Guadalajara - a large town and provincial capital - is not the most attractive or indeed compelling place, but it served as my base for a small weekend away and yielded some surprisingly interesting little chicken McOoh-that's-interesting-Nuggets.
I had signed up for a 5-6km charity run in the town. It was my first race. It was only 5-6km, which is what I usually run for fitness anyway, but it was my first 'race'. I would have a number and a finish line, competitors and a time! That was on the Sunday though. We still had Saturday.
After work finished at 14:00 I went with Ditas - our resident weekend teacher/marathon runner - to her home in Guadalajara. The plan was to stay overnight at her flat then go for our run the following morning. We caught our bus from Avenida America and 45minutes later we disembarked at the small and rather ugly bus station in the town. Might I just add here how charming the price for a ticket to Guadalajara was: 4.01 euros. I reckon I could have paid 4 euros and just told the driver to stop 50 yards from the terminus. We wandered to her flat through the drizzle and dumped our stuff.
After having the small tour of her frankly absurdly nice apartment we decided to go and get some food. The plan was to have a Guadalajara speciality - arroz con bogavante, or 'rice with lobster'. This was to be our meal. However the whole endeavour escalated into a full flung feast quite accidentally. We showed up a little late for lunch, at 4 o'clock, so the kitchen wasn't really prepared for us. In the meantime we were given a free little shrimp caldo (broth) in a mug and some perpetually topped-up bread rolls. We also had some crayfish croquetas while we waited. To accompany us on this food journey was a delicious and crisp bottle of Galician Albarino white wine. Then the arroz con bogavante came. Then the funny bibs came. To protect our clothing during the destructive and splattery process of eating the crustacean we were adorned with polythene bibs with a jolly little lobster on it. He seemed happy that we were about to tuck into what could have been his cousin Jerry. We cracked, crunched, stabbed, sucked and scraped the shells clean of meat and in the process coated both our hands and the surrounding finery in sauce and juice. After this we were stuffed to bursting point. Tea and a shot of pacharran liquor - essentially a tasty, red sloe-gin - ended it all off and we decided a walk was necessary.
We ballooned our way around the drab, rain-bashed town centre. We did find some nice churches with some differing innards: one glittery, golden and ostentatious; one dark, austere and angry; and another brick, stoic, quite British and containing a group of quietly wailing parishioners. We also glimpsed the small, weather-beaten bull ring, complete with tiled artwork and anti-bullfight graffiti.
Back at the flat I had a 2.5 hour siesta until Matt arrived at around 10:45. We watched some football on tele. Well, he watched it and I nodded in agreement saying 'he's OFFSIDE!' and 'the referee's a wanker!' and all that...just to fit in... Not really of course, I read a book. Ditas then made us a little tapas dinner. Bits of tender solomillo (fillet of steak) cooked in butter and seasoned, then set atop some bread with a little knob of foie gras that slowly melted into the meat.
The morning of the run, we woke up leisurely and had some cereal. It wasn't to start until 12, and according to one of the people who were involved it wouldn't actually start until 12:15-12:30. It was a Spanish-organised event after all.
We trotted up for about 12:10. Quite quiet. Ditas looked at once puzzled and a bit anxious.
She asked a marshal.
"Where do we go for the adults race"
"What adults race?"
"The one that starts at 12:00"
"The 12:00 race?"
"Well, they've gone"
We ran into the running circuit (the beginning of the race) and found another man who informed us "If you want to run, go now!" So much for my gentle and measured début in race-running. We shoved our clothes into a bag and pegged it. We were already 15 minutes behind the group. I spent the first 5 minutes running and attempting to unravel my headphones. GOD I HATE CABLES! That in place I focussed on what was ahead of me. It is quite a strange feeling running along with my number (917) down a very long road with everyone else running the opposite way. They either thought 'they were late...idiots' or 'christ, they are really bad at running'.
Apart from one stitch near the end that had me walking for 2 minutes I managed to catch up with Ditas - Matt had pulled away. We pulled into the stadium while the organisers had started to pack up. We crossed the line. Water and free t-shirts were thrust upon us. A group photo. Our times. Matt = 26 minutes, Me and Ditas = 28 minutes. The slowest time of the day was 42 minutes. Had we been with the main group, we would have done quite admirably. Instead we all came 'last'.
Oh well, it was fun. Now it hurts it when I move.
We went back to ditas for a spot of lunch. Cheese-stuffed bacon-wrapped turkey breasts, filet Mignon in peppercorn sauce, peppers, mustard mash and some nice wine.
At 16:00 Matt and I took our return bus to Madrid and went to meet his girlfriend in the South of the city.
In the evening four of us: Matt, Raquel (his girlfriend), Anna and myself went to see Shutter Island in Kinepolis - an enormous 25-screen cinema megaplex. Anna had to leave halfway through out of fear. After the film we ate some oriental food and went home.
Adjectives to describe this weekend: full, tasty, painful, necessary.
The next run is 10km in April...we'll see about that. I might be washing my hair or something...