As part of my running self-improvement scheme, I will admit indulging in some secret self-comparison. That is, identifying (to myself) people I know that have either run half marathons more slowly than me, or didn't live up to their potential. The point of this? Reminding that there's still a lot of people who I am faster than (not to mention all the people who don't run at all); plus, that everybody has a bad day sometimes, and it's not the end of the world!
I chose as my basis for comparison the recent Whidbey Island Half Marathon, which I did not run. So I can't really compare myself directly to those who did run it. Of course, as you may recall, part of the reason I decided not to do it was the horror of having my pants beat off by other runners I knew.*
When the results finally came out, it turned out that these people didn't do nearly as well (fast) as I had expected. Which either says that the course was incredibly difficult (in which case I'm glad I missed it), or just that they too were in a slump, or having a bad day, and I'm not the only one that happens to.
No names, of course, but Runner #1, who I expected to finish under two hours or at least close to it (based on past races and the couple of times I've seen her training recently), finished with 2:09. Another person, Runner #2, who I've just beat by a few minutes in Whidbey 2008 and 2007, and who I also thought would be close to two hours, was actually over 2:30. Obviously something didn't go quite right there. Boy, do I sympathize with that.
I also found out about three other people I know who ran, finishing in 2:29, 2:56, and 3:00. The third one is training for a marathon. I don't know how they felt about their times, but I'll bet they're proud of themselves for running and finishing. As they should be.
So that's it. The world is full of people who don't run sub-two hour halfs. Some of them, like me (I still believe) and Runners #1 and #2 above, can do it, but sometimes it just might not happen. Others might not be able to, but can still have the satisfaction of their achievements. As for Runners #1 and #2, and the others above—those people, if they knew I was writing this (which they never shall), can also take satisfaction that they actually did Whidbey and I did not.
*And how awful would that be? Running pantsless and all that.