Last year she screamed “F**k yeah”, and this year she said, “I love you.” Shalane Flanagan was third on Sunday at the 2018 TCS New York City Marathon. She ran an extremely smart race, maintaining a more conservative pace when the 2018 champion Mary Keitany, along with Rahma Tusa and Netsanet Gudata, took off from the lead women’s pack. 

Flanagan slowly brought back Rahma Tusa and overtook her with roughly a mile to go. She finished in a very respectable 2:26:21. As she crossed the finish line, the runner blew kisses and mouthed, “I love you” to the crowds of fans.

RELATED: Shalane Flanagan to run New York City Marathon

Flanagan has had one of the strongest running careers in American distance history. She began as a high school star, continued her dominance at the University of North Carolina, and then went on to win Olympic and World Championships medals, set American records which still stand today, and win the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon. 

Shalane Flanagan
Photo: courtesy of NYRR.

Flanagan told Flotrack earlier this fall that retirement was seriously on her radar. “After Boston, I took a good chunk of time off and was not doing a lot of training, but then Jerry [Schumacher] really wanted me to help Shelby get the American record [in the 5K] this summer. I was on a get-fit-quick plan, so I crammed some fitness in for three weeks and thankfully, was able to round into form quick enough to help her.”

The American women’s contingent in New York this year was one of the strongest ever seen, and Flanagan has something to do with that. The track star-turned-marathoner has run one of the fastest marathon times in American history and raised the bar in women’s distance running. The 37-year-old ran her personal best of 2:21:14 at Berlin in 2014, which is the third fastest American women’s time, and only a minute and a half off  Deena Kastor’s American record of 2:19:36. 

On Sunday’s race there were five American women in the top 11, with Molly Huddle and Allie Kieffer running huge personal bests. 

Was Flanagan’s “I love you” a gracious thank you to her fans, a goodbye, or both? Time will tell. For now she’s likely enjoying her very impressive race, and putting off considering the direction of her professional running career until tomorrow. 

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