I am no great fun of reality tv but I notice this all the time, because I grew up in Europe and only moved to the UK 10 years ago aged 26.
I think blaming the polite self-deprecation is missing the point. I have lived around Lancashire for the past ten years and what I cannot stand is how no one ever celebrates achievement. I am not saying go down the street and randomly pat strangers on the back, but people's achievement are not even met by a "not good enough", in fact there is mocking and often abuse.
My folks brought me up to know I could always do more, but they never belittled my achievements, and they made sure I cared about other people's opinion just about enough.
I don't see that happening around here and it makes me sad, especially with friends - they are my friends but when they have that attitude towards themselves there is no explaining the damage they're doing!
I have just entered the 2012 Venice Marathon, which is on 28.10.2012.
It is my first marathon but I have been running for a good few years, I have realistic expectations (anything around the 4:30:00 mark would make me happy) and a big connection to the area as I grew up there, my family is still there and I speak the language.
I know it is a long shot but if anyone else is going I'd happily help with logistics or language in exchange for some marathon help from someone who's done it before.