We arrived in Reykjavik on Friday afternoon, and are in the midst of a whirlwind of last-minute preparations before we leave for our weeklong trek on Saturday afternoon. I sadly don't even have a new photo yet to add to this post, but I wanted to post a quick update of my whereabouts, mostly for my mom, who I may or may not have time to call tomorrow.
This week we'll be participating in Racing the Planet Iceland, which can be tracked over the week with photos and news updates at this link. The course is 250 kilometers over six stages, mostly self supported (the race organization provides water and group tents.) The course (as yet unrevealed. We don't find out the route until the pre-race meeting on Saturday) seems to follow relatively flat terrain (I think the highest we'll be is about 3,500 feet, and this is the elevation we start at.) Still, I expect a fair amount of highly technical terrain, over tundra and boulder fields of volcanic rocks, so the whole "running" thing is going to be iffy, especially with a 27-pound pack.
Gear is always a huge focus for folks in these events, and there's definite bragging rights for managing the lightest pack with all the mandatory gear. I care far more about avoiding hypothermia than I do about a few extra pounds, so my pack is equipped with the question, "If I were backpacking self-supported for a week in Juneau in September, what would I bring?" The forecast for the highlands, where we're starting the race on Sunday, is 6 degrees C for a high, 0 for a low. Add any sort of precip, and I'm mentally preparing for hours of low-level hypothermia even with all the gear I brought.
The only concession I made in my big pack is probably not enough calories, which is actually often not a psychological disadvantage for me personally during an endurance event. I have enough fuel to get through the day, although at a deficit, but I feel hopeful that it's enough to get by without feeling emotional distress about hunger. I ended up not changing much about my food rations; it's ~2,700 calories per day with one freeze-dried meal, and probably 70 or even 75 percent carbs. My body has never been efficient at burning fat as an energy fuel; I'm convinced that body fat works almost as well as dietary fat, for me at least. But I need carbs in order to not feel too bonky/hangry. I hope. For the record, 2,700 calories is probably fewer than I eat on a normal day without running 30 miles through near-freezing cold and wind and rain. But I do want to experiment with fuel efficiency and this kind of event is a good, safe environment in which to try.
As for my conditioning, I feel undertrained. The rough early-summer races and knee injury seemed to prevent me from ever getting my endurance training off the ground. This will be another case of "let's see what I can do with what I have." Of course, Iceland is just a warm-up for PTL. If it goes badly, I will likely have to reassess my chances with a more realistic outlook. As it is, I have serious doubts about PTL, so in my imagination I am doing everything in my power to make sure Iceland goes well.
But beyond all that silly race stuff, I am so happy to be here. As I write at 10:27 Reykjavik time (12:27 a.m. in Zurich, 3:27 p.m. in California), the sun hasn't yet set. It's 11 degrees Celsius on a warm summer evening and the low-angle sun is casting a thick, rich light over the city. Behind these buildings seems to be nothing but stark mountains and boulder-strewn green valleys, and ahead, the coastal cliffs and north Pacific. Iceland feels close to home, and I'm really looking forward to a week of trekking in the Interior highlands and along the rugged coast.