Tuesday, September 6, 2011

On Joy

Last week was lonely.

I did not want to be in Barcelona; I wanted to be in America close to my family. Driving in the car with my brother. Walking into the Blue Whale with sand on my feet to buy a six pack of beer and some avocadoes.

So, I was homesick, plus I wasn't doing well at work. The speech I was trying to write was awful. No narrative. No sense. No punch. No beauty. I spent Saturday morning sobbing and trying to fix it to little or no avail. Saturday evening, Charles--oh-that-patient.saint--and I took the train to Sabadell for the half marathon packet pick-up, but instead of enjoying the atmosphere--it was the town's festival complete with fire-breathing dragons and papier mache giants--I was constantly checking my Blackberry and just being a big old homesick, work-obsessed grouch.

Needless to say I had trouble sleeping the night before the race--sweating and tossing and turning and replaying minor fuck-ups from the long work week. A few times, at 3 and 4 and 5 am, I thought about not even going to the race, but at 6:30 I was wide awake and ready to go.

It wasn't a perfect half, in fact it was my secondest slowest out of the five I've done. It was hilly and humid, and I had no plan so I sort of spaced out after a while. I ran with a fast guy for a few miles, which meant I ran the middle section too fast for moi. My I-pod died and my stomach cramped a bit. But, I was never disheartened: I thanked all the volunteers. I cheered other, faster, runners on. I sprinted to the finish, drank my flat Coke and then talked to all the friendly women runners in the locker rooms after the race. In Spain, we female runners are few and far between, we're all sort of strange people and tend to be, well, pretty awesome.

On Sunday, in an industrial city called Sabadell, I found the joy in running and racing. The joy in participating, which is really nice when you're feeling nostalgic and far from home.

So, right now, I'm in a marathon training lull and I just want to enjoy the fall racing season and save the marathon stuff for Barcelona, March 25, right outside my door. Simple. Supportive. Fun.

All this could change after a few decent long runs, of course, but racing and getting a lil faster just sounds more fun right now. And, right now I need some joy.


  1. Congrats, you are training hard so you cannot expect to have race shape. Ipods dying and stomach problems sounds familiar to me these days. Not sure if you realize that in the photo you are floating like kenian runners with both feet in the air, that is tremendously difficult.

  2. Gonzalo, your comment made my day! Thank you!

  3. Congrats on getting to the Start Line - not easy when sleep is terrible and the mind is heavy.

    Getting to the Finish Line....priceless :)

  4. Your form looks fantastic and you look so strong in that picture! It sounds like you had a good race in spite of the tossing and turning. I hate when my mind decides it needs to re-run my fuck-ups and worries the night before a race or big event.

    I hope the homesickness abates. I wish I could attach a research trip to Madrid to the Barcelona Marathon, but alas it is not to be. At least not this year.

  5. Nice job on finishing what you started. Great job!

  6. You're doing well keeping your focus on March. Sounds like you lived that half to the full. It must be so weird not having many other women around you while running!

  7. Raquelita, some year you have to come and we'll run BCN juntas!!!

    Terzah, I guess it is strange not having women to run with. I always really talking to women at the few races I get to do in the States. However, all these super fit, super fast male runners (like Gonzalo) are super sweet and supportive. I really couldn´t ask for a nicer group of people.

  8. I'm sorry to hear about your stressful work and that you are a little homesick! At least you can run it out.

    Congrats on another half even with it's moments of testing! Stomach crampings are brutal! I'm glad you were able to enjoy yourself forthe most part.

  9. Congrats on the half. Glad it was such a mental boost for you!