Mathematician Meets Marathons 
Math teacher Amanda Morris gears up with water bottles, a knee brace, hat, and sunglasses for her first marathon in Long Beach in 2013. Image used with permission from Amanda Morris.

After a long day of lecturing and grading papers, most teachers head home to get some well-needed rest. However, Sunny Hills math teacher Amanda Morris puts on her running shoes, grabs some water and hits the trails.

Her training has just begun, and she’s determined to run 26.2 miles in under four hours.

Before Morris started teaching Geometry and Honors Pre-Calculus at Sunny Hills five years ago, her love for sports motivated her to run.

“I used to play soccer from ages 4 to 16, and then I swam at Diamond Bar High School and Chapman University [until I was] 22,” Morris said. “Once I graduated, I couldn’t swim anymore [because] I didn’t have a pool, so I picked up running.”

Running first started off as a hobby but after four months of training, she decided to challenge herself and enter her first marathon at Long Beach in 2013.

“I did my first marathon because I wanted to challenge myself, and I ended up [getting a time of] 3:40 and I really loved it so I continued,” Morris said.

Since then she has participated in seven long distance races, two of which she ran with her fellow Sunny Hills teachers Jennifer Papageorge and Lindsay Safe.

“We trained for the whole summer [and] we would get together on the weekends and do a long run together,” said Papageorge, who teaches AVID and Algebra. 

Although they were reluctant at first, the teachers ended up participating in the 2018 and 2019 Ragnar So Cal.

“ I didn’t train well [so it] was not fun, and I think [the course] is boring,” said Safe who teaches AVID and yearbook.

Now, almost seven years later, Morris qualified for the 2020 Boston Marathon next April with a marathon time of three hours and 25 minutes.

“It took me four years to achieve my goal of qualifying for Boston,” Morris said. “Don’t get discouraged if you don’t achieve a goal right away; it takes time.”

After all her hard work, Morris will fly to Boston where she will pay for her own expenses but receive clothes and a medal after her race.

“I wish the trip was paid for! That only happens with the professional athletes, [but] I’ve worked extremely hard over the years to get where I am,” Morris said. 

For the next six months she runs 25 to 45 miles a week after school along the Fullerton Loop trail or in Brea and she goes to the gym twice a week for strength training and yoga.

“I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished in terms of how far I’ve come in my running,” Morris said.

While balancing her teaching responsibilities and training, Morris says it is important to always push to be better, no matter how tough a situation may be.

“Set small goals along the way and know the steps you must take to achieve each goal;  reflect on your progress along the way,” Morris said. “Always work hard and once you reach your goal, don’t get lazy, always push yourself to be better.”

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