Races are relative. There's no ultimate slow or ultimate fast. Unless you're competing at the level of top three finishers by sex, your time is relatively faster than and relatively slower than other finishers. We all pick a person or group to be relatively faster than at some point during the race. Often, the choice is an entirely superficial, even prejudicial assessment of relative experience, age, condition, shape or gear.
During my last half, a slimmer, more experienced older woman chose me as her "relatively faster than." As I'd approach her, walking with a long stride, she'd pump up her walk to a small stride jog. It was so predictable it was funny.
I enjoy watching people do this dance. If she's a jogger destined to pull a better time, I'm happy to motivate her to gain some distance ahead of me. If it's a slower finisher's ego engaging in the dance, she'll eventually tire of attempting a pace that isn't her own. My job, my only job, is to keep my own pace.
At about mile 7, I'm slightly ahead of her and increasing the distance. I know I need to use the portable facilities, but I also like the idea of keeping my pace. I tell my ego to take a break and head to the line. My older buddy who was behind me thirty yards does the same.
They have four portables where seven are needed. Two minutes pass and the line is moving slowly. Three people in the line, get out and get back to the race. I understand their thinking. It feels like a waste to increase your time by five or more minutes for what should be a 30 second pit stop. I stepped out of line and walked about twenty feet. Second thoughts send me back to the line.
The older woman was in line behind me. As I approach, without looking at me, she moves up a step to close the gap. The message is clear that I'll need to get back in line behind her, not in my prior spot. This sixty-something-year-old was not taking any prisoners. She was not getting behind her designated "I'm faster than."
That break was all she needed. She put her jog in high gear and I didn't see her again unless she was on the opposite side of a turnaround loop.
Do I mind that this woman finished ahead of me? Not at all. I finished ahead of my "I'm faster than," too.
If you remember that all success is relative, peace of mind is steady.
See you on the path.