Wild Cards

Yesterday, I did my last training run for the Sarasota Half Marathon, which happens on Sunday. As I’ve said in previous posts, I’m very happy with how this training program has gone. I’ve been consistent and persistent, and the effort has had a good outcome. I feel ready to race.

However, as every runner knows, the best preparation in the world doesn’t guarantee the desired result. That’s because there are always “wild cards,” unforeseen events or conditions that can make the whole thing go sideways.

Here are some of the wild cards I’m looking at:

1/Transitioning from doing the whole training program barefoot on the treadmill to racing barefoot on pavement. (That’ll be an sudden transition, by the way. Given weather conditions here and the short time I’ll have in Sarasota before the race, I won’t have time to do it gradually.) I should be OK, because I’ve been supplementing my training runs with gravel bucket sessions, but I really won’t know if it’s been enough until I race.

2/ Travelling to the race. This will be the first time I’ve travelled any distance to race, never mind that I’ll have a three-hour flight to get there. (No changes in time zones, thank goodness). I’ll have two days after the flight and before the race to adjust, though, so I think that’ll be OK too.

3/ Heat and humidity. At the very end of my training program, I did five consecutive runs (three of them at race pace) as heat acclimatization runs. I wore a base layer, full-length tights, a heavy-weight long-sleeved top, and a winter running beanie, with the intent of producing a high level of heat and humidity right next to my skin. I hope it’ll work, as it’s based on solid exercise science. But I’ve never done this before, so, once again, there are no guarantees.

4/ Mile markers. I’ve been thinking in kilometers for decades, but markers on the Sarasota Half will be in miles, with no kilometer markers at all. I do quite a bit of visualization on my training runs, so have included “mile thinking” on the last couple of weeks’ runs. I hope that having done that, and seeing those markers in miles, will keep me from getting confused.

5/ Pace band. I’ll wear a paceband for Sarasota (marked in miles, of course), so that I keep to the pace that will (hopefully) get me to my goal finishing time. I’ve never done that before. I’ll also wear a watch, which I don’t usually do for races, because I’ll need it to make use of the paceband. I’d much prefer to follow a pacer for my goal time of 1:50, but Sarasota won’t have one for that specific finishing time. I usually go by body feel for my pace, so this will be quite a departure for me.

On the plus side, I’m well trained, I’ll have time to rest before the race, and I’m in a good head space for this one. Sure, there are wild cards. There always are. That’s part of the fun.



  1. You’ll do great Alan. You’ve covered everything that’s in your control, even gone beyond in some respects. That mile marker variable is an interesting one. I wish I had read this yesterday, I would have offered to overnight my Garmin to you, which is all set up on our backward measurement system. The pace band is great thinking, just as effective and a lot lighter than a Garmin anyways. Though I imagine you’ve run this race in your head many times already.

    I’ll be thinking of you on race day. All the best my friend.

    1. Thanks, Daniel. I looked at some of the Sarasota Half route today, and think it will be OK for bare footing. Your offer of the Garmin is very kind, but I think it would only have confused me more. 🙂 I will simply think in miles.

  2. Hello Alan.
    Been following your training updates on the quiet. All the very best to you my friend.
    Physical training is important, but being in a good “head space” counts for hell of a lot.
    Looking forward to a report on your return.
    Jason UK PLC

    1. Good to hear from you, Jason. I agree that the mental game is the thing. That’s exactly what I’m working on for this race.

  3. Alan:

    I’m confident you’ll do well and achieve your goal. You’re too strong and well-prepared not to.

    You don’t need it, but good luck, my friend!


  4. I am running the Rome marathon next Sunday, and I have also started to think about things that could go wrong. But these are things we can do nothing about anymore, so I guess there is no point worrying about them. Good luck then in your half!

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s