Teachers run more than the classroom

Three DBHS staffers devote much of their free time to competitive running, participating in marathons and iron man triathlons.

Pauline Villegas, Asst. A&E Editor

Most adults find it hard to make time for anything other than their careers and families. However, a select group of Diamond Bar High School staff members have found a place in their busy schedules to train and participate in long-distance running events.

Teachers Denise Mesdjian, Les Schafer, and Jennifer Bravo have each completed marathons, half-marathons, and triathlons. These running events can be as long as 26.2 miles and require months of vigorous training.

English teacher Mesdjian began running when she was eleven years old, participating in track and field and cross country in both high school and college.

“Running a marathon was just the next step in my running journey,” Mesdjian said.

Mesdjian uses running as a type of therapy or a way of achieving something that she has been striving for, as preparing requires intense  mental and physical training.

“I’ve always used self-motivation. It’s kind of the metaphor of running away from your problems and also running towards a goal. It’s a spiritual journey that I like to take,” Mesdjian said.

Running also allows Mesdjian to spur on her own creativity and it gives her a goal to work toward. She has participated in city marathons, trail marathons, and triathlons.

In addition, Mesdjian is the route coordinator of her running club, the So Cal Pacers. Serving as the route coordinator, she designs the routes that they run when they meet up at Bonelli Park.

“When you participate in a sport that is difficult, you really bond with the people on your team,” Mesdjian said. She is currently training for a 50-mile race in Mammoth.

Math teacher Schaefer has also participated in a multitude of running events. In total, he has completed three full marathons and one half iron man, which is a form of a triathlon.

Schaefer began running in 2004, and two years later decided to run his first full marathon in Long Beach.

“I enjoy longer distances because I feel really good when I accomplish them,” Schaefer said.

While training, the thought of finishing kept Schaefer going. He understood that his goal was to finish and no matter what he had to keep pushing through.

Chemistry teacher Jennifer Bravo also understands what it’s like to train for a running event. Her local YMCA employee suggested that a group of her class members sign up for a 5k, which is a distance of roughly 3 miles.

After signing up for her first 5k, she quickly progressed to a 10k, half marathon, and then ultimately, a full marathon.

“Once I decided to do a full marathon, what really helped me was joining a running group and that made a huge difference,” Bravo said.

Three times, Bravo has run in the Los Angeles Marathon.

Having friends to train alongside with motivated Bravo to push through all of her challenges. Their training plan and schedules allowed her to stay organized while preparing for the big day. Exercising with her husband also helped Bravo finish all 26.2 miles.

“Last year, my husband decided he would like to run a marathon as well. Having him to run with also motivated me,” Bravo said.