After months of very hard training (ha!), two weeks ago it was finally time for me to go to Madrid with the Hares and Hounds to run the half marathon on Sunday the 2nd of April. I caught the bus to Sevilla after work on the Friday and then the high speed train up to the capital to meet them all (still maintaining my stance that public transport in Spain is fantastic and high speed rail is a great thing). I cannot even begin to put into words how comforting it was to see everyone again after not having seen them for ages! For those who know me in person I know I probably come across as quite cold at first because it takes a while to get to know me, but I swear I’m a warm hearted and loving kinda gal and even though you’d never catch me admitting this to any of their faces, it was soooooo lovely to spend time with my friends that weekend because they’re great and I love them.
Okay, mushy part over, let’s get to the actual weekend, shall we?
Because we were the last to arrive, my friend Betty and I ended up drawing the short straws and having to sleep in the living room (her on the sofa and me on the floor), but it actually ended up being alright and not as uncomfortable as I initially feared. Anyway, after actually managing to successfully find the apartment (thank you, google maps), I dumped my stuff and we all headed out to find some dinner. We settled on traditional Spanish tapas for the first and last time during the trip and predictably ordered far too much food and ate it all anyway (well, almost). Think we stayed out until around 2/3am drinking and catching up and it was all rather lovely.
Saturday morning rolled around and we decided we wanted to soak up some culture, so post-porridge we headed to the Prado Museum which was about 20 minutes walk from our apartment (and has free entry for students, hiya). Admittedly, the kind of art they have isn’t the kind I generally like, but I did enjoy the dark creepy Goya paintings…you know the ones – Gods eating their children and all that good stuff. We had some very traditional Spanish hamburgers and chips for lunch in an over-priced caff and then headed over to Plaza Mayor to regroup with one of our number who’d been away all morning meeting friends from the city. And after the obligatory carb loading on churros we walked over to Templo de Debod (super cool ancient Egyptian temple that’s been relocated to Spain) to absorb our yearly quota of vitamin d and chill out until around 7pm. We stopped by Mercadona on the route back to the flat to pick up some supplies for our pasta dinner (gotta get them carbs), which we enjoyed later that evening before watching Cool Runnings for motivation (‘I see pride, I see power’) and getting an early night.
On Sunday morning the race was due to start at 9am, so we inevitably got up stupidly early to load up on porridge and copious cups of coffee before beginning the traditional face-painting ritual and heading over to the start line. Thankfully Betty wasn’t actually running the race, so we left her a couple of bags filled with water and hoodies for post-race purposes. The race itself was great and I didn’t feel overly tired until the last 1km or so, despite my knee basically locking in place after the first 10k. That’ll teach me for training mostly on trail for a road race… The atmosphere as we were running round was fantastic and Audrey and I ran together and made some friends along the way with a guy from Sevilla and another older guy from Wolverhampton who encouraged us to ‘do it for Nicola’ and then shouted ‘FREEDOM!!!’ as he ran off which was more than a little bit hilarious. We finished together in 1:50:20 – new pb for me, so I’m very pleased!! Although there were a few hills in the race (including the last 2-3km…what kind of evil person puts an uphill at the end of a half?!), so I reckon if I actually train a wee bit I could run a faster half over the summer back home. And at least then I won’t have to contend with the heat hahaha. I think everyone else in the team was pleased with their performances too. After the race we headed back to the apartment to shower and de-face-paint before hunting down some more carbs for lunch in the form of pizza in a lovely Italian restaurant and then heading to the park to nap in the sun and finally stop walking.
The real highlight for the trip for me (besides a new half marathon pb) was blowing our friend’s mind by introducing him to the concept of a chocolate Mondadito courtesy of everyone’s favourite mini-sandwich chain. All things considered, it was a fab weekend and I’m now very much looking forward to getting back to training again properly with the club in September (watch me regret ever saying that after my first hill rep session…).
Photos in this post courtesy of Audrey, Ellie, and Duncan. Thanks, pals. Also sorry that it’s taken me so long to post this….I don’t really have an excuse other than being the world’s worst procrastinator.