The Highest Highs: Bloggers Discuss That Finisher Feeling After 26.2 Miles
Marathon runners often experience the highest highs when they step across that finish line. Whether it’s the feeling of a new PR or overcoming all odds to run 26.2 miles, that finish-line feeling cannot be replicated.
That feeling is intensified for finishers of the TCS New York City Marathon. From the spectacular start line on the Verrazzano Bridge in Staten Island to the iconic finish line in Central Park, the race is always memorable and always will move you!
Here, our expert team of bloggers discuss their highest highs and how marathons have moved them.
Don’t Lose the Momentum
The TCS New York City Marathon is so special to me because I’ve PR’d—twice.
Yes, despite all the bridges, you can own and conquer this course! The second time I ran NYC was the most emotional race experience. I had trained really hard for the race and had set myself a goal of running sub-4:30. I crossed the line at 4:23 and burst into tears!
You instantly forget that five minutes earlier, you were in pain and were wondering why you thought marathons were a good idea. The high lasts for weeks. My advice is to sign up for another race, whether it’s a 5K or another marathon. Don’t lose the momentum you’ve built—after a bit of rest, of course.
NYC Crowds Lift You to New Heights
In 2016, I set the goal to run four, sub four-hour marathons in one year, to highlight that one in four people in the United Kingdom will experience a mental health problem each year. I ran three U.K. Marathons and finished the fourth in New York. My aim was to show all of those people who count themselves as one in four, to not let what you think you can’t do stop you from doing what you can do.
I had never run so many marathons in a year before, and my body wasn’t used to it. I had an injury setback before New York, which meant time was spent on the bike, along with working on strength and conditioning work. There were various moments I had doubts whether I’d make it to the start line in New York.
Additionally, I went through a bereavement toward the end of 2016, which made training and running tough. But their memory motivated me during the marathon, and the energy from the NYC crowds gave me a lot of strength to earn my goal on race day.
When I crossed the line I was spent, but proud. I got chatting to a guy called Sam, who had just earned his six-star Abbott World Marathon Majors finisher medal. Talking to him took my mind off the pain in my legs, and got me motivated to earn the six-star medal, which I went on to earn in Boston 2018.
The Marathon Gave Me My Confidence Back
The moment I finished my first marathon, the TCS NYC Marathon, I had the biggest sense of accomplishment. I suddenly felt like anything I put my mind to was possible.
I had been going through a tumultuous time in my personal life while training and after the marathon I got my confidence back. I stopped being afraid and was able to focus on my next dream, my business.
The New York City Marathon kept me focused during a tough time in my life, and the support of the city felt like an affirmation of my place in NYC.
The crowd’s unending cheers confirmed that this is my home and where I am supposed to be, regardless of difficult situations. The support I received during the race was incredible: from an amazing new friend I met on Staten Island to crowds cheering during my toughest miles in the Bronx. The marathon changed me forever as I was reinvigorated with the city’s contagious energy of possibility.
The Magic of New York
The 2016 New York City Marathon was one of the greatest experiences of my life. By the clock, I ran a personal worst that day.
But by all other accounts, it was a day of bests. I've had Crohn's disease since I was 7 years old and 2016 brought out one of my worst flares to date. I was supposed to run the marathon that fall, and had been having a great running year. I'd spent the spring getting fast and fit, and went into training feeling great. Everything was coming together for a PR in NYC.
Then I started to flare. Badly. And with that came a deep depression. Not only did I have to stop running, I couldn’t even leave the house. I was at rock bottom. But in the days before the marathon, I started to feel a little better—physically and emotionally—and I decided to make my way to the start line in Staten Island.
I was just going to see what I could do and make the best of it, knowing I would feel better being on those streets than I would watching the race at home—something I couldn't quite come to terms with.
My dear friend Sara decided to stick by my side the entire time, and for 26.2 miles we ran, walked, thanked the volunteers, and, when we made that turn into Central Park, cried. After months of being so sick, I somehow felt amazing on that one day. The New York City Marathon is pure magic.
You Can Surprise Yourself
My highest high in a marathon came during the Tokyo Marathon. It was my final race of Abbott World Marathon Majors series and—if I completed it—I would earn my six star finisher medal at the end.
With the long travel and jet lag, I tried to just run it comfortably and for fun. However, about 18 miles in I realized I could run a significant PR. All while taking selfies and having the best time—including a pic with actress and director Christy Turlington (above). I finished with a more than five minute PR and earned the medal I had been dreaming about and working my butt off toward! Plus I had the most epic tour of Tokyo.
Always Aim High
Racing took on a new meaning for me in the Spring of 2016 when I decided, under the advice of a friend, to rethink my goal for my third marathon attempt. Up until that point, I was training with a 3:25 finishing time in mind, which was the time I needed to qualify for the 2018 Boston Marathon.
However, my training was going so well in the weeks leading up the race, it was suggested I make an attempt at the 2017 Boston Marathon by bettering a marathon time of 3:15.
The weather was not kind to runners that day and I wouldn’t call it a perfect race, but I finished with a 3:13:42, 20 minutes faster than my previous best time! I learned a lot about my potential that day and realized if I wanted to continue to experience the highest highs of racing, I needed to ensure I was aiming high enough.
It Changed Me
Last year’s New York City Marathon was a really great race for me. Months of training paid off and I can’t remember anything but joy and gratefulness. Being able to complete 26.2 healthy and smiling at the finish was huge. In 2014, a doctor told me I would never be able to run long distances due to a chronic hip injury. And yet here I was!
NYC left me with a tremendous runner’s high and changed me in a way that I had to sign up for Team for Kids the very next morning to run again this year. Now I know that when you put in the work, dedicate yourself to your goals, and put your mind to it, anything and everything is possible. Especially in New York.
Enjoy the Moment
When your training, hard work, and sacrifice come together in the form of a PR—there’s no greater feeling than that! But, truth be told, I’ve found joy in every race I’ve run, whether there has been a PR or not.
I feel extremely lucky that I found running in my life at a time when my depression and anxiety were completely overwhelming. Running offered me a sort of moving meditation and proof that I was much stronger than I ever imagined.
Running also gave me a community of amazing people who have become my family—one of those once strangers I met is now my husband!
I do my best not to chase a feeling or a previous performance—I try to stay present and do the best I can with what I have at that moment. And I find joy in even the worst race experiences because I’m lucky to be out there.
What’s your highest high moment after running a marathon? Share online using the hashtag #MovedMe.
Looking for another race after the TCS New York City Marathon? Then why not apply for the United Airlines New York City Half. Alternatively, all of NYRR’s races from January-April—of various distances—are now open for registration.