Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Red Shoe Diaries #2 : 2009 Carying Place 5K

10 year old Halee Enderle flying to the finish (isn't that a great picture?)
Pictures by Shannon Johnstone

Both Shannon and I were fortunate to recover quickly from our marathons, so we decided to do a 5K this past weekend . There were many races to choose from. We could have done the “Baby 5K” where I’m sure I would have put Bobby Mack and his pathetic 14:33 finishing time to shame. But that race was early in the morning, so instead we decided to sleep in and do The Carying Place 5K in the afternoon.

This was a second opportunity to test out the “Red Shoe Theory”, so I again wore my new pair of Brooks Launch, even though they hurt my feet. To recap the Theory (which is actually a hypothesis, but let’s not get too technical):

“In any 5K, the guy with the red shoes will win”.

This has been refined somewhat since the last race.

1. Red shoes do not make you run faster.
2. They seem to make everyone else run slower.
3. Red shoes trump fluorescent green shoes.

It seems that the Theory is a self fulfilling prophecy. Everyone believes that the guy with the Red Shoes will win. They think: “Anyone wearing such ridiculously flashy shoes must be really fast. There is no way I can keep up with that guy.” So they don’t even try. Not realizing that, at least in my case, the guy with the red shoes is actually struggling with a mediocre pace.

Roque and I, battling it out, in this "pre-enactment"
We got there a little early and did a warm-up lap around Bond Park, where we met a guy who introduced himself as “Rocky” (Roque). He had on some plain white shoes, but said he had just done a 5K in 18:16. This was much faster than I have ever done a 5K, so Roque would be a good test for the Red Shoe Theory. Shannon took our picture warming up, telling us to pretend to be racing to the finish.

There was another guy there who also had red shoes. So what happens when 2 guys have red shoes? Do they cancel each other out? This was answered before the race even started.

- The other guys shoes were quite stylish, a deep shade of red with hints of white and silver. Almost reasonable.
- My shoes looked clownish in comparison, bright red with gaudy orange laces.
It was no contest. Mine were far more silly looking, and therefore trumped his.

A massive crowd of 26 people gathered at the start. "Runners... set... go!"
A tall skinny guy in black shoes, and a preteen girl sprinted out far ahead. Both of them slowed fairly quickly and I caught up to them. After a half mile, I passed the skinny guy and took the lead and that seemed to deflate him. I was thinking that the Red Shoe Theory was once again proving true when I heard footsteps behind me. It was Roque. I couldn't believe it. Didn't he see my ridiculous shoes? Didn't he realize how fast I appeared? Apparently not, because he ran right past me.
I picked up the pace one notch from uncomfortable to miserable, just to keep him in sight. The course was 3 times around a loop of trails through the park. The entire second lap I followed Roque about 30 feet behind, unable to get any closer. On the start of the third he slowed down a little, and managed to get in front of him. Surely, the flashy shoes passing him would break his spirit.
But no, he was unimpressed, and he ran past me again. I followed him through the woods for the last time, thinking that the shoes had failed, and it was up to me now. I had almost nothing left, so I waited until a short downhill hoping for a gravity assist. I cranked my feet as fast as they would go and got past him. We made a sharp right turn to a 100 meter dash to the finish.
I heard him still behind me so I picked it up to a full sprint. He picked it up too. Somehow, with the finish line so close, I managed to kick it up another gear. The alarms were going off in my stomach "Warning! Vomit imminent!", and my vision went dim. When I crossed the finish it sounded like he was right next to me. And, in fact, this is from the results:

291 ROQUE ADAME M 27 HOPE MILLS NC 19:45 6:22

Yep. The exact same time. In reality, Roque was faster because he started further back and not right at the start line like I did. Yet, somehow the race coordinators, possibly swayed by the pretentious red shoes, awarded 1st place to me. For overall winner, I got a very generous gift certificate to Maximillians, a restaurant in Cary.

So there you have it. The "Red Shoe Theory" remains intact, with 3 new added principles:

1. When put against another red pair, the gaudier pair wins
2. Some people are unimpressed by your flashy red shoes
3. You don't even need the fastest time to win.

Oh, and I almost forgot. Despite just doing a hilly marathon, Shannon took 1st place for women in 22:48 (while running with her camera, of course). The rest of her pictures are here.

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