Reporter's Notebook

Long Island Marathon: Living life ... one run at a time


Running has always served as much more of mental outlet for me than a physical one.

It’s what drew me to run the Long Island Half-Marathon last weekend that started and ended at Eisenhower Park, earning a personal record of two hours and eight minutes. But my favorite part of the entire race? It was the process to get there.

I started running — seriously — in high school, completing my first half-marathon with my mom for my 16th birthday — a day we share.

My mom and dad ran as I was growing up, and I saw it as a unique way to push myself. I played lots of sports, so I never really needed the exercise. But, at the time, it was something more for my mom and I do to together.

Come 2022, I had just returned from a semester in Spain and was back at college feeling lost in a place where I had always felt most myself.

I was studying journalism. I had some great friends. I was living in my first apartment. Yet, despite all of the great things, I was feeling unsatisfied.

The party scene was less appealing, My best friend was studying in Los Angeles, many miles away. And I was struggling with living far from my sick grandfather who was one of the closest people to me.

So, I texted my friend, Jack, and said, “Let’s train for a half marathon.>
This training became my life.

My friends knew on Sundays I’d go out for a long run. My mornings got earlier as I wanted to get in some miles before class. And some of the times I smiled most was when I’d pass Greta — who lived two doors down from me — out for her morning run, as well.

Then graduation came. I packed up my stuff, and back to Long Island I went — the one place I had hoped to avoid — in a pursuit to keep my horizon wide. Job offers a plane ride away came in, and something in my gut told me not to go. All the while, I kept running.

I took on the Hamptons marathon this past September. My brother joined me for most of my training the summer leading up to the race.

My 6 a.m. alarm was something I enjoyed, as it meant time with him to talk about life and to talk about our grandfather — whose health continued to decline. with spurts of improvement.

My Sundays were still for long runs, and many ended with dinner at my grandparents, talking about my mileage, sitting on the floor next to my grandfather’s chair.

I ran the marathon in September and cried crossing the finish line, as he and my grandmother waved from the car that the volunteers had let them pull up to the finish line.

I lost my grandfather in December.

The Long Island half-marathon was my chance to be with my grandfather. Through my 10 weeks of training, each run — where I braved winter temperatures, sometimes snow, into the beauty of spring — was a chance to chat with my grandfather, looking up at the sky. 

With each run came new goals and new achievements. But the one thing that keeps me coming back is the way it makes my mind feel.

I shared every piece of how I prepared for the half-marathon on TikTok and Instagram in hopes that some of my friends would turn to running as well.

In November, I’ll take to the streets of New York City for my first World Major Marathon, and I’m fully prepared for a world of lessons and mental strength to come with that.

To follow along, visit @ParkerSydneySchug on TikTok and Instagram.

To donate to my TeamForKids fundraising page for the New York City Marathon, visit

Parker Schug is a senior reporter for the Nassau Herald, one of the publications part of the Herald Community Newspapers group.