A Post Marathon Feeling

It has been one week since I ran the San Diego Marathon.  I’ve gone on one run since then and am no longer limping around or complaining about being in pain walking up my apartment stairs.

But it still hasn’t hit me.

I’ve reread my post a thousand times; I’ve reread all the tweets, facebook comments and blog comments; I’ve sat and stared at my medal and bib and still, I don’t feel like I finished it.  There is something missing.

In actuality, when I think about the race, I’m not even happy I did it.  Something about the race, or that happened during the race is keeping me from enjoying and celebrating the fact that I RAN A MARATHON.

I wouldn’t say that I feel disappointed in how I went, though at the same time I think I might be.  Ultimately my goal for the race was just to finish and raise money for the environment via World Wildlife Fund and I did.  I didn’t hit my goal, but that’s alright because I raised a significant amount of money and that’s great.

I think it was this moment that has stuck with me and made me feel…lost over the race (although I apparently can’t spell and walk at the same time; haha):


I knew that at some point in the race I was going to have to walk, factored that in and was fine with it.  But I never thought I was ever going to feel so defeated like I did at mile 18.  I know that running a race like this is much more mental than physical but I never ever thought I would feel like I needed to quit like I did.

I can’t even explain to you the anguish that I felt at that mile.  I wanted everything to end.  I secretly wanted my body just to give out on me and pass out, so I could say that it wasn’t just my head that gave up on the race and actually my body.  I wanted an excuse to finish right then and there.  And I think that feeling, that “giving up and giving in” is what has held me from enjoying running a marathon.

I remember thinking about the race the day before and telling Whit that I was probably going to cry when I crossed the finish line. I could have cried about it right then and there just telling him it.  I knew it was going to be an emotional experience because it’s been something I’ve been dreaming about for years.


But the second I crossed that finish line, NOTHING.  The smile that’s on my face in my finishers photo is forced.  Ok, I might have been smiling simply because the race was done and therefore the pain, but other than that, there were no emotions whatsoever.  Now, I’m not a super emotional person like others, but I knew that I was going to feel something at the end, yet I had nothing.  It bothered me as I walked through the corral and through to find my family.  I knew something was wrong with my mentality when I finished the race.

I’ve been thinking about it all week as people have told me how proud they are and how I feel now that I finished a marathon and although I smile and say it was an experience, there is something empty about it.  I can’t put my finger on it, but it’s almost like it didn’t happen.  Is that crazy or what?

I don’t know what to do about my emotions over it.  A part of me wants to run another one just to see if I can get that feeling of accomplishment that I’ve been missing from this one, but I don’t know if I could do it again.  I had feared failure before this race because I thought I might let all of you and my donors for the fundraiser down, but never myself.

What happened?  Has anyone else run a race they built up so much for and then, nothing?  I’m so lost over this race when I should be relishing in smiles about conquering such a feat…

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16 Responses to A Post Marathon Feeling

  1. Christine says:

    I've actually heard of this before, a post-race sort of slump. You've trained so hard and it's been such an important goal and now it's…over. I bet the pride will come later when you run your next one or when you're looking at your medals in a few months. Until then, just sign up for something else :)

  2. lee says:

    I've felt like this before. In fact, I've written about my first (and only) marathon here:


    I don't know if it's helpful to read that, but just know that you aren't alone in feeling the way that you do.

  3. Freya says:

    Wow, how you felt is EXACTLY how I felt after my first marathon too. I broke down around mile 20, and desperately wanted to quit. I ended up going over my original aimed-for time by a 1/2 hr cos I had to keep walking, and I was crying so much. I was disappointed in myself and angry, but at the end, had a big fake smile on for the camera. After, it was like I hadn't even ran a marathon. Even now, I don't feel like I really did one – it's kinda, empty..it's hard to explain, but I just know xactly how you feel.

  4. Amanda (Two Boos Who Eat) says:

    Yes. Granted, I have never completed a marathon or even a half-marathon but I had that feeling when I finished student teaching. I wanted to feel this sense of accomplishment and pride when I was finished but I just didn't. It's been a few days and it just hasn't sunk in yet. I totally get it.

  5. proudpatriot07 says:

    I kinda get what you're saying. It's sorta like how I looked forward to a vacation once- I spent tons of time researching, packing, dreaming about how great it would be. And it was nice and everything, but it's like… I think I set my expectations a bit too high for the vacation. It wasn't magic or the experience of a lifetime. It was well… a vacation. Graduating from college was kinda the same way for me too.

    I'm pretty sure marathon pride takes awhile to kick in. I was in shock-and-awe mode for a few days after my half, so I can imagine how you feel after a full.

    The thing is, you didn't just give up. You stopped and walked and couldn't spell, but you didn't just QUIT. You had to force yourself to smile when you crossed the finish, but you did it (crossing the finish + forcing yourself to smile for pics).

    I'm pretty sure as the months and years pass and you go through other tough things, it's probably something you'll look back on- as it being something you accomplished, and that nothing you go through will take away your accomplishment. Plus, it's almost like recovery in a way… it's a marathon, not a sprint. And you didn't give up with the marathon, even though I know there are definitely times I want to give up with my ED…


  6. Liv @ The Salty n' Sweet says:

    I also haven't run a marathon before, but I'm sure your emotions are so frustrating right now.

    Maybe after you forget about your journey during the marathon, and only think back on the fact that you ran 26.2 miles all in one run, you'll feel more proud.

  7. Katy (The Singing Runner) says:

    I was actually more emotional when I finished my SECOND half-marathon last Saturday verses my first back in January. It was weird. I was expecting to be bawling my eyes out at the finish line after I ran my first but I had nothing. No emotion, no tears of happiness…nothing. Sure I was proud, but I didn't have the emotions I thought I was going to have.

    However, after I finished my second one last weekend, I had a lot of emotions. Not only was the race physically exhausting (hills suck especially when you dont train on them), but I dug deep to finish. I was also so proud of myself and AMAZED by how much I had accomplished. Coming back from an injury and rebuilding my mileage in 11 weeks was amazing to me. I couldn't run further than 4 miles at a time 6 weeks prior and I finished a 13.1. I choked back tears after I crossed the finish line.

    All in all, I think that eventually it will sink in. It may not be tomorrow or next week or even next month. It may not be until you run your next race, but it will sink in.

    Just know that no matter what, we are all proud of you! :D

  8. sophia says:

    I've never been on a race, but I do understand that feeling of loss of direction. After exerting so much time and energy into something, what do you do? Where do you go? what next? And how to deal with this nagging feeling that you could have done better?

    But perhaps we allow that thing, be it a race or a major project or a dream job, to harbor more importance and value than it really has. However, life is always going to be full of challenges. Think this "empty" phase as a time for you to rest and gear up for the next challenge in life, because it will definitely come.

    And Melissa, whether you FEEL accomplished or not, you DID accomplish a marathon. The whole freaking thing. You wanted to give up but you didn't. You DID it. But it's time to focus on what life really is, where the value of life is: enjoying daily "boring" activities. :-)

  9. Anonymous says:

    Since when does "walking" have an apostrophe in it?

  10. Christine (The Raw Project) says:

    I've heard of post-race slumps and felt that way after my first half. For so you maintained such an intense training schedule and worked so hard that it's an adjustment when it's over I think. But you did it and totally rocked it!

  11. Jessica @ The Process of Healing says:

    I think it's the walking that's getting you down? Maybe you don't feel like you pushed yourself enough? Or maybe I'm wrong, but GIRL you were amazing. And I KNOW, if you really want to in your heart, you can do it again!

  12. Anonymous says:


    don't be a jerk, she explained that she didnt spell it right because she was walking.

  13. Joanna says:

    Kudos and hugs for finishing your marathon girl! As a new runner I'm totally amazed by what you do! (I'm a bit intimidated to run that race you sent me. I think about it everyday!) I understand how you feel a little sad. I think it's with anything when you're looking forward to something so much and when you actually get to it…it isn't what you anticipated. This is what we call…expectations. I'm a victim of the classic high expectations only to be disappointed for no good reason. Take a deep breath and be happy that you had the strength and motivation to do something so difficult. If this isn't a test of the mind… I don't know what is! You're awesome!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Well, it doesn't sound like your first marathon was exactly a pleasant experience so maybe that's why you're feeling this way?? Does part of you think maybe you should've prepared more? Maybe you just didn't write about most of the running you did to train but it didn't seem like that much. I mean, it was enough to run a 5+ hour marathon but it doesn't seem like that's what you wanted.

  15. mymarblerye says:

    grab your shoulders for me and shake yourself!! I think it's cause you have such great expectations for yourself that you hoped that it wouldn't be as hard? Either way you did something I probably won't be able to do (my feet suck) so be proud!!! you rocked!!

  16. Krista says:

    First off….to anonymous….pretty easy to hit below the belt when you don't identify yourself. :/

    Melissa….give yourself some slack, hun! A marathon is a HUGE accomplishment and walking some of it doesn't change that! Whether you feel great about it or not, it is something that you did and will be able to look back and remember forever….HUGS!

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