Saturday, 5 July 2014

A run in the (midnight) sun: Part 1

The Reykjavik Midnight Sun Half Marathon has been and gone but here, only delayed by a couple of weeks, is my report of the race (or what my middle-aged lady brain can remember of it, anyway).  If you're looking for a travelogue of our Icelandic adventure, have a look at Bassman's blog as what follows is going to focus on what's most important - the running.

Killer spices.
My training in the couple of months before the HM went well, not that you would know that from this blog.  (I wasn't going to do anything to attract the attention of the Running Gods, and that included writing about how well things were going.)  My ankle continued to twinge for the first 20 minutes of every run but remained discomfort rather than pain and I was SO HOPEFUL that I was going to FINALLY get to the start line of a half marathon without carrying any injuries or illnesses.  Imagine my distress when, the night before we flew to Iceland, I dropped a full glass bottle of dried sage onto the top of my foot whilst engaging in a last minute panicky clean of the kitchen.  I calmly remarked to myself that that was going to bruise and that I had better be careful.  And then I dropped a second full bottle -this time of cinnamon - on the exact same spot.  Oh FFS.

In all of the excitement of getting to Reykjavik, I didn't pay any attention to my foot until we were safely tucked up in our Reykjavik 101 (that's the central area of the city) flat late Friday night.  'Bloody hell,' I said to Bassman, 'my foot is really throbbing.'  I took off my sock and was horrified to see an emerging deep purple bruise across the (now swollen) bit where my toes joined the rest of my foot.  Arrrggghhh!  A broken toe!  What if I had a broken toe?!  Another race where I was going to be injured!!!  Arrrggghhh!

Fortunately, our well stocked flat had ice cubes in the freezer so I put on my compression socks, elevated my foot, and iced it for the rest of the night.  By morning, the swelling and most of the pain were gone, but the bruise was an impressive combination of purple and green and yellow.  Phew.  Panic (and another over-reaction from me) averted.

Because we arrived on Friday and the race wasn't until Monday, we had lots of time to sightsee.  And eat.  I kind of forgot about the race as we explored the city and its restaurants and bakeries.  Especially the bakeries.  I'm not sure that what I was doing was carb loading so much as it was pastry, cake, and biscuit loading.  Cathy and Paul arrived on Sunday - they were doing the HM as well - and we met up for lunch and a pre-race sharing of anxiety.  No cakes, but that's because Cathy and I were full from the huge bucket of polenta fries, Bassman was full from a massive bowl of meatballs, and Paul was full from the burger that was as big as his head.  I tried to make time to rest in the afternoon each day, usually accompanied by a biscuit or two and a cup of tea, and by the time that Monday rolled around I felt ready to take my newly expanded muffin top for a run.

Registration was on Monday afternoon so I took the bus to Laugardalsholl (or, the sports hall) in Laugardalur (or, the swimming pool/park complex where the race started and ended).  It was all very organised and the registration queue moved quickly, leaving me plenty of time to shop and to ask one of the support staff about the course. 'Flat?  Of course it's flat.  There's just a small downhill and then an uphill in one of the valleys and then that's it.'  Ha.  If the Running Gods weren't going to get me with injury, they were going to have a go with misinformation...I met up with Cathy and Paul at registration, passed on the course (mis)information, and we shared a taxi back to our respective flats where we all tried on various running gear combinations (separately, I hasten to add, not together) before sharing a taxi, with Bassman, back to the start.

Laugardalur.  The sports hall is the white building in the centre.

My t-shirt purchase.  (Body not blogger's own.)

I had been obsessively watching the online weather the previous couple of days, tracking the rain as it moved in and out of Reykjavik.  The forecast for race evening was for rain and 18-20mph wind.  Sigh.  Just like running in the Highlands. Driving up to the sports hall, we saw a large cardboard sign fly past us through the air; hmmm, very windy indeed.  Still, at least it was sunny.  Sunny.  At 9pm.  Fabulous!

So, we did our stretches and had our photos taken by Bassman and went to the loo and did some more stretches and tried to go to the loo again but the queue was too long and the race was just about to we lined up, Paul at the front with the Super Whizzy Runners and me and Cathy towards the back of the pack (but, being brave and optimistic, NOT at the very end).  A bit of a countdown, and our bruised feet and dodgy ankles (me), dodgy hamstrings (Cathy), and Super Whizzy Runner niggles (Paul) were off.

Tune in tomorrow for 13.1 miles of fun!


  1. Love this! Bringing it all back ... :-)

  2. In a good way, I hope! I'm glad that I finally got around to writing it up before I forgot everything. Makes me want to do it all over again. x