Monday, June 26, 2017

Day 5 - Seljalandsfoss, Gljufrabui, Skogafoss, Vik

Sunday, June 25
Day 5

We were out the door by 7:15, as we had a long drive to Vik ahead of us. We were greeted with some blue skies for a nice change.

When we had gotten directions to Vik, we were told that there were some pretty cool waterfalls on the drive down. We stopped at ALL of them. First up was Seljalandsfoss. The cool part about this one was that there was a very short hike that walked BEHIND the waterfall. We all got pretty wet walking under this one, but it was worth it.

Kinda looks like we showered - nope, just walked behind a water fall
There was another short walk to get to the next "famous" waterfall - Gljufrabui. This one was a waterfall in a crevice of rock, off a small beach. I was smart enough to think, hey, I should walk in the river on these rocks where other people seem to be going. Looked pretty nifty from the inside too.

Yes, that is me under there, no, I'm not a ghost

We were cold and there was a pastry/coffee shop at the bottom. I had a delicious and decadent chocolate brownie and a coffee, while A had a big chocolate/vanilla muffin and a hot chocolate. Have I mentioned how great desserts are lately?
Not much further down the road was yet another waterfall, Skogafoss.
This one was pretty magnificent from the bottom and also had about 500 steps to get to a viewing point. We assumed that was all that was up there. Turns out there was also a pretty awesome hiking path. We walked along for about a mile before it started raining hard enough that decided it was best if we turned back.


Half the fun of the hike was seeing if we could get any good pictures of all the sheep we saw. The way back was incredibly rainy and wet and muddy. None of us were incredibly happy by the time we got back to the car as we were all soaking wet. We still had the drive to Vik, although by the time we got there it was still raining and none of us especially wanted to get out of the car. We did walk briefly to the black sand beaches, however.

We attempted to do a tour at the wool factory, but the "tour" was really just a store with big windows where you could look at people working. On the way back we stopped a big parking lot. There was nothing to be seen, but we were told that there was an abandoned airplane somewhere. Even though it was raining, we decided to go out and see it anyway. After a mile and a half of running (yes, we decided to run this even though it was supposed to be a short walk/hike) we started asking people who told us we were only halfway there. We were all sick and tired of being wet, so we turned around. Oh well, we got a 3 mile run in.
We didn't get back into town until almost 6:00. We made a quick stop by the mall, walked around, didn't see anything of interest. Dinner was leftover Domino's (yes, again) and beer.
Finally, later in the evening, it was actually not windy and warm enough to sit in the garden. We did laundry and got caught up on our social media.

Steps - 23.522
Miles - 3.0, plus a hike (2.0ish miles)

To be continued...

Day 4 - Reykjavik, Hallgrimskirkja

Saturday, June 24
Day 4

I had the brilliant plan to get up early so we wouldn't "waste the day." Turns out, after having such a busy day and then a half marathon, and then staying up until 2 am, left us all exhausted. I hit the snooze button time and time again, not dragging myself out of bed until 10:30. I quickly got in the shower, then we all had to pack and clean up. We checked out of our Airbnb at exactly 12:00.

We needed to check into our next place at 2, so we were somewhat limited on what we were going to be able to get done. We opted to drive into "downtown" Reykjavik, which meant a frustrating drive on narrow streets looking for parking. MY big goal was to find a liquor store, in hopes of finding some beer that would a). taste good and b). not cost $12 a pint.
Tourism building
We first visited the Reykjavik tourism building, wandered around looking for a brewery (which unfortunately didn't open until after 4), then miraculously found a liquor store. I found 6 unique beers, and spent "only" about $30. My favorite directions given by a local included - turn at the rainbow unicorn painting:
On the way back to the car we looked at the main town square and Parliament building.

Church next to City Hall

We had to find a place with Wifi to message our next Airbnb as we could not locate the place through the system. We arrived just after 2, met with the owner and checked in. We all really enjoyed that we would have a resident cat, Sushi, staying with us!
After an hour or so we decided it was time to find something else to do, specifically, finding our dessert for the day. We drove along the water and stopped at a nature reserve, although it was closed for a month for re-vegetation.

It must be said that those are fish heads hanging from this really cool wooden structure
We stopped at a few places before we found a local bakery that had pastries we were interested in. Man, I really love dessert and it's going to be tough NOT having something every single day when I am no longer on vacation.
By this time, it was after 4:00, so we decided to go to Micro Bar, which was supposedly a craft brewery. We were there in time for happy hour, although they did not have any dark beers, and I'm pretty sure the beer I had was not even brewed there. Oh, and it was stupid expensive.
After the brewery we drove to Hallgrimskirkja, probably the most famous church in Iceland. I believe it is also the tallest building in the city. We were able to find parking very close by, took pictures outside and then took an elevator to the top where we were able to get some very cool pictures from the top.

Everyone needs to get their picture with a giant copper Viking?
Domino's still sounded good, and we opted to do a different special - buy one pizza and an order of breadsticks and get another pizza for free. Yes, I realize that we are in a different country, but Dominos's seems to be the only meal we can have for under $20. Since we had bought beer, we were also able to sit at home and relax with beer that did NOT cost a fortune.

Steps - 14,413
Miles - 0

To be continued...

Midnight Sun Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Friday, June 23
Reykjavik, Iceland
Half Marathon #165
Weather - Overcast, windy and rainy

Maureen had first mentioned wanting to run this race for her 60th birthday at least a year ago. We thought it sounded pretty damn cool, and thought that we could get A trained and ready to run with us.

Fast forward.

Race Night:

The race started at 9:00 pm. We had been out all day walking around (we think we had done at least 8 miles of walking by the time we headed to the start). We had eaten dinner and gotten dressed and decided to head over to the start by 7:30. We weren't quite sure what roads were going to be closed or where we could park. We parked on the back side of the sports hall and went inside to find out where we could drop our bags and to use the bathroom. There were already a lot of people inside - in addition to the half marathon, there was also a 10K and 5K. We quickly made friends with a group of guys from Florida and West Virginia (we struck up a conversation because they were wearing awesome Christmas tights under their shorts).

We then ran into Mo's friend Heather (she used to work at the Belmar store, but moved to Tennessee in the last year), and shortly after that we saw Matt and Molly, two elites on the Roost team. We managed to get a team picture and then realized we only had about 15 minutes until the race started so we headed to the bathroom.
We finally decided to just risk going out in the wind/rain early and use the port-o-potties, which had no line.

We got in line in the chute, the 10K started at the same time, took a selfie, and then we were off. A has regularly been running a long run of around 8 miles, but it had been a few months since she did her 13.1 mile training run. She had confessed that she was really nervous, but she was in good spirits and we did our best to rein her in so she didn't burn out.
Having run a few races outside of the US, it is fun to run in kilometers because it feels like you are making more progress, especially when every mile is marked.

I had no idea what to expect from the course - all I had done in advance was register. I assumed it would be at sea level and be fairly flat, so I was surprised when Mo started telling me about the climbing that we would have from 3-12km.

There were aid stations every 5k, and Mo and A both stopped to use the bathroom at the 5k mark. We ran the entire first section and took walk breaks on the hills in the middle part of the race. I took lots of pictures - for a road race, it was really pretty! Tons of wildflowers and LOTS of green. Everyone stayed in a good mood for the entire race.

We hit some glorious downhill after the 12k mark. Hit the last aid station at 15k and then the real work started. A was getting tired and Mo was struggling a bit as well. We took walk breaks a bit more often.

The last mile or two it got really windy again on the course and we really just wanted to be done. Finally we could hear the finish line and we all kicked it into high gear. The wind was howling and the gates at the chute were knocked down as we were running across the finish line. Both Mo and A were most concerned about finishing under the 3 hour cutoff. We crossed the finish line at 2:37:42!!!

Official Time - 2:37:42
Garmin Time - 2:37:49
Garmin Distance - 13.30 miles
Garmin Pace - 11:51
Elevation Gain - 636'
Mile 1 - 11:30
Mile 2 - 10:56
Mile 3 - 12:50
Mile 4 - 13:14
Mile 5 - 12:04
Mile 6 - 12:40
Mile 7 - 12:06
Mile 8 - 11:25
Mile 9 - 11:13
Mile 10 - 11:46
Mile 11 - 11:33
Mile 12 - 12:03
Mile 13 - 11:22
Mile 13.3 - 10:12

After crossing the line we got mylar blankets and some instant hot chocolate. There was only bananas and pretzels at the finish - no other food or water!

We were freezing, but walked back to the sports hall to get our drop bags and head over to the hot springs pool. All runners had free entry and the pool was open until 1 am. Being in America, we are pretty modest. We spent a lot of time being embarrassed in the locker room since we had to shower naked before we could enter. By the time we got in a pool it was already 12:30. The water was not nearly as warm as I expected, which made it even harder to get out of the water to shower and get back into our yucky race clothes. We REALLY regretted not driving the car to the pool, as the walk back to the car was incredibly cold. By the time we got home we ate our donuts and went to bed... at like 2 in the morning.
Stupid night races.

Week in Review (July 9 - July 15)

Tuesday  (11,560 steps) - Peloton before going to work in the office. Cross training at lunch.  Wednesday  (17,583 steps) - Headed up to Lou...