Monday, April 12, 2010

La Familia

My weekend began Friday evening with a much needed nap. I had had a long, rather disappointing meeting from 4 to 6 and when I got home around 6:30 I was exhausted so I slipped into bed with the book that had just arrived—Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. One minute I was reading about Haruki’s training runs along the Charles River and the next thing I knew my own Charles was saying, “Hey it’s 8:30!” I jumped out of bed, thinking it was 8:30 in the morning and that I was late for work, but Charles, laughing uncontrollably, assured me that it was 8:30 de la tarde.
I was tired, I was out of it, and I was hungry! And so when Charles explained that we were meeting his sister, Raquel, and brother-in-law for dinner at 10:30, I was, well, mad as hell. 10:30 that’s late even in Spain for dinner and it would be all a whole group of us meeting so we wouldn’t even, possibly start eating until 11…
Our food arrived at 11:17 and I had already downed a beer. I wanted to DEVOUR everyone’s food, but concentrated on eating slowly and nodding my head politely at people’s conversations. No one ordered dessert, which saddened me. At 1 am we left the restaurant and Charles announced that he was exhausted and turning in. And of course, I was tired too and should have gone right home—I had a long run planned for the next day, but I felt this strange familial obligation to stay. Raquel had driven down to Barcelona for the dinner— a two-hour drive, on a crowded highway—and I know she’s been having a rough time at work lately. At work and at home, actually. The least I could do was stick around for an after dinner drink. And so, by 3am Raquel was crying on my shoulder and encouraging me to order another beer. I was thinking of Murakami, he who left behind his jazz bar and late nights and began to rise at 5 am, write for three or four hours and then run. I thought: Whose path, whose code should I follow? Haruki Murakami’s or Vito Corleone’s? My sister-in-law is in dire straits, how I could be so cold, so selfish as to say “Chin up, buttercup, I gotta leave now, I’ve got a training run tomorrow.” (As a side note, I’m already in trouble with my in-laws because the half marathon is the same day as Charles and Raquel’s cousin’s first communion.) So, dear readers, I stayed in the smoky bar until closing time, 4 am, but when I crawled into bed next to Charles, I whispered, “You owe me one.”
My Saturday morning (if you want to call it that, I woke up—definitively— at noon) was brutal. I’m here to tell you that headaches are caused not only by alcohol (I only drank 3 beers and 2 glasses of wine over a very long 5-and-a-half-hour period), but also by intense inhalation of second-hand smoke. Anyway, long story short, I felt like ass, and (this is unrelated to me behaving like I was in the Godfather) my right pinkie toe, which had been feeling bruised all week, was suddenly throbbing. I fuelled for my run with some peanut butter and honey on toast, but then proceeded talked to Ali on the phone instead of actually leaving my apartment.
Charles, who had worked that morning, got home at 2 pm and I guilted him into coming running with me. “At least for the first few miles, then I’ll take off on my own,” I said. But, about a mile into it I knew that a long run was not going to happen, so I just accepted that I would do a 5-miler with a gruelling headache. Charles left me in the dust once we got to the beach and I went slowly and begrudgingly until about the third mile when something suddenly clicked and I, quite miracously, got my running mojo back. My head still kind of hurt, but suddenly my legs were working and I was in a running groove: right then and there I decided to give up my drinking and silly sentimentality for at least the next three weeks and focus, not on family obligations, but rather on yours truly. No more drinking. No more late nights. I will be Haruki: grouchy, solitary, and dedicated.
Saturday night, we headed over to our neighbors’ to watch the Madrid-Barça match, which thanks to some impeccable tiki taka, Barça won. Yes, there were temptations for drinking (and for silly sentimentality), but I— rather stoically—drank water. By 1am I was in bed and Sunday morning, bright and not all that early, I completed my long run of about 17-18 km in 2 hours and 4 minutes. This included a bathroom break at Vila Olimpica and a Gatorade purchase in the BCNleta. The run felt fantastic and I didn’t even indulge at Sunday vermouth with the neighbors or at the new Vietnamese restaurant where we ate on Sunday night. Sunday vermouth after a long run and Vietnamese food sans beer—pretty impressive, huh? Now I just have to work on getting up at 5 am and working on my novel.

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