
A race in Guam usually costs about 5 U.S. dollars per person. Once in a while, it would be 10 or 20 dollars for a family of five. The participant receives the race number. The T-shirt and food is always given after the race. There are a few annual events that provide a pre-race packet, though. Speaking of awards, most races have T-shirts for the first 500 people. If the organizers expect a big crowd, they will have more shirts. There may be free massages, food or drink samples to take home, refreshments and of course, the raffle prizes. There are always medals, certificates or trophies for the top 3 finishers in both male and female divisions. "My older son" - adds Mona - "usually wins among the top 3 male youth division and my younger son is catching up, so he'll soon be winning his fair share of awards".
The race organizers usually provide one or two water stations along the race routes. After the races, there are varied foods - such as bananas, apples, oranges, doughnuts, breads, granola bars, yogurt, cereal, melon. Drinks are often water, Gatorade, fruit juices or other sport drinks.
Mona has never run in another city or country, but wishes to run a marathon or half marathon soon or later: "I don't think I'm ready for that yet. When I can run for one hour non-stop, then I'll consider it. I also have at least 50 pounds more weight to lose before I can comfortably run longer distances, I think". She has no true favorite run either: "I like some of the parks, I like running in my neighborhood and I like the routes for the 5k's. They're all good".
Run The Planet would like to thank Mona Blackmon from Guam for taking part in the Planeteer Spotlight.