What? A running post? Anyone would think this was a running blog!!
I’ve wanted to come to Iceland for so long, due in part to childhood exposure to the Eurovision Song Contest. Yet it seems that everyone is coming to Iceland this year. It’s all over social media. Some new budget airlines have opened up this frozen island to the wildling hordes…and these four members of the wildling hordes were delighted to fly in on Saturday morning!
Reykjavik at 5am is beautiful. Cold but beautiful. I’d forgotten what being cold feels like. The airport is at the end of a peninsula – the land was wild and empty, and the sky stretched out forever. It reminded us oddly enough of the volcanic Hawaiian island of Hawaii – the black lava fields and big big sky. Only a shedload colder. We picked up our rental car, an ancient (aka affordable) Ford we named Bjork and headed straight into Reykjavik.
We were in a rush because we had a race to run. It was the day of the Reykjavik Marathon and I had signed up for the 10k which started at 9.30am. What’s more, all three of the boys wanted to do it too but they hadn’t signed up. So we parked up, dashed to the race headquarters and signed all three of them up. The plan was that I’d run alone. The boys would run together and if/when the Dude wanted to press ahead, the Husband would stick with him and Big Brother would finish the race alone.
The friendly Icelanders at Registration spoke excellent English and were really kind and helpful. There was some confusion as to whether the Dude (aged 7) could run – it wasn’t possible on the website but he was allowed to sign up in person. (We also noticed several young kids running the 10k, so it is definitely possible). Organisation was excellent throughout…there were plentiful changing rooms and free, easy, quick bag drop for afterwards. Also lots of bathrooms. We were really impressed.
We quickly got changed, watched the Marathon and Half-Marathon leave and managed to find something slightly decent (aka affordable) to eat, as all we’d had for breakfast were doughnuts. 9.30 arrived, we huddled into our corrals, they blasted ‘Don’t stop me now’, a gun cracked and we were off.
It’s been a long time since I’ve run a BIG city race and the energy was amazing. Luckily for me, as I’m not in race shape, one of the downsides of big races is crowding and the first two or three miles were very crowded and I had to slow down or even stop several times. I was just out to run for joy so this didn’t bother me at all – if you run this for a PR, I’d recommend starting much nearer the front. But for me, pootling along, the sea of red t-shirts and bright colours just made me incredibly happy. It was a perfect day – bright sunshine but quite chilly, ideal for running.
The crowd support along the route was incredible. We ran down residential streets and the locals were lining the street with pots and pans, banging them loudly with wooden spoons. Bundled-up kids cheered. I had this massive smile on my face the entire time. There were bands dotted along the route – some were hilariously awful. A local guy played his saxophone. And all along,people were cheering. I was just having such a good time.
The people-watching was also excellent. It’s a cliche but Icelanders are BEAUTIFUL. I saw more gorgeous cheekbones and golden hair than ever before – two girls ran past with hair like angels! Also, I didn’t see anyone else wearing a running skirt! It was most interesting for me, this people watching.
At about mile three, we headed down a long road alongside the bay and the most incredible view opened up – over the fjord to Mt Esja. Beautiful.The whole day was flipping amazing, I was on top of the world. I even stopped to take a photo.
I felt like I was scampering the whole race. The slow, crowded start had forced me to negative split so on that last half, I just ran faster and faster, passing people all the time and feeling awesome. I can’t remember a happier race experience! I ran past a local non-profit blasting Chariots of Fire and tried not to cry from joy, and then before I knew it I was dashing along the finish line! My final time turned out to be 57.37 which, whilst far from impressive and far from my PR, was perfectly fine for such a fantastic experience!
I changed quickly – sweaty girls on chilly Reykjavik mornings get cold quickly – and caught up with the boys. They’d both crushed their first 10ks. The Dude was bursting with pride as he’d run the entire six miles and (according to his pacer) he hadn’t moaned once.
Big Brother came in five minutes later, also super-proud of himself. He’d notched up his fastest 5k as part of the race and had done a fantastic job of motivating himself once the Husband and the Dude left him at mile three. One of the sweetest things for me today was seeing Big Brother’s delight in his medal. We’ve done so many races that we take medals for granted, even though I seriously love a good medal. But he just adored his – he wore it all day (and maybe slept in it?) and told me later that when he got tired at Mile 5, it was the thought of this first medal that spurred him on. There’s been so much delight in watching this new runner gain his stripes, we are so proud of him.
This was honestly one of the best races I’ve ever done. So much fun.
Once the excitement of the race was over, our energy levels totally crashed and burned so we headed straight for our Airbnb to go to sleep. And then we woke up to one of the biggest days in the Icelandic Cultural calendar…but that’s a story for another blog post!