Just a Half? How About JUST a Rant?!

Let me fill you in on part of a conversation that occurred between me and a [supposedly] fellow runner this afternoon.  
“Oh, you ran the Columbus Marathon too, how was it?” he asked.
“It was a bad race day for me,” I said.
“Oh really? It was a great day! You couldn’t have asked for an easier course. It should have been a breeze,” he said.
[My mouth hanging open in shock.]
“What’s next for you?” he asked.
“The Goofy in January,” I replied.
He asked what it was so I explained.
“Oh, but you’re doing just the half, right?” he asked
“No. I’m doing the Goofy,” I said.
“Well I can think of something other than Goofy to call you. Hopefully you don’t ‘have a bad day’ at that one too,” he said as he walked away.

I’m offended on a couple of different levels – not to mention this guy is just arrogant to begin with. Frankly, I think he was downright shocked that I am a runner – I got the feeling he wanted to say he had done something I hadn’t. He blew off that I have run seven half marathons and a full. He wanted to talk about how hard the Air Force Half course was, which I didn’t find difficult, but he didn’t want to hear that either.
Which brings me to the first offense; please do not tell other people what a race “should” have been for them. Please do not look at them like they are less than adequate that they did not have a great race, when you did – maybe even on the same course, the same day. If you are a runner, you know that every run – and every runner– is different. What is easy for you may just be a bad day for someone else and not necessarily a reflection on their running abilities. Now, I realize I am letting my own insecurities about my lack of training lately influence my interpretation of this, but really? Please do not tell me how a race should have been for me.
Damn, I can’t believe I didn’t even throw in that I won the Spirit Award! I bet he can’t top that! I’m really joking, though, I wouldn’t say that! Which, seriously, brings me to the second offense; unless you are an Olympic athlete, please do not make running about the competition between you and someone else who may not even run at your level. Run your own race. The true competition is with yourself – run your race, don’t compare yourself to others. I struggle with this from time to time. It is something I feel we all need to be reminded of. I run for me and my mom. He can’t take that away from me or make me feel bad about my performance because it is not up to par with what he thinks it should be. For all I know, we run completely different speeds!   
The third offense is quite obvious to me. To all of my running friends – It is not just a half. It IS a half. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. You put in the miles, for five months or more, if I recall. You may have started from nothing, like me. You may have battled injury and burnout and illness, like me. You may have never run a step in your life prior to your race – and you ran a half marathon. You gave all the blood, sweat and tears that you would if you were training for a full. You worked hard for it, you earned it. You ran a half marathon.
I am also guilty of using this language when I say things like, “Oh, I’m just running the half” or “I only ran two miles” or “I only signed up for the 5K.” Let’s turn that around right now. I am running the half. I ran two miles today. I signed up for that 5K! Does the distance really matter when you are out there giving it your all?
I don’t think so, the more and more I run. My mother used to say the Cap City Quarter Marathon was her “Marathon” and you know what? To her, it was! It was the farthest she would ever run. She put in every mile of training; she worked hard to achieve her goals.
And the fourth offense? Well, it may be totally personal to me, but what the heck do those last two comments mean? You don’t think I am capable of running that far? You think I’m a wimp? Blowing if off?   

So, what are your thoughts? How would you react to this conversation? Am I overreacting? Out to lunch? Or, have you had these issues too? Do you feel more accomplished if you have run a marathon? Feel like less of a runner if you have not? Tell me in the comments!
Until the next mile marker, 
Please note, pictures are courtesy of One More Mile.
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  1. runningperseverance says

    SARA!!!!! you are totally justified. reading that conversation got my anger boiling for sure! its so frustrating to me when people assume it should be easy all the time or try to make you feel lesser when you are out there doing what you love! runners are all so different…so true about what you said about distance as well. for some…a 5k is “their marathon” or whatever the distance. i feel grateful every single day that my body has allowed me to go that distance. and sometimes i get frustrated with myself when i start thinking its “only this distance” or that distance, etc. I get caught up in that all the time…but a finish line is a finish line no matter the distance or day…crossing it is something to be SO PROUD OF every single time.

  2. I definitely don’t think you overacted to his comments. It’s an amazing accomplishment for people to run any race, not just a marathon. Think about how many people won’t EVER run a race so whether it’s a 5K or a 100 mile race, it shouldn’t matter. Heck, I think half marathons (and even 5Ks) are sometimes harder than marathons!

  3. Heidi Griesmer says

    You are totally justified in your reaction. This guy was rude. I have completed one half marathon. To me, so far, that was my “marathon.” I am not mentally ready to take on the full marathon distance. That does not mean I am less of a runner. After I started running, it took me a long time to call myself a “runner.” A veteran runner and good friend of mine pointed out that the thing that makes you a runner is the willingness to run. Any distance. If you are willing to lace up your shoes and go out and run, you are a runner. There are lots and lots of people who are not willing to run. As runners, we should encourage fellow runners, not tear them down.

  4. What a jerk… he is always going to be one and you are always going to be JUST awesome!

    I refuse to let myself be upset by these kind of comments from ignorant people. My feelings are JUST too important for that.


  5. I would have had a hard time not smacking him or telling him off. I don’t have patience for ppl. like him. I am sorry you had to go through that, but pls don’t let him ruin your day. You are an amazing woman and he can’t change that. You have an amazing group of friends who love you unconditionally.

  6. Sounds like he may be jealous that you are doing the Goofy, and he’s not. A good punch in the face should clear that arrogance right up! I think we all have that inner battle about a race being “just” this or that. I’ve done the same thing when people have tried to compliment me about running a marathon, and I say no, it was “just” a quarter. It shouldn’t matter, and it doesn’t matter if we don’t let it! You are right on- it’s our race to run, no one elses, and no matter the ups and downs, it is our time to savor and enjoy, not defending ourselves against a-holes. You keep running and inspiring! I’m excited to hear all about the Goofy!! You are going to rock it!

  7. Megan Landry says

    What a PRICK! I would have been ready to slap the shit out of that guy. There were so many rude things he said in one conversation. You are NOT overreacting.

  8. Suzanne Westenhofer says

    Wow, I would definitely have been offended. I get irritated when anyone talks about any race with the words “just” in there. Sorry you had to hear all that from him today!

  9. What a jerk! I would totally have been offended.

  10. I’m sort of torn because I feel like compared to a full, it is “just a half,” but at the same time, it’s still 13.1 miles, which is really the eff far. What really pisses me off, though is when someone calls it a “mini marathon”. There is nothing mini about 13.1 miles. I’m always still impressed by people who are running their first 5K. At one point (and again now that I’ve had a hiatus), 3.1 miles seemed really far and that was an amazing accomplishment. Why are people more impressed by 5K or a full than by a half? I need to work on my attitude, I think. But that guy is still a serious prick. He hasn’t ever seen you run, so how can he judge you?

  11. Cara @ EAT. PRAY. RUN. says

    This just got me so fired up! I totally agree with you as i’m about to sign up for ‘just a half’ and realized how silly that sounds. I’m running 13.1 miles AGAIN and that’s pretty freakin awesome!

  12. I agree with you!!

    For a baby beginner runner like me, just getting out to run was an accomplishment! After baby is born, I’ll probably have to start over again from ground zero but I’m OK with that.

    I “only” ran one 5K this year… but guess what, that’s more than I ran last year!!

    It’s kinda related to what Bart Yasso says- “I often hear someone say I’m not a real runner. We are all runners, some just run faster than others. I never met a fake runner.”

    You go girl!!

  13. Christina Patterson says

    Wow, Sara! I’m sorry that guy was such a jerk to you. Maybe he just doesn’t realize how he sounds. I’d be feeling pretty crappy after a conversation like that, too.

    I can’t wait to read your Goofy recap in a few months!!! You are going to have such an awesome race.

  14. Wow! This is similar to what I was thinking when I wrote about underselling my own accomplishments! Tell people you did the half and they assume you ran. When you walk, they are shocked and make strange faces about it. I still can’t figure out why I tell people I did it THEN qualify I walked it. As if they care. What an insensitive jerk! Not worth your time! You are awesome and will totally rock the Goofy!

  15. what a jerk!

  16. RunToTheFinish says

    it does always surprise me when I run in to any runner that is not anything but supportive. They tend to be so competitive or you have done something better than them that they can’t accept so they get unpleasant. what a stinker!

  17. This infuriates me….who the heck does he think he is? Kudos to anyone who gets up and does something physical to better themselves. Double kudos to those who set a goal and work to make it happen. Totally justified in your annoyance and anger and I agree with all your points.

    Grrrr….stupid people make me angry!

  18. Wow what a jerk. Runners usually aren’t that way so I’m surprised and sorry you had to endure that. So many variables go into a good race besides a tough or easy course.
    Many Marathoners i know find 5ks the hardest distance of all so no distance is a ‘just’ a whatever.
    Don’t let his rude comments get to you.

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