A runcation in Iceland

I traveled to the end of the earth - well, Iceland - to discover these truths

Jovan Abernathy in Iceland. Courtesy photo

Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com.

So, I promised to tell you about my runcation to Iceland. I have to start with the race of course; that was my whole reason for going (Besides, I promised to give some shout outs. Before I tell you anything else, let me tell you about the Reykjavik Autumn Half and Full Marathon).

The local running clubs did an excellent job of showing the 300 run tourists and I the relaxed and friendly Icelandic running culture. Although small, the race was well organized. From the start line to the finish, we were kept as comfortable as possible from the freezing temperatures and constant wind.

Heated tents were there for us to gather in before and after the race. Once we crossed the finish line, we were handed our medals, a veggie sandwich, and chocolate treat, and most important, our beer.

They thought of every detail. Here is this for detail: the trophies that were handed to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd finishers were made of basalt column hand-picked from a secret place in the mountains. Truly one of a kind. The course was an asphalt, flat terrained running trail that circled the island. I can now say that I ran around the Island of Reykjavik. I totally recommend this marathon for a destination race.

And now the truths….

This trip was centered around the marathon. I have dreamed of seeing the Northern Lights for quite some time. Oh how much I wanted to hold an Iceberg in my hands and to relax with a face mask in the Blue Lagoon. But, it didn’t happen. Needless to say, I was disappointed. In fact, I didn’t know how I felt about Iceland. So, I walked about and this is what I found.

Truth #1:

Icelandic people are very hospitable. The first couple of days, I spent my time meeting locals (By locals, I mean bartenders) and the other guests in the guesthouse. Very sweet people who are ready to get to know you.

Truth #2:

Iceland is not ice and Greenland is not green. The myth was a trick that Ingolfr Arnarson, the Viking who first settled Iceland, pulled on the rest of the world so every other heathen wouldn’t junk up his country. It is cold though. I strongly suggest packing a heavy coat, hat, ear muffs, waterproof gloves, and a ski mask, yes a ski mask.

Truth #3:

Reykjavik is one of the most expensive cities in the world. No. 14 to be exact. Example: What can you get for $30 in Reykjavik? A 10 minute taxi ride to the start line OR (notice I said or) a burger and fries. The average price for a tour was 20,000 Icelandic Krona or $161.

Truth #4:

Transportation is free….because everything is in walking distance. During the days, I walked the city in search of murals to pose in front of. And at night, I walked the streets in search of Bjork and the Ice cubes, I mean Sugar cubes.

Truth #5:

Loki Guesthouse (where I stayed) is legit.

It has everything you need without being super fancy. This included a fully loaded kitchen, washer and dryer, and free wifi. Even though we had to share the bathroom, it made up for it with a shower with a hand held shower head with excellent water pressure (and ladies you know what that is good for, if you know what I mean as my eyes roll back.)

Truth #6:

Everything in Reykjavik is hard to pronounce.

Case in point. Loki Guesthouse is next to Hallgrimskirkja or as everyone calls “the Big Church.”

Truth #7:

You can drink the water right from the faucet.

But, please ignore the fact that it smells like boiled eggs. Just hold your nose and don’t ask questions.

Truth #8:

The Icelandic food tastes like…

I don’t know. You tell me. I could only afford ramen noodles from Bonus discount grocery store. It became a joke at the guesthouse. Everyone would go to Bonus and come back with Ramen noodles. You could also get a six pack of Thule (an ale with a smooth, crisp finish and official beer of the Reykjavik Autumn Marathon which means the ends of the earth) for 75 cents. Now that’s legit.

Truth #9:

Reykjavik has an entire museum devoted to the penis. The Iceland Phallocogical Musuem has 280 specimens from 93 species of animals including whale. No, they do not have human specimens though porn star Jonah Falcon, who has the longest penis on record, has willed his penis to the museum when he passes.

Truth #10:

If you can’t get to the Blue Lagoon, Reykjavik’s thermal swimming pools are the next best thing. Steamy oasis’ of hot water that stays open until 10 p.m. You can relax those muscles in a hot pot, hot tub, or sauna. Added bonus: Invest in a city pass and get free admission to all 8 thermal pools.

Truth #11:

Aside from Lake Como, Italy, Iceland is the safest place on earth. The police have only had to shoot one person in the history of modern police. The police don’t even carry guns. They actually have a special unit for that.

The last truth was revealed at the post race party which was held at...wait for it...Bryggian Brugghus Brewery in the Old Harbour. It is the poshest brewery I have ever seen. The race committee arranged for us to get half off beers if we wore our medals. So 12 of us got cozy on plush sofas in the corner.

We made our introductions. There was Antone (a Norwegian run coach), Svandhildur (who handed me my post race snacks), Craig (he ran his first full marathon in 3:53:00), his partner Shelley (who took the race photos). There was also Runa (the first Icelandic woman to run the Major 6 marathons) and Magano (who later drove me back to my hotel).

We took pictures, drank beer, and contemplated important questions on topics like which contributes most to Iceland’s GDP? Tourism or fish? Where’s you next runcation (Because there is always the next one)? And finally, what do you do when you client is faster than you?

As we talked, I realized the final truth: that this moment was what I came for. It was hard as hell to get here. I had to get really creative to make this happen, but I belonged here and I deserved it. I smiled knowing that I had the experience and the drive to get my goals accomplished and that I had another one in me. And since I hate the cold, I think the next one will be in the Amazon. I’m dead serious.

A special thanks to Petur Hegalson, race director and international ultra marathoner for the insight and the pictures and thank you for the volunteers of the Reykjavik Autumn Marathon. The Reykjavik Marathon is held twice a year in the spring and autumn. If you want to make this a runcation destination, visit marathonlaup.is to register.

 

Pixabay.com

Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com. Follow her on Twitter @jovanabernathy. Instagram @TourismGymHtx. Facebook @TourismGymHtx

We live some really busy lives. I know that my run tourists are some "smarts," but we run out of time. I know we mean to read 20 books a year, but sometimes it does not happen. Podcasts have been my remedy to this problem. Whenever, I'm on a walk or driving, I listen to a podcast. Of course, 3 hours are already blocked off for The Blitz, but I have other podcasts that I enjoy that I think you will enjoy too. Here are my top 5 podcast on health, fitness, and mindfulness.

Fit 2 Fat 2 Fit

Drew Manning hosts this podcast that is based on the TV reality show Fit 2 Fat 2 Fit. Here is some back story. Drew Manning is a personal trainer who has always been athletic. He wanted to empathize with his clients, so he gained 75 lbs in 6 months and then lost it in 6 months. It became a reality show and a podcast. Drew interviews fitness personalities and doctors. He is a strong advocate of Keto living. He is all jock with a heart of gold. You will love his transparency. This podcast speaks to me. As a run coach whose health took a back seat for Houston Tourism Gym, you can always get your fitness back and continue to be a coach.

Strength Running Podcast

Jason Fitzgerald hosts this podcast about running and strength training. He is an elite marathoner and run coach. He does solo shows that are strictly instructional or question and answer shows. He interviews amazing athletes like Meb Keflezighi. He also does coaching calls as well. You can learn a lot from this guy. His podcast and website has been featured on Runner's World, Fitness, and Lifehacker. I love his practical philosophy on running. He makes it easy to understand. I appreciate this simple language because it not only helps me to understand, but helps me to teach it to someone else.

Trained

This podcast is hosted by Ryan Flaherty, Nike elite athlete trainer whose clients include Russell Wilson and Saquon Barkley. He begins each episode with the intro that "Greatness isn't born. It's trained." Trained features in depth interviews with greats ranging from actors to thought leaders to athletes. The discussions cover the 5 facets of fitness: movement, recovery, nutrition, mindset, and sleep. I eagerly await each new episode.

The Model Health Show

This podcast is hosted by health and sleep expert, Shawn Stevenson. I came across this podcast from Lewis Howes podcast called "The School of Greatness." He was interviewing Shawn about sleep and I was fascinated. When I found Shawn's podcast, I did not hesitate to download it and I listen to it everyday. He has a smooth. hip hoppy way to explain all facets of health. He interviews some great people with amazing insights. I'm going to get inappropriate for a sec. He has got this deep, sexy voice that not only makes you want to hang on every word, but you want to suck on his upper lip. Ladies, download today.

On Purpose

We have all seen Jay Shetty on Facebook or Instagram. If you were like me, you really didn't know who he was. Jay Shetty exploded on the internet as a vlogger who also worked for the Huffington Post. He preaches the ways of a monk where he recommends delayed gratification and gratitude every step of the way. He teaches how to live intentionally or "On Purpose" like his podcast suggests. He interviews compelling guests or flies solo. His words definitely penetrate your soul while still being fun and whimsical.

Kwik Brain

Jim Kwik hosts this podcast about how to hack your Superbrain. He teaches how to improve your memory. concentration, and how to be more intentional. When he was 5, he suffered a brain injury that gave him a "broken brain." He made it his life's mission to improve his brain function and teach it to others. He has taught courses for Nike and Harvard University.

This is official my list of go to podcast. Please download these as fast as possible. Listen to them during your commute and you will be all the wiser. You can be the smart among your friends. I hope you enjoy then as much as I do.

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