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072: Training By Effort, Racing By Feel - The Key West Running Experiment

Uncategorized Jan 24, 2019


Last weekend was the Key West Half Marathon and a big weekend for both of us in terms of racing.  Heading into the race, both of us had lofty expectations that we were trying to keep rational. The goal was to go test ourselves and see what we could do, but it had been awhile since either of us had raced a half marathon which increased the size of the question mark over what was possible.

On our previous episode we talked about reducing race anxiety by controlling as many conditions as possible and accepting the rest.  This race was the epitome of extra outside conditions. We travelled with a huge group, were vacationing with our kids, celebrated birthdays, and dealt with crazy weather delays.  

By the time we made it to the starting line two hours behind schedule neither of us were looking at the clock and aiming for a precise personal best.  Listen to the episode for some details, but this course was certainly not shaping up for an ideal day. When the race was started, both of us had fully accepted the experimental mindset.  

I had not raced anything beyond local 5k races in all of 2018 due to medical issues and a training agreement with Angie, yet all Saturday people kept asking if I was going to win the race.  In the early going I had a choice to make between sitting back at a comfortable pace in a group or pushing the pace and going solo. I decided to take it out on my own and see if I could hold on for the win.  The race was an experiment, and it turned out well.

Angie really wanted a PR.  She’ll tell you that it was something in the back of her mind that would have been a nice bonus for the trip, but she wanted a PR.  Then the race was delayed, then warming up was thrown out the window, then the wind kicked up. Suddenly she was faced with a race that was not looking like it was going to turn out that great.  What happened is that the time no longer mattered.

Angie fell back into her comfort zone of knowing her effort levels from miles of training.  She knew that she should be pushing, but still somewhat comfortable in the early miles. When the splits started hitting 30 seconds faster than her goal, she figured, she was just going to ride out the pacing and see what happened.  

What happened was a six minute personal best time and an experience of racing that she was not that familiar with.  Racing, at its finest is a very exciting experiment. You can thrive off of the energy of the racers and the crowd you become highly aware of your own body.  You feel both exhausted and exhilarated.

The takeaway from this race is to prepare a best as possible to reach any time goal you may have, but when it come to a race, just dive in.  Feel the effort, understand your body, and enjoy the ride.


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