The first couple of kilometres wound through some of Reykjavik's neighbourhoods and included a bridge across the motorway. Not hugely inspiring scenery, but it was nice that some of the local residents turned out to cheer us on. Cathy and I more or less kept pace with each other for a lot of this. We chatted a bit but otherwise were in our own worlds, me plugged into my iPod with its 170-180bpm songs to keep my cadence up and Cathy plugged into the thoughts inside her own head. I kept an eye on my Garmin and was pleased that I finished the first mile in 10:06. I finished the second mile in 9:39 and, even though my ankle had stopped hurting and I was feeling strong, I panicked. Too fast, too fast!
So, without any evidence that it was necessary, I slowed right down and this, plus walking through the first water stop, meant that I finished the third mile in 10:20. Because Cathy is physically coordinated enough to be able to carry her water with her (I've tried, but I can't manage to freely move the arm and hand that are holding the water bottle, and then I get annoyed and distracted by the sound and feel of the water sloshing around), she sailed past the water station and then I watched her sail into the distance as I walked and sedately sipped from the paper cup. That was the last that I saw of her until we met up after the race!
My memories of the race become a bit of a blur after this. It felt like we were running uphill for most of the first half. The 'of course it's a flat course!' advice that I had gotten at registration was SO wrong. I did my best to embrace the hills and to float up them in a Chi Running kind of way and was pleasantly surprised to find that I didn't need to walk. If I could figure out how to import my Garmin data to this blog, you would see that from about mile 1.5 to mile 7.5, there is a steady and consistent climb upwards. Just goes to show that one person's flat is someone else's 'Oh FFS, not another hill.'
The first half felt like it was all into the wind as well as being significantly uphill. I didn't do too badly at keeping a consistent pace, although I can see from my Garmin splits where the wind picked up at mile 5 and I thought about walking. But I didn't.
After the first water station, I let go of the idea of keeping to a specific pace. I decided to run at a speed that felt comfortable and that allowed me to take in the views because, by that point, we were running alongside a lovely stream with waterfalls. I, again vaguely, thought that if I was feeling strong by miles 6 or 7, then I'd pick up the speed. Or maybe I'd only do that at mile 10 if I had anything left. Basically, I didn't have a plan. I just wanted to have a fun run. And that's what I proceeded to do.
I had a brilliant time. Aside from the wind, the weather was great. A bit sunny, a bit cloudy, a bit of misty rain towards the end. The field was a good size: small enough that I often could pretend that I was running on my own, but large enough that I could target runners in front of me to give me something to aim for. The scenery was distracting in a good way - streams, flowers, fields, mountains, a golf course, Icelandic horses having a bit of a prance, and a black bunny. Fab.
|Looking back to Reykjavik from the top of the Elliðaárdalur valley|
|Waterfalls in the Elliðaárdalur valley|
|Icelandic horses having a bite to eat|
|Watching the runners go by|
I finished in 2:10:50 and with a huge smile on my face. A 5 minute PB and only two seconds behind the woman in the pink top. Yay for me!
Cathy finished in 2:06:18. She and I were more or less in the middle of the pack, which is lots better than the joint last that we thought we'd manage. Paul finished in 1:32:01 and was third in his age group. Yay for us!
I think that I'm safe in saying that we enjoyed the course, hills and all, and majorly loved Iceland. I hear that Paul is thinking about going back at some point for an Icelandic trail race. While that is not necessarily for me (although I'd be up for one of the multi-day walking treks through the interior), Bassman and I would be more than happy to show up to cheer him across the finish line. Iceland...one visit is not going to be enough.
|Laugavegur Ultra Marathon: Go, Paul, Go!|