Claudia Terrones says she has reached her goal, but her journey is not yet over.
Terrones, the Lompoc High athletic director and former St. Joseph High and Hancock College basketball standout, has met the objective she set three months ago. After the coronavirus pandemic wiped out the spring and fall sports seasons, Terrones decided she would run one mile for every returning athlete at her high school that was affected by the cancellations.
Terrones ran on weekdays and weekends. She ran in mornings and nights. After about three months, she reached her goal, running a mile for every student, or about 380 miles in all.
"Honestly, in the beginning, it was difficult," Terrones said Tuesday, adding that waking up early each morning and running multiple miles had started to take its toll on her, but instead of wilting, Terrones ratcheted up her drive.
"I made it through the first month and I wasn't happy with my average," Terrones said, noting she averaged about four or five miles of running per day through the first month of the challenge.
"Toward the end, I was was doubling up the mileage. I wanted more of a challenge," Terrones said. "I went up to eight or nine miles a day over the last month. I would run five miles in the morning and three at night. I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. This was very challenging, physically, emotionally, mentally.
"There were days where my feet hurt and I just kept going. I took a few days off, but I was really pushing at the end."
Terrones went from averaging 20 miles a week to 40 miles a week.
"I saw the kids being back on campus and challenged myself to get it done," Terrones said.
She began the challenge shortly after her district's return-to-play plans were scuttled the weekend after July 4. She said then she was running a mile for each of her returning athletes, nearly all of whom dealt with the widespread lockdowns and isolation. Three months later, Lompoc High student-athletes have been back on campus for workouts for the last month, a sign of major progress for high school sports that are slated to return to full competition in December.
"Yesterday, we had all of our fall sports on campus," Terrones said. "I was excited to see that. Everything I do, I do for them... I'm happy to be in the position I am in to spread positivity and try to make a difference."
Terrones didn't tackle the challenge in a vacuum. She had some help. For every time she ran, Terrones posted a short video on the LHS athletics Facebook page, dedicating her run to various athletes while also sharing a quote that inspired her. Terrones said her 12-year-old daughter, Tara, was key in helping compile inspirational quotes and tracking the mileage.
"She was the one who was keeping track and this became something we'd do together," Terrones said. "We had formed a bond with this project. I would talk about overcoming obstacles for a certain week and she'd look up quotes and I'd get the names.
"It was like a big accomplishment for both of us to see it through."
Though she hoped to spread positivity with her challenge on Facebook, Terrones felt that she received just as much support from those who followed along.
"I just want to thank everybody who followed it," Terrones said. "I would post my run and it would reach so many people and I'd get inspirational messages from them. The biggest thing about this was for the kids to know that we care about them and someone had their back."
Back in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons, Tell helped lead a major turnaround at the school. In Tell's freshman season at PVHS, the Panthers went 2-10 in league. By her junior season, the Panthers were 10-2. By her senior season, the Panthers were 11-1 in league and crowned league champions.
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