Yesterday my lunch date and I mainly discussed national politics and the presidential race, including the claim of vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan to have run a marathon in less than three hours instead of his one actual recorded time of four hours and one minute. One of his defenses was that he had confused his marathon time with his brother's time, though as it turns out, his brother has never run a sub-3-hour marathon either. In the unlikely event that I should run for office, I'll disclose that my fastest time for traveling 26 miles, 385 yards on foot is a leisurely 32 hours, including the meals, ale, pub singing, and overnight.
My lunch partner and I agreed that this situation is one where a candidate's ego has not served him well. Instead of claiming an admirable but debunkable time -- that is, instead of passing himself off as a high achiever in a crowded field -- he might well have answered the question along these lines: "Twenty years ago I ran a marathon and I'm proud that I finished the race. As to my race time, I finished the race the same day that it started. Let's just leave it at that."
The light touch is more effective than braggadocio. For example, Gerald Ford was a strong golfer, with a 12 handicap even into his octogenarian years. I heard someone ask him about his golf skills. Although he could legitimately be proud of having maintained a low handicap well into his senior years, he downplayed his ability, ending with the line, "My golf handicap is a closely guarded secret."