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Laugavegur Ultra Marathon - Run

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Landmannalaugar, Sudhur-Thingeijjar
55F / 13C
Total Time = 6h 58m
Overall Rank = 38/133
Age Group = 30-39
Age Group Rank = 10/34
Pre-race routine:

Gallivanted around Iceland! So much fun!

If you go back in time a bit (July) you can see some fun photos of the trip
Event warmup:

Jogged a bit, I figure 55K of mountainous running with a significant climb to start should do a pretty good job warming me up
  • 6h 58m
  • 55 kms
  • 07m 36s  min/km

In planning for my 2016 races I was unsure of how to handle this ultra marathon.

I was running a marathon about 4 weeks before the ultra:
followed by a glacier skills course and ski mountaineer summit of Mount Baker just two weeks out. I figured I could walk a fine line of running the marathon well but not all out, knowing I had the mountain summit and the ultra just weeks out.

I think I was successful in the way I ran the marathon, as I felt fresh enough to complete the skills course and summit Mount Baker but the later left me completely exhausted. We were carrying packs of 50-60 lbs at times (with full glacier gear, food/fuel/water for 3 days and all of our ski/snowboard gear) and doing some particularly exhausting exercises in building our crevasse travel and rescue skills. When I got home from that trip I laid on the couch for hours, unable to even unpack. I was so completely depleted.

Between the summit and arriving Iceland I got sick and just felt generally low energy. I tapered way back and hardly ran at all in hopes I could be fully recovered by race day.

We did some amazing sight seeing in Iceland leading up to the race and again, I didn't run much as I knew it would do more damage than good. I was still struggling with energy levels and was really quite sick still.

Within the first minute of the race I knew I was not recovered or in condition to run this race. My heart rate was elevated in a completely unsustainable way. I knew it would going to be a particularly long 55K. I mean, even longer than it already is ;)

I tried my best to run smart and efficient. I was genuinely concerned I would not finish this race.

The course was absolutely STUNNING. What I really love is that there are no trees so the views are seemingly endless. We ran through volcanic vents and geothermally active terrain. We ran across snowfields and glaciers and along ice caves, glacial lakes and dramatic mountains.

I was seriously suffering as I came into the first aid station. I had to use all of my mental capacity and just focus on one foot in front of the other. I filled my water bottle and ate some food and took off.

We hit our first stream crossing, the icy water coming up to my thighs. The current was swift and I struggled to stay on my feet. We hit a series of similar streams, each one progressively deeper and wider. The good news was, I didn't have to waste time trying to keep my feet dry on the glacier/snow crossings.

We finally got to a stream so swift that the mountain rescue crew had ladders spanning the stream with snow skis tied to them to make crossing a little easier. I was impressed with their ingenuity and very thankful!

I rolled into the second aid station and again filled my bottle and took in some more food. Good news was that eating and drinking were a non-issue (although I am lucky as this is generally the case.)

I just kept on, one foot in front of the other but I really had to push myself to do so, let alone do it quickly. I was in a dark place and it was early. I had so much appreciation for the beauty all around and my ability to be in Iceland and to run and race and be generally active. Those feelings were all in my head, but the pain I was experiencing was significant and at times, all consuming.

We finally came to the halfway point which was a very significant stream crossing that required the help of the mountain rescue holding a rope and guiding us across what was nearly chest deep at times. Many runners had a change of shoes and socks but I opted to continue on, knowing there would be more crossing ahead.

There were some significant descents that were not runnable due to treacherous cliffs. The impact of 'braking' down these hills was taking a toll on my legs and knees.

I came into the last third with my knee aching, limping. I was concerned I may be truly injured but battled on.

I was now in a very dark place and was struggling to find the joy in the run. I was cursing and reconsidering if I ever wanted to run again. It's funny, as I type this I can't even hardly channel the pain I was feeling - it is now so distant. Thank goodness for short term memory and the ability to compartmentalize eh?

I was trying to do math and couldn't remember when or where the cutoffs were. I wasn't sure where I was in relation to that and how concerned I should be.

I kept telling myself the faster I could move my legs the faster the suffering would be over.

We came down the scariest descent that had a chain and then a rope we had to use to repel down some rocks. The consequence of a fall meant a 50' cliff into a raging, glacier fed river.

I clung on and just really focused on the way forward, as it was the only way. Trying to keep the majority of my weight off my knee.

Because of all the river crossings, my shoes were filled with little rocks and gravel but I just could not bring myself to stop for fear of not being able to start again.

I finally made the final water crossing and hit the last little aid station where I chugged a coke (OMG it was so delicious!!!) I had 5k between me and the finish. I was going to freekin complete this race if I had to crawl.

There was one big hill and then a relatively gentle decline on nice, runable trail.

I passed a lot of people here, in various stages of hurt. Some puking, some walking, some hobbling. Despite my misery, I was in a lot better shape than they were!

Finally I could hear the announcer and then could see the finish line. Unable to sprint, I just maintained through the line and finally came to a stop. I wanted to kiss the ground.

Okay, so the above probably sounds really negative. But I wanted to represent how I really felt with honesty and transparency. Despite the beauty my suffering was truly such that I did not enjoy this race. I know! That says a lot!!!! I really, really love running, even slowly but this was incredibly tough. Now, that being said I don't take any of it back as I think all of our experiences, good and bad, can be leveraged to be better human beings. My biggest takeaway here for my self was how proud I am of my mental fortitude. I finished the race and quite frankly, I can't believe I did. I really felt that bad. I just am so impressed at how far beyond your perceived limits your body can go. (refer to the attached sketch done by artist, Jer Collins) Our bodies are truly incredible and I am so proud of mine.

Oh and of course I am not giving up running. I am laughing as I type this out; It sounds so ludicrous!

Also a cool tidbit, my good friends I came to Iceland to run with actually ended up getting 6th. She and I are somewhat comparable in our abilities (although she is more experienced) so I know what is possible. I also know how much "opportunity" I left on the table, ha!

What would you do differently?:

I look forward to running the distance at "full strength" Obviously the culmination of the marathon, the Mountain Climbing, being sick and just life in general was too much. I'm always trying to test limits and I think I found mine.

Other than that, I think I'd run the course similarly. Just faster :)
Post race
Warm down:

Had some AMAZING food

What limited your ability to perform faster:

See sob story RR :)

Profile Album

Last updated: 2016-08-08 12:00 AM
06:58:00 | 55 kms | 07m 36s  min/km
Age Group: 10/34
Overall: 38/133
Performance: Bad
Course: The Landmannalaugar - Thorsmork route is called „Laugavegurinn", The Hot Spring Route, which is very appropriate. It is clearly marked between the huts in Landmannalaugar, Hrafntinnusker (Obsidian Skerry), on lake Alftavatn (The Lake of the Whooper Swans) and on river Sydri-Emstrua in Fremri-Botnar. The trail "Laugavegurinn" is one of the most popular and most travelled hiking trails in Icelandic wilderness. It is equally popular with domestic and foreign hikers. This is not without a reason as the trail offers a great variety of landscape. Mountains in almost every colour of the rainbow, great glaciers, roaring hot springs, big rivers and lakes. Generally the hike lasts four days and the starting point is Landmannalaugar (altitude approx. 600 meters
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 1
Good race?
Course challenge
Events on-time?
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]

2016-08-08 3:38 PM

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Subject: Laugavegur Ultra Marathon

2016-08-08 4:40 PM
in reply to: #5194456

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Subject: RE: Laugavegur Ultra Marathon

Incredible fortitude and determination.  It's not often (I think this was the first) you write a RR where you were in such misery and pain throughout so much of the race. The race seems both beautiful and very challenging, what scenery and what challenges you faced, terrain-wise.  Congrats, Salty, and I'd never believe you if you said you were quitting running.

2016-08-08 4:47 PM
in reply to: #5194456

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West Chester, Ohio
Subject: RE: Laugavegur Ultra Marathon

You are amazing.

To mentally tough it out and finish a race of that difficulty when physically exhausted and sick is beyond ROCKSTAR amazing.  

What a gorgeous course and adventure!

2016-08-09 4:39 AM
in reply to: #5194456

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Subject: RE: Laugavegur Ultra Marathon
Well done and really impressive that you did it! The fact that you had sickness and some hard events in the build up makes it even more an impressive achievement!
2016-08-09 7:04 AM
in reply to: #5194456

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Englewood, Florida
Subject: RE: Laugavegur Ultra Marathon

As we have discussed int he past, mental toughness is the difference. And you have more of that in your little toe than most of us have in our entire bodies. 

Be proud, that was a heck of an effort! Congratulations.

2016-08-09 7:11 AM
in reply to: #5194456

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South Windsor, CT
Subject: RE: Laugavegur Ultra Marathon
Nice report, A.

'You found your limit', ha!, that's funny. We both know better...Get some recovery, ok, before testing boundaries again.


Focus on the R a bit more. You deserve it.

2016-08-09 8:48 AM
in reply to: dtoce

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Southampton, Ontario
Subject: RE: Laugavegur Ultra Marathon
Way to gut it out. It looks like an amazing race from the pictures.
2016-08-09 4:53 PM
in reply to: DaveL

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Subject: RE: Laugavegur Ultra Marathon
Wow, congrats on finishing such a challenging event
2016-08-09 10:04 PM
in reply to: #5194456

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New user
Austin, Texas
Subject: RE: Laugavegur Ultra Marathon


I'm so so stoked that you got to see Iceland like this! It's such a beautiful country, and what better place could there be to run an ultra in? I checked out the instagram, looks like you went down to Vik too! Happy running.

2016-08-10 11:07 AM
in reply to: trijamie

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Falls Church, Virginia
Subject: RE: Laugavegur Ultra Marathon
Your mental fortitude is incredible. Well done! How do you deal with the crossing and being so wet after? Are you just immune to blisters at this point?
2016-08-10 1:52 PM
in reply to: Atlantia

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Subject: RE: Laugavegur Ultra Marathon

When you say something was miserable, it must have been amazingly miserable!  Congratulations on embracing the suck so well!!  

2016-08-11 7:29 AM
in reply to: amd723

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Eugene, Oregon
Subject: RE: Laugavegur Ultra Marathon
That sounds well and truly painful! Congrats in persisting and getting through to the finish! Mom and I have talked about going to Iceland next summer--our original plans involved Europe and the Alpe de Huez tri but safety concerns have kind of put her off. Had the idle thought that, oh, maybe I could try the race that Adrienne's doing in Iceland.....after reading! Maybe I will just do some fun runs and/or a bike tour, and go for a swim in the Blue Lagoon. You're a tougher girl than me!
2016-08-11 11:36 AM
in reply to: Hot Runner

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, Minnesota
Gold member
Subject: RE: Laugavegur Ultra Marathon

Awesome!  Thanks for sharing the instragram link, too.  I am heading to Iceland next weekend for the marathon and I am way more excited about the touring aspect than the race.

I will be keeping you in mind when it hurts - just keeping going and you'll be done with the hurt faster.  Got it.

Great job!

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