Reykjavik 1/2 Marathon: Race Report!

What an incredible place to run! My pictures can’t do justice to the beautiful bay that Reykjavik sits on that leads out into the Atlantic Ocean…mountains rising up out of the lava rock on the distant coast…European style lining the streets in the cars, people, buildings….a BMW SUV pulling directly in front of you at mile 3 – wait a minute…

Yep! The Reyjkavik 1/2 Marathon-Marathon course (it’s such a small race that we all start together) is NOT closed to traffic completely so as my packet states “runners be aware.” So as I was running somewhere around mile 3, a BMW decided it was going to pull into the race and fit itself directly into the gap between me and the runner ahead of me – and then slowly cross the raised median to the other side of the road. ‘No, I don’t mind veering hard to the left to go around an SUV, no problem!’

That was truly the only thing that distracted me during this race – from days before I was visualizing how I intended for it all to go, using positive energy to focus on every detail of how that day would go, even sending good vibes to the weather for how cold it would be that morning as we walked the 3/4 of a mile it took to get from our hotel to the race start. Cold weather = fast runners, woo hoo! (Temps were in the high 40’s when we started walking & had hit the low 50’s by early in the race – perfect!)

I’d trained long & hard for this race -through torturous heat & disgusting humidity – just like all you athletes out there. We have suffered in training this summer, but it has hopefully paid off for you in your training as it has for me. Long, slow, frustrating workouts turn into speedster results on the course if you are persistent in your training! I didn’t train to win this race, I’m not that fast – I mean, seriously here! But rather to set a new PR and to really show myself that I have improved a lot as a runner since I last was a runner who actually ran races (’08).

Race day arrived – thankfully we had a relax day the Fri before since travelling over caused us to stay awake for 36 hours straight – lovely. So I dozed off the night before the race picturing myself running well, focused, & strong.

There’s about 2500 people in this race. Tiny!! But it is wonderful not having to run amidst throngs of people like you do in Chicago races. I was grinning from ear to ear as we got going – I can’t believe I’m in Iceland – one of the countries on my young bucket list! And running a 1/2 Marathon that I actually feel like an athlete in i.e. trained, ready to run hard, & capable! First few miles you’re just thinking about holding a good pace and keeping your HR low & not getting all jacked up by the energy of the event. So far so good!

We ran along the bay, the Atlantic Ocean rolling its’ waves onto the lava rocks on the shore. I picked up a runner at mile 4 who seemed to be staying with me regardless of if I sped up or pulled back – ohhh kayy, does this guy know I’m not planning on setting any land speed records here? Fine, whatever, stay with me. We crossed the chip time mat at mile 6.2 & I checked Garmin to see how I was doing with my pace & from my little buddy I hear, “on pace?” I chuckled, ‘yep on pace.’ Looks like I’m leading this pace group of 2.

Running through water stops & able to drink without choking? Check! I lost pacer man at a water station going into mile 8. If not then, I would have definitely left him in the dust as I started passing people when we hit the *surprise!* hills that carried on from mile 8.5 through 10.

It felt AWESOME to hit those hills & say to myself, “I got this. I’ve done this in practice a million times. I KNOW I can run hard through these hills and I will be able to manage my HR.” What a great feeling as I heard groans all around me as we started climbing switchbacks up the first hill!

There were several parts of the race that I was able to say to myself, “I got this. I’ve practiced this a million times. I know I can do this.” Man, that is a good feeling, and EXACTLY why you practice all part of your training program, not just the stuff you enjoy the most. Like when we had the worst humidity in 7 years in Chicago & I was out, at noon, running hills. You suffer then so that you avoid serious suffering (and injury) on the course!

So hills are done, we have 3 miles to go. Ok Kate, can we start pushing hard now? How much do you have left to go hard & finish strong? I’ve practiced this too, it is all just a little more intense when you’re in the racing moment, you can push your HR higher, afford to feel the burn a little more because it’s the ‘now or never’ time & this is when you just let it hang out there.

Ok, last gel sucked in & here we go!! Start pumping arms harder, push those feet down on to the ground & get them back up! Ooh, that is uncomfortable – no me gusta – err, suck it up & run would you?! What looked like Icelandic Bootcamp Trainers blasted their stereos up ahead & cheered like crazy for every single runner passing them – what a good pick-me-up. Ok, we have to be getting close, this part of the course was out & back so I saw where the split off for the 1/2 Marathon finish was & it HAS to be close!…these shoes have GOT to go after this race, it feels like I’m running on the asphalt bare foot!

Ok, 2 miles to go, go go go, my HR was now creeping to its highest level I train at – that was uncomfortable – no muscles were really strained, they were just working hard & I can do that so I was thinking if I could just bear down & hold on to my HR for another mile and a bit, I’d make it. My goal was 2 hours 15 minutes to complete the race, & my personal secret goal (you know you all make them too, you just don’t tell anyone because it really would be big stretch if you achieved it) was 2 hours 10 minutes. When I hit mile 12 & saw that I was really freaking close to hitting 2:10, I thought ‘Oh Lord, I need to go, make me go, let’s GO!!” Kate, you have to get to the next gear, go! Less than a mile, delts getting cold – this only happens when lactate is overtaking me & it means I’m about at my max – my shoulders get really cold. It’s weird.

The next 0.5 miles alternated between “dammit woman, go!” & “you got this, stay cool & collected, don’t lose your head.” Finish this now! Stomach churning, I’m feeling like everything that is in my may just come out of me, & I realized I was going to make it – smile!!! Run hard, smile, you’re going to make it, go!!! Passed several people as the Icelandic announcer was doing the play-by-play of the finishes, it actually felt like I was a real competitive racer – DONE. yes. I’ve got the time at 2:09:55. Give me medal. I did it. I now have 20 minutes to make it up the hill back to my hotel to try & call my man in the States before his cell reception is gone for the weekend. After a few minutes of shaky walking, it hit me, I blew my goal of 2:15 out of the water – sweet!! I can’t wait to tell someone!!

And off I trotted to get to a phone to make a call & of course…to update my Facebook status! 😉 One amazing race.

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