Delayed Post-Marathon Satisfaction

Marathon medal

During and even after running the D.C. Rock ‘n Roll Marathon on Saturday, I felt pretty glum. Frustrated that I had not run faster despite not setting a time goal. Mad at myself for lingering in a low point for five miles during the event. Disappointment despite finishing without injury.

I’m not used to those feelings during an event, and can only recall my first marathon (Chicago, 2002) being a similar struggle. Usually, running a marathon means a short low point (say a mile or two), and a majority of the miles and immediate aftermath are a rush of gratitude and elation. Two or three days later I tend to dip into a funk that lasts for a few days and then I even out into my old self (whoever that is).

This particular time the opposite is occurring. I spent part of the run and most of the two days following it feeling funky. Yesterday and today I’ve been basking in the post-marathon glow. I feel great. My body is recovering nicely. I’m proud of my accomplishment and not down on myself like I was. It’s so weird how a person can go through so many different ways of perceiving an experience.

I reviewed the marathon results this week, noting that 16,578 people completed the half-marathon and 2,730 ran the full. What a vast difference in participation rates! 2,730 people is still a big number, but compared to those who ran the half it is tiny. I still think having comparatively few runners remain in the second half of the event contributed to my mental state in the second 13.1 miles.

I also took another look at where I finished relative to the rest of the course. Overall, I placed in the latter half of runners, and was smack in the middle of all the women finishers. My time of 4:28:42, while not fast, was a consistent time for me and a personal best on this course at exactly eight minutes faster than my previous best.

It’s funny how my post-marathon feelings have been so reversed this go-round. I dislike the dips that come with events like this, but I am really glad that the post-marathon satisfaction arrived, even if it might be too late to wear my finisher’s medal around the office.


  1. I can totally relate to your feelings during an event like a marathon. I run ultras and have those feelings regularly. Sometime I secretly hope for a faster time, but I am always glad to just finish. It takes a strong will to continue when the going gets though – and there will always be people that drop from events when that happens – but we are not among those! I saw a t-shirt at an ultra event that read: “There will be a day when I can no longer do this. Today is not that day.” I remind myself of that all the time!


    • Yes, the secret hopes are strange. I train for one thing, then dream about another! It really is weird how much mental stamina goes into long events. Physical conditioning is but one part of the whole.


  2. The lonely second half of that marathon in particular is absolutely a factor.

    And, it’s never too late! Maybe I’ll wear my last Marine Corps Marathon medal tomorrow. 🙂


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