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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Lisbon and things

So I found a few sweet things to do in Lisbon while I'm there. I thought it was going to be lame for a bit, but it's on the ocean, and it's really nice. Not just a few monuments and museums. On friday, our flight is at 7:40 am. Gets into Portugal at 8 (hour time difference). Rented a car from budget, and I'm going to drive ~50 mins to Lake Albufeira. They rent wetsuits etc. The lake is right next to the ocean...the sand breaks the waves, but not the wind, so you get dope wind without swells.

This is what I'm hoping for:
Windfinder says that it's going to be ~10 knots with ~20 knot gusts. This is good. Praying to the wind gods that it doesn't change.

Everyone else is staying at the Alface Hostel. I'm either going to stay there, or at the Rossio (another nice hostel). On Saturday, we're (we being anyone else who also thinks it's a good idea and myself) going to take a train to Sintra, to a Moorish Castle:">

I'm pumped for that. I much prefer castles to art museums. Other time will be spent around Belem, to see the monument of the discoveries,
the Belem Tower, and other places in Portugal.

It would also be cool to see the Christo Rei Statue:

Yesterday, I ran on the treadmill, and did front and back squats, lunges, and calf raises, and nothing hurt significantly. Today I went 4 miles in a reasonably muddy Casa de Campo (trails). I was surprised at how well the Newtons did in mud (shoes). Right when I finished my run, it started hailing. It's hailed three times in the past week. After my run, I did my upper body row/back/pull lift...gotta get ready for friday. I'm really hoping that I don't spend all of this time, money, and effort for average windsurfing. If so, I'll make it up in Tenerife. Check Windfinder for Tenerife (Canary Islands): ~20 knots and the gusts are "n/a," which means it's consistently dope, and you don't have to spend the whole time looking over your shoulder, waiting for gusts to come.

Tonight there was some sort of scrod for dinner. I ate a ton of it. No one else wanted their fish. I became the garbage disposal as usual...INBD. There are guitar's in the auditorium that anyone can use. I never thought Wonderwall, the Fray, the INdigo Girls, and Old Crow Medicine Show would be so appreciated. Classes start tomorrow. Language class every day, and:

MW: Spanish Language Usage for Business
W: Contemporary Spanish Film
TTh: Contemporary Latin American Novel, Spain and the International Economic Organization

Every day, there are chocolate croissants, toast, cereal, and chocolate milk for breakfast. I'm not complaining. The bread is pretty high GI...wonderbread but not fake, just very white. I can't say how happy I am that they have chocolate milk. The fruit is very good here.

On friday night, Carlos and I went to a Japanese Buffet...15€ for all I could eat. I think I ate my money's worth. Met a girl named Marjorie from Michigan...walked around Madrid on saturday night.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Next weekend I'm headed to Lisbon. I've found two places to windsurf. I'm hoping they rent gear and neoprene in February. Lisbon is decently interesting otherwise, but I'm really hoping for:
3/25-3/27 Paris/Normandy/Versailles
I have ~3 days. Normandy is a definite. Louvre, Musée de l'Armée, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Pantheon, Notre Dame, Versailles? (it would take ~a day). Substitutes/additions anyone? FB or Email me.

London, haven't decided when yet. I have to figure out when my midterms and finals are.
Tower of London
London Bridge
Buckingham Palace
Windsor Castle
Platform 9 3/4?
Imperial War Museum
Stonehendge (definitely)
Big Ben
London Eye
Westminster Abbey

I want to go hiking in Scotland too, but I don't want to freeze (I didn't bring great spring hiking gear with me: rainpants etc.)
Loch Ness might be cool. I'd have to swim in it though.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

It's 6:50 am. Left Kapital at ~5:20, and had homefries and a chicken bocadillo at a tapas bar that was still open. Waited until 6 for the Metro to open, instead of paying 12 Euros for a cab. Breakfast is at 7:15. I'll be there. Food is wonderful. After breakfast, I'll sleep until ~3, eat lunch, then probably swim. I'll give running another day. Lifting will occur tomorrow. I might get a haircut as well.
Ran for ~5 mins on the tredmill to see if my soleus is still being a jerk. I think it's getting over itself, but isn't quite back to normal, so I just hit up the pool today. I always get through my warmup, and half of my main sets fine, but there always seems to be an influx of old people that I have to swim around. It's like Beede, but ten times worse because 2/6 lanes are being used for lessons. Turns out I am allowed to use the swim snorkel though...I think I can get over the fins thing. Maybe If I'm the ONLY one in the pool, they'll let me use them.

I'm going fencing at Sala de Armas tonight. Lugging my 50lb bag to the metro should be fun. Hopefully they let me on with it.

Even if the food here is super cheap (quality), and even if you eat a lot of it, it doesn't make you feel sick like American food does. I'm essentially eating at the Spanish Grundle (UVM dining hall that I really don't like), and even if the food is decently fatty, it doesn't make you want to kill yourself. Probs because it doesn't have 10,000 ingredients in it. I could never be a vegetarian in Spain. They put meat in everything. Salads, Soups, Sauces...I don't mind too much though.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Spanish people are oblivious to bicycles.

When I'm biking on the sidewalk, I bike on one side of the sidewalk: the right. When someone is walking the other way, in the middle of the sidewalk, they DON'T MOVE. I have to stop, and stay in one place until they walk around me, and it's ridiculous. When I'm coming up behind them, and they're walking in triple file, it's incredibly frustrating. It's the same deal with cars. I'll be crossing the street (in the crosswalk), and when I look at the eyes of the drivers to see if they see me, they're not even looking.

Today I biked to the fencing club, and after about a half hour of looking in a 100m radius of where I was, I finally found it. It's in a school gym kind of thing. I was going to go tonight, but my soleus is yelling at me. At least I got a Swim/Run in. I don't have class Th/Fr, so I have a four day weekend. Normandy is really frigging cold, but it's something I have to see.

Places I'm going to go while I'm here as of now: Normandy, Tenerife (Canary Islands), Tarifa, Hiking in Andalusia, and to pretty much all of the sweet landscapes I can find/hear of.

Carlos and I took the metro to the Real Madrid stadium, and had dinner at a TGIF-like place called Hollywood. I thought it was going to suck, but it turns out that the American food in Spain is better than the American food in the United States. It's probably because we value a cheeseburger that's a dollar cheaper, but full of chemicals and preservatives that make it taste like mud.

My run yesterday was great. 5.3 miles in Casa de Campo on mostly little foot trails. Great scenery...I can't imagine what it's like in the spring if it's this nice in January. My run today wasn't great. At the very end of yesterday, my right inside soleus twinged a bit, but I didn't think anything of it. 15 minutes into my run today, it was a "you shouldn't run on this" pain, but I had to get back because it was getting dark, so I ran another 7. Walked the rest of the way back. Not a fan.

At the Complutense pool, you're not allowed to use fins, a swim snorkel, or paddles if there's someone else in your lane because "it bothers the other people." It's absolutely absurd. I've also noticed that head lifeguards, or the bosses of pools either have a huge chip on their shoulder, or just have a superiority complex. Basically a lot of them (not all, I know several head lifeguards that are wonderful) think that they're god's gift to the pool/club, and have the right to be extremely rude to whomever they please.

I've feel like I've eaten a ton of Nutella in the past week. It tastes wonderful, and isn't incredibly bad for you, but it's not incredibly good for you either. It's also tastes so good to an extent that you can continuously want/eat more of it, but healthy enough to not make you sick after a few sandwiches. It's not like eating straight chocolate.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Carlos lent me some socks. Discotheque was unreal. 7 floors. It's called Teatro Kapital. Clothes were fine. I need a black button down though.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Track Meet

So after my swim today, I went for a run, found the (really nice) track, and inside a building right next to it, there was an indoor track meet going on. It was just 60m (I think), and field events, but it really made me feel at home...track is the same is every country, and the emotions that you see on peoples faces make me want to train harder, and harder, and harder. Girls upset after false starts and fouls in LJ, and guys getting jacked up before their races with their's all close to home.

At one point, a woman and her two twin daughters were watching their husband/father run, and it was really cool to see them so happy when he did well in his race. This spring, I'm going to see if I can compete in a race or two, whether it be a road 5k, a 3k on the track, or an 800. It's been too long. I need this.

Tonight I'm going to grab dinner with Carlos, and then head to a discotheque with Laura and her friends. Supposedly you're supposed to wear socks with leather shoes (topsiders for myself), but I didn't bring dress socks. Hopefully people won't notice. Learning experience coming up? Yep.

Last Few Days

First of all, all of this Spanish is messing with my English. Forgive me if my sentences are excessively short.

They don't sell peanut butter in Spain, or at least it isn't common. I've switched to Nutella, and it's pretty legit. Food is a great deal more expensive here, but it's so much better quality; more nutrition for your euro, so I guess it evens out.

I bought a bike a few days ago for 55 Euros. It's a pretty shabby mountain bike, but it gets the job done. Riding on the sidewalks is a and weave all day long. Madrid isn't very bike friendly to begin with though; I get honked at frequently, and it's quite peeving.

Across a river, and then a highway is a 1700+ acre park called Casa de Campo. I've been running in it (trails), and it's superb. Last night it got dark while I was running, but I remembered how to get back. I can usually hear the highway, so I don't get too disorientated, but it's big enough that I really should avoid getting lost. This week will end at ~20 mpw.

Later today, I'm going to check out the indoor pool. I think I'll end up swimming MWFSa, Fencing TTh, and Running 6 days per week. The gym doesn't have a free back squat bar, but I'll get over it. There are freeweights though...I lied in my last post. You have to make them though.

Yesterday, everyone in IES took a trip to Segovia, which was decent. The best thing was the roman aqueduct, which was built in the first century AD, and looks like it was built in 1900. Saw a few churches, and one of the homes of Isabella and Ferdinand, lots of armor too. I have pictures on my camera, but they're not on the memory card, so I can't use my card reader to upload them.

Arianna has a friend at Sala de Armas, which is a dope fencing club about 1.3 miles away as the crow flies. I'll email them, and hopefully start going next week. Fencing bag + bike = difficult. Maybe bus? Metro? It's honestly huge though. There's a Metro stop a block away from the club, and even though it's close, I'd have to take three trains. It would be sweet if they have lockers there. If the bike is necessary, I could put my stuff in my backpack duffel bag (it's not the weight of the fencing bag, it's the awkwardness). I'm hoping that my epees stay relatively unbroken, if that's possible. Dave taught me how to rewire and fix everything, and gave me some tools to do so with (if you're reading this, thank you again).

Went to the market this morning. Apparently you have to find the prices on all of the fruit before you check out. I'm pissed that they don't compost here. I'm thinking about bringing it into the woods and just burying it.

A few days ago I met a guy named Carlos; he's from the Canary Islands. A few summers ago, he did a summer program at UVM, and lived on the first floor of Austin. Small world? Yep. He's a DJ at a discotheque, and plays basketball, but is majoring in Law/Business/Econ, and he's super busy with exams right now. After he's done, we're going to hit up Madrid's legit discotheques. He plays his mixes in the gym; they're legit. He has a house in Tenerife and windsurfs. Met a 5k10k guy named Pete from DePauw (15:37), and a swimmergirl named Laura from Wisconsin. They're both legit, and were surprised that I brought ~8 pairs of running shoes (FM, Evo, VFF, Newton, ZN NB, Spikes, Flats, Mocs), fins, paddles, and my snorkel. Gotta work hahd train hahd, even if I'm in Spain. Met another girl named Iona from Cornell. She's legit. Last night, Carlos and I went to a soccer game (between houses/colleges), and then out for Pizza. Spanish Pizza is legit.

A few other guys helped me make a Tuenti account (Spanish Facebook). It's pretty much the same thing.

ILTW -> MGLM. The preceding statement is true about the subject of the preceding statement in Spain. Definitely not complaining.

Everyone in Colegio Mayor San Agustin (my house), has a nickname. ex: Tom Sawyer, Millhouse, Mufasa, Billy Wilson. It's pretty entertaining. In the cafeteria, there are three unwrittten rules that I know about so far. One: if you get up to get something, and you don't push your chair in, they throw it down the Isle. If you have a container of yogurt, and you leave it face up, it gets stabbed with a knife. If you have a glass of water, and you put it face down on your tray, they will pour you water anyway. Again, entertaining.

I said "legit" in this post seven times. Five times in one paragraph. Forgive me. I'm literally speaking two languages in my head at all times.

The girls wear so much makeup here...not a huge fan. It's like two-hour-shower (girl at UVM who has a rep) everywhere.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ethernet Cable: 8 Euros
8 oz. of Shampoo: 9 Euros
Contact Solution and Case: 20 Euros
I can't say being here is priceless, because tuition still exists, but it's pretty frigging sweet.

Went for a run this morning at 7 am...everyone thought I was nuts. What's new? There is a gym right downstairs in my College (house more or less). No freeweights's all Nautilus. Everyone I ask about the indoor pool has no idea...they all tell me that the pool outside is only open in the summer. According to a wonderful thing called Google, I can use an indoor pool that's 4 miles away as the crow flies. According to Google Earth, there are at least two 50m pools, and two 25m pools within half a mile of me. One short course is literally right outside my window. Apparently no one swims in the winter.

Today was more orientative stuff... At one point, a lady came to talk to us about travel. She said she was going to be brief, then talked for an hour.

Brought my ~70 kilograms worth of luggage out of the hotel, to a taxi, and into the residence hall at UCM. The fencing bag was killer. Sheets and blankets are provided, so I didn't really need those...the extra pillow for my knees is very nice though. I think I brought just the right amount of clothes. I actually have a ton of storage. Big closet. Oh, and I have a single with my own bathroom. It's dope. Laundry service too...not done by Shakira though. The name of the college I'm in is called Colegio Mayor San Agustín. It's super nice...all Spanish students. IES classes are literally downstairs.

We had lunch with the students today in the cafeteria, which is also in the College (house). It definitely beats the grundle (dining hall at UVM), and is decently healthy as far as American food goes. The Spanish students say that it's a lot more oily than normal, which I can see. Something I don't miss about the U.S. is High Fructose Corn Syrup and the pletora of fake crap they put in our food. So far, even if the food I've had here isn't GREAT, you can't feel your liver shutting down (ex: grundle eggs). I guess it's comparable to a Spanish Marché (another dining hall at UVM), without the Sodexo influence (thumbs up).

Took a language placement test. Pounded on it with my Sra. Bent grammar wasn't really that hard though. It did cover stuff that I've been learning since 8th grade though...Sra. Rodriguez-Digon knew what to teach us apparently. She was from I guess that makes sense.

I can't get ahead in any of my classes, so I'm just socializing and writing things like this. Dinner is between 9 and 10:30. Lunch was between 1 and 3. Priorities for the near future: find a second hand bike, and figure out how to use the indoor pool.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Spain Day Two

the shift key is right next to the carrot key on a spanish keyboard. It´s driving me nuts. I´ll get over it. This morning, I went for a run down Paseo del Prado. Still haven´t measured it... Lunch with the IES population was dec...met some cool new people. Took a walk with a group of IES kids, and a girl named Maide (sp) who happens to live in the dorm to which I´ve been assigned. She was legit. This evening, most of us got a Spanish phones, and had tapas for dinner (some dec calamari, and a ¨bocadillo de queso¨ which I thought was going to be more interesting than it was). We ate at the oldest restaurant in the world last night, el Sobrino de Botin, so my expectations might be rather high (smoked salmon and stewed partidge). After dinner, I walked around for an hour trying to fine a store that sells used bicycles that the guy at the phone shop told me about. Didn´t find it. I´ll look again tomorrow. One would think that with all of the running I do, I wouldn´t mind walking a large number of blocks. Nope. Bicycles > feet, on some occasions.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

1/16 6 miler, and Madrid Day 1

Last week was a ten mile week...funny considering I've done 7x10 mile days. Today was a surprisingly easy 6 miles.

First some stuff (rambling) about Madrid Day 1:

Left Boston at around 7pm, flat-folding seats on the plane were oh so legit. Read the Jan/Feb issue of Running Times, and scanned the February Issue of Runners World. I read Running Times cover to cover, and didn't see a single article in RW that interested me. RT is absolute gold... There was even an add for a book about psychosomatic injuries. I'm loving our current running boom (or at least the running boom that's apparent in my life...maybe I just immerse myself in it). In a pretty standard article by Dave Griffin, I came across some solid quotes:

"Great opportunity doesn't present itself often. Sometimes, when it does, it will pass by untouched or even unrecognized. It is only with preparation that we can grasp a fleeting chance, and turn it into something great."

"Some say that life has defining moments, but I thing that's a misnomer. We are defined by the decisions we make, the work ethic we employ, and the discipline we display in the years before the moment happens."

We landed in Madrid this morning at around 7 am. Slept on the plane a bit, but the JetLag is decently heavy. I'm writing this to stay awake before we go out to dinner. This morning we took a taxi to the hotel, dropped stuff at rooms, and then went to the Prado, which is across the street. Renoir is temporarily there, but we didn't want to wait for two hours to take that tour, so we just checked out everything else. I could spend a lot longer in there, but Matt, Mother and I were decently fatigued, so we peaced out. I took a power nap in the hotel, and then went for my run.

Started at the hotel, ran up el Paseo del Prado, took a left on more or less Gran Via, continued onto Calle de la Princesa, took a left on Av de Seneca, checked out some of Complutense and Parque del Oueste, and then ran back. 6.1 in total at 7:22 mpm felt really good. Newtons were great on hard surfaces. I also had to dodge people on the sidewalks the whole way...that was interesting. Lots of stares. Pretty soon I'll run to the Casa del Campo (large park-esq area), and upload some pictures. I'm pretty pumped for the new landscapes.

After the run, went to the Hotel gym and did some core, lunges, and leg press...the biggest freeweights they had were 22kg (48 lbs), which aren't useless, but aren't ideal...I ended up doing lots of walking lunges. I could do burpees with weight, but I don't know how good that is for my knee.

My Spanish is pretty good so far. Hardest part is remember on the fly which words are masculine and feminine. It's easy when I'm writing, but when I'm asking for directions, and say "este calle," I feel decently stupid afterward. I'm going to try to finagle my way into the pool at Complutense tomorrow. I've heard it's 3-5 euros per use, so if I use it 6/7 days for sixteen weeks, that ~400-700 U.S. Dollars. I'm hoping they have a semester pass or something like that. The long course pool is closed for the winer, even though it was 55 degrees today. I guess that's cold for some people.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Swim Practice 1/3/11

1000 WU/Drills
2x3x300 on 5:00
3x300K w/ fins on 6:00
2x4x50 Desc
150 CD

4250 Total

First actual good swim sets since the summer I guess (beyond warming up and doing 5x200, and getting out the pool). It felt strangely like a moderate run afterward... This is a good thing. Technique went to hell on the third and fifth 300s, but making 5:00 really isn't that all. I haven't been pushing myself lately, so things like these seem a lot harder than they actually are. In the end, I can do a lot more than I say I can, and if I believe what I'm doing is good for me (amount of work and type of work), I think I can find a balance between feeling like a lazy ass (ha sooo relative), and overtraining. Knee felt fine this morning, but after the workout it didn't feel to great. Nothing some food won't help though. Ran last night and fenced yesterday and it felt fine. The more work I do, the more the muscle comes back, and the closer I come to being the me I want to be, but the more I stress it, the harder it is to convince myself that I should in fact keep pushing it. Again the fine line between doing what is good for me, and doing to much of it. Pretty happy with it over all. I guess I'm moderately dehydrated, but I was 172.3 last week, and 164.9 this morning...wild isn't it?