Wednesday, March 9

Bittersweet Barcelona

Greetings from reality! I can't honestly say I'm happy to be back in the real world, but I suppose I couldn't live on that balcony forever.

(Trust me, I would've if it were possible)

There are so many things I want to tell you about our trip to Barcelona, but because this is a blog and not the next great Russian novel, I'm going to break it up into a series of posts.

As many people already heard me constantly bitching and whining about know, the main purpose of this trip was to run the Barcelona Marathon. But after a case of anterior compartment syndrome and being prohibited from running and high heels, my marathon dreams were dashed (as opposed to me...who was hobbled. har har har). Going into the trip I knew there was no hope of me running the race, so I was surprised by how emotional I was when we arrived. There were tears involved. Quite a few of them.

After a few minutes of wallowing and self-pity, I dried my eyes and got a hold of myself. As part of my marathon registration, I was enrolled in a 4k Breakfast Run the morning before the big day. Even though 4k is nowhere near the 42k I was hoping for, Sean and I decided to wake up early in the morning of our first day in Barcelona and do the race.

I am so glad I did. The "race", albeit for fun rather than a medal, completely changed my attitude about everything.

I wanted a run in a foreign city that would forever change me and that's what I found, even if it was less than 3 miles long. Funny how life lessons are hidden in the strangest of places isn't it?

I will always remember this race for a number of reasons. First of all, there was this guy:

Oops, sorry. Wrong guy. But he's pretty cool, too. I meant this guy:

South Africa's representin! There was an insane amount of pride people had for their countries that weekend. As we stood at the starting line, announcements were made in a million different languages. They also played Mamma Mia to kick off the race. Who knew ABBA was the international anthem?

Here's our attempt at a video. It's only 11 seconds long, but I promise it'll be the most amazing 11 seconds of your life. (Errr, maybe. Depends on your quality of life I suppose)

Another cool aspect of this race? Women are outnumbered by 6 to 1. Not only does this make for superb eye candy while mid stride, but I totally felt like a bad ass leading a pack of men.

(See that one girl there? Yeah, I smoked her. I know, I's supposed to be about enjoying the experience not your time, but sometimes you just can't control that competitive spirit)

Speaking of the views though, this was definitely the best part of the experience. Huffing up a hill isn't so hard when this is to your right:

The homestretch of the 4k had us entering through the Athlete's Tunnel of the 1992 Olympic stadium. It was so cool. Everyone started cheering and yelling. Sean managed to get a quick video of it:

Getting to be in the front of the crowd entering into an empty Olympic stadium is pretty darn nifty if you ask me. It was especially great getting to do it with Sean. A former marathoner himself, he hadn't run a race in six years due to a knee injury.

So getting to cross the finish line together, despite both of our injuries was something special. It was also really metaphoric for us. We've been struggling a lot lately with the stresses of living in a foreign country, being homesick, and having no money. In many ways, our time in London really put a damper on our spirits. As we watched our savings drain away to mere pennies and Sean spent many months out of work, we questioned our decisions. But as we crossed the finish line, hand in hand, we realized that we did it together.

We won our own private race. We're getting by and in many ways we are thriving. When you look at it, our time in London is like the 4k. It's shorter than we had anticipated and we may have been injured along the way, but we've accomplished something together. So I needed to quit the tears and appreciate what I did have instead of focusing so much on what I didn't. I no longer look at that breakfast run or our time in London as a 2nd rate consolation prize to the real race, it's simply another form of training...

because ultimately the marathon still awaits us. Marriage, jobs, babies: The whole schabang. And I know without a doubt that we'll cross that finish line together too.

(Well, except for the whole poopy diapers thing. That's all Sean)

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