People who train for marathons are capable of mastery of their body, the physicality and mentality of endurance. It’s that careful balance of the physical and the mental that a group of seemingly ordinary Long Beach residents undertook when they decided to train for a marathon. They ranged in age from 20s to 60s and committed to several weeks of coach led training; fundraising for cancer research and unwittingly they encountered the fact that they must also “train their brain.
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program is the catalyst behind this group of marathoners comprised of ordinary people: an attorney, an administrative assistant, homemaker, writer, web developer and many others. This elite team gave up their Saturday mornings and weekday evenings. Their training takes them to some of the best sites in Long Beach: the marina, the yacht clubs, the beach from Alamitos all the way out to Seal Beach. They began with walking and running intervals lasting 30 minutes and culminating in the dozen plus miles necessary as the weeks progressed.
They learned about hydration, nutrition, and injury prevention but more importantly what united them all was at some point they felt like giving up. But it wasn’t from sore shins, muscle strains, weather or each mile piled upon the last; it was their brain, they had to learn the art of training their brain. Deanna, a veteran full-marathoner, 5k & 10k events, “I didn’t come this far to stop.” It is this skill to not give in to the brain asking the body to stop. They are told to look straight ahead find a point, a landmark on the horizon, the bend in the road, the top of the hill and keep moving that mark. When one of the team members feels they cannot run or walk another step there is another who has literally felt the same and will pick them up. “I just have to remind myself, I’m doing this for two little girls (suffering from cancer,” Gwen, says finds the strength to keep it up. It was not that long ago that some of these team members could not walk let alone run a mile and here they are several weeks later up to 10, 12 miles and looking back smiling. It’s the journey and marathon in their brain that got them this far. The coaches, mentors and new marathoners have all been touched by cancer, in their families, and some are also survivors but all carry the same trait; they’ve all conquered the marathon in their brain and pushed to the finish line.