Marathon mom finds time for it all

| 22 Feb 2012 | 07:47

Coach inspires students with dedication and drive, By Olivia DuHaime and Amanda Shane Hardyston — When the clock strikes 2:30 p.m., some teachers at Wallkill Valley Regional High School are in as much of a rush to leave as the students. While cars and buses empty out the parking lot, special education teacher Sabrina Lucas stays busy at work. Whether she is coaching her cross country team or refereeing basketball games, she remains an active part of the Wallkill community year-round. But Lucas could not be content until she had accomplished an old dream of hers — to complete a marathon. On Nov. 2, 2008, she joined thousands of determined people to run the 26.2 grueling miles in the ING New York City Marathon. It was personal In honor of her father, who passed away after a battle with esophageal cancer, Lucas ran for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. To be part of the Armstrong marathon group, she wrote an essay describing why she wanted to run as a member of “Lance’s Army.” Runners for the group were required to raise $3,500. After surpassing that amount by collecting over $5,000, the long, nerve-wracking wait began. One Friday in February, she received the long-anticipated e-mail: She was in. “The experience was incredible. I was running with thousands of people, yet alone,” Lucas remarks on her marathon run. She placed 15,823 out of over 38,000 runners; only 3,508 were women. Her official time was 4:09:13, a bit off her goal of four hours. Still, she achieved her true goal: to finish the race and pay tribute to her father. Where it all began Born in Oahu, Hawaii, Lucas was adopted by Frank and Celia McChesney and has lived in Franklin since the fourth grade. Though now running has become a way of life for her, Lucas’ first sport was basketball. A tough character by nature, she found enjoyment and success in the competition on the basketball court. In hopes of making the women’s basketball team at Bloomsburg University in 1981, Lucas began to run. After tryouts were over, Lucas just couldn’t shake the running bug. By now, there was no stopping her. In the summer of 1982, Lucas started her career as a runner by entering various road races that helped hone her competitive edge. The next four years were dedicated to cross country, the ultimate endurance sport. Lucas was known as a force to be reckoned with and made her mark in the running world. Her father was a constant in these years and was a strong foundation for her. Because of their close relationship and shared love of athletics, Lucas considers her father, among all the heroes in her life, the one she feels most connected to. He taught her to aim high and work hard. This persevering attitude has stuck with her through her adult life and she is now a role model for her cross country athletes and students. Getting to Wallkill High After earning a master’s degree in special education, Lucas was hired at Wallkill Valley High to teach special ed. She also became coach for the freshman girls’ basketball team. But in 1988, she switched to coaching cross country and introduced a girls’ team to the school. Being married with kids along with a demanding coaching/teaching schedule can be stressful, but Lucas understands the importance of balance. She says her life was very full and that’s the reason she waited for the right time to run her marathon. But 2008 was the year that felt right and Lucas strived through months of planning and training to meet her goal. Family is paramount Lucas says that her family has been the ultimate support system throughout her training. Even though her children: Paige, 16, Sara, 13, and Nicholas, 10, along with her husband Robert, are forced to share her with her second family, the WV cross country team, the family knows how to stick together. The idea of family is very important to Lucas because of the influence of her father. Frank McChesney was a stellar athlete his whole life and a very strong individual who paved his daughter’s way to becoming the runner, and more importantly the person, she is today.