Monday, June 28, 2010

Catcalls While Running Naked

You’re thinking, “Jesus, she got over her body insecurities quickly!” Not so fast, I just went running sans I-pod, something I’m trying to do on shorter runs this summer. Previously, I mentioned that I like running naked in order to be able to hear my breathing, the sound of the wind, and the crashing waves, but tonight what I heard loud and clear were the catcalls. The catcall is an art form in Spain, and I have to say, sometimes, on a Monday morning, on the way to work, a compliment—especially one with what the Spanish call a bit of gracia (flair or grace)—puts a smile on my face and reminds me why I like living in a culture somewhat well, warmer, than my own. However, why someone, on a disgustingly sticky evening, would choose to call out GUAPA and then proceed to make kissing noises at an extraordinarily sweaty girl in spandex shorts and mismatched socks is beyond me, but it made me laugh and pick up my pace a bit.

This post is inspired by Ezethan

On Feeling Good

This weekend I went to a nearby beach town with three good friends and while I had a great time and laughed quite a lot, the whole weekend was tinged with a bitter sense of disappointment because, after months of half marathon training, I thought I would be thinner and more toned by now. All winter I imagined feeling absolutely estupenda in my bikini, but in reality I just felt fatter than the other three girls, none of whom run, all of whom smoke and drink and eat badly. Yes, I know that life isn’t fair and that I should be just be content with the fact that running makes me feel amazing and that I’m greatly lowering my risk for lung cancer and heart disease by exercising and eating well and NOT smoking…That I should take a certain, evil, sort of comfort in knowing that these bon vivants may one day pay for their gluttony…But the thing is I still wish running could transform the way I look—could make me lean in a way I’ve never been and probably never will be. When I hang out with people whose habits are so bad and they look so good, it makes me think that all this sweating and agonizing over food is getting me absolutely nowhere, that maybe I should just accept chubby as my natural state.

But at 8 o’clock last night—when I got back from the beach and the weather had cooled down a bit—I headed out to run the 10.13 kilometers necessary to complete my weekly goal of 40k. I ran slowly at the beginning, feeling silly yet again—why keep running, I thought, when I’m still chubby and still slow. Of course, a half hour in to the run, I wasn’t feeling fat but rather strong. And by the time I got back to the house—soaked in sweat—I had forgotten about my bikini body and had had time to think through my work week and make constructive professional plans for July, August and beyond. For me, running is only going to work when I remember that the race is individual, that comparing my body to my friends’ is not at all productive, and, that even if I'm not looking good, I am feeling good.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wide Awake: My Summer Solstice

June 23rd, 1:03 am: I went to sleep exhausted after a hot, humid 5k. Apparently being stressed at the office makes my legs really tired! But by 4:55 am, I was wide awake, fretting over work. A half-hour run was obviously not enough to calm my crazy ass down. Good thing it's a short week--I get off at 2 today and don't work Thursday or Friday! Tonight is La Nit de Sant Joan, the shortest night of the year and the Catalans will celebrate with coca, cava, and fire.

This afternoon I hope to run 10k before our Sant Joan party. Will I be able to run on three hours of sleep and then get all the party prepping done? Sometimes it's hard to be a diligent runner and an impeccable hostess all in one day. Once the festivities begin on our terrace, I'll try not to overindulge in coca or cava .

Oh, God, I love those candied fruits. The coca, in case you're wondering, tastes a lot like hot cross buns. And cava is a sparkling wine, the Catalan champagne.

My breakfast this early morning: about four cups of coffee and a delicious rice milk, banana and melon smoothie with a dash of cinnamon. Yum! I think this will be a summer staple. Just hope it gets me through this morning at the Museum.

Monday, June 21, 2010

I'm still here, I've just been busy running!

Not to worry: I'm still here, worrying about work and trying to diet. Same old, same old, it's sad, I know. But I've also been exercising like a mad woman! The weekend of June 12th we had an amazing bike trip from Ripoll to Olot to Girona. 30 km the first day and 60 km the second. There were some steep hills, but we made it up; the scariest part was flying down. There were eight of us and we had a terrific time at the youth hostel in Olot--drinking wine and playing a fiercely competitive game of Trivial Pursuit.

My next bike trip will be in late July, the second annual bicicletada through the Empordà, with my dad. Here are some pics from ´09:

One of these days, I'll write a detailed post about bike trips through Catalonia, but let me just tell you that the routes are absolutely spectacular and the best part is that you can just hop on the train with your bike, right in Barcelona, and within ninety minutes you’re riding through the countryside--towards the mountains or towards the sea.

But, back to running, my true love. This past week, despite the trials and tribulations of the international art world and agonizing over my bikini body, I had a great running week. I ran over 40 km total and got back to my Saturday Long Run. I only went 15.5 km since I left the house a bit late, but it still felt fantastic, and I crossed paths with one of my old favorites, the super serious runner.

Sunday morning I did a slow 5k recovery run sans musica. I'm going to try to do my shorter runs without the I-pod this summer. I like just trusting myself, saying "no motivation needed, I got it right here within." Listening to my breathing. Listening to people's conversations at stoplights. Being aware of cars and then suddenly of the sound of the wind and of the sea.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Today at work, I wrote up a race report, which—in a moment of frenetic multitasking— I somehow deleted. But you know what? That’s really for the better. The report was long and actually quite boring: a description of Saturday’s 10k complete with lots of complaining about the heat and the fierce wind. Blah, blah, blah.
Before leaving the Museum, I printed out a new half-marathon training program, and then I came home and went out for a run. Truth be told, I was scared to run because Saturday was the first time—almost ever— that running hasn’t been fun. Not at all fun. I didn’t smile once that whole race. Throughout the entire event, I was disappointed in my legs, in my I-pod, in my body.
Tonight’s run, I had promised myself, would be slow. After Saturday’s fiasco, I knew the heat meant I had to take it easy. However, right from the start my legs felt fantastic. I didn’t even need to stop for water; I just ran. And ran and ran. It was like the old days! Back in February when I did those first long training runs and felt absolutely on top of the world: fully confident in my legs, extraordinarily grateful for my I-pod, and suddenly, beamingly, proud of my body. I thought about my dad’s 10k this past Saturday, which had been slow and hot as well. He’d been sick the week before, but he struggled through those Dreaded Druid Hills. I thought—as I often do on runs— about having children—yes, no, maybe so—, about work, and about how much I miss my family, about the greatness of Tom Waits and Bruce Springsteen, and, by the time I hit the 5-kilometer mark, I realized I was running at the pace I’d been aiming for on Sunday.
Running, I realize, isn't about the race, or the 57-minute 10k, or even about losing ten pounds. It's about that time for thinking, that control and discipline that gives way to epiphanies and to ecstasy.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sad Scarlett

Remember how I wanted to get a PR this evening for my 10 k race? Well, I never should have written that on the internet! I aimed for a 57:45 finish and got 1:00:03. WTF?!? Back in February, at the very beginning of my half marathon training I did a 10k in 58:45 on a much hillier course. I thought I'd come some far! I thought I could run much faster. Please, please, please tell me this is the heat! Or perhaps running with friend instead of running my own race? Or due to the fact that my I-pod died at km 1? Longer report soon; I'm too disappointed to write about it now.

Better get my ass in gear!