A parallel to the Kübler-Ross model / five stages of grief:
- Denial – You went past the first couple of mile markers, and you’re not anywhere near where you need to be in terms of time. Your legs may not feel like they’re going too easy, but your brain is making up excuses, such as start line crowds, slow turns, and misplaced mile markers.
- Anger – You’re half-way through the marathon, and you’re coming to the stark realizing that you’re off today. You begin to blame the chef from last night, the beer you had last week, the fit of your shoes, and having the wrong flavor gels.
- Bargaining – At mile 15-16 you begin to realize that it’s going to be a stretch to come up with a “respectable” time. You may have been shooting for a 3:20, but now you’re bargaining with yourself for a 3:30, then a 3:40, then 4 hours. No one seems to be hearing your pleas.
- Depression – You decide that you’re going to miss your goal time by more than an hour, despite [conservatively] being about 15-20 minutes off track. You wonder if someone will scoop you off the pavement if you collapse right where you are. You can’t really tell if you’re crying or sweating, but you feel like bawling your eyes out, regardless. You still have 6-8 miles to go, and you’re close enough to not really need transport to the finish line, but too far to walk it in.
- Acceptance – At about mile 22-24, the pain and humiliation plateaus, and you feel oddly serene and peaceful about your fate. All that’s left is a weekday recovery run. You will finish.
Elevation chart of one of my bad marathons: