June 03, 2012
Class of 2012
OVS faculty members John Valenzuela and Esther Andrews ran their first marathons on Sunday, completing the 26.2-mile Ojai-2-Ocean race in impressive fashion.
They trained hard, putting in hundreds of miles between them over the past six months. And they had both looked forward to joining the ranks of those who have conquered what many consider to be the pinnacle of distance running.
But really, their reason for running served a larger purpose. Within the past five years, both were diagnosed with cancer and both battled to overcome the disease.
In fact, it was their fight with cancer that got both Mrs. Andrews and Mr. Valenzuela into running.
After being diagnosed with colon cancer five years ago, Mrs. Andrews said her life was forever changed.
“I try not to take anything for granted anymore -- my precious family, my health, the ability to get up every morning,” said Mrs. Andrews, who is foreign language chair, ESL coordinator and a soccer coach at the Lower Campus.
Since overcoming cancer, she has been trying to do new things and tackling items on her bucket list. Running a marathon was on the list, but now she can check off that one.
Mrs. Andrews finished the Ojai to Ventura course in 4:50:27, an excellent time, especially for a first-time marathoner.
To share her passion for running, she encouraged Mr. Valenzuela, the associate director of admission for OVS, to run the marathon as well.
Mr.Valenzuela had been a baseball player in high school but was never a runner. But after he found out that he had cancer, he chose to get fit and live a healthier lifestyle, and that included a regimen of long-distance runs.
“It changed me and challenged me to take the gift of body in a different direction,” Mr. Valenzuela said.
Before Sunday’s marathon, he had already completed three half marathons, finishing the first of those races in the top 10 in his age group.
“It was an eye opener,” Mr. Valenzuela said. “I was thinking I could probably do 26.2 miles and be okay.”
On Sunday, he was more than okay, breaking the four-hour barrier in his first marathon attempt.
Congratulations to both runners. They have made OVS proud.