Chicago Marathon Weekend 2016: A “Whirlwind” of Emotions 

The Day Before the Chicago Marathon: October 8, 2016 
Marathon 14. The “Windy” City. Chicago. Tomorrow. The struggle will be real for sure. Most likely the biggest challenge thus far in the mission to 22. But this type of pain is temporary: 3+ hours vs. a lifetime. Tribute, honor, accept the pain, build resilience, assist others… that’s all we can do.  

In marathon 13 (Erie, PA, 9/11/16), I was shooting for an easy run. In planning for 4 hours, I came to the finish line 34 seconds too fast. Doing something like this absolutely kills me & my ego (having a Personal best of 3:21:08.) 

The last 7 miles of this last race really hurt & tested my body, with knee and ITB pain galore. Running in pain is one of the things that makes us stronger. Building mental toughness not only helps many, including professional athletes, but also prepares us in accepting many of life’s challenges and tackling extreme hardships. It builds our resilience; it helps us cope; it helps the process of grieving. 

I’ve accepted to run in pain rather than stop or slow down. Sorry family, friends, and those who care, I won’t stop. And we all know what the cause is. Our Angelina. #AMLongo #22marathons

#missyoueveryday #resilience #hopeafterloss #marathonprincipal #beastmode #bringit 

Hours after the Chicago Marathon: October 9, 2016

Despite the constant, nagging knee pain beginning as early as mile 1, marathon 14 is complete. With over 40,000 runners, fans, music, and all the scenery that comes with major marathons, focus remained. At mile 12 today, a small, beautiful little girl reached out her hand for a high-five. Emotionally affected, I broke down into a pattern of uneven breathing from crying. However, my pace picked up without even trying. My mile splits came in faster and faster. All pain was masked and unnoticed for the next 8 miles. It’s truly amazing how all these emotions were present in the same moment: 1) extreme pain from running; 2) seeing the joy & beauty of that cute, little girl; 3) crying in the reminder of the loss of our daughter; 4) running significantly faster mile splits; and 5) the release of pain.  

At mile 20, excruciating pain set in. Thoughts of not finishing, not making it, not being able to even walk clouded my mind. The cheer of the fans, the music, and all of which was provided at the aid stations could not ease these thoughts. Miles 20 and 21 = my slowest miles of the race.  

As I approached mile 22, positive thoughts sit back in my mind. Even though the pain is still unbearable, many thoughts reenter my mind other than finishing the race- enjoying my wife and boys, gaining strength, finding hope, and developing resilience. 

The remaining miles of this marathon were painful beyond belief, but the emotions from earlier in the race helped me through. Knowing that family members were waiting for me at the finish, and knowing that many people were following my journey online, helped to push me forward. I finished my 14th marathon and kept the streak alive of all marathons run under 4 hours. Crossing the finish line today was different than the last 13 times. As I moved through the finish chute area, I found myself in deeper reflection. It seemed that there was so much more to process and I could not leave the finish area this time around. 

The Day After the Chicago Marathon: October 10, 2016
As I waddle like a penguin through the airport, I have the runner’s sense of accomplishment, but every step is painful and links back to why I set out to take on this feat. I am comforted in knowing that I am stronger as a result of another marathon weekend and stronger in life to demonstrate an increased capacity of resilience. 


About Dr. Chris Longo

Principal, Schaghticoke Middle School, New Milford, CT
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