Sunday, May 17, 2009

jet lag

Triathlon and traveling are two of my most loved pastimes. Happily, they usually overlap quite nicely--between races, training camps, and sponsor "obligations" (which never really feel like obligations--no, really!!), I seem to spend quite a bit of time on the road. I LOVE San Diego, but when the ankle injury put the kibosh on my early May race and associated travel plans, I started to get the itch to get away. More than anything, I think I craved a distraction from the lack of running. Regardless, I needed a destination.

A few minutes of spare time and (like orbitz or priceline, but better) searching produced tickets to Barcelona, where my sister has been spending the semester studying abroad, for $508 RT. . $508?! How can you afford not to go, was my only question. As it turned out, Coach Paul actually had multiple answers to this question, once I finally worked up the nerve to tell him, but by then the tickets were already booked.

So, Andy and I, plus bike--yep. . .just like the American Express card, "Don't Leave Home without It"--packed up for a week in Espana. Incidentally, you'll also need that Am Ex card if your flying with your bike these days since most of the major airlines seem to have raised their bike handling charges. Again. Delta is now charging $300 EACH WAY for international flights, making it literally a more expensive fare for my bike than myself. Ridiculous. Fortunately, I managed to find a sympathetic ticket agent on the way home (either that, or she was too frustrated with my lack of Spanish speaking skills to pursue the issue further), but next time maybe I'll look into getting the bike it's own seat. Sorry, I'll put the soap box away now. This just happens to be one of my pet peeves.

Anyway, despite this minor annoyance and the jet lag, which I've almost, but not quite recovered from, it was an amazingly therapeutic week. We stayed with a friend, Lluis, who lives an hour north of Barcelona, in the Costa Brava region. With out local tour guide, we spent the week absorbing the local culture. Seeing the famous sites, like Gaudi's La Sangrada Familia

And more Gaudi

Also, some less famous, but no less interesting, sites. . .pollo, anyone?

We were also able to take part in the futbol fanaticism--FC Barcelona was playing Chelsea for the Champion's League title and Villa Real while we were in town. Like pretty much every country other than the U.S., they take their soccer pretty seriously over there.

Andy and Jason during the FC Barcelon vs. Villa Real game
Genevieve and I during the game. . .after we decided not to cough up the $200 euros for tickets. We sprung for the $10 scarves, instead, and hit up a nearby watering hole.

Delicious meals, the Girona flower festival, numerous farmers markets, and--yes--amazing bike rides rounded out the week.

One of the many gorgeous views from my rides

My Spanish cycling domestique, Jorge. . .at least, I think that was his name--between the language barrier and my panting, it was hard to tell.

As it turns out, though, my favorite activities of the trip could have been done right from the comfort of home.
Yours truly, eating a Mickey D's ice cream cone
No, wait!! I'm kidding, McDonald's isn't it. This was not my MOST favorite activity (though it IS a close second. . .). Also, this could not have been fully experienced from home, as I have yet to find a walk up ice cream window any McD's in the states. . .

My favorite activity of the trip (drumroll, please) was actually RUNNING. Finally!! After a month of no improvement, my foot decided to almost spontaneously heal itself. It's amazing. The current thought is that the inflamed bursa was pressing on a nerve, and this nerve entrapment was causing most of the pain. Now that it's no longer being squeezed, the pain is dramatically less. As in, nearly zero. Still being cautious, but I have managed several good runs, and if all continues to go well, I am looking forward to racing this weekend at the New Balance series Half Ironman in Canada.