Wess Teacher Runs NYC Marathon – What It Takes To Prepare For This Annual Run


Casey Donohue sixth grade ELA teacher in the midst of running the marathon

Daisey Marciano and Eloise Wyndowe

November 7, 2021 marked the 50th anniversary of the New York City Marathon. 30,000 people from all over the world trained for years to build up their endurance for one eventful day where they ran 26.2 miles. Many people think that running is easy, that it’s something that comes naturally to humans; and for a short distance, it doesn’t require much effort. Little do people truly know the commitment, mental strength, and dedication runners put in to complete long-distance runs like the marathon.

Casey Donohue, a sixth-grade ELA teacher here at WESS, completed her first ever marathon on November 7th. 

She described the run as “[26.2 miles filled with] strangers from all over sharing cheers and funny signs and even passing out candy, tissues, bananas, and orange peels.”

Training for a marathon can take a matter of months – or for some, years – to build strength and discipline with the average marathoner training for approximately 5 months. What many don’t realize is how hard it is to dig deep within yourself and find the diligence to be this disciplined, especially within the realms of everything else occurring in life. 

Casey mentioned how hard it was for her to manage her training schedule when school started back up in September (two months prior to the race). Casey typically would train four times a week in the mornings before school, getting up at 4:30 AM. The regiment was exhausting.  She had to juggle not only the demands of her job as a teacher but also the intense training. Although Casey was fatigued, her soul wanted to turn her aspirations and dreams into a reality. Casey used these goals as fuel to keep going when facing hardships in the process. In the end, she was thrilled with herself that she kept going so that she could experience the glorious joy, electricity, and energy that surrounded the finish line.

 “I didn’t quite know what to expect,” Casey said, “but this was definitely great!” 

Casey plans not only to continue with the New York City Marathon, but she is also signed up for the Chicago Marathon and is aiming to get into the Boston Marathon in the next year or two.

A picture of the starting line right before the Marathon started

A common phrase that nearly all runners will tell you is “running is 90% mental, and 10% physical.” While there are sometimes physical barriers when running (such as injuries), we just have to push through them to reach this potential. 

Casey said that on days when she struggled to mentally motivate herself, her fiancé would ride next to her on an electric scooter to help her push through. She said, “When the marathon came and I was in excruciating pain from hard muscles, I just figured that this wouldn’t actually kill me, and besides, what were my options?

The article Mind over Matter by Runners World states, “The brain holds us back from pushing past a certain point.” 

The physical and mental parts of running are evident in a team atmosphere where each member, not wanting to be left behind, is giving their maximum exertion. This can result in very quick progress, something that was noticed on the WESS Cross Country team this season. Some runners started out the season running 9, or even 10-minute miles, and by the end, most people had shown significant improvement, bringing this time down to an 8 or even a 7 to a 6-minute mile. You may be wondering how to gain the mental strength to push through, despite the circumstances, turning your running aspirations into a reality. The answer to this is to accept the time it will take to reach your goals and to analyze the goals you are shooting for. For example, evaluate how realistic your goals are. Are they too small? Too big? Most importantly, you need to think about if they will get you to where you want to be in the end. You can only end big if you start small. 

As a runner myself, when planning out all my goals, I used to get so excited over what I wanted the end result to be that I didn’t fully acknowledge the process it would’ve taken to get there. Having overly ambitious goals caused me to face many battles with my self-esteem as a runner. I later learned that you need to trust the process, give yourself some credit, and not expect too much of yourself. While it may take time to reach your end goals, being accepting of it and having the drive to keep going is the only thing that will allow you to reach your goals. It’s degrading when you have such high expectations of yourself and then don’t meet them. This also goes along with giving your body and mind breaks when they’re needed. If you push yourself to the maximum on a day when you’re not feeling it, you will start resenting going on runs which will automatically stop you from achieving your goals. 

In conclusion, there is so much that goes into running, and underestimating that is something so common for non-runners, and so frustrating for runners, as it discredits all the work they put into their training. Casey put an incredible amount of time, energy, and sweat into the 2021 annual NYC marathon, and it paid off!