It cannot be denied: I beat ac. With a strategy of psychological warfare and guts, I was the faster man on this day. But before I tell the tale of my competitive trickery, a hearty congratulations to my rival is in order: although he fell victim to my brain power (he is, after all, only human), he out-barefooted me. I will happily accept defeat in this category, because the guy is the real deal and ran very well on some pretty nasty surfaces. Kudos to you, rival.
I shall relinquish my 1st place barefooter medal next time we meet. However, the race victory is mine all mine. The tape had no performance enhancing qualities, and actually disrupted my very important groundfeel (as pointed out by Maple Grove Barefoot Guy) and added weight to only one toe, throwing me wildly off-balance. But I persevered, and won. In fact, by being entirely barefoot, ac was the one with the advantage, making my victory that much more inspirational, I think. With that matter cleared up, on with the show.
I’m nowhere near racing shape or fighting weight, so I needed a plan. Ideally, if I could get him to hold his breath for a few seconds in the middle of the race, he would suffer a bout of intestinal distress when he starts the finish-line kick. This is a little-known scientific fact, but it’s true. Unfortunately I couldn’t think of how to get him to do this, so I let that tidbit sit in the back of my brain.
My completely true statements of unpreparedness were having no effect on ac. He remained convinced that I was faster then I was letting on, which worked against the plan I had in mind: to psychologically manipulate ac to run slow enough for me to hopefully out-kick him at the end. “Hey, if we’re in first and second, I’m cool with holding back a bit and go for the win at the three-mile beep. We’re both in training, after all, no need to kill ourselves, right?” I said. “How many seconds per pound is it for a 5K? I still have a lot of weight to lose,” I confessed. “I usually eat five pancakes and a western omelet before a 5K,” I lied. “What? You eat nothing? Hm, I’ll give that a try!” In fact I run on empty all the time.
Still, he seemed skeptical. If I was going to get him to let his guard down, I had only one option left: Operation Wheeze.
It is said that the wheeze can suck the life out of an otherwise faster runner. Something about reminding them of the inevitability of death. So as the race starts, I start breathing heavily. It wasn’t entirely an act, but I added a little sense of desperation to it. AC, running nearby, probably noticed it only on a deep, subconscious level. “Boy, this is feeling kind of hard,” said ac.
“It’s…nguh… the wind…”
“The wind? Oh, right, I suppose it is,” said a struggling ac.
There was no wind. AC is highly susceptible to the powers of suggestion.
“Oh, look ahead – chipseal!” I suggested, powerfully.
“Seriously?!?” exclaimed ac as his cadenced sped up, face grimacing.
I ran up right behind him, and pumped up the volume of my strangled gasping.
“You’re breathing really hard. Try taking a deep breath. In, hhhnnnnn, out, whooooooo.”
I couldn’t believe my luck. On a gold platter, he presented me with the Breath-Holding Kick-Killer card! I leaped into action. “That sounds… nguh… very zen. Hungh. Hungh.”
“Ha, it is! Oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…”
He fell for it! Excellent! Now all I had to do was hang on. No easy task, be he was now convinced that I wasn’t a threat so I was able to handle the pace. Whenever he started to speed up, I would say “goodness, more chipseal!” and he would slow down to something more manageable.
And then, there it was. The finish-line. It was time for me to gut it out. If I didn’t kick hard enough, ac would could still manage to beat me. No more mind games. Just kick, and kick hard. Not looking back, I finished the last .1 at a 4:45 pace. I won.
After the race, ac congratulated me. “Man, I don’t know what happened. I tried to go with you, but my stomach just seized up.” I felt a brief twinge of guilt.
So there it is. If you haven’t yet, go read ac’s account of the events. You’ll see his perspective confirms my account.