Thursday, March 13, 2014

Tapas and more in Barcelona!

Hello internet friends -- I am so sorry that it has taken me so long to write again!  I NEED to be more consistent these next few weeks because I don't want to miss out on anything that is happening and I really want to document these experiences.

I've been in Barcelona for about 5 days now and it's been such a wonderful time.  It's also been a crazy busy and hectic time with not a lot of time sitting around at my computer.  And when I do have time sitting at my computer, I am so exhausted that I can hardly put a sentence together, nonetheless write out a blog entry.  However, I have been thinking of you!  I came to this page to start a blog entry at least 3 or 4 times.  I have been regularly e-mailing myself the pictures that I want to include in posts and twice I started writing a blog entry in the "Notes" application of my iPhone.  But then something happens, or another day goes by, and the mental blog entry I had written no longer applies, and I feel behind, and it gets more overwhelming to write a post... yada, yada, yada, I haven't written since Sunday.

Just so you don't feel bad, I will share a picture from the moment during the week that I was so tired I had to hide in the storage closet of our trade show booth for 15 minutes.  I really needed to get off my feet and just not talk to anyone for a little, which is how I ended up on the floor of the luggage room...

So.  Since Sunday, I have run 15 miles.  I did a 5 mile run on Monday morning where my legs felt heavy and I couldn't wait for it to be over.  On Wednesday I did a 10-mile run that felt GREAT.  I ran the first 5 miles at about a 10:30/pace and was feeling good so I pushed the pace to 9:30 for the second half and finished at exactly 1:40:17 with a 10 minute/mile pace.

The run on Wednesday gave me goosebumps for a number of reasons.  One of which is that I ran to the beautiful and historic Gaudi architecture wonder, the La Sagrada Familia cathedral.  I had attempted to find this during my 14 mile run on Sunday but never was able to make it.  On Wednesday, I knew I wanted to try and find it again and that the distance would be about right.  I checked a map before I left to know what streets to run down and arrived in front of the church when my GPS watch read 4.75 miles in.  I ran around the church and back to my hotel for a really incredible 10-mile run in the morning!

I got goosebumps as I was running and afterwards thinking about the fact that the 10-mile run was the peak of my midweek runs.  Next week's midweek run drops down to 8 miles and after the 20-mile run I have on Saturday I am officially tapering before the marathon.  Can you say crazy!?!

I don't think I realized that the taper was 3 weeks, which feels like a really long time to taper, but I am going to trust the plan and continue to do exactly what it tells me to in my training.  Hal Higdon served me well for the half marathons and the plan has been achievable so far without any injuries or mistakes, so I should just keep with it.  There is a reason why "trust the taper" is a thing marathon runners say, right??

As for eating in Barcelona... well... let's just say that I did a better job at the beginning of the week than the end of the week in terms of overeating.  However, I will also say that I don't really regret any of my eating choices.  I have tried SO many new foods, so many local foods, and really opened myself up to the Barcelona eating experience.  The meals have included lots of tapas -- or small plates of food -- which I've found, makes it difficult to track exactly how much you are eating.  A few mussels here.  A few piece of ham there.  A slice (or two) of tomato bread.  Some patatas bravas.  A glass of wine ("Was that a half pour or a full pour? I think half pour. Maybe I should have a little more...")?  A shared dessert?  It's hard to manage.

And although I am nervous about how putting on a pound or two will affect my running, I am honestly not stressed about what it will do to my waistline.  The thing that I forgot about when I was doing all that stressing and having all that anxiety about before I traveled is that when I am in Europe, I am in such a "happy place" mentally that I don't have so much anxiety about what I am eating and what size I am.

I have not maintained my rule of only one glass of wine every day.  BUT I have been avoiding happy hour and doing a good job of making smart, mindful decisions about eating.  Yes, sometimes I have been so hungry when it comes mealtime that I impulsively a lot when the food arrives.  And yes, at the conference, I've out of tiredness, stress, and exhaustion, craved and let myself indulge in some ridiculously delicious Belgian chocolates I discovered at the booth across the from our.  However, I have had small victories in knowing when to stop with the wine, getting the rest I need, going out to big group dinners, avoiding some foods, and preparing myself for the runs I have had this week.

One example that sticks out in my mind that is a small victory but feels important is that after lunch each day of the conference there has been a "dessert" table that has has a small gelato section.  And yes, I had dessert every day, but I didn't get gelato any of the days.  Now, I LOVE gelato and on the very first day I went and got a small cup, but when I tried it -- it wasn't very good.  Mind you, not very good gelato, is still gelato.  But I didn't think it was worth it.  I threw it away and didn't get it any other day, even when I was tempted as I walked by.  I reminded myself that I shouldn't eat the gelato because it's there but I should eat gelato when I really want gelato -- and eat REALLY GOOD gelato.  This gelato just wasn't worth it.  And call me crazy to think of this as a victory, but knowing when food is worth it is something I sometimes have a hard time with.  And trust me, the food that I have been eating this week has been worth it!  AND, I am really proud of myself for exploring with new foods as well.

Here is a random collection of photos...

And yes, that dessert you see above is on fire.  It was an apple cinnamon fritter tossed in a flaming anise liquor -- so yummy!!

Oh, as for a couple other things... those apples and bananas that I bought on Saturday for the week?  Well, I forgot that I am not in the United States and the food here doesn't have as much preservatives as our lovely produce in the U.S. and by the end of the week my apples were very mushy and some of them cracked.  Has anyone ever seen this happen before?? So strange!!

And I also want to call out one restaurant in particular if anyone is ever in Barcelona.  We ate at a place called Cal Pep that was really delicious.  I never saw a menu the whole time we were there, the staff just brings out different tapas for you.  One of the things we got was that picture that you saw of a little cracker toast with a roasted red pepper and piece of a fish thing on it.

It freaked me out to be able to see the little fin tail thing and the shiny look of the scaley fish.  I, however, didn't want to be the only one at the table to not eat it, and I am trying harder to try new things.  To be completely honest, it took me a little while to work up the guys to take a bite.  Fish is still new to me and the appearance here really threw me.

But I did!  And the experience was documented...

But all turned out well, and I even ended the meal making friends with the waiter who friendly teased me throughout the entire meal.

Every time he would send a plate my way, he would pretend to drop it.  Or when he would hand me silverware or something like that, he'd pull his hand back at the last minute.  The whole experience at Cal Pep was great -- from the food to the wait staff, so I would definitely suggest it!

With that, I will sign off for the night and do my best to keep you more up to date with my happenings.  You guys keep me so happy and inspired to write more... specifically a great e-mail I got this week from someone telling me that reading my blog inspired them to work harder at the gym this week.  I LOVE that and LOVE when you guys let me know that stuff.  Hearing that from you, in turn inspires me to keep taking my own advise and also write here more :)

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