Running, But Not Finishing, The ING NYC Marathon

People keep saying that it must have been such a hard decision, the decision to leave the marathon.

It actually was not much of a choice. I first considered quitting around mile 11 but not seriously. I thought about quitting the way I always think about quitting during races. But then, I never actually do quit.

By 15, I was getting more sure I’d have to leave the race. I thought about the logistics and realized the best way would be to get to the 18th mile in Manhattan where my boyfriend was, and leave with him. Yes, I thought, that is what I’ll do.

But first, the beginning . . .

Last week, I would see the ING NYC Marathon ads on the subway and want to tell everyone around me, “I’m running that!” This week, when I see those signs I quickly look away and try not to cry.

Last week, all I wanted to read about online was the NYC Marathon. This week, I’ve been avoiding Twitter and blogs so I won’t have to hear about it.

Last week, I loved chatting about the race to all my coworkers about my upcoming race. This week, I’m hoping everyone forgot and won’t ask me about it.

Clearly, a lot has changed since last week.

The morning started like any other anxiety-filled morning. I woke up multiple times throughout the night and was up for good long before my alarm. I got dressed in my outfit and Tweeted this photo out so people would know to look for me:

And then I put on my hoodie, another hoodie, sweatpants and a robe. I also had two pairs of gloves, a scarf and earmuffs that I ended up not needing. With the exception of the bottom layer hoodie, the marathon will donate those items to charity. It was a warm, gorgeous day in November, which helped my stress so much because I am terrified of the cold. I am always much colder than everyone else and it really just hurts. I also never feel hot, and I don’t mind running in 85 degree temps. Some might even say I am oddly prone to hypothermia.


I arrived at the Staten Island Ferry about 45 minutes before my planned departure time (this is what crazy people do) and was waiting around when I saw Ashley. We chatted until our friends arrived, and we wound up with a little unplanned group for the trip:

[Melissa Z, Tina, Theodora, Emily, me and Ashley. Photo via Ashley.]

After a ferry ride and a long, hot, standing bus ride, we arrived at the start villages! We ran into Melissa and from then on she was in our little group. They were not what I expected and were comprised largely of pavement and people walking around.


I’m proud to say that this nervous peeer used the porta potties on Staten Island five times in the hour we had between arriving on the island and the start of the race. I have to say, this entire wait was pleasant. I wasn’t cold and the wait wasn’t long. Everyone always talks about the five freezing hours you spend waiting for the marathon to begin, but as long as you choose the right transportation time you shouldn’t have too long a wait. As for the freezing, well, we got lucky this year.

Before I knew it we were headed to the corrals, where Z and I stuck together as we broke from the group. We were lined up much closer to the Start than I expected. It was the most exhilarating feeling and the energy was incredible.

[My favorite photo. Possibly ever. Even my throwaway hoodie is pink.]

There’s the Verrazano Bridge! I felt great, happy, emotional and ready to run.

The cannon went off and New York, New York blasted through the speakers as we kicked off the race. Obviously I cried. I was finally running my marathon, after two years of planning, one year of qualifying and four months of training.

Everyone was right. You will run faster than you planned over the Verrazano Bridge because of the excitement and adrenaline. You don’t feel like you are running up a long, steep uphill even though you are. Brooklyn is like one big block party. People cheer for you by name (or chant! There is nothing like having a complete stranger CHANTING your name!), bands and speakers and playing music and it’s just fun. There’s no other way to put it. Brooklyn is a fun time.

The fist 7 miles went by so quickly I could not believe it each time we passed a mile marker ‘already.’  These miles did not even feel like effort; I was cruising. It was going so well that even with a porta potty stop I was well on track to run a strong race and finish under my goal time. As Z and I ran together with our matching neon pink compression arm sleeves, people would cheer for us a as team: “GO DORI AND MELISSA!” I loved that we were a team even to these strangers. We qualified for this marathon together, trained together and planned to cross the finish line holding hands.

When Brown Eyed Girl blared through the speakers, Z and I started singing, shouting along with the line “laughing and running, skipping and jumping” — much to the entertainment of the crowds. This marathon, it just sucks you in to a world where everyone is awesome, chanting your name and offering support. There is music everywhere. It is a total sensory overload with all the new sights and sounds and signs and people. It’s easy to forget about the world outside the marathon. The excitement enveloped me.

[I am much faster than I led you all to believe]

There are a few mistakes I made during these first seven miles. I think singing and shouting was one of them. Another was the high fives. I didn’t plan on giving them (I wanted my energy for myself) but when Z kept saying “Dor, give that kid a high five” I felt like a bad person for not doing it. So sometimes I did. The big one, the one I am having a hard time letting go, was worrying Z would get away from me at a water stop when I saw her jogging (really she was just bouncing because it helped her legs not to stop) rather than walking. Not wanting to lose sight of her, I jogged too. While drinking from my cup.

Right away I knew I made a mistake and switched back to a walk; however, I felt OK for a little while after that so I don’t know if that decision caused what came next. I just wish that incident didn’t happen so I could stop blaming myself and instead chalk it up to ‘one of those freak things’ – which it probably is. I just hate this doubt,  this idea that I could have finished the marathon happy and strong if I didn’t make such a stupid decision Finished the marathon I worked toward, trained for, spent lots of money on and looked forward to for the better part of two years.

We started mile 8 with Brightroom photographers suspended high above us. I felt amazing as Z grabbed my hand and we raised our arms for this photo. Also during mile 8, we stopped quickly at a porta potty. I think it was later during this mile, or perhaps during mile 9 that the pain started. An air pocket in what I believe is my esophagus. Through my two years of running and my four months of training, I experienced this pain only once before. It was on a five mile training run one evening exactly a month ago. I rarely run in the evenings because I am wary of running with any food in me. When three miles into that run I felt this air bubble in my chest, I only had two miles to push through. They ended up being fast despite the pain, but they were miserable miles and I knew I could not run another second past the those. I felt better once I stopped running. Because it never happened before it since, I didn’t think anything of it.

So I was surprised that of all the troubles I had during marathon training, it was this gas pain high up in my chest that made an appearance.

No amount of training or preparation could have prepared me for this one.

I didn’t know how to deal with the pain the first time and I still had no idea on Sunday. I think a good burp would have taken care of it, but I don’t know how to burp. I never burp and I don’t know what it feels like to have to burp.

I didn’t tell Z at first, not wanting her to worry. Also, talking hurt. We became silent running partners, me just mmmm-ing in response if she said anything. Finally, I admitted I was in pain. A lot of pain.

Since burping was not an option, I tried swallowing the bubble down. Yes, it could have just created pain in a whole new spot, but it also could have had a possible way out — a strategy that worked with belly pains I had during my first 20 mile run. But I was unsuccessful in my attempts. The pain and pressure in my chest were indescribable. It destroyed me. I couldn’t talk and even worse, I couldn’t eat. My sips at the water stations became smaller and eventually I could not stomach Gatorade anymore.

I kept having these mini dry heaves. As I ran. It felt like the bubble wanted to come up but couldn’t. A couple of times I felt like I could throw up, but I was never able to. I wasn’t even nauseous, but clearly something was trying to get out.

I stopped caring about the crowds; I stopped noticing them. Though I did notice the one guy dressed as a penis next to a sign that read; “That is a penis.” But I mean, of course I’d notice a penis. However, all the cheering did not help and I did not listen out for my name. It is possible people cheered for me. I did not hear them. All my energy was focused on the pain and the run.

Mile 11 hurt. By mile 13, I just felt worse even though I pretended to be in good spirits: “Halfway there!” We ran up the Pulaski Bridge. It was a a struggle. My pace had slowed and I looked forward to every water station because it meant I could walk. I was relieved that runner congestion meant we had to go slower. I let go of my time goal. Finishing under 5:00 was no longer an option. Now, my goal was just to finish.

I know it was hard for Z to see me in so much pain and not be able to do anything. She kept asking what she should do and I told her not to let me slow her down, to go and run her best race. She stuck with me on our short jaunt through Queens — none of which I remember well — and onto the Queensboro Bridge. At one point she forced me to eat a Shot Blok, only my second of the day, which was not an easy thing for me to do. It was the smart thing, since I needed to fuel if I had any hope of running another 12 miles.

I thought about putting on my music for the bridge. The reason I brought my iPod — hell, the entire reason I even bought my Nano — was so my music could push me through the quieter, more difficult parts of this race. Like this bridge. But I did not have the energy to even bother. Not even for my favorite uphill running song, Blackjack.

[My marathon playlist]

On the bridge Z started weaving through people. She clearly felt strong on this long, difficult uphill. I kept sight of her for as long as I could, but I was not feeling nearly as strong and I lost her. There, I started to walk for the first time. There, not finishing the race became a real possibility. And a few steps later, it became a likelihood.

People keep saying that it must have been such a hard decision, the decision to leave the marathon.

It actually was not much of a choice. I first considered quitting around mile 11 but not seriously. I thought about quitting the way I always think about quitting during races.

By 15, I was getting more sure I’d have to leave the race. I thought about the logistics and realized the best way would be to get to 95th Street where Andy was, and leave with him.

While running down the bridge into Manhattan, I thought I could push through the last 10 miles. I don’t know what led me to think that, but the feeling was short lived.  Once I approached the turn off the bridge, I was done.

I did not notice any “wall of sound” that they say is such a force when you come off the bridge. The wall of sound that picks you up and provides you with a much needed burst of energy along First Avenue. I didn’t hear a thing.

When I passed my apartment, a spot I was SO excited to run by, I did not feel any excitement. Instead, I felt regret at not having my keys with me. I just wanted to lie down.

I was 34 blocks from Andy and I had no idea how I would make it all the way to 95th street. I had no choice but to walk at times. In addition to the GI pain was chafing under my right armpit. I wore the same shirt on almost every training run and that never happened — why now? It might have been bearable if everything else wasn’t falling apart. I needed to stop.

The spectators on First Avenue — who were awesome — would cheer like crazy for me when they saw me walk. I did not want them to cheer for me.  I did not want them to know my name. All I wanted before this race was to hear people cheer for me by name, and now hearing my name was the last thing I wanted.  I wished I could hide but I stuck to the left side of the street, right alongside the spectators, so I wasn’t in the thick of the runners. And so I could easily walk off the side when I saw my friends.

At one point, I considered walking the rest of the marathon. But even if I could have run or run/walked through the pain, I wasn’t able to eat and I could barely drink more than a sip of water at a time. The thought of Gatorade made me sick.  I was already under fueled as it was with just two Clif Shot Bloks and Gatorade from the water stops being all I consumed during these 18 miles. Because I had a hard time getting water down, I could have become severely dehydrated. Even if I could have pushed through the pain, it would have been extremely dangerous to continue. And I really did not want to hear any more cheering.

Those last two miles were the longest, most difficult miles of my life. I could have stopped sooner but I would have still had to deal with getting to my friends. And since straight lines are the fastest way from one point to the next, I had no choice. It took everything I had to make it to my friends at mile 18.

So to answer the question, it was a hard decision but it also was not a decision. The choice was made for me.

My goals changed a few times during this marathon. When I started the race, my goal was to finish in less than 5 hours. When the esophageal pain became so bad I had to slow down, my goal became to finish. When I entered Manhattan, my goal was to make it to 95th street.

The streets went by slowly, and at 70th I could not believe I still had 25 blocks left. At 85th I did not know how I would handle this last 10. 95th street became my finish line. Much like runners’ last push of the marathon is those last 400 meters, my last push was to make it to that 18th mile.

Even though I walked multiple times along First Avenue, I made sure I was running as I approached 95th Street. It was really important to me, for some reason, that I was running as I approached my friends.  I knew I’d be stopping as soon as I saw them, but I did not want them to see me walking or struggling.

I was so happy to see my sweet Andy’s face, along with my friends Missy and Lim. I also saw Z’s fiance. I wondered what Z told them all about me and how much they knew. The metal barriers that were along First Ave were not in place at this point. I was relieved that I would not have to do any climbing.

Finally, I reached 95th Street. I stopped and said calmly, “I think I have to quit now. I can’t run anymore. I feel really sick.” Then I burst into tears. 

I wanted to see if Andy would encourage me to keep going, to convince me I could be a marathoner. But he could see what rough shape I was in. He knew that if I said I have to quit, things must really be bad. I looked to my friends, but felt embarrassed and guilty. They came all this way to see me and here I was, leaving the race in front of their faces. But they were amazingly supportive as well.

I stood there for a few minutes, crying but not leaving, but also not making any real effort to continue. I just wanted to lie down. That is all I had wanted since I entered Manhattan. I thought about pushing through and walking the rest of the race, but not only was I in too much pain to do even that, the thought of getting out of Central Park and having to make my way all the way to Andy’s AFTER I finished was too much to bear. If I finished the race, there would have been too much time between the present moment and getting to lie down. I had to do it now.

I walked off the course.

I took off my bib right away. Despite the pain, I was actually worried that marathon workers would reprimand me for leaving the course or accuse me of trying to cheat. What I did not do was stop my watch. That’s how you know things were bad — I never forget to stop my Garmin.

Which explains those last splits:

My friends were so supportive and understanding. I was clearly a wreck at the time I quit the NYC Marathon. I quit because I could run any more, and though I felt relief, it was still very difficult.

[Missy, Lim and Andy. Missy made her sign on the subway.]

I don’t remember much from that moment, but later I received this email from Lim (my former roommate):

I saw two amazing things today: I saw you make it to the 18th mile and then I saw a caring boyfriend take care of you in a time of need.  I am so proud of your accomplishment Dori.

I am incredibly lucky to have friends like Lim and Missy, friends like Rachel and Emily who came over after, all my Twitter friends (people I rarely speak to came out of the woodwork to send me messages of comfort) and Facebook friends who have been more supportive than I could have imagined (has anyone ever gotten so much praise for running 18 miles?), my coworkers who took me out to lunch to cheer me up and of course, my sweet Andy.

[Holding up my bib since I removed it]

We split away from them when we got to Andy’s building and finally, finally I got to lie down.

I have never been so relieved to be in a bed.

But I was also a a mess. I just quit the NYC Marathon. Andy was hilariously live tweeting from my account all morning (and it was very funny as I suspected) and getting updates on my status from friends who were tracking me. I had to send an update of my own. I felt like such a failure. Yes, I quit the race because of this terrible pain, but what if people didn’t believe me? What if they thought this was my excuse because I just couldn’t cut it? What if they thought I was just saying I had pain because the marathon was too hard?

I felt accountable because I made such a big deal out of this race on Facebook and Twitter. And now I had to admit defeat.

Needless to say, I cried. A lot. But a little later, my best friends since first grade came over. I was so happy to see Rachel and Emily, who both were on their way to watch me run when I left the race. Spending the day on the couch chatting with them took my mind off the day and was also good quality time with them that I didn’t get to have while I was training.

I was still in pain by the way. It didn’t go away, even hours after stopping my run. Every now and then Andy would look over and see me grimace in pain. Not that I need further confirmation that I did the right thing, but yeah, there it is.

[This is how I discarded my stuff. Looks sad.]

Like I said, I made such a big deal about this marathon on Facebook and Twitter. It was hard for me to read all the comments and replies to my quitting news. I really loved and appreciated the support, everyone was understanding and amazing, but I felt embarrassed and didn’t want to deal with any of it. What has been comforting is hearing how many other people have had to drop out of marathons too, even though I don’t wish it on anyone. I was dreading going into work the next day. The CEO of my company sent me a  really nice good luck email during the race, and I would have to admit to him that I  failed. I knew everyone at the office would ask me about the race or congratulate me, and I would have to repeat the story each time.  For the record, that did happen, and I cried every time.

[These arrived on Sunday evening from my mom]

I thought I would wake up Monday feeling better, but I didn’t. I avoided blogs and Twitter, so I had no idea how other people did. I’m feeling a lot better today and a lot less bitter. It is hard to be happy for everyone who finished when you feel so bitter, but now that another day passed I can say I do feel a lot better. I think the tears are over. It is just so hard to give everything you have into this one day. I spent an entire year (and lots of money) running races and qualifying for November 6, 2011. I spent four months training. I ran 20 miles twice. I gave up most of my social life.  My name was on an ad in a subway station! I spent money at the Expo on NYC Marathon branded gear for myself and as gifts. I worked so hard and tirelessly for this one race. This one race I did not complete.



If I did everything right before this pain started, not finishing the marathon would sting just a little less. But I can’t stop blaming myself. Thinking I caused this, I made this happen, by not walking through the water station. I worked so hard for today and then I sabotaged it. Did I really waste the four months of my life training for something I could have controlled?

I know that walking through that water station is probably not the reason my pain started. It is a fluke thing; it’s not like this is a pain I’d had many times before. It was just one of those things that happens that you can’t control. I am trying not to be too hard on myself. Looking back, I can’t believe I ran 9 miles with that pain. Those last nine are all a blur.

A few people commented “You’ll kill the NYC Marathon next year!” That is quite the presumption and all I can say is that I have absolutely no plans to do any such thing. I didn’t do 9+1 program to gain automatic entry and even more than that, I don’t plan on ever training for a marathon again.

Marathon training is not for me. I prefer classes like Refine Method and Core Fusion. I don’t want to give up my weekends again and I miss being (somewhat) social. I don’t want to donate another four months of my life to a marathon.

Of course I don’t know what will happen next year and maybe I’ll change my mind; at the same time I don’t know what will happen next year and maybe I won’t be able to run NYC for some other reason. I can’t count on next year.

I can only count on right now.

To be continued . . .

[Update: Read Surprise! I Ran the Sun Trust Richmond Marathon! for the Part 2 of this story]

92 comments on Running, But Not Finishing, The ING NYC Marathon

  1. Gia @ rungiarun
    November 9, 2011 at 2:30 pm (6 years ago)

    Dori. Thank you so much for sharing this. You made a smart, albeit very hard decision. You listened to your body and didn’t sacrifice long term health for the marathon. You did the right thing. The 18 miles that you completed are a huge feat … you should be very proud of yourself!
    Gia @ rungiarun´s last blog post ..New York City Marathon 2011 – Race Recap

  2. Irina G (Fit Flexitarian)
    November 9, 2011 at 2:55 pm (6 years ago)

    I think it’s the hard decisions and the tough things in life that strengthen us. I agree with everyone that you did what was best for you in the moment. I know it’s really hard to see what good came out of all of this, but the point is you did it and tried. You shouldn’t look back and feel discouraged. Plenty of people can’t even do 8 miles, much less 18 (myself included). It doesn’t seem like it now, but you’ll wake up one day and look back and feel okay about how the day went. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon.
    Irina G (Fit Flexitarian)´s last blog post ..Farmer’s Market Find of the Week: Italian Purple Eggplant(Recipe: Slow Cooker Curried Eggplant Soup)

  3. Kelly
    November 9, 2011 at 3:47 pm (6 years ago)

    I appreciate the honesty of your post. Whenever I feel the need to blame myself (I will admit I have been doing a lot of this recently as, unrelated, I just got out of a relationship and cannot help but see the things I think I did wrong.) I instead try to focus on how I can learn from that and incorporate those changes in the future. I know it sounds like you don’t plan to do a marathon again but I’m sure there are some lessons in all of this you will come to find the more you think about it. Hang in there.

  4. Meghan@travelwinedine
    November 9, 2011 at 4:17 pm (6 years ago)

    What an incredibly courageous post. I find that blogging and social media put even more pressure on a goal (in addition to the tons of pressure we already put on ourselves!) and to be able to admit your struggles and the unfortunate outcome of the race is truly brave. I dropped out of a marathon last year a couple of weeks beforehand, this after tweeting every training run, Facebooking from the road, totally building it up. I got sick and felt too weak, and my first thought was what my readers/followers would think. To that I had to learn to say, who cares. It was a big deal at the time, but long term health is far more important. I hope you figure out all that ails you and can fix it. And just be proud of all that you did do.

  5. cindylu
    November 9, 2011 at 7:37 pm (6 years ago)

    I hope you’re feeling better now.

    I know you feel terrible because you hyped this and feel like you let down readers, co-workers and friends. You shouldn’t feel bad at all. You had all the right in the world to hype this marathon and your participation in it. You did the work. Something totally out of your control happened. It really sucks.

    If you ever do attempt another marathon, know that you have it in you to train and even get to mile 18.
    cindylu´s last blog post ..My blog is my constant: A decade of blogging

  6. Karin
    November 9, 2011 at 10:26 pm (6 years ago)

    The pain you described sounds very similar to what happened to me once when a pill got somewhat stuck in my throat once. I was able to cough it down with more water but the pain high in my chest was horrible and lingered for HOURS. The pain kept me from sleeping (end of the day) and there is no way I could ever have exercised through it.

    I’m sorry this happened to you, but I’m sure you know that it’s the diligent training that counts here. Those efforts are much more important than the actual race day. No one can take that away from you.

  7. Ryan
    November 10, 2011 at 12:22 pm (6 years ago)

    Dori, sorry to hear about the marathon….but think of it this way: 1) you learned a lot about yourself in the process of training and 2) 99.2% of people never even run an 18 mile race at any point in their life, let alone a marathon, so you’ve still got that to be proud of!


  8. Jen
    November 10, 2011 at 2:05 pm (6 years ago)

    Oh girl, I am so sorry! I’ve been there and I know you feel awful right now. I DNF’d a marathon last year at mile 12- and I thought I’d BQ ha. I had horrible stomach issues and couldn’t eat or drink a thing. I don’t know why our bodies fail us during important times, but I promise you will feel better about this. You made the best decision for your health and were smart. I have no doubt you’ll run 26.2 one day. Hang in there :)
    Jen´s last blog post ..Week 35 pregnancy update

  9. Lauren Slayton
    November 11, 2011 at 7:54 am (6 years ago)

    This had to be heartbreaking. I will say I had to drop out of my first marathon after training and fundraising and felt terrible…until I ran one. And I’ve run 5 more. My last one? I felt terrible, I wanted to drop out. You never know who has a good day, a bad day or how it will end up. You captured the conflicting emotions so well. It just wasn’t your day but maybe consider doing another, without telling so many people just for you.
    Lauren Slayton´s last blog post ..Cutting Cauliflower and Ina Love

  10. Bianca Valentim
    November 11, 2011 at 7:35 pm (6 years ago)

    Dori, I was following your twitter closely last Sunday, I was very excited for you and wanted to see you running! When I saw your post it broke my heart, I know from all your posts that you are a determined and strong girl, so if you had to quit thing were really bad. But like I said on twitter, you still rock and I still admire you very much! Listening to your body and respecting it is always the best decision! You did awesome!!!
    Bianca Valentim´s last blog post ..Monika + Ricardo | Love Session | Richmond, VA

  11. Lazy chick
    November 12, 2011 at 1:28 pm (6 years ago)

    Dori, I just stumbled upon your blog while surfing the net on my boring plane ride. I teared up reading this blog, I do not even want to pretend i understand how you felt.You made the right decision, no race/medal/swag is more important than your own health. This was one well written entry. I know you said that you don’t want to run another marathon, I still urge you to reconsider this. Maybe you can do one sooner, rather than waiting a year, so you don’t have to start training all over again? I still think that you have it in you. But whatever decision you make… we’ll be supportive of course.

  12. DigitalSuze
    November 12, 2011 at 5:26 pm (6 years ago)

    Thank you for sharing this. I really enjoy reading your race recaps; your Queens half recap put me in exactly the right frame of mind to run my first half marathon in October, and it was a fabulous experience. You are so brave to write an unflinching account of the NYC Marathon; probably a small comfort, but I think a lot of your readers will feel better-prepared emotionally to cope in the event of a DNF, which could so easily happen to any one of us.

  13. Katye
    November 12, 2011 at 7:05 pm (6 years ago)

    Great job today! I hope today turned out much better than last week! And good call on wearing the same outfit…totally how I picked you you ; )

  14. Simi
    November 15, 2011 at 5:20 pm (6 years ago)

    OMG- I’m sorry you had a bad race, but so glad you finished 18 :) Congrats!! I also get those air pockets A LOT, especially in my chest, it hurts and I know how you feel and the pain you were in. You’re brave, I would have stopped right away because I know it’s something that won’t go away unless you’re laying down and your stomach is in a certain position to either burp it or pass it. Sad to read you didn’t finish, but good to know I’m not the only one who suffers from this stuff.

  15. Jessica
    November 15, 2011 at 8:47 pm (6 years ago)

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. Your bravery is going to touch a lot of readers. I can certainly relate – recently, I could not complete something that many knew I was working towards. It was painful. I felt like a failure. It’s expected to feel these emotions. But, never forget that you are shiny and wonderful and have accomplished an amazing feat. Being honest with yourself and listening to your body is exactly what makes you the strong person you are (not crossing an arbitrary finish line).

  16. AmandaRunsNY
    November 15, 2011 at 9:29 pm (6 years ago)

    You are amazing for making it as far as you did and for blogging about it so truthfully. Marathons are such long events that there is no way that any of us can truly be prepared for the race. And there are so many little things that can get in the way. I’m perpetually worried I will get my period on race day and that would just kill my race.

    But I have been there with the bad races. I ran the Philly Marathon in six hours and twenty some minutes, which is nowhere near what I should have done. Based upon my best half I should have finished in under 5 hours, but things happened and that’s what I did. Of course, I didn’t have your type of issues, so I didn’t quit. But if marathon day was the day my stomach decided to reject me, you bet I would have done the same thing.

    You are a hero for even trying to run as far as you did. Most people can’t run that far anyday and you did it on a bad day, congrats! Also, I saw you ran the Richmond Marathon and so I know that you found redeemed you self. Sometimes, it’s just not your day!

    Congrats to being such a trooper, in finishing NY as much as you did and for being so brave as to run another marathon a week later.
    AmandaRunsNY´s last blog post ..What I Am Thankful For Right Now

  17. MaryBe
    November 16, 2011 at 4:11 am (6 years ago)

    I’m in awe that you made it as far as you did. I came here from Meghann’s blog and she’s right, you’re amazing. I’ve never run a Marathon (and never can, thanks to a torn meniscus) but I would think that stopping takes as much courage as making it to the end.
    Can’t wait to read about Richmond!
    MaryBe´s last blog post ..Someone Gets a Facelift

  18. rod Burkholder
    December 10, 2011 at 9:56 pm (6 years ago)

    Hi Dori,

    Just read your story and I wanted you to know that your honesty and vulnerability and transparency moved me very much. I just ran the Sacramento Marathon and kept pushing when I shouldn’t have and had to stop at 25 miles. I ended up in the hospital that day trying to recover. You were much smarter than me and did the right thing! By the way, that was my 8th marathon and my 3rd DNF. I totally empathize with all of the emotions you are feeling. I think you are an awesome runner and an incredible writer as well. Cheers from the Bay Area.

    Rod B

  19. MyTravelFitness
    May 9, 2012 at 10:40 am (6 years ago)

    Thanks for sharing your story. You made the best decision as it can affect your future marathons. Either way, you did great.
    MyTravelFitness´s last blog post ..Four Exciting Beach Activities

  20. Carri
    May 25, 2012 at 10:35 pm (6 years ago)

    Dori: I found your story and it normalized the way I am feeling right now. I signed up to do the Rockford, IL marathon last weekend. I have already completed 3 full marathons and the training for Rockford was my best ever. My goal, like you, was to finish in less than 5 hours. (My other 3 times had been over that). My husband (Andrew) had signed up to do the half marathon there. Also like you, I didn’t sleep well the night before. Partially due to excitement/nerves, but also because it was so hot. I couldn’t get comfortable in the stuffy hotel room. Because it had been 90 degrees the day before and it was hot and humid.

    When we left the hotel it was already 72 degrees outside. But there was a nice breeze, so I figured this would keep us cool. My plan was to run for as long as I could until the heat got to me. Which didn’t take long. I was on pace until mile 7. I felt that bubble you were talking about. The sun was burning me up. Several runners had already started walking. And then it happened: the dry heaves. Which turned into vomit of all the liquids I’d taken in that morning. An official came by on a bike and volunteered to take me to a police cruiser. I said no way. I had come too far to stop now. Meanwhile, everyone else was passing me by. I walked for a while and then resumed running. I thought I could make up my time. Wrong again. Mile 11 brought about more vomit. Twice. Then I started to worry, because my husband’s plan was to finish the half marathon and meet me at another mile marker to run with me. I wanted to catch him before he left. And I just had to get to him. Running, crying, and vomiting, I needed comfort. Quickly.

    The last two miles were a blur. I found Andrew just as I was making my turn to finish the half. As I crossed the finish, an ROTC cadet went to hand me the medal for the full marathon. I burst into tears and told her no, that I finished only the half. My husband ushered me into a medical tent (I’d never been in a medical tent at a race) amongst the other casualties of the day. I dry heaved again and was able to blend in just fine with the rest of them. Every time somoeone congratulated me on finishing the half, I burst into tears and told them that wasn’t my goal. I was inconsolable. It was 86 degrees as we headed back to Indiana. Pukey and tired and sad.

    So its been almost a week since then. Still just tired and frustrated. I am so glad I came across your blog b/c it makes me feel normal. I had to hear about my other running friends on FB enjoying their marathon experiences on May 20th. For me, it’s on the list of one of the worst days, ever. I pray that one day I will ahve the courage to get back out there again and not have this happen, and I pray for you and all the runners out there that what happens to me never happens to you. Take care and thank you for your candor and vulnerability. :)

  21. paul kelly
    June 22, 2012 at 4:59 pm (6 years ago)

    Dori, i hope you get to the bottom of your medical problems
    also i know running a marathon is tough but maybe some time in the future you will attempt it again and smash it, i really hope so anyway
    all the best.

  22. Bert
    January 4, 2013 at 9:05 am (5 years ago)

    I recommend you watch an old film, ” The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner”.

  23. Doğalgaz Soba Servisi
    October 17, 2013 at 10:48 pm (4 years ago)

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  24. totalfitness
    July 28, 2015 at 1:46 pm (3 years ago)

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  25. Amanda
    October 15, 2015 at 10:33 am (2 years ago)

    Hi Dori,
    I know this post is old, but I recently did not finish my marathon. This would’ve been my 5th marathon….FIRST big city one…CHICAGO. I was hoping for going under 4 as my previous marathon was 4:08…..The summer wasn’t the best training, and I got bronchitis 3 weeks before and wasn’t able to run my last long run. I FEEL you. I’ve avoided facebook and work and friends….it’s been hard and everyone says “You made it 15 miles! That’s awesome!” and my response is always “I’ve ran 26.2 four other times…” I don’t know why it wasn’t my day. It just wasn’t. I bought a shirt at the expo and I CAN’T bring myself to wear it because of the defeat I feel.

  26. Tom
    October 5, 2016 at 3:14 pm (1 year ago)

    Maybe you should learn to burp

  27. Liz
    October 10, 2016 at 2:37 pm (1 year ago)

    This is a great blog. Thank you for your honesty. I really appreciate it. I finish my first marathon last year but this year mile 19 was my undoing but you are right. This isn’t the end. Going to spend the next couple of years getting better!


14Pingbacks & Trackbacks on Running, But Not Finishing, The ING NYC Marathon

  1. […] November 15, 2011 at 11:54 am . . . continued from last week after I DNF’d the ING NYC […]

  2. […] First, read THIS post on how not all marathons end with a finish line. […]

  3. […] comments and emails in reaction to that blog post, and the one about DNFing the NYC Marathon, reminded me why I love blogging. Thank […]

  4. […] was all about November 6. I couldn’t imagine anything else. Then November 6 came and went and I still wasn’t a marathoner and then November 12 came and went and I was […]

  5. […] We ended up becoming running friends and real-life friends, and trained for and ran half of the ING NYC Marathon […]

  6. […] says only “Poor Andy” before going back to sleep.I think I know how he feels, because I felt that way after the NYC Marathon.Because I’m not a girl who ever legitimately cared about sports, I […]

  7. […] Take our blog buddy Dori for example. She candidly discusses her emotions after she did not finish her first marathon, only to surprise her readers by secretly completing a marathon the following weekend. By choosing […]

  8. […] the park in search of water. My body was also clearly in need of a break  from running after two marathon attempts in a row. And while I was happy to finish the eight miles I set out for that day, I also knew it […]

  9. […] every race where I consider quitting. I don’t know why. I never actually quit (except for the NYC Marathon).But this race is special.I love starting this race outside the park on Central Park West, where we […]

  10. […] Dress Fits… Written by DoriPosted June 22, 2012 at 4:08 pmIn November, a few days before the NYC Marathon, I attended the NYRR Five Borough Bash. It’s an inspiring fundraiser to raise money for […]

  11. […] how it feels, in the first weekend in November, being trained without a race.Last year I had to drop out of the New York City Marathon in the 18th mile and as soon as I got home afterwards, cold, in tears and distraught, the first […]

  12. […] for the 2013 Anthem Richmond Marathon.Let’s start from the beginning.On November 6, 2011 I attempted to run my dream marathon, my only marathon – the ING New York City Marathon. I had to drop out 18 miles in when I […]

  13. […] after just 13 weeks of training. I’ve dealt with people learning from real-time tracking that I failed before; I didn’t need to go through that again for something as silly as a training […]

  14. […] No, I actually remember a lot now that I see the course map. I remember most of it! I remember specific turns. I remember being at mile 18 thinking “this is when I had to drop out of NYCM.” […]

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