Saturday, October 27, 2012

I've Been Lanced!

So there I was this morning, lined up against my arch rival: the de facto North Carolina champion of speedy barefooting, Barefoot Josh.

We were at the Benson Healthy Harvest 5K which awards the top 3 barefoot runners, and would therefore  serve as our NC barefoot 5K championship. Out of the 116 people lined up, we appeared to be the only 2 missing shoes.

A lady told us the roads were rough, and they were going to tear up our feet.
"You might be right", I said anxiously.
Josh tried to placate her by rattling off his stats: 17:38 5K, 4:57 road mile, several marathons, all barefoot.
She was unimpressed, "I love my flip flops".


Mile 1 -  6:18
Out of the gate I hung a few steps behind him as a stiff headwind from Hurricane Sandy made the early pace feel hard. As usual in a 5K, there was a fairly large group running in front that thinned out quickly.
Three shod runners took off ahead, and it was quickly apparent we had no chance of placing overall.
No matter, I was only there to beat one guy.

We turned down a short side street that featured some very rough asphalt, like gravel tarred together.
I had been very worried about this, because I had zero chance against Josh on a rough course.
I reflexively revved up my turnover to a crazy rate in an attempt to avoid the pain. The result was that I sprinted out ahead.

Besides running races very fast, Barefoot Josh
sometimes puts on Burlesque show while doing it.

Mile 2 -  6:27
We completed a short loop and were back onto a main road which was smooth. I picked up the pace a little, and heard Josh breathing hard behind me. I was surprised that he seemed to be struggling already, but it was still too early feel confident. I took some deep easy breaths, "Relax".

We turned down another street that bristled with some of the worst blacktop I have ever encountered. It felt like thumbtacks. "Oh, no! No! No!", I pleaded out loud, "COME ON!"
Fortunately the street was lined with a smooth concrete gutter and I immediately sought refuge there, ducking low tree branches.
I'm not sure why, but Josh chose to follow behind me here instead of taking advantage of my obvious weakness. We did a u-turn around some cones and took the gutter back to the main road.

The rough roads left their mark.
The base of the toe is typically a weak spot that gets chewed up.

Mile 3 -  6:02
Getting back to the smoothness allowed me to open my stride, but Josh matched the acceleration and pulled ahead a little. My boss was running the 5K too, and I crossed the street to slap his hand as he came by.

I then settled into behind Josh waiting until the last .1 miles to make my move. I had been saving a little gas for the final kick.

I heard Josh's watch beep at the 3 mile mark, with the finish line directly ahead. I moved over to sprint past him, but he kicked too.
The pace was just too much for me. My stomach turned inside out and just cratered.
Hunched over I watched Josh run away from me, crossing 8 seconds ahead of me.
Crap. I lost to him for the first time.
He retains the title of "The Fastest Barefooter in NC".
And I guess as the only other entrant, I am the slowest.
My record drops to 8-1. He won fair and square... or did he?

Damning Evidence!
This incriminating photograph of Josh's foot has emerged.
Clearly he was duct-tape doping! He wasn't barefoot at all!
This was not a level playing field. The USADA will hear about this!!
I've Been Lanced!