After a year of being friendzoned by a half-marathon silver medal, it took 88 minutes of heavy plodding to finally reach heavy petting on the futon of athletic accomplishment.

Like any good friendzoning, it was a long, drawn-out rejection interspersed with flashes of false hope. I missed the sub-90 by 41 seconds last year and by a minute at the Gun Run. This time, it was personal.

Getting past the friendzone is hard work. It involves a lot of pretending that you enjoyed watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s (PLOT SPOILER: It’s lame.) You’re going to have to pretend that you know what pesto is and pretend it’s delicious and then pretend that splitting the bill is something that you like to do. Also, you have to pretend that you didn’t bribe your friend to fake mug you so you could give him a fake beat-down in order to make you look like a hero. (Everyone does that old trick, right?)

But given enough time and effort – and if you raise your game and she lowers her standards – there’s a chance that you can leave Platonic Town for Put Out City. And once you’re here, you can look forward to pretending to be interested in her brother’s reptile collection or pretending to look comfortable while you’re trying to figure out the most unfeminine way to hold her handbag while she’s trying clothes on in the fitting room, and pretending that you didn’t notice the friend requests on Facebook from her parents. Score!

Cracking a personal best is a lot like breaking through the friendzone. And even if it isn’t, that’s the metaphor I’m going for – so here are five lessons on lowering a woman’s standards that also apply to seducing the sub-90.

1: CHICKS DIG AMBITION
And there’s nothing more ambitious than running faster than a woman who’s 19 years older than you. Zola Budd-Pieterse was taking part in the Two Oceans, and I thought by beating her I could bring up the topic about the time I beat a record-breaking Olympian runner in conversations, neglecting to say that she was 46 and she no longer competes and she was just running for fun. And if anyone asks any specific questions I’d just change the subject to how delicious pesto is. Zola finished three minutes before me, but that’s OK because chicks probably also dig chivalry.


Experience trumps numerical advantage.

2: CHICKS PROBABLY DON’T DIG BEING CALLED CHICKS
It’s probably best to call them women when you’re making a list based entirely on assumptions you made from that one time you read a Cosmo.

3: WOMEN DIG RYAN GOSLING
If you’re one of the seven billion people who aren’t Ryan Gosling, you can always fall back on excuses for not being handsome or charming enough. Well, the same works with sporting events. And these come in handy when you traverse Edinburgh Drive and meet Cape Town’s number one export: wind. (But what would Cape Town be without its wind? Pretty nice, I would imagine. I remember experiencing Cape Town with only a mild hurricane but I’m not sure if I was actually there or if I just saw it on Invictus.)
The south-easter made things difficult but at the same time I thought it could also pass for an excuse if I didn’t get silver. While heaving up Southern Cross Drive I wondered what else I could fall back on, and my excuses became more elaborate: Not enough training. My old ankle injury is returning. Facial hair makes running less aerodynamic. Global warming means there are more homeless polar bears around so it’s difficult to stay vigilant while running, etc. In the end, I didn’t need to use the excuses but I’ll save them for a rainy day, which I’ll make a lot more rainier when I write about it.

4: WOMEN DIG SPONTANEITY
I had just summited Southern Cross Drive when I saw Bryan Habana braving the wind and his time away from Twitter to show his support. Silver medal be damned, I thought, here’s a chance to high five a rugby legend. Which I did, and then suddenly realised I would have to sprint to catch up with a disappearing 1:30 bus that wasn’t as starstruck as I was. I hoped to see a tweet along the lines of: “OMG! Just got high-fived by @ianmc0davis! #blessed” from him but it was pretty windy and there were bears around.

“Me and the second favourite person I’ve high-fived” – Bryan Habana

5: WOMEN DIG CONFIDENCE*
*And by confidence, I mean jerks. Now, douchebaggery isn’t a turn-on for all women but there are plenty who are magnetically drawn to jerkism under the veil of confidence. Either that, or Chris Brown is secretly really good at fixing cars, opening jars and helping to move house. If you want to unleash your inner heathen, become a runner. Race etiquette (and I use the word “etiquette” loosely) states that you can pretty much spit anywhere while you’re running. Overtaking is sometimes done by running around people but mainly through them, provided you haven’t put them off by spitting on them already. Also, when two runners greet each other before a race, one will ask how the morning bowel movement went, to which the other runner will affirm that he or she is feeling light and nimble because of it. After a year and a half of running, these are my people now. We spit like llamas and we talk like potty-mouths. Ladies, form an orderly queue please.

I managed to cross the line with a time of 1:28 – straight into the clutches of a high-maintenance relationship with a silver medal, which wouldn’t have been possible without the training advice of Prof Andrew Bosch of the Sports Science Institute of South Africa and with the strategic pacekeepers of the 1:30 bus.

Zola, next time you’re running a race for fun – one that you have no intention of finishing in a certain time – you’d better watch out. Unless there’s a heavy wind, or if I have another ankle injury.

I have to go now; I SMSed my silver medal and I forgot to include an emoticon so now I’m in trouble.