An Interview With a Runner Who Got Way Too High at the New York City Marathon

He still had a very impressive time, though.
New York, US
Cathryn Virginia
illustrated by Cathryn Virginia
An Interview With a Runner Who Got Way Too High at the New York City Marathon

The phrase “a runner’s high” is not usually meant to be taken literally. But to one runner participating in Sunday’s New York City Marathon, that feeling became a bit too real. 

This man, who we are keeping anonymous, is a creative professional in his 40s; in addition to being a daily marijuana user, he’s also a near-daily runner. And while he will often eat an edible before taking off on a solo trek, he went into this year’s marathon with an unusual plan: Once he hit the 59th Street Bridge at mile 16, the cinematic part of the race that goes from Queens to Manhattan over the East River, he was going to down a weed gummy. He was hoping for additional mind/body expansion, but unfortunately, the plan backfired, and he got way too high. 


Though he still finished in the more than respectable time of three hours and 27 minutes, he says the experience was silly rather than serene. After a day to recover, he explained what went wrong.

What was your training for the marathon like?
I'm an all-year runner, like the Postal Service: through rain, sleet, snow. I'm running anywhere from three to five days a week and no less than eight miles on a casual day; on long days, it's 12 to 15 miles. As a marathon approaches, I usually fit in a few super long runs that are like 18 to 21 miles.

Are you usually stoned when running?
Preferably. I don't, like, smoke like a blunt before I run. I much prefer to eat something and then kind of let the endorphins and the runner's high coalesce with the THC. 

How did you discover you like mixing weed and running? 
Maybe it was getting high by accident, or getting high as part of a daily thing and deciding to go on a run and then feeling how well those two activities combined. Gradually, it became more methodical, like, “This right length of high for this run. I know I can listen to these podcasts.” It's all gotta be the right chemistry.

Sunday was not your first marathon.
That was my fifth New York and seventh marathon overall.

What was your plan going into the race?
Well, the plan was that I would take the edible at mile 16, which is the 59th Street Bridge. It’s an ascension. But it's also one of the hardest parts of the course. I just had in my mind: I'll take the edible at 16, and then be able glide through the last 10 miles. 


I took it, and [at first] I was feeling great. I was feeling pretty present in the race, going up First Avenue, which is also kind of like a notorious slog, and I was like, Wow, that was a great idea

And then, at mile 21, [I suddenly] was just like, I'm kind of having a counter intuitive experience right now. For me, so much of what THC and cannabis do is just create that space for presence, and I was just losing it. I was overthinking where I was, especially physically. I was far more in tune with my physical self than my cerebral self. I'm too old to be a paranoid stoner at this point—and as a habitual user, I don't get anxious—but I panicked a little bit.

Why did you panic?
I think the physical impact was sending those signals through my body. It was beating down the wonderful calming properties. It was bad chemistry, really.

Why do you think it was different from all of the other times you’ve done some marijuana and it's been blissful?
I fucked up. I should have taken the edible at the beginning. It was a powerful dose. I mean, it's my regular kind of dose, but it would have lasted me the entire race. Instead, I ate it and just kind of went to a different level, without really preparing for the physical effect of it.

I can understand why running alone while high might be nice, but running high in the middle of thousands of people seems like it might be intense?
It did become super abstract and just kind of like, funny and fun. All the marathon bands were sounding a lot crazier. All the faces on the sidelines were starting to become a little bit more animated. So I was just laughing because I knew that I wasn't gonna do as well as I could. I just essentially embraced it like a true stoner and laughed through it.


After the race was finished, you had planned on going to work, where you have to interface with the public. You have flexibility over your schedule. Why did you plan it that way?
In my mind, I was going to finish the race 10 minutes earlier. I figured I would finish super strong. And once you've done that, why not push a little bit further? But I do think if I’d run as fast as I had hoped, maybe I wouldn't have felt as great. I may be justifying to myself that the THC helped me. Like it was saying to me, “Listen, do you have a full day ahead of this? Why don't you just chill a little bit. Enjoy this and then go do what you have to do.” And I felt great.

Honestly, the subway ride home was kind of crazy, because I was peeling back all the layers. We're all in our like marathon blue wraps with masks on and you look like Batman or something standing guard in the subway. 

Have you ever used other drugs while you were running?
I have. This summer I wanted to try psilocybin and running, just because I thought it would be interesting. So yeah...running on mushrooms is actually possible. I was trying to work on microdosing mushrooms for the entire summer and microdosing mushrooms; gradually, I built it up to a dose where I was tripping and running. And it was just too much—too mushy and physically just impossible. Your body is in such a different form on mushrooms than it is with THC. THC can be such a sharp, acute thing. With mushrooms, it’s like, no, you're going to be a floppy rabbit right now.

Did you ever hurt yourself?
Oh no, no. But I probably looked like a total freak.

Did your wife think this whole high at the marathon thing was a good plan? 
She thought it would be a good laugh. She figured that I was too high because she was tracking me on the marathon app, and around the 22 mile mark, she was like, “That’s clearly too slow.” She was trying to explain it to our boys and she was like, “I think your dad's gonna finish a little bit slower, but we have to be very supportive when he gets home.”