Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Thanks Arthur!

One of my favorite spots in this city is right next to my apartment. It is Arthur’s seat and I have written about it before but thought I would post some proper pictures from one of my runs there. I had to do some research on the name and apparently there are some disagreements but the name probably comes from king Arthur. It is some old volcanic rock and it’s forming also involved glaciers at some point (all over my head) but bottom line is it is an amazing addition to the city because it is covered with trails and hiking spots right in town. 

I think that's Prince Harry in the window!

It is about 833 ft tall so easy to climb and always covered with humans and dogs like any time of the day, dark or light out. There are also playing fields and a lot of grassy areas all around it and some little ponds around making it gorgeous. It is also right next to Holyrood palace, which is where the royal family gets to stay when they come to Scotland. It’s very petty. You can also get amazing panoramic views from not very high up of the city, the Pentland hills and other hill ranges and the ocean. What’s not to love!

Sunday, October 28, 2012


I was going to try and kick this triathlon habit once I got to Scotland. It became very clear that would not be possible once I moved over here. School is still coming first (for the most part :) ) but I still want to put time into the sport and see what I can make of it. So a few weeks into school I signed up for the Garmin Barcelona Triathlon because the flights were affordable and the timing was alright with school.

I arrived after a ridic journey between 2 Glasgow airports. My journey went: taxi , bus, bus, taxi, train, plane, train, lost walking, taxi, hotel! It was quite the adventure. Although so many modes of transportation were used it wasn't all that expensive! Thanks to affordable public transportation in this part of the world. So I got to the hotel at about 2 and was excited to have the afternoon to explore. I stayed in the Poblenou neighborhood of the city which was adorable. I immediately walked down to the beach and it was just gorgeous and warm and fabulous. People were just laying out (some naked!), running along the beach, biking, eating ice cream and relaxing everywhere.

I was itching to get into the water but reluctant to leave any of my things unattended on the beach. So I headed back to the hotel and on my way I stopped at a grocery store. This is when it became very apparent that English was not very common in this area. I had quite a few funny interactions with people there and although I took heaps of Spanish I was generally so taken off guard at their long sentences coming at me I would just adopt a blank stare and try and smile.

 Then I went back down to the beach and got in the water and promptly, for no reason, got extremely terrified of getting eaten by a shark. Like this has never happened to me before but it was just freaky. I was in a country, alone, with no one that knew my name or origin within literally the continent and it was dusk. Perfect plot for a shark attack. But I made it. I went to be early after watching Harry Potter in Spanish and grudgingly building my bike.

The next morning I got going fairly early, went for a nice swim in the ocean (a bit less shark-phobic) and then did my pre-race short run. I was going to walk my bike down to a close bike shop when I ran into 2 VERY ATTRACTIVE Spanish guys (from stop on my list now) who had a bike pump on the way to the expo so I let them pump my tires up and watched their muscles flex. I was blushing needless to say.

Then it was time to play tourist! So many cool buildings and the subway way so easy to navigate I just went where I pleased and even found a really good restaurant that had seitan, black beans and some really good corn soup and vegan cookies. I took lots of pictures and was so happy to be walking around in a dress and be warm!

Some of these pictures are from after the race when I walked around, pretty exhausted, and saw more sights.

Pretty sweet Gaudi

There were all these Sycamore type trees there which are my fav and were so gorgeous. This was just coming out of the metro one day. Which by the way was super easy to travel on.

Came upon a little Sunday market and bought some local SUPER dark salted chocolate that was so good.

Even the streetlamps were art!

A large wire sculpture and I looked for an info board on it but couldn't find one. but I'm sure it is making a statement about something..

This is where the little party was
Here is where there was a little party, it was pretty great and the sun was shinning and people were so happy and it was just a great atmosphere to be apart of! Fun music and dancing.


Sagrada familia,

Pretty amazing building with like 5 different styles all jammed into one and all sorts of sculptures within the architecture.

Walk along the ocean and marina

So many gorgeous beaches!

So yes it was a gorgeous place and everyone was very nice. I really liked it there and it was SO EASY to get around on the metro and I was able to just take the train to and from the airport which was very cheap and manageable even with a bike box!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Race Report Barcelona

Leading up to the race I had looked into the elite wave and finally decided I would ask the race director if I could switch into it. After about 11 emails back and forth my new spot was confirmed and I was pretty excited to be racing with some of the best. I looked all over the website for a race pack for us or some more information but didn't find much so I just went with it. I was concerned because the course had a looped bike course so it crossed my mind it might be draft legal. I didn't see ITU anywhere so I assumed it wasn't.
My cute neighborhood

So Saturday evening they had a race meeting for the elites and I was walking around trying to find the place and ran into some other lost people. They all start greeting each other in Spanish, kissing cheeks and I'm just like walking along side them feeling more and more like a loser the further we go. I was just so self conscious that I was not an actual elite and just felt like an idiot for being there ha but I sat and the presentation started and thankfully they spoke in English. They went over pointers and got to the bike course and said, in passing,  "short ITU handlebars...." and that's when my heart sank and i felt like EVEN MORE of a losaaaa cause I do not have that type of bike. So afterwards I went up to the race director who was so nice and he felt awful about it and was like don't worry I will make sure you getting into the amateur race tomorrow no problem.

On the way home it was sort of nice cause all of the pressure was gone, I was racing 2 hours later in the morning (more sleep maybe) and I just didn't care as much anymore. I stopped and read about 10 menus with nothing for me (so much meat and fish!) until I was standing outside a pizza place and the guy asked me what I wanted. So I whipped out my Spanish and got an awesome pizza with just sauce and veggies on it and ate the whole thing once back in my room. So good. Then I binged on chocolate. And rice cakes and guacamole. Cause I didn't care anymore!

Race morning was interesting. I still had to get to transition at about 7 to rack my bike and get my new race pack for the amateur race but I didn't go off until 9:30. I also couldn't take anything with me out of transition because I had no where safe to put it and no one to give it to. I arrived at transition and on my way in one of the marshals just waved her head no and spouted off in Spanish something about my bike, pointing to the aero bars. I saw the race director nearby (thank GOODNESS) and he and this woman had a confrontation in Spanish for awhile, then another guy was brought in, all while I am just standing there with my illegal bike feeling quite silly. The race director pulled through though and I would be allowed to race but I was already disqualified. I didn't even care at this point! At least I could compete in my own way!
Football field sized transition!


So I set my stuff up, sadly took my jacket off, grabbed a few euros from my bag and left, barefoot with a baggie of oatmeal, speed suit, goggles and swim cap in hand. The sun was not near out yet so I was pretty chilly. The high for the day was 80 but it was a colder morning next to the ocean breeze! Then I had like forever to just hang out and WAIT to start. I was super psyched to see that a small coffee bar was open at the stadium so I got a coffee and some hot water for my oatmeal then just walked around like a triathlete hobo, talking to random people and watched the pros start, the other waves and then, finally, it was my turn!


It was a mass, all women, beach start. So we had to literally run into the water on top of each other. To start us they had a topless man walk in front of us with numbers counting down the seconds. Awesome. The start wasn't too bad though and I just conserved on my way out to the first buoy. It was very chopping swimming into the waves and as I saw all of the people around me disappear behind me I was happy with my approach. There was a small group of about 2-3 women in front of me but I just used their caps to sight off of and the swim parallel to shore was pretty solitary and uneventful till we caught up to the breast strokers and floaters from the previous wave. More hitting, dodging and sighting later I was headed for home and pretty happy with my swim! My time was super slow but I knew I was in the top so I was OK with that.

Swim course later in the day.

I took my time getting onto my bike since I knew it didn't make a difference (I didn't even have a timing chip) and was off! It was a 4 loop course with plenty of 90/180 degree turns so I was a little apprehensive. The course was FULL of people so I did my best to dodge and beat everyone around me. I was very self-conscious of my aero bars so I just tried to hide them with my hands and get by. Then on the third lap this happened:

Doesn't look like much...but this piece of trash stuck to my wheel and didn't come off so every time my wheel went around it made this loud scrapping noise. Like rap-rap-rap-rap-rap over and over and I averaged about 90 RPM so you can imagine how loud and obnoxious this sound got....ha but nothing I could do! There were major pace lines going on at times and I did my best trying to stay up with them without being part of it.

I came into transition behind a girl and decided I needed to go for it so passed her right out and just did my best to stay up on her. This was the best part: there were lots of crowds on the course and they kept yelling venga venga! ella! Which was so fun for some reason. Maybe because the guys were like seriously attractive. I ran pretty much on track and felt pretty good for the whole 10k and ended up with an alright time so I was pleased considering everything I had gone through that morning. I was pulled aside at the finish and told I was the first amateur. Then I told the woman I was already disqualified and she let me leave haha. So much for that!

Overall it was a really great experience. It was strange to be like literally all alone like not even know a single person racing but sort of fun and exciting.

Next up is Ironman 70.3 Lanzarote. Eek!!