I was on a run today and the topic of the dreaded DNF came up with a fellow runner.  And my experience at the Philadelphia Marathon (11/21/99) came up.

To the new runner, DNF = Did Not Finish.  I had run well over 200 races from grammar school, high school and college through that race – 5K’s, marathons, 100m, miles…XC, track – you name it – I ran it and, whether I came in last or first, I always finished it.

But on this day, things were different.  I was at about mile 10 and the top of my right foot started hurting a bit.  The way this course runs, you hit the start again at mile 13 and again at the finish.  By the time I was at mile 13, my foot was in definite pain – NOT soreness.  But I limped on – I stopped to take my shoe off and re-tie my sneakers.  All that did was make it harder to start again.  I ran a 13:00.6 mile during mile 14.  It was time to stop….and go home.

I was very angry and disappointed and defeated.  But if you hear what had happened before the race, you would have an idea that I should have not run it in the first place.  About 6 weeks before, I had run the Steamtown Marathon in a respectable 3:33.  Then, after only a week off, I started retraining for Philly.  I ran a long run of 16 miles about 2 weeks before.  And I felt my foot hurting.  I should have listened to my body.  I should not have attempted to run 2 marathons in 6 weeks.  I should have allowed more time to recover.  As it ended up, I was out for about 2 1/2 months.

Lessons learned…..for future races….  #runningtips #running #marathon #lessonslearned

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Nickolas Joannidis
Nickolas Joannidis
I have been running for over 35 years, having done practically every possible racing event or distance from the 100 meters through the marathon. I competed in varsity high school cross country and track at Saddle Brook High School in the mid-1980's, varsity cross country and track at Division II Pace University and finished well over 200 road races since then, including 20 marathons with a lifetime best of 3:14:50. I was the president of the Hoffmann LaRoche corporate running team for 7 years, growing the team from 25 to over 90 during his tenure. I coached many of these runners to achieve their goals, whether they were beginners or advanced. In 2011 I was an assistant coach for the Fair Lawn Recreation track team, helping the 10 to 14 year old group. I am currently personally coaching dozens of runners, from beginner levels to advanced levels and getting them to be prepared to meet their goals.


  1. Sherri says:

    When the race splits the way it does between the half and full, it also becomes a mental struggle. Have you gone back to Philly since?

  2. runcoachnick says:

    Actually, I have not. I try to finish my marathons in Sept or Oct to allow for some fast fun 5K’s before the winter hits. I should go back, even just for the half.

  3. Ryan says:

    I ran this in 2013. I thought the hardest part was by the bridge at 18-21. Actually forgot you even passed the finish at mile 13. Did they change the course?