For the past sixteen months, I’ve been running for redemption. I’ve talked openly about my bittersweet and barefoot run through Boston and DNS in Berlin, and finally, I am pleased to report that I’ve run a strong marathon. I trusted my training, fueled and hydrated properly, and left everything I had on the roads of Reykjavik.
A poor performance during a race that you trained oh so diligently for can be as frustrating as an unanswered text message, but a botched race can also motivate you through another training season, to the start line of another race, and on to another finish line. You can also learn a lot from a rough run. It was the pain of running Boston and the disappointment of sitting out of Berlin that fueled my fire this season. Every long run, hill rep, lap swum, lunge, squat, wall sit, early morning spin class, and late night foot soak had some of this fire and a whole lot of heart (No matter the race performance, let us never forget the underlying reasons as to why we run).
After a training season that went strangely well, I boarded a plane for Reykjavik. I’ve had many a stop over in Reykjavik, but this was the first time I got to leave my favorite airport. I spent two lovely days exploring Reykjavik and Iceland’s Golden Circle. I certainly didn’t dislike it, but since honesty is the best policy, I’ll also say that what I was able to see of Iceland definitely caters to tourists and receives a great deal of hype. That being said, race weekend was still incredible, and I do recommend a visit to Iceland (specifically for hot dogs and Icelandic donuts).
In a twist of events, it turned out that I would be tackling this race solo, which added to pre-race jitters and sparked a bit of fear and flashbacks to the breathing-induced back pain during and after last year’s Boston Marathon. With that as my last marathon memory, it was easy to wonder, “What if that happens again, but this time I am alone and in a foreign country?” Thankfully though, I learned from my mistakes and was determined to not let that happen again.
Okay, now on to the good stuff. The air was cool and crisp and the sun was shining as I headed out of the hostel and to the start line. Right then and there, I knew it would be a good day for racing.
After a crowded first mile, I locked into a comfortable pace and pretty much checked out until mile 11 when I looked at my watch and thought, “Wait, when did I run 11 miles?”. This was the first time I’ve raced a marathon with a GPS watch, and it definitely helped to keep me on pace. The course was flat compared to what I am used to, which tends to bore me, but it was also incredibly scenic and the spectators were lively. My new maple syrup fueling plan proved successful, as evidenced by no GI issues and a measly wall-hitting experience of roughly 4 minutes. The last few miles ran along the coast and were very quiet. My legs were tired, but on autopilot, and this was more of a mental challenge than anything else. Luckily the scenery and blue skies were there to help me through. Also, the smell of low tide put a little pep in my step so I could get back into town more quickly. And suddenly I made it to another finish line, but this time feeling stronger than ever before.
I definitely missed the physical presence of my Support Crew and running buddies, but know that they were rooting for me from various corners of the world.
Thank You Notes:
- Thank you to all of the friendly runners and travelers at the hostel, race, and around town for sharing stories, advice, and travel recommendations.
- Thank you to Reykjavik for an incredible race and post-race festival/fireworks show. Iceland surely knows how to party!
- Thank you to my Support Crew, a team of friends and family who have taken on a whole new role recently. While they couldn’t stand along the race route with cowbells and wet paper towels, they were pretty fantastic at supporting from afar. Furthermore, the Support Crew has consistently been by my figurative side lately, offering plenty of advice and perspectives on my post-Master’s degree quandary/waiting game. I can’t express my appreciation enough for the Crew xoxo