Reykjavik Marathon RR
On Saturday, I ran the Reykjavik Marathon (yes, in Iceland!!!!) and had a lot of fun on this trip and race. Three weeks ago, I wasn't even sure if I could even start the race (see below), but more PT and a giant taper helped. I ended up running a 21 minute post knee surgery PR and the fastest marathon in close to two years.
It's been one heck of a month for me and my knee. As I have mentioned, my recovery from meniscus surgery went really well and I did two marathons post surgery without any issues whatsoever. Training for Iceland was going great and I had even restarted doing speedwork and hitting Orange Theory workouts with ease as well. However, on peak week in preparation for this race, around three weeks ago, I was at Orange Theory doing a 12 minute distance run (trying to run straight for 12 minutes, haha, which I have covered). When I stepped off their treadmill, my operated knee hurt around the patella. I have never felt this kind of pain before, not even before the surgery or during recovery. I was able to jump and do the weights part of the workouts without issue, but anything forward walking/running movement hurt. I went to Pilates with hubby right after that and adjusted a lot. Walked with some pain all day, so I took a URD that afternoon. With a 20 miler the next day, I didn't want to risk it. And I was hoping the rest would help. The next day, I hopped on the TM and ran 3.75 miles when it started hurting again, so I stopped.
I could barely walk without any pain that Monday morning, so I went to the ortho and she confirmed what I thought it was: patella tracking. Meaning, that the inside area of the knee, where the surgery occurred, was weak, while the outside of the knee (where the ITB is) was stronger so the ITB would pull the patella towards it and the inside of the knee had to work harder at it to keep it centered. So, it wasn't centered. The patella was to the left, slightly out of place. This causes the joint between the femur and patella (underneath the patella) to swell and hurt. That's what I had, but I spent all Sunday afraid I needed more surgery or something. The mental fear after you tear something and need surgery never really goes away. The ortho thought more PT was needed and a full week off running was necessary to take the inflammation down.
I rested the whole week, no OTF, no Pilates, no running. On Saturday, the pain was as bad as on Monday and I was again afraid I would not make it to Iceland. I started PT on Friday so of course, PT had not done its magic yet. After PT on Monday, I felt better and was able to run/walk 4 miles that afternoon. We proceeded with a run every other day and a 12 mile run that Sunday to test the knee. The knee was achy some days, but PT and the rest had helped. By the time I got to Iceland, I knew I would be able to start the race. Whether I had to walk parts of it (if I got any pain after 12 miles or so) was still uncertain. But I was hopeful.
We arrived in Iceland on Thursday before 7am. It was a short trip, with only being 5 hours from NY, so it felt like we were heading to the West Coast, but in reverse. We got to the hotel and they found us a room that early, left our luggage and we drove around the city center to find where to go first. We had a car with a GPS, so we found things easily. We spent Thursday driving around and stopping at some sights, but after lunch, we headed back to the hotel for a nap, then headed to more sightseeing, the expo and dinner. The expo was nice, considering it is a small race, and we looked around the booths and got our packages really quickly. Everybody in Iceland speaks English (and most speak Spanish), so we were fortunate not to need to speak or try to spell or speak a street name, which normally had 13+ letters in it. The people in Iceland are awesome, though!
Here are some pictures from Thursday:
View of Mt. Esja. You can see this mountain all over Reykjavik and it was present all over the course of the race as well:
Hallgrímskirkja Church. You pay a small fee and you go up the stairs to the top floor and look at the whole of Reykjavik. It was a pretty view!
Höfði, where Reagan and Gorbachev met long time ago:
Although there are many cars in Reykjavik, the city has around 200K people, and there are plenty of public parkings that are either free or for a small fee. Food is super expensive in Iceland, and I mean, super expensive (think NY and Chicago are not compared to this), but super worth it. Everything tastes great, healthy, and local. They have plenty of meats, chicken, fish, and beef dishes. The goat head, I passed on, though.
We headed to bed and ready to tackle Friday. We bought a Hop On/Hop Off tour so we could see the city. However, we were so tired, we slept until 9:45am, and almost missed the breakfast hours at the hotel (we made it!). The hotel had a great breakfast, with everything from spinach juices to eggs, hams, cheeses, everything you could think of. And it was all delicious. The Hop On/Hop Off took us all over the city, from the wonderful Harp theater, which I thought I had a picture of but I do not. So, this picture is courtesy of the Harpa website:
We also saw museums, and a bit more history from the places we had seen the day before. We found a Hard Rock Cafe in the city center, and we like to go to those anywhere in the world we can find them, so we had a nice lunch there. We also found the start/finish area (which was close to the Hard Rock) and the surrounding city pond, which was part of the course (and on our way to our hotel). Friday was super windy to the point, I could barely breathe. I was hoping the race wasn't as windy since the course had no wind protection (nor shade).
We found a nice Italian restaurant near the city center and got us a huge pizza. I think I had my rations of carbs for the whole month this weekend!
The race was on Saturday morning. Forecast was 47-56F and sunny, with no wind. The course has no shade. I was glad the winds we had on Thursday and Friday had left because the course could be brutal with the winds coming from the ocean. But we got lucky. Last year it was rainy and in the 40s. I felt it was a bit too warm for me during the race, due to the no shade, but it wasn't too bad. Especially for August.
Hubby was running the HM and we had not planned it, but I ended up running the first 11.60 miles with him, since the course was the same. I was planning on run/walking this race since the knee wasn't perfect, and just in case, and he was run/walking at a ratio I had not planned on racing this, but it worked perfectly. Here is us near the start:
The race started at 8:40am exactly, and as I had read, the race starts with the song Beautiful Day from U2. The course had a 6 hour limit from gun time, so I was a bit afraid to being too far behind for fear of not complying with the limit since my last marathons post surgery had me at more than a 5:30 finish. However, the race is small, so we were over the start mat in less than 2 minutes. We headed to the pond area and the first half of the course. I took pictures of the course as we ran/walked:
The course had some elevation, but nothing too bad. It was more like long short hills, rather than hilly. We were doing a 6:1 run/walk ratio and, apart from my knee being achy for the first 3 miles, it was working well for me. We parted ways at Mile 11.60 and I headed to the second half of the course, which had around 3 miles in a park with this beautiful waterfall:
You don't imagine that taking 5 weeks off and having knee surgery will take so much of your endurance away, but the last two marathons have felt like a struggle after Mile 11. This wasn't it. I felt strong throughout and even after Mile 20 when I got a bit slower, I still felt like I could continue running forever. This is the farthest point in the island, before we looped back to Reykjavik and the city center to finish:
My miles were steady until Mile 22, where I had a 12:20mm. Not sure what happened in this mile, but I thought I was getting tired. There was more wind here and more path and uneven terrain so who knows. The next mile was almost 13mm but I stopped to tighten my shoes which started dancing over my feet. Mile 24 was also above 12mm but Miles 25 and 26 had me back to the average I had been doing all over the race. The last mile I ran straight, but I was running out of steam when I headed to the finishing chute. It look so far!!!! But here is me heading to the finish:
I finished in 5:09:41, a 21 minute post knee surgery PR and the fastest I have run in almost two years. For a race I wasn't even sure I could run, I beat all my expectations. It was probably the best positive split I've ever run too. Can't complain!