In 2008 I ran my half marathon PR in Leavenworth, WA in 2:19:41. Today I shattered/crushed/obliterated that record with a time of 2:19:35 (ish– because the time clock said :32, but my watch said :35)! Yippee. A beautiful day and a gorgeous course—what more could a girl want?

Today was my fourth attempt to speed up my half marathon pace. Each race has helped me learn something about what I’m working toward, and today’s Anacortes Art Dash was no exception. I’m training toward being able to average 10 minutes per mile (today I was at a 10:39 average). The Art Dash course has one big hill which I knew would slow me down, so I gave myself permission to take that one mile slower, hoping I was ready to keep all the other miles to 10 minutes. And I did pretty well until mile 9, when I slowed down to more than eleven minutes a mile. Still pushing, I held on to my cadence and put in my best effort even after that ninth mile.

Unlike the See Jane Run race, I wore my Garmin so I wouldn’t start out too fast, but I just can’t keep up the 10 minute pace after 9 miles yet. More training, friends. That’s the answer.

One thing I noticed is that after nine miles, I wasn’t having fun. This troubled me. Running for me has never been about speed as much as it’s been about personal growth, social outlet, spiritual practice, and fitness (not necessarily in that order). The challenge this year to incrementally speed up my pace (ultimately shooting for a 4:30 marathon) has taught me that my body CAN gain fitness and learn new habits, but they aren’t coming easy—I lose the inner focus that I’ve enjoyed at the old 12 minute mile pace. This tells me I’m growing as a person as I speed up because I need to develop a new mind practice along with the new pace.

Bill caught up to me at mile 12 today and tried to get me to run the last mile hard. I heaved my elbows backwards as Carol has taught me, but it didn’t make my legs go any faster—and I felt like I was going to throw up (which, if I’d given in to the feeling, would have for sure slowed me down).

When you don’t grow up doing sports, you never learn how to push through the pain that comes with hard physical movement (or even which kind of pain is normal and which will result in injury). I’ve been determined to grow myself as a runner, but the way through the last miles at my new pace is still a mystery to me. Still, I’m nothing if not tenacious, so I won’t give up.

I’m thrilled about my PR, AND I know I still want to teach my body to be happy at the 10 minute mile through the whole half-marathon distance. Onward and forward friends.

On another note: From “marathons” to “continents”

japan-on-mapThis blog started out several years ago to track my journey to run a marathon on every continent. In the past two years, since I finished the project and published Second Wind, the blog has focused on running because Bill and I took a break from international travel. Well, we’re off to Japan next week. Our first international trip since March of 2010! And we aren’t traveling for a run (though I hope to get out for a few runs there). We’re traveling for Bill’s work, but while I’m in Japan this time, I plan to go visit several shrines for a new project I’m working on called “Chasing the Goddess.” I’ve always been annoyed by the fact that most of our major religious myths focus on male figures and have long wanted to go to some sacred feminine sites to see what alternative narratives might be available to us—if only we knew where to look.¬† I’ll be posting here as I go—whenever I can get a wifi connection. Follow me if you’re interested. I hope to get some good pictures and to have an adventure I can share with you. Next to Bill, dogs, reading, and running, the thing I love best is traveling and learning new ways to look at the world. More anon!

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