The triathlon training blog of Phil Barnes

The Takedown in Williamstown

I didn't sleep well at all the night before. Ed's trash talk tactics at the "Friendship Run" the night before worked. I was scared. He told me he was gunning for sub-21. The accelerations he put in on me in the friendship run were impressive. I finished the warm up in a zone-4 sweat. The race was going to be tougher than I thought.

I resigned myself to running the best 21 minute race I could. I mapped out my strategy: 4:20, 4:10, 4:08, 4:10, 4:12.  Who was I kidding - no way could I stick to that plan.

Race day morning fell upon us, and we lined up. Ed with his target on his back, me with mine. He was ever so coy with his pre-race smack-talk, I couldn't figure him out. I tipped my cards and let him in on my strategy. "Oh well, we'll see" was his reply. A last hand shake and then we were off.

Right off the bat, I got boxed in, he was putting time into me. I was getting nervous. But then he psyched me out and slowed down. I didn't want to pass him, but I ended up ahead of him after only 500 meters. I had my pacing plan to stick to.  I hit the first 'K at 4:28 way off my target. There was no way I could recoup that extra 8 seconds. If Ed was running sub-21, I was a gonner.

I picked it up, and started flying by the other runners. I breezed through the water station and clocked an aggressive 3:56 2nd 'K. "....oh crumb" I thought, "his mind games have worked...  he's forced me into the red-zone way too soon". 

I hit the turn-around of the out-and-back. My first chance to see where I stood. He was about 50 meters behind me. He waved his hand regally, and pulled off a huge smile. He was mocking me: he had barely broken a sweat.

The ride back - advantage me: "Come on Phil!" -- "Alright Phil" -- "Way to go Phil". The crowd was on my side. Everyone approaching was encouraging me. I split 3K at 4:28. "Oh sweet Jeesus". I can't keep this up. I was way over-extended. Initiate meltdown.....

The last 2K were a text-book image of exponential decay. I split 4K at 4:22. He was definitely going to pass me. Oh well, I thought, "at least I put up a good fight." I resigned myself that at least, I could say I held him off for 4K.  The left-hand turn to the fair grounds approached. I was certain I could hear him hiding in my blind-spot. I didn't dare look back. The sight of the flowing silver locks and beaming smile would have crushed me, reducing me instantly to a death crawl.

The sweeping right hand turn to the finish stretch. 100 meters to go. Again, I thought... "oh well, at least I held him off to the finish stretch again..."

The crowd was going nuts. "Come on Phil, he's right on your heels!" yelled Adelle. I looked back, but I couldn't see him. I knew he was there though... And then, like Deja Vu all over again, the PA boomed, "Here comes Number 1, Ed Whitlock"....


I crossed the line in 21:36 (after a painfully agonizing 4:22 kilometer). And Ed... 4 seconds BEHIND me 21.41. Oh sweet Revenge!!!

The awards ceremony after the fact. Joe McNamara (center) presents 79 year old Ed Whitlock the bounty of Jam and Cheese for being second, and the Golden shoe, for first place goes to Phil Barnes!

(Truth be told, if the race had have been 50 feet longer, Ed would be holding the golden shoe).