Monday, July 2, 2012

Run to Relax: Madrid and Mallorca

If Lisa and I (well, mostly me) take a vacation to relax and lounge around, I (we?) feel like I need to justify that relaxation with something active --- a long hike or bicycle ride --- otherwise I start to feel slothful.  I realize that a few days of modest activity won't, of course, turn me into a couch-surfing, remote control-wielding, bonbon-eating dolt but the feeling, nevertheless, persists.  Any chance, then, to combine high-energy activity with low-level lounging into a single vacation makes for a near-perfect holiday.  And our recent trip to Madrid and Mallorca was exactly that.

Our trip to Madrid was centered around my running of the Trail Peñalara 60k (a 37-mile trail race about 30 miles outside of Madrid) featuring a cumulative altitude gain of ~8,484' and cumulative altitude loss of ~8,402' run over mostly fire roads, single track, and a little bit of pavement.  Aside from dealing with some low-level nausea most of the day, less-than-ideal hydration, hot weather (90+F), and the sporting of an ominous-yet-amusing 666 as my race number ("el diablo!"), I was pleased with my run:  10h:15m:21s for a semi-respectable 39th out of 147 finishers.  (If interested in a more detailed reporting, go here.)
I ran the shortest of three distances available:  60k, 80k, or 110k.
el diablo y el ángel
The fire road en route to the first aid station (mile ~6)
The approach en route to the summit of Peñalara. Less running/hiking and more rock scrambling thru this area.
As I run/hike thru the woods and hills beyond, Lisa wanders thru the surrounding towns...
...and eats tapas for lunch.  Crewing/spectating, however, isn't for the weak of heart... have to deal with dried sweat and dirt & dust caked everywhere... well as smelly-runner shenanigans.

Madrid, as a tourist destination, doesn't feature any one 'must-see' attraction but it is, nonetheless, a delightful city to wander around. 

Random apartments on a random street
Lots of parks and public-space in Madrid. 
The day after the race, Lisa and I began our return journey back to Vienna by way of three days in Mallorca (Majorca), one of the three Balearic islands in the Mediterranean Sea.  Rather than stay in the largest city in Mallorca, Palma, we elected to stay in a smaller town, Sóller, near the northwest coast with quick access to both mountain trails and beach coves.  Mallorca is a major holiday destination for Brits, Germans, and Scandinavians:  no surprise considering the good weather, the tourist amenities, the access to both mountains and beaches, and the ease with which you can get there (read:  cheap airfare).  We weren't disappointed. 
Easy to justify lounging in the room with a view like this
And even easier to indulge with food like this:  Serrano ham, cheese, and Rose wine.
Deia Beach
Leisurely hike through the woods...
...then along the coast.
Followed by, without question, the best Patatas Bravas we've ever had.

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