In previous years, I’ve covered the New York City Marathon from the sidelines of the course. I’ve photographed runners in three of the five boroughs that encompass this famous race, cheered as thousands passed in a rhythmic blur, watched them battle their bodies for more energy and their minds over the pain of running farther than their bodies are built to run.

But this year, I skipped the race altogether.

Instead, I went to Central Park West, where most marathoners, having ended their long and uncertain performances, reunite with friends and family. Walking along the park’s edge, the runners looked exhausted. After months of training, and having completed the painful 26-mile goal, a few looked dazed. Some seemed impatient for rest. Most looked satisfied as they searched the large crowds for the embrace of their loved ones.

But beyond the pride and relief of accomplishment, each person’s face now seemed to hold a new secret, as if they had each just learned something about themselves they didn’t know before. It was a quality that could only have been witnessed after their races had been won.

These 12 portraits capture some of those faces.