Saturday, April 30, 2011

Small Victories on a Birthday Run

  1. Holy Week has passed which means the public bathrooms are open along the beach! Ole Ole Ole!

  2. Some young, buff, shirtless guys passed me going up a hill, so I dug deep, passed them at the top of the hill, and stayed ahead for the next mile until they stopped at there fancy-ass hotel.

  3. I saw my fit, fast neighbors around mile 7, sighed, ran up behind them, greeted and kept up with them all the way home. A year ago I never would have felt capable of doing that, upon glimpsing them I would have slowed down and hid.

  4. My MIL has come in to Barcie for my birthday, but I am not going to throw a tantrum.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday Flashes

1. Today at lunch the song Hey Jealousy popped into my head. I knew it was from the nineties, but couldn't, for the life of me, remember the band. Turns out it was The Gin Blossoms. Yup, thanks to Youtube I didn't go crazy at work. Watching that video, I just thought, hmm whatever to this singer, is he a dad in Portland, Oregon now? I'm thinking about creating an all 90s playlist for some fartlek runs since reliving my teenage years was really fun this afternoon.

2. My laptop died last week, which is a huge blow to my budget, but I'm just sucking it up and going to the store next Monday to by a new one. I guess if your computer is also your TV, dvd player and phone it just goes kaput after a while, but it's still rather enraging.

3. Arms, arms, arms: I want them toned for summer! I'm doing push-ups and tricep dips, but I think the real secret may lie in clean eating--any opinions?

4. Tonight I'm resting up for my long run tomorrow morning! Off to read a beautiful Catalan book, Meditacions en el Desert, that my co-worker just gave me for my birthday. I always forget what a beautiful language Catalan is until I start to read something really, really wonderful.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Survey: My Fall Race Calendar

Truth be told, I’m a little disappointed not to be running the half in Empuries this coming Sunday, but we’ve been really busy the last few weeks and I've been spending way too much money. Plus, Charles’ grandmother is sick and he himself has a surgery on May 4th, so right now I think we need a calm weekend. If the race were closer and didn’t involve renting a car and a hotel stay, I’d sign up and run for fun, but that’s just not the case. Oh, but it is a beautiful course…Next year, next year.

So, as I’ve said a multitude of times, I’m busy, but running keeps me happy and sane, so it’s time to plan the race calendar for Fall 2011.

Please help me choose what to do in the half-versus-full, home-versus-away department. Remember, I have never run a full marathon, but always say I want to.

Plan A

  1. September: Mercè 10k
  2. October 24th: Marathon of the Mediterranean (even though it’s a small event, with pretty much zero crowd support and the course is 3 super boring loops.)
  3. December Half Marathon Mataró

Plan B (a practical, realistic plan. Train for the halves. Enjoy running. Don’t burn out. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.)

  1. September Mercè 10k
  2. October Half Marathon of the Mediterranean
  3. December Half Marathon Mataró

Plan C (What I really WANT to Do, but probably shoudn't)

  1. September Mercè 10k
  2. October 31st: Dublin Marathon (Yes, I know that traveling by air for one’s first marathon is sort of nuts, but I just have this feeling that the Dublin Marathon--the fellow pale people, the rain, the friendliness--could work for me. The flights are 89 euros right now too. Oh, one has to dream.)
  3. December Half Marathon Mataró

Please vote and advise!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Blast from the Past: Old Gym Idols

When you began exercising or first wandered into the gym did you secretly look up to certain people? Did you have certain role models?

I’m not someone who went from the couch straight to running. I went from being a punkrock vegetarian college student to a professional in a foreign country pretty quickly. In college, I swam a few times a week, but never ever ventured into the scary gym. And back then jogging seemed like something for yuppies. In the early days of my Spanish adventure, my idea of exercise was swimming in the sea, exploring the city on foot, hopping the metro turnstiles! Then of course, I was suddenly 26 and realized, one day while changing into my bathing suit to swim a few leisurely laps, that I was getting fat. By that time I worked long hours in an office and ate those copious three-course lunches so it was time for the Cardio Machines at the neighborhood gym. That was, five or six years ago, I guess. One gray January day, I started off ever so slowly, on the elliptical machine. Charles used to make fun of my gym outfits; I had lounge wear not workout gear and he said I looked like a homeless person taking shelter from the cold.

Anyway, today, while running on the treadmill, I remembered an old idol—a sort of gym crush— from way back in those early gym days: the beautiful Slovenian. A dark-haired, freckled girl who sometimes wore two braids. She wore super short gym shorts. God, she seemed so amazing. While I daydreamed on the elliptical or the rowing machine, she circuit trained like it was nobody’s business: weights, elliptical, stairmaster, treadmill. I bet she only ran for like twenty or thirty minutes, but she was so strong and so fast. And so focused. Lord, she was focused. She’d always cool down on the bike while reading a Spanish-Slovenian dictionary. This is why I think she was Slovenian. Yes, you’re thinking she could have been Spanish and preparing a trip to Ljubljana, but no. You see, once I talked to her! One evening I too “cooled down” on the bike and invented some reason to talk to her, like asking how to adjust the seat and she had a little bit of an accent. Once she spoke, she seemed sort of normal: young and hopeful in Barcelona.

Soon thereafter, summer broke and she disappeared. Maybe she went back home or on to a new city. Perhaps she switched gyms or started to run outside. I don’t think I’ve ever thought about her again since until today, when my thirty minutes on the treadmill seemed the bare minimum, the easiest thing in the world, and an American girl in pajama pants came up to me and asked where the elliptical machine was.

I’m so thankful to that Slovenian beauty for making me want to be her: strong and not exactly perfect, but focused and diligent. Young and hopeful in Barcelona.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Spring Tiredness

Hello, here from the depths of Tiredsville, España, I write you all with an epiphany: Stress zaps your running. It makes you tired and grouchy and gives you a pinched nerve in your back.

My race sucked today. A 59:03 10k. Bleh! It was so hot and so crowded. I couldn’t even run the last few meters because there so many people. I was tired of the sun and tired of the mass of humanity. There were lot of pukers too. I walked over that finish line in a bad-ass mood.

I’m really disappointed in my performance, yeah it was hot, but my time is pathetic. Work is draining my spirits and destroying my running this month. (Or is this perhaps, PMS?) Oh 55-minute-10k, oh 2:02-half marathon you feel so faraway and unattainable right now. As if you were from another lifetime, and yet you were just a few months ago.

For now, running is just going to have to keep me sane and not fat. Gotta fit into a gala gown in London on Tuesday night! And look good in work photos! Time is just flying by. I just react to each new situation at the office and don't really have time (or energy) to reflect--to write in my journal or just have a beer with friends and let loose.

I have work to do every weekend and such long days during the week, so training feels pretty much impossible right now. For the next few months, I think my goals need to do be simple:

1. Eat well.

2. Stretch.

3. Try to run 4 times a week.

4. One day of x-training.

On the funny side of things, a guy flirted with me after the race today. He couldn’t have been any sweeter or happier with his time (43 minutes!), or a day over 26. He’d come alone, in the train, from his little country town, and he asked me to take his picture. He gave an adorable thumbs up in front of, appropriately enough, the Arc de Triomf. Then he said, "Well, you look like you must run a lot."

Ha! Oh speedy youth, enjoy your sweet victory!