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.

 

It's that time of the year, where you will either a) be traveling, or b) too comfy and warm to get out of bed! And don't worry even while you are traveling to your favorite mother-in-law's house, I got you covered. We've all had those moments, even the biggest fit junkies, where you wake up and think…. maybe I could work out from my bed? Well below are some of the top exercises you can do, all without having to leave your bed!

1)The Pilates clam

In the video, first you will notice a pillow in between my arm and head. Place a pillow or towel here in order to keep the spine in line from head to end of tail bone. Remember this is a beginner exercise, but you can always advance it and lift the feet in the air, in the same position. Repeat 3 sets of 15 each.

2) Straight- leg lifts

Laying on your left side, place your right hand on your hip, while your arm is bent and helping to support your head. Lift the right leg up to about a 45-degree angle. Repeat 15 times with 3 sets and you will feel your glutes start to burn. Flip over to your right side and repeat on left leg.

3) Prone Cuban Press

This isn't as much of an exercise, but it is very beneficial to your arm flexibility and strength. This is similar to a prone Cuban press, except without weight. Lie on your belly extend your arms straight out. Try to pass through your arms right underneath your shoulders, while bending your arms and reaching through towards the toes. Using the same motion come back up through, back to the top. This is harder than it looks and will really test your flexibility. Repeat these 15 times.

4) V-ups (jackknife sit-ups)

Technically, you can do any form of sit-ups here. However, I like to choose V-ups, especially if you have a bony spine, the bed helps tremendously with the comfort of your spine. While lying on your back, extend your arms over your head and legs straight out. All in one movement raise your upper half of your body reaching towards the ceiling. At the same time your legs will come up to try meet your fingertips. Remember your hands are reaching towards the ceiling and toes are trying to reach those hands. Try not to let your feet meet your hands, before your hands get to the top point of the exercise. Repeat 12 times for 3 sets.

5) Marching hip raises

Start in the same half bridge position, except this time you are going to lift 1 leg up in a 45-degree angle, and hold for :1 second. Alternate each leg, 10 times. Reminder you are alternating legs while you are still holding this bridge position.

6) Bird dogs

Start in a table top, hands, knees, and shins resting on the bed. In one motion reach out your right arm along while straightening out your left leg, hold for 1 second. Then alternate your arms and legs. The unevenness of the bed will really give you a test of your balance. Repeat 10 times each and 3 sets.

7) Half-bridge

While lying on your back on the bed, with your knees bent, tuck-in your chin tucked into your chest. As your booty lifts off the bed, dig your heels into the bed, squeezing your glutes. For an added benefit, fold a pillow and place within your knees and squeeze for :5 at a time. This will help you tone the inner part of your thighs. Repeat these 15 times, for 3 sets.

8) Single leg half-bridge

While lying on your back, bend one leg, while the other is in the air at a 45-degree angle. Arms are to each side, palms down. With 1 leg lifted, you will lift your gluteus maximus in the air, pushing through your hips to the ceiling, hold for 1 second and release. Repeat on same leg 10 times, then alternate to other leg.

9) Booty sculpting hip rotations

These are small movements, but you will definitely feel it in your booty. Lie on your belly, bend your arms, and use your hands for support of your head. Straighten one leg, while bending the other leg (foot resting behind opposite knee). This movement can be slow and at your pace. With only lifting your bent knee up from the bed be sure to keep the rest of the movement pressed against the bed. Again, this is a small movement, only lifting a few inches. This movement targets a complex group of muscles that include gluteus medius/maximus, piriformis, and quadratus femoris.

10) Toe Taps

Lie on your back towards the edge of the bed, make sure you have a neutral spine the whole time. Bring your legs into a table top position (bending at a 45-degree angle). On the exhale lower on leg towards the ground. Only go as low as you can while maintaining a neutral spine. This will also make sure your abs are pulled in and working. Alternate legs throughout the exercise and do 10 reps on each leg.

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