Saturday, September 29, 2012

Successful 10K: Madrid Corre por Madrid 2012

In preparation for the race, Hannah and I had pasta (with tuna, tomatoes, and eggs) for dinner the night before, then went to bed early.

On Sunday morning put on our running shoes, attached our numbers, then headed to Atocha to meet up with another frisbee friend who was also running in the race.
Hannah tying her shoes

Pumped up for the Madrid Corre Por Madrid 10K on Sunday morning

Here's a video of the beginning of the race, though I couldn't hear the gun shot from where we were.  We didn't cross the start line until 1:30 or so, but each of our numbers had electronic chips attached to keep track of our individual start and end times.

It was a pleasant day for a race, good weather, and it was fun to run through Madrid's downtown - past all the tourist spots - with 10,000 other runners, not tourists.  I went just a bit faster than my normal Reca-jogging pace, and felt good throughout the race.  Just a few side cramps at one point.  And I had energy to kick it up a bit at the end of the race, so I wasn't really running at race speed.

My final time was 1:01:25, so just over an hour.  So now I know what a 10K feels like, that it's very doable, and the time I should aim for in my next 10K.

I completely forgot that they videotaped the finish, so you can see me briefly here.  I wish I would have remembered and done something cool for the camera.  At 1:02:56 I'm in view on the right side and at 1:02:58 I'm easiest to see.  Bright yellow shirt (as pictured in photo above).  Far far right of the screen.  But just for a split second.

The first place runner finished in 31:15!

This race raised 20,000 euros for the food bank.  Registration only cost 10 euros, and came with a jersey and draw-string bag.  Water was provided between the 5th and 6th kilometers, and we were all given a banana, water bottle, and powerade when we finished.  I highly recommend this race to anyone that finds themselves in Madrid next September!

Friday, September 21, 2012

"Ready" for Sunday's 10K run

Today Hannah and I went to pick up our number/shirts for the Madrid Corre Por Madrid 10K we're running on Sunday.  There was a bit of a line, so we eyed up our competition while waiting.

The competition.

My plan to run every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday night this month fell through after my first two runs.  I ended up having plans on those non-frisbee nights, you know, with things like helping at the 2nd division ultimate frisbee national championships in Alcobendas, playing Settlers of Catan with friends, painting Hannah's wall green, and being in Málaga.  But I also learned my running plan was not the way to prepare for a 10K anyway.  Cross-training by going to ultimate frisbee practices every Tuesday and Thursday was helpful, and in Málaga I did some sprinting routines on the beach a couple of nights.

Regardless of the little preparation, our goal is still just to finish without walking and to have fun.  We might bring a disc along and try to throw (but with 10,000 other runners I'm not sure if there will be space...).

Bag, shirt, and number (with an electronic chip!)
Wish us luck!

Quijotes & Dulcineas: Spanish Ultimate Frisbee Champions!

While I was in Málaga this past weekend, the competitive Quijotes &Dulcineas (Q+D) team competed in Spain's Ultimate Frisbee 1st Division National Championship (mixed, grass) in Sevilla... and WON!

Quijotes + Dulcineas
Spanish Champions 2012 (mixed, grass)

This is the third time Q+D has been national champions of mixed ultimate frisbee; the last time was in 2006.

Here's a news segment about the tournament, filmed while it was taking place:

Even if you don't understand Spanish, here are some things to look for in the news clip:
  :53 Alberto! (teammate on Q+D)
1:22 Amán! (teammate on Q+D)
1:34 The team in black is Q+D, during a post-game circle.

So that was the mixed (men and women) championship on grass.  At the end of October the women's and open national championships will be held in Santander on beach.

As Hermann explained it to me the other  night, every year they rotate the type of ultimate (grass vs. beach) for each category.  This means next year the mixed championship will take place on beach, and women's and open championships will be on grass.

And now, for your viewing pleasure (thanks to Herm and whoever filmed), here are three videos of Q+D playing at the national championship in Sevilla:

A few points against Mubidisk:

Mostly the whole semifinals game against Fendisc:

The whole final game against Corocotta:

We are all very pleased with the results of the tournament, and proud of the whole team.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Málaga: A relaxing beach weekend

My four nights, five days in Málaga were exactly as I'd hoped: Filled with beach, sun, and reading.  Since I had already visited  (and explored) Málaga last fall, this time I only wanted to relax on the beach under the sun.

I arrived Friday evening and took a walk to the beach with a book and stayed until the sun went down.
I spent the following three days on the beach, from sun up to sun down.  I did lots of reading, some snoozing, and got a good feel of the coast in my bones.

On my last day, Tuesday, it was quite cloudy and not really ideal beach weather.  That was fine with me, as I had spent the previous three days on the beach.  I walked around other parts of the city until it was time to catch my bus.

There were many kittens in the rocks on the shore:

I really liked all of the long walkways shaded by trees on both sides:

I spent my last two hours in the city reading Three Cups of Tea on my kindle in the botanical gardens, before I finished my walk to the bus station:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Saying goodbye to the Mediterranean coast

I haven't said anything about it yet on the blog because it's not a done deal, but I most likely have found a HelpX host beginning the last week in September.  The host site is not in Spain and surprisingly also not in France.  It is also not on a coast.  And since I don't know when I'll be near a warm coast again, I bought a ticket for Málaga this weekend.  I went there for the first time last fall in October, so since I've already visited the town, this time I'm going en plan read on beach/say goodbye to the Mediterranean coast.

I'm leaving tomorrow morning and coming back late Tuesday night.

Have a good weekend!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Happy Day: American bakery in Madrid

My original plan for Saturday was to go to Happy Day, an American bakery near Noviciado, and then browse the secondhand shops in that neighborhood.  I first learned of this bakery in a magazine article I read while waiting for hours at the doctor's office this past winter when I lost my voice.

I made it many months without going, but it was this past Friday night when I decided to go the following day and finally fill my craving for American desserts.  What happened Friday night?  I was at a birthday celebration with a former student of mine, and his friends kept on talking about cupcakes (because they watch some American show that has a character who's always eating cupcakes or something).  And then they began asking me all about the sweet treat:  "Are they as good as they look?" "It's just a magdalena with frosting, right?" (No!) "I'd like to try one someday, I wish I could buy one somewhere in Madrid..." (You can!)

And that's when I remembered that this American bakery exists, Happy Day, and decided I would go on Saturday.

But then after lunch on Saturday, Gregorio said he had been thinking about going to Parque Europa.  There was no way I could turn that down when I could go to this bakery any other day.

So we went to Parque Europa, and I enjoyed the outing.  We finished seeing all the monuments by 18.00, but Gregorio didn't have to work until 20.00 that night.

So he drove to the city center and dropped me off here as he drove around the block:

I walked in and tried not to look at all the dessert mixes and other American-food goods the store sold.  Too tempting.  Instead I walked right up to the counter to order two cupcakes (thus saving myself from seeing the BAGELS, cakes, and peanut butter... plus whatever else I missed).

I did happen to see chocolate chip cookies on display, so I ordered one of those with the cupcakes.  The woman grabbed at a cookie to put it in the bag, but then she told me that the cookie was broken... so she was going to give me the broken one for free with another unbroken cookie that I'd ordered! Um, wonderful! (If I worked there, I think I'd gift all of the broken goods to myself...)
After she'd put the two cookies in a bag for me, we walked over so I could pick out the cupcakes.  I picked two chocolate cupcakes, one with blue frosting and the other with green.  If you're taking them to go, Happy Day has got cupcake boxes so they won't roll around:

So I've satisfied my American sweet tooth for now.  And when the craving hits again, I know where I can go.

What: Happy Day
Where: c/ Espíritu Santo, 11
Metro: Noviciado, Tribunal
Hours: 10:00 - 0:00
Cost: Cupcakes - 2 euros each; see website for all prices

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Parque Europa

This afternoon Gregorio and I went to Parque Europa, somewhere I wanted to visit when I first heard about it this spring.

This park is located in the suburb Torrejón de Ardoz, 25km from the center of Madrid.  If you go by car, take the A2 to exit 18, then you can follow these brown signs to the park:


There are 17 monuments of famous European sites throughout the park.  Each landmark has a sign with information about the monument and the country in which it's located.
There's a contest going on over at my other blog to see who can correctly label the most monuments.  Once the contest ends on September 18, I'll share more pictures of other monuments found inside the park.

Gregorio thought there should have been more monuments, that they were missing some important ones, but I thought 17 was a good number.  If the park were larger, it could become overwhelming trying to see them all.


Entrance to the park is free, but there are attractions all over with an admission price.  Such attractions include boating, zip-lining, trampoline, archery, pony/donkey riding, multi-adventure zone, etc.

Gregorio and I didn't pay to do anything, but if you're visiting with children be aware because they'll probably want to do everything something.

Food stands were found throughout the park, as well as a cafeteria in the Plaza de España.

There were also biking carts you could rent to go around the park sitting and pedaling.  I had to take a picture of this cart when I saw the mother's shoes.  I'm assuming that's why she's not pedaling...

Parque Europa Tips

The park itself is quite new, having first opened in September of 2010.  No wonder I hadn't heard of it when I lived here in 2009-10 as a student!

Since it is so new, the trees have lots of growing to do, so there isn't much shade inside the park.  For that reason, I'd recommend wearing a hat, sunscreen, and bringing water along if you're visiting in the summertime.

The park does have a shaded area with picnic tables, so I would also recommend packing along a picnic lunch or snacks if you want to avoid the overpriced food stands.

What: Parque Europa
Where: Paseo de los Cipreses, 28850 Torrejón de Ardoz
Metro/Bus: From Avenida de América (Lines 4, 6, 7, 9) or Canillejas (Line 5) you can take the bus interurbano L-224 to Torrejón de Ardoz.  At the stop Plaza de España, transfer to the bus urbano L1.
You can also take Cercanías towards Alcalá de Henares, but get off at Torrejón de Ardoz.  Then take the L1 bus to the park.
Summer Hours: Sunday to Thursday: 10:00 to 00:00, Friday and Saturday: 10:00 a 02:00
Winter Hours: Sunday to Thursday: 10:00 to 20:00, Friday and Saturday: 10:00 to 23:00
Cost: Free entrance, attractions cost fees

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Hannah and the evil elevator

My friend Hannah was working on the island of Mallorca in July, and house-sitting north of the city in August.  So she left her old apartment at the end of June and needed to find a new one for September.

She found a great piso near the city center last week.  On Friday morning before going to Alcobendas for the Spanish Championship 2nd division ultimate frisbee tournament, I helped her move her stuff into the new apartment.

She got a taxi from our friend's apartment (where most of her stuff had been stored this summer) to her new apartment.  It only cost 6 euros!  (Great option for moving, by the way.  I did the same thing with Izzy when she moved halfway through our study abroad year.  Yes, I've lived here before Herm!)  The taxi driver helped us load everything in the trunk, and unloaded it as well.  

It was going really well; I was surprised how fast and easy it had been.  We got to Hannah's apartment and started loading things into the elevator.  There was a guy mopping and cleaning the apartment's entrance while we were doing so.

We got everything in and there wasn't room for a person, so I started walking up the stairs to call the elevator to Hannah's floor.  Up, up, up, I go.  I press the elevator button but I don't hear anything.  I press it again and wait.  Maybe it's a really slow elevator.  I still don't hear anything.

Then I hear Hannah, "Rebe?" Yes...  "The doors won't close".  What?  I went down to see what was up with this elevator.

Now most elevators in apartments in Spain have the inside doors that open and close from the sides to the center, like normal elevators in the United States.  Then there's usually always an outside door that opens outwards like normal doors.  If you're getting on the elevator, you can't open the outside door until the inside doors have opened.  Likewise, the inside doors won't close until you close the outside door.

So Hannah had closed the outside door so that the inside doors would close, but when they started coming together in the center they hit one of her suitcases and wouldn't close.  The problem is that they wouldn't open either.  They just stayed halfway-closed, which prevented us from opening the outside door to move the luggage.  Since the outside door will only open once the inside doors have opened.

Panicking, we asked the cleaning guy if he knew what we should do.  He came over and tried opening the outside door of the elevator.  Unsuccessful, he told us that we'd have to tell the "president" of the apartment building and they would take care of it.  "Who's the president?" we asked.  The guy didn't know who, but he said he thought the president lived on the third floor or something.  "But I live on that floor," Hannah told him.  "Oh, well then I don't know." said the guy.  And then he left.

Awesome.  Hour one of being in the new apartment and we managed to get all of Hannah's stuff trapped in the elevator.  None of her roommates were home, and she didn't have their cell numbers yet.  I was about ready to start knocking on people's doors inside the apartment to figure out who we should contact, when Hannah saw a plaque on an adjacent door with an elevator company name and number.

She called the number and reported the problem to some woman.  The woman said they would send someone over, but when Hannah asked more or less when they would be able to send someone, the lady said she didn't know.

This was a problem, because we were supposed to leave for Alcobendas in two hours.  We didn't know if we should stay down by the elevator waiting, or if we could continue doing the errands we had planned to do after moving (aka stop at a pharmacy, grocery shop, and make lunch).

In the end we left a note on the evil elevator saying that we had called the elevator company and someone was coming.  We also left Hannah's cell phone number on the note, so they could call her whenever it got opened up.

Then we left for some food.
Hannah and the evil elevator

After returning from the grocery store, we relaxed passed the time for a while up in Hannah's apartment, waiting anxiously for the elevator people to come.

Knowing how inefficient other Spanish offices can be, I was expecting the worst.  What if they couldn't get here until 20.00?  Or not until tomorrow?  We were planning to eat lunch around 15.00, then head to Alcobendas.

Much to my surprise, the doorbell buzzed a bit after 14.00.  It was the elevator guy!  He got the door open, so we took out the suitcase that had blocked the door and Hannah went up with the rest of the stuff.

When the elevator came back down, I put in her big suitcase.  Before I got on the elevator, the elevator guy had me sign some form (yes, me!  The girl who doesn't even live in this building...), and then handed me a receipt that showed he had been there.

I went up, and we got everything into Hannah's apartment and out of the elevator.  We could finally relax!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Spanish Ultimate Frisbee Championship - 2nd division

This weekend I was in a northern suburb of Madrid, Alcobendas, helping out at the Spanish Ultimate Frisbee Championship Tournament - Second Division.

Back during the sign-up for this tournament I didn't know if I would be in Madrid or not, so I didn't sign up.  Turns out I was here, so I went to help our team with set-up and running of the tournament, since we were hosting.

On Friday afternoon, Hannah and I put up signs for the tournament all around Alcobendas's sports facilities.  We even made a walking advertisement out of Herm!

Then we had to wait for a certain set of keys from someone, so of course to pass the time we started a pick-up game of ultimate on the turf.  Barefoot.

The keys came.  Later that evening a van full of fruit, drinks, and water arrived.  We unloaded and started setting up parts of the tents so there would be less to do in the morning.

Around 22.30 we headed to the low-key "welcome party" at a 100 Montaditos in Alcobendas.  Hannah and I were super tired, and she was playing in the morning (first game at 9.00), so we didn't stay later than midnight.

The next morning I was assigned to keep score during Sancho's first game.

Sancho during a time out, listening to "coach" Herm

During the second round of games I helped finish setting up those two tents, 

Quijotes & Dulcineas helping to set up one of the tents

and then I worked at the table for most of the rest of the day; selling drinks, merchandise, answering questions, and collecting spirit and score sheets.
Me working the table

The last game ended around 20.00.  I snuck away from the tent and showered before that, to avoid the rush of players after the games. At 20.30 I caught the first bus that took us to the site of the dinner - at the tennis club in Moraleja.

It was sometime after 22.00 by the time they were ready for us to sit down in the dining room.  I was super exhausted, and that's without having played a single game!
My table at the dinner

The first course was pasta with tomato sauce and sausage, and the second course was steak and potatoes:

Steak and fries

We waited around for dessert to finally be brought out, then we took the first bus back to the residency around midnight.

On Sunday I kept score for two of the first two games, and then worked at the table again for the rest of the day.

Hannah and I got photo-bombed!

Writing the results of the tournament
After the closing ceremony and picking up almost everything, we played some ultimate barefoot in the grass.  It was a fun, tiring weekend - as most tournaments are.