the problem with setting goals..

July 23rd, 2008 by Rebekka in Uncategorized

.. and then reaching those goals, is that once the goal has been reached and is behind you, you can’t just kick up your heels and say “there. I totally aced that. ” and just feel content. Not if you’re me at least. You have to set a new one, otherwise, you get the feeling you’re not going anywhere…

To clarify: In March this year i started running again.. (i’ve been jogging off and on since i was 16, but became somewhat lazy in the last few years)

30 minutes on a treadmill was exhausting to begin with. I kept at it , and started running outdoors as soon as the weather started getting better.. Going from half an hour to 45 minutes , to an hour or more , in a rather short period of time.  By May, when i managed to run for 84 minutes nonstop, I  decided I would aim at competing in the Reykjavík Marathon in late August, and run a half marathon (21 kilometers)

So, i’ve been training all summer, steadily increasing my distances until the other day (or night) I ran for 108 minutes.. not sure about the distance but i figured somewhere between 16-18 km. Being impatient, I felt compelled last night to just go ahead and try for half a marathon. Yes, in the middle of the night. Alone. With no one to witness it. Doing it the other way, with the crowds and the accurately measured distance and people cheering, is altogether too ordinary.

Got up around 3:30, was off at 3:50, and ran, for what seemed like an eternity, in the morning stillness (well, it was actually quite windy and chilly, but I wasn’t passed by a single car or pedestrian, so stillness of that sort at least) . At one point, when running past a field where there’s a nesting area for several kinds of birds, I had to dodge a gull that did its very best to shit on my head.. Seriously.. it spotted me, turned and dived low, and let go with a generous glop , which landed approximately 2 feet to my left. But only because I veered two feet to the right. Too close for comfort that was. I added a generous extra half hour loop to the approximate 16 km I ran a few days earlier, and when i finally arrived back home, (ending the run with a looong grueling uphill climb, with plenty of headwind) it was 6:08. Two hours and 18 minutes of nonstop running.  If that wasn’t at least 21 km, i’ll eat my running shoes. For at least an hour, I allowed myself to bask in a feeling of accomplishment, trying to ignore the fact that my knees seemed to have stopped working temporarily, and my right ankle refused to properly carry my weight.

But now what?? Does this mean i actually have to aim for a full marathon one of these days? Knowing me… probably.

But hell. For now, yay! I did it ! :)

Read 29 comments

29 comments for this post

AJ Hawks wrote on July 23rd, 2008

I always feel weird making contact with you because I live half way around the world, and consider you somewhat of a celebrity, and I secretly adore you and your work in many ways.

Anyway, congrats on the run, that’s quite an accomplishment!

Lilly wrote on July 23rd, 2008

Congrats! I’ve always wanted to run more than a few miles, but I don’t have the motivation to push myself. Although it is funny that you mention a bird trying to drop bombs on you. Strangly enough, I got one dead center on the head yesterday. I really want to know if the bird was just lucky or if they really had the intent to hit me. One of lifes mysteries.

Go for the full marathon and let us know when it happens.

Congratulations, you are one seriously motivated lady. I wish you the very best in the Marathon next month. Best wishes. Tony

Running alone when no one is around is nice and a good feeling, but participating in a public run with complete strangers on the route cheering and motivating you is very different (but also nice). I’d say try out the half marathon and see if you’re liking it. I’m glad I manage to do my 45 minutes occasionally, respect to you for running so long!


I recently took up running (if you could call what I do running) again. And then I realized that I hadn’t ran at all since high school, 16 years ago. Needless to say, the feeling is exhilarating. The only issue is the only chance I have to do it is when I’m out with the dog, and she’s not really into it (yet).

Kristín Hildur wrote on July 24th, 2008

Halló Rebekka,
Vá hvað þú ert dugleg! Gangi þér vel með hálfmaraþonið í ágúst. Við komum til landsins 1 ágúst og verðum til 25, kannski ég hitti þig eithvað þá ?
kv. Kristín

Congratulations on the run.

I suffer the same things with goals. It’s like a drug. You complete one, feel good for a while then feel empty and need another challenge to fill the void.

I recently started cycling, then kept seeing things I should photograph. So started taking my camera with me. I probably ended up doing more photography than cycling. I think I need to leave the camera at home. ha ha.

Good luck with the running.

Rüpel wrote on July 24th, 2008

Congratulations. I’ve got a warning for you though.
I’m marathon runner myself (okay, one marathin in 05 and two half marathons) and must warn you about one thing.
What are you going to do after you’ve done the marathon distance? Running a marathon is exciting and I recommend it for everyone. But since you describe yourselve as ambitious you won’t be content one week after the marathon.
Anyway, do it and dodge those birds.

Good Luck!

@Rüpel: that is a worrisome thought .. I guess that’s why they have ultramarathons.. Here in Iceland for instance, there’s a 56k run called the Laugavegsmaraþon, which is run over a very diverse and mountainous terrain, it’s a very popular hiking route, which people usually complete in 2-4 days.. My friend ran that the other day and completed in 6:37, when comparing myself to him i feel incredibly lazy ..

Seeing as my knees are almost back to normal today, and my ankle has stopped hurting, I can obviously handle more abuse. The only thing i’m worried about if getting into the longer distances, is that i’ll end up way too skinny..

Congrats!! That is one heck of a long run! I play soccer but would never be able to run for 2 hours and 18 minutes. Your rock.

Good work!
It sounds like you have become really fit!
Nice having sun all day long, here where I am in Sweden the sun rises about 01.00 so I have no excuse for not go running!
You are seriously cool!
Run as long as you feel its fun, as soon as it starts feeling, do something else (like hiking in the mountains).
I realised when reading comments here on your blog, that swedish and written iclandic is not far from each other, I understood 95% of the comment in icelandic.
Kram å hej!

Torbjørn wrote on July 24th, 2008

Very impressive and motivating post!

I’m stopping over in Iceland for 10 hours this weekend on my way from the US to Europe and I want to get some exercise myself by hiking up my namesake “mountain” Thorbjørn near the Blue Lagoon then relaxing in the lagoon before catching the next flight.

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find any maps pointing me to a good starting point and route to the top, any insights? I fear I might be in for a marathon myself trying to find the best path..

Good luck with the marathon (there’s good advice on marathonrookie . com)

Rüpel wrote on July 24th, 2008

If you kindly allow me my 2 cents.
You will eventually end up skinny, no doubt about it. If i remember correctly i need to eat twice as much as you would have to. The marathon distance was for me something around 2400 calories (plus 2400 calories for regeneration)–it’s really hard to eat that much!
Another tip for the future is: try to listen to your body. An aching ankle is good for only one thing and that is resting. But you will get the hang of it and learn how much you can push your body to the limit and beyond.
I wish you all the best.

Brady wrote on July 25th, 2008

lol, love your story. I too have been running on and off for years and started properly again a few months ago. I haven’t run as far as you yet, I think I have less of the internal coach in me and am not great at pushing myself beyond what isa relatively comfortable, but have surprised myself at how quickly my distances have increased. I am on about 12K non-stop at the moment (last monday) and it felt great. Everyone keeps telling me to enter a race/ time myself, but I am so resistant to it. The only motivation I need is the desire to run across the landcape as far from a road as possible. Completely addictive :) I really enjoyed reading that.

First of all: Congratulations!!!
If you really want to know how far you have been running try It a google-maps based tool to catalogize your running tracks. Unfortunately it is only in german, but I guess you will get through it ;-) Use the satelite view to mark your track.

Next aim? Easy: running the distance faster ;-)

Congratulations! I, on the other hand, am on my way down in length. I did two marathons a few years ago but found a 30 km run, shortly after my 65th birthday, very painful. I think half marathons will be long enough for the next year or so and then I may move down to 15 or 10 km. I also am doing a 10 min. run and 1 min. walk series these days. It’s easier on the feet and legs and one does not loose too much time. Just a thought for when you get to 65. Cheers!

[phil h] wrote on July 27th, 2008

heheh. you’re crazy. but hearing about your craziness makes me want to go out and get some new shoes and go running again myself.. :)

yes phil.. that’s what we crazy people are here for, to motivate you normal people out there :p

So you will probably run the marathon and after that, … You don’t know yet what you will do after that… Sometimes, you will only know when the moment arrives, but I do see two options.

One is to keep jogging regularly. I do believe it will be a challenge for you, because you say you’ve been doing it on and off. It will be a greater challenge because after the marathon, you will (you actually already do) believe that it’s all you can do. But maintaining all of this will be more difficult.

The second option is to do something else entirely different. I’m thinking of Tai Chi or swimming. You look like someone who could be good at swimming.

As I am writing, I’ve just though about the Olympics. Maybe that’s your new goal. I won’t hesitate to buy a plane ticket to support you if you aim there.

in summertime Iceland will be in full daylight, so i suppose you could see things pretty clear at 3-4 am in the morning~

Sæl Rebekka. Svona fyrir forvitnissakir, tókstu eitthvað með þér að drekka á þessu næturskokki?


Rebekka, what’s next? Triathalons of course! But you haven’t run the 1/2 yet so one step at a time. Also, who is to say you have to run a longer distance to have a new goal? Maybe you just run a different route or run the same route with a bird costume on. See, there are all sorts of goals! haha

My wife, daughter and I are all taking a running class to get into it, we do our first 5K next week, then a 1/2 marathon 12 weeks later after another class. I have added a bit of trail running and that is great, though you really have to pay attention!

@ addi: já, þetta skiptið tók ég með mér vatn á flösku, fannst það vissara, og var fegin að hafa ekki klikkað á því..

Got to be careful of thsoe sore knees. I recommend a visit to a good sports shoe shop – someone who can analyse your gait and set you up with a running shoe that suits you. At least, that’s what made a world of difference for me.

PhilippeP wrote on October 16th, 2008

Well, running is not a problem anymore for me but getting up at 3 in the morning to run would sure be one :)

So did you run the (half) marathon in August ??

nice entry, great blog, amazing photos, etc etc…
thanks for reminding me that i should go for a run today..i was feeling lazy and reading this put the wind back into my sails to get back to it. rock on with the power of subtle suguestions :)

I reached a goal yesterday. My flickr stream got its two millionth view. I’m not content about it though. It was too easy to achieve, so reaching the target has been anti-climactic. I’m having a bit of a crisis now, which was partially triggered by your blog about your fitness regime. I don’t particularly want big muscles, but I think I’m gonna start doing press-ups every time I get the urge to look at flickr. It’s got to be healthier than sitting on my arse all day.

Your story bought back memories when I was training for the Boston Marathon years ago…wake up early and do a 10 mile run along the Charles River…it was great way to get some quiet time to contemplate the days events and then do another run after work…the knees are always a problem, take anvil and if you like beer….drink more to keep your calorie count high, women tend to lose more muscle mass running long distance. Keep blogging….like your posts

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