We finally discovered an Icelandic running website that advertises different races around here, so Friday night we decided to go to an evening race in the outskirts of Reykjavik. Colby and I both wanted to compete which meant the girls were coming with us in the jogging stroller.
The 9K race started out on a very narrow trail, so Colby and the kids were literally in last place for the first mile in an effort not to hold any one up. The kids could not understand this, and the whole first mile I heard behind me, “Daddy…You’re NOT winning!” “Daddy, WHY are you letting everyone BEAT YOU?” “Why are you running this race if you’re not going to win?” (Haley, of course), and Colby’s response as he dodged jagged rocks and horse poop on the hilly, bumpy trail: “We’re just out here to have fun, guys.”
It was hard to run because I was laughing so hard. The second mile, the trail widened so that he was actually able to pass people. Again, from behind I hear: “Yay, Dad! Get the purple one!!….Yessss…you did it! You beat her!” Colby had to apologize for the girl’s offensive comments to everyone he passed.
Meanwhile, somewhere between mile 2 and 3, I began to get warm and took off my fleece jacket. I waved to Colby who was behind me, and yelled: “Can you pick up my jacket?” He nodded, so I dropped my fleece thinking how convenient it was that he was behind me and could cover the girls up with my coat.
At the 6K mark, the light rain began to come down harder and I was glad that the girls had my coat to protect them. (Later Colby told me of Haley’s comment at the 6K mark: “Daddy, let’s just stop this race. You said we were out here to have fun, and we are NOT having fun anymore.”) The race ended. It was the first time in my life I beat Colby in a race, so I greeted him at the finish line and asked for my coat.
“What are you talking about?” he replied, annoyed that I had even CONSIDERED dropping it for him to pick up.
“What are YOU talking about? I yelled back at you, asking if you could put it in the stroller….AND YOU NODDED!”
“I WAS RUNNING! Of COURSE it looked like my head was nodding!”
I buried my face in my hands. Now what was I going to do? I had just run 9K and the coat was probably another 5K trip to go and get. The rain began to beat faster. I scanned the crowd until my eyes met a ten year old boy with a bike. Perfect. I’m not sure he totally understood my dilemma, but regardless, off I went with his bike through the bumpy, hilly trails navigating around horse poop and jagged rocks.
Now, when I’m running a race I usually just follow the person in front of me, clueless to my surroundings. I didn’t think about that detail until the trail I was on split into multiple trails and I didn’t know which one to take. I followed an arrow (surely from the race), continued for a long time, dismounted my bike, and hiked up a steep hill that led me to…someone’s driveway. Okay, don’t give up hope…I must have taken a wrong turn. Down the hill, retracing my steps, I try another trail. The rain is now falling faster and harder, and the temperature is plummeting. My hands are numb and frozen as they grip the handlebars. Okay, any minute now, and my coat will be right here. I kept riding, mud splashing up my legs, following the trail I thought we ran on. After ten minutes the trail ended at a horse farm. At this point, I was completely drenched and shaking from the cold. I started crying. Not only was my coat lost because of my reckless irresponsibility, but now I was lost out in the back hills of Mosfellsbær, on the verge of hypothermia…and even if I did find my way back, who knows how long we would have to wait outside in this weather for the bus to come! I crouched under a tree and put my hands under my armpits to regain some feeling, all the while cussing out the Icelandic “summer” weather and my stupidity.
Back at the ranch, the awards ceremony is over, prizes have been handed out, the race officials are closing things down, and Colby and “pubescent-bike-boy” are looking around, wondering what has become of me. Colby described the next scene as the most pitiful sight he has ever seen. I came riding the bike over the hill, soaked to the bone, blue lips, and shaking…he just shook his head as I returned the bike to the poor, confused kid. I went inside the gift shop that was hosting the race to thaw out my hands in the sink and the workers, horrified by the site of me, gave me a 9000ISK ($75) Icelandic wool sweater. We tried to pay for it, but they wouldn’t have it. I was so humbled. In a situation where I deserved to reap the consequences of my stupidity, here I was met with mercy and grace. We got a ride home from a race worker, I thawed out in the shower for over an hour, ate a bunch of soup, and laughed till my sides hurt with Colby who replayed the story over and over again, recounting every detail, all evening.