A quick mid-week post after a sucky day at work, a mediocre run and delightful dinner.
Let’s compare running in the US versus running in Spain.
Shoes: USA wins. Running shoes in Spain are much more expensive than in the US and Road Runners Sports has, woe is me, stopped shipping internationally. So I’ll just be ordering shoes to my parents’ house and picking them up in August. I’m 32; this kind of thing makes me feel like I’m still in college.
Watering holes: Spain, well Barcelona, wins. There are public water fountains throughout the entire city. I’ve carried that handheld throughout New York, Maryland and Mississippi and that just tires me out and makes me feel all crooked.
Spot-a-pots: Spain, well Barcelona, wins again. During the summer months the beach is lined with public restrooms and you can go in any bar or ice-cream shop all sweaty and just head straight back to the can. Why no one says, “Senora, can I help you?” I have no idea, let’s just chalk that up to cultural difference and be glad!
The peer group: USA wins because running is more popular there and thus there are more slow people like moi. Here runners are a committed, serious breed and while that does make for a lot of attractive men doing intervals in the park, it makes a chubby pale girl feel a little lonely at times.
Decathlon: Spain wins because they got it and the USA just don’t! Decathlon is paradise, a cheap sports store with anything you could possibly need for camping, swimming, biking, running. And they have generic Bodyglide for about a third of what you would pay in the US. (And generic gels for people who can eat them without puking.)
Races: A tie here. In Spain the entry fees are much cheaper and there are some amazing courses, but the organization is not always great, which means sometimes there is a lack of water or post-race snacks. The few times I’ve run even small races in the States I’ve just been blown away by the organization and all those delicious treats (bagels! chili! beer! hot apple cider!!! cookies! donuts!?!)
Weather: Please take into account I’m basically comparing Barcelona and Baltimore here and I’m going to give the point to Barcie. I can take the heat, sure, it slows you down, but poco a poco you get acclimated. I find dressing for the cold East coast winters a real challenge. It’s freezing for the first mile and then I just start sweating in all those layers.
Catcalls: Obviously, Spain takes the cake in sheer quantity on this one. If a man calls out to you in the States it’s usually kind of threatening or weird, whereas along the streets of Barcelona it’s pretty common and somehow more lighthearted. For years I would just tell myself that the piropo is part of Spanish culture, don’t get all worked about it, but the truth of the matter is sometimes when I’m running alone late at night I really don’t want to hear people’s drunken hisses. (Obviously the whole Euro – American debate about what constitutes sexual harassment has taken on a whole new life with the DSK arrest, but that’s for another post.)
Have you run in different countries or different regions of the US? When you consider where you would like to live in the future do you take possible running routes into consideration?