Given the warm, wet, and windy weather most of us have experienced this fall, you may find yourself in this very situation. You trained hard for 18 to 20 weeks and race day arrived with less than optimal conditions. Or, you had great running weather and still didn't meet your goal. What happens now?
If your race went south due to bad weather, please, please fight the urge to immediately sign up for a "revenge" marathon in the immediate future. Although you didn't PR your marathon, your body has been through a lot as a result of running 26.2 miles, and you have to respect it's need to rest and recover, even if you don't feel sore. Believe me, I've been there and had that same urge. Thankfully I had someone to talk me out of it! Instead, celebrate everything that went right - hitting your mileage goals, nailing paces in your speed work, and all of the extras - foam rolling, stretching, strength training, proper nutrition, etc. - that you did right. Find your next goal race, far enough out that you have time to recover from your recent race and complete another training cycle. Keep building on the fitness level you achieved in your most recent training block.
If your race didn't go well due to other factors such as GI distress, injury, or burn out, it's time to take a good hard look at what led up to this happening. These are factors within your control. Last fall, I did endure a fair amount of GI distress during a marathon that derailed my PR train, but if I'm really honest with myself (and you!), I was burned out. Without realizing it, I got caught up in the "more is more" mindset and I got to the start line of my marathon feeling exhausted. As soon as the race began, I felt fried. Clearly, I only had myself to blame. I was frustrated and disappointed, but I tried to channel that energy into figuring out how to prevent it from happening again. I decided the best thing I could do was turn my training over to someone else who could help me reach my goals, and could evaluate my progress with an unbiased point of view. As soon as I did, I felt relieved. All I had to do was follow the plan and provide feedback on how I was feeling. It took the stress out of training.
The short version of this, which obviously applies to many situations in life: control the factors you can, such as training properly, and don't obsess over the elements you can't control, like the weather. Give yourself some time to be disappointed, and then use that disappointment to fuel your spring marathon fire. And should you be in need of a coach, let's talk!