The gathering of amigos
On the 21st of October 2016, our magnificent six (aka Poca, Geo, Lau, Tib, Oli and Yv) came together for yet another exciting and unforgettable week-end in the heart of Valencia – Spain.
These little city trips of ours are turning out to be an ideal opportunity to combine our favourite activities into the perfect blend: an abundance of regional delicacies served with a dash of sightseeing, accompanied by a sprinkle of competition, and topped with a whole lot of merrymaking!
The art of fitting in
The weather couldn’t have been more welcoming and given the time of year, this reinforced the overall exoticism of our short break.
Having lived in Spain for over 3 years, various facets of the place almost felt like home. That said, the complete lack of practice of the language has undeniably coated my ‘castellano’ with a layer of rust and dust. The ‘use it or lose it’ principle has taken its toll which occasioned many a frustrating situation during our brief and eventful stay.
Not unexpectedly, imbibing the smallest amount of the local nectar has its way of setting tongues wagging, so we ended up being all right 😉
There is something to be said of the city of Valencia’s street-art.
These unsanctioned examples of artwork ornate practically every street corner and are to be admired for their diversity, richness of colour, vividness, creativity and symbolic meaning.
In fact, there is a Street Art Route that takes you on a tour of a series of masterpieces created by urban artists who have turned the city into an open-air museum.
The Valencian scene
Whether it is the City of Arts and Sciences, Saint Mary’s Cathedral, the Serranos Towers or the Plaza del Mercado, the town presents a wide variety of architectural trends.
Interestingly enough, a combination of styles within a same structure is not uncommon either and highlights the already eclectic nature of the constructions.
We stretched our legs out by taking a long and lazy stroll across and around the old town, absorbing the local colours and gradually working ourselves into a more athletic frame of mind.
Chit-chat aside, the idea was to actually get our backsides moving at some point and when D Day dawned, thrills, chills and butterflies began to spread like an infection.
The Trininad Alfonso half-marathon is known for its flat course which makes it easier to secure a PR.
My objective was to reach the goal I had already set myself at the Brussels 20 km, seeing as I had painfully flunked that one.
This time, I started out strong, fumbling with the volume of my phone and cursing my watch for struggling to find the satellite.
The satisfaction of managing to maintain a 4.58 pace for the first half of the event slackened when Mrs Sciatica reared her ugly head. That’s right, that beast has been lurking around for the past 6 months! That, in addition to the increasing temperature, got the best of me.
Once again, I grit my teeth, put up with it, gave it my all, kept on smiling (or so I like to believe!) and reached the finish line within 1:46:30.
Damn, no PR. But the good news is I don’t have to step my goal up a notch for a while…
Not that it really matters anyway, but I do try to do better from one race to the next.
I realise though that while accomplishing a good time feels nice, flattering the ego doesn’t go very far.
When I look around and reflect on what could be, by no stretch of imagination am I extremely grateful to be able to do what I love. Enjoy it while it lasts for it will end eventually…
A whale of a time
The most enjoyable and rewarding part of fighting one’s way through a race is the fun, relief and festivities that follow the effort and which have become something of a ritual.
As a means of recharging our batteries, we headed to a fancy restaurant facing the waterfront: Vinícolas.
The unusual and delicious seafood-based menu (composed of razor shells, sea anemone, bacalao…), unique setting, distinguished company ;), fits of laughter and feeling of relaxation had all the ingredients of a celebration in style!
PS: Many thanks to Geo for some of the pics!