Sigh. I might as well say right off the bat that I didn’t reach my goal of averaging 10 minute miles in the Kirkland Half Marathon yesterday. The night before the race I talked on the phone with my friend, Christine, who lives in Kirkland. She told me she would expect the course to be hilly. I wasn’t worried about the hills (since I’ve done so many different kinds of courses), but what I didn’t think about was that I’ve never tried to maintain my pace while gaining elevation. I’ve been doing most of my training at the track.

Although the Kirkland course starts and ends at the same point (thus, ostensibly providing for a net zero gain in elevation), the ups were long and winding while the downs were short and steep.


Bill met me at mile one to start pacing me and remarked that I was breathing heavily after keeping my 10 minute pace on the first long uphill mile. On the second mile, I managed to keep my pace to 10:30, even though much of it wound up through (beautiful) neighborhoods. On the third mile, I made up time with the only long-ish descent and finished that mile around 9:30. Then we just went up, up, up with short fast downhill interludes that hardly gave me time to catch my breath.

To my credit, although I couldn’t maintain my 10 minute goal pace, I did push hard up the hills and came in around or just under 12 minutes for most of my remaining miles. I crashed at mile 10—tired and spent from breathing so heavily for almost two hours—and, although I tried to push periodically after that, I just couldn’t get my pace back up, even on the flat part of the course that ran near the water.

My conclusion at the end of the race at first was that maybe my family genes have just taken me as far as they can in this running thing, but after I recovered and had a cup of coffee, I decided that I simply haven’t taught my body how to get up hills efficiently. I don’t have the breath to maintain a 10 minute pace on a hilly course (yet).

Thanks to everyone who has been encouraging me! I’m not new to running, as you know, but I am new to speed work and pace work (and I haven’t even started with the hill work yet, obviously), so I’ve really valued everyone’s cheering and advice through this experiment. I don’t feel downhearted because I AM viewing this year as an experiment in stretching myself in a new way. If you can approach something with the eye of a scientist—studying what works and what doesn’t, looking for answers to roadblocks that pop up—you don’t have to be perfectionistic and mean to yourself when things don’t turn out exactly right.

I’m disappointed, of course, that I didn’t reach my goal yesterday, but not daunted in my resolve.

Hope your races went well and that you all had a lovely Mother’s Day.




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