Marathon runners will understand what I mean. We don't really care whether we beat any other particular runner. World-class runners, of course, want to outdo their closest rivals, but for your average, everyday runner, individual rivalry isn't a major issue. As long as we can beat a time.
Even if a runner doesn't break the time he'd hoped for, as long as he has the sense of satisfaction at having done his very best -and possibly having made som discover about himself in the process- then that in itself is an accomplishment,a positive feeling he can carry over to the next race.