Not Finishing A Marathon; That’s Possible?

As I continue my marathon training and reading I am learning more and more about people not completing the marathon. Obviously I am not naive. Injuries happen and sometimes people can’t finish runs. When I was training for my first couple of half marathons as well as my first triathlon I knew this was a possibility. Regardless, I didn’t think much of it.

Lately I have been much more aware of the thought of potentially not finishing. I feel like I see more and more people blogging and tweeting about times they did not finish their marathon. One person even wrote about how they finally completed a marathon after their 4th attempt. 4 attempts? I’m under the impression that after 7 months of training I will be completing a marathon. Now you’re telling me it could take multiple attempts at it?!

I have never given the idea of not finishing a run serious thought. Sure I know injuries happen. And yes I have dealt with injuries before. But even when I am hurting I tell myself it would take everything short of a broken bone to not complete my goals. And even broken bones may not stop me.

However the marathon seems different. The thought of not finishing has crept into my head as an actual possibility.

I think there are a few reasons I feel this way. The first is the race itself. 26.2 miles is no joke. Ask any experienced runner and they will tell you how deciding on running a full marathon should not be taken lightly. I trained for a half marathon in 8 weeks with no running experience. The same cannot be said for a marathon. That doesn’t mean a half should be taken lightly. But the difference is definitely there. This is a serious run that can cause some serious damage.

The second major issues is the race location. I am flying from Philadelphia to Chicago to run this. That’s half way across the country. Its not as easy as just showing up to a local marathon. Beyond that I am not the only one traveling for this race. It’d be one thing if I was going alone. Worse comes to worse I spend a weekend in Chicago. I’m in, race or no race. However 5 other people are coming along with me. That’s 5 people taking time out of their schedules and paying a significant amount of money to see me run. How am I supposed to feel if I tell these people “sorry but I know you spent all that money and took time off your schedule but I can’t run this race”? I’d feel like absolute crap.

The pressure to finish this race has lead me to being that much more worried about not being able to finish. I think that’s a good thing though. By having an enhightened sense of concern for injury I will not take anything lightly. If my body is injured I can listen to it and recover that much quicker. So the fear is a good thing.

Having said all that, let’s make one thing clear: not finishing is not, and will not, be an option. I’ve come too far, been told “you can’t” too many times and am too stubborn not to finish.

2 thoughts on “Not Finishing A Marathon; That’s Possible?

  1. I think that while it’s important to listen to your body, it’s also important to push numb or dull pains out of the mind. My first marathon is in 10 days, and unless something breaks, I plan to adopt this strategy. But I also plan to take it as easily possible in the first half to save my energy for the last portion, to ensure that I finish. At this point, I don’t care how long it takes; I just have to give myself the opportunity to cross the finish line.

    Good luck to you in your upcoming race. Great post.

    • That’s great advice. I have been reading a few marathon training books to prep me for this and all of them pretty much focus on first timers just finishing. It’s a tough mentality to have because every race up to a Half Marathon you set a time limit on yourself. Whereas the marathon is just about finishing.

      Good luck on your upcoming marathon! 10 Days away? I can only imagine the nerves

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