Monday, October 25, 2010

Marathon of the Mediterranean Race Report Primera Parte

Back in May when I signed up for the “Mitja Marato del Mediterrani” I imagined a beautiful course along the old train route I used to ride into the city, when I lived in the fishing town of Vilanova, way back in 2000.

All last week, I had big plans of leaving work early one day, taking the train to Castelldefels and walking a bit of the half marathon route along the beach. That, unfortunately, never happened because work ended up being hellishly busy. Not in a productive sort of way, but in a lots-of-little-mishaps sort of way. I was coordinating seminar that began Thursday evening and ended Saturday at 2 pm. Somehow, way back when I started planning my training the seminar didn’t seem like a problem. I thought, “I’ll have to work late nights, there’ll be no time to run, but that’s fine because I should be resting anyway.” But working, in heels, isn’t resting. I did run on Friday night at about 11 pm because I was hating my job so much that if I didn’t go for a run, I was going to quite possibly end up in the hospital. So, the first lesson of this training cycle is that speed really doesn’t matter, what matters is that I’m addicted to the running endorphins and no one—not even my boss—can take that away from me.

At 2 pm on Saturday, when I left work, I was very, very hangry. So of course, Charles and I had some difficulty deciding where to go to lunch before catching the train to the race expo. Charles suggested sushi: “healthy, protein packed,” he proclaimed. But I feared getting sick from bad tuna. He suggested just cooking at home, but I said, “I can’t wait another second.” We ended up having tapas at a touristy place on Paseo de Gracia—a big, oily mistake. I ate Spanish omelet, patatas bravas and a very watery salad.

Charles, that lucky duck, slept on the train ride and I nervously read the newspaper. When we got to Castelldelfels and started asking people for the BCN Events Hotel they wrinkled their foreheads, sighed, and then asked someone else who inevitably asked us, “Are you walking?”
The expo, it turns out, was not actually that far from the train station, but it was not a nice walk. Having left the town center, we headed to the industrial park and somehow got stuck in the the middle of the highway, trying to cross over to the very sad, straight-outta-Communist-Russia BCN Events Hotel. Right then and there I started crying. Now, it’s important to note that you have never quite seen ugly, or felt homesick, until you experience the concrete jungle that is Spanish suburban sprawl. It’s an unhealthy, dirty gray that could only come out of the tail end of a failing dictatorship and somehow on Saturday, as the traffic whizzed by us, it got the best of me. I just broke down on the side of the C-31:

Tears dried, we ran across the road and into the hotel where we picked up my race packet from some very grouchy volunteers. Yes, I would be grouchy too if I lived in a concrete jungle and had to spend my Saturday in a windowless hotel, which most definitely has sick-building syndrome, but couldn’t they have least smiled at me? Suddenly, it seemed every other runner was a hollowed-cheeked Spanish man grumpily hauling his race goodies to his car. A man who trains at his gym, who does not speak, but rather grunts, doesn’t get his period, and was probably planning on signing a petition to keep slow folks like me off the course!

Pretty grim you’re thinking, right? But by the time I got back to Barcelona I was actually feeling pretty positive (read delusional). Heck, the suburban sprawl had even grown on me! I spotted girls playing field hockey on a dirt lot along the train tracks and thought, “Oh fall, oh field hockey, oh the shins of my youth! See? Home isn’t so different or so far away!”

Even as I sleepily prepared my playlist and searched for my water bottle in a pile of dirty clothes, I still hadn’t realized that crying while standing on a median strip usually means PMS, like tomorrow-your-period-is-coming-like-a-14-wheeler PMS. Sleepiness just leads to delusions: although Smartcoach had been predicting my time as 2:08 for weeks, and despite being too tired to utter a single word to Charles over my plate of pasta, I continued believing that I would able to run a 2:05 half marathon. I actually thought that, just because I had a few amazing runs this summer and early fall, and a new 10k PR, because running had felt so good and so easy, and because I had faithfully stuck to the plan, that 2:05 was mine.


  1. Don't be so hard on yourself, it was still a great effort and sounds like it was a little rough leading up to it!

  2. agree i too am addicted to the endorphins and hormones have been creating havoc here lately too!