Teaching, a race and the fierce bearded man

Since starting a job as a teacher I have even more respect for teachers than I did before. It is hard! I think in my case it has been exceptionally hard teaching largely Catalan children English and not being able to speak any Catalan myself. The age range is zero to five year olds so it is not just a case of teaching, but crowd control too. It has been a steep learning curve and I am very thankful for songs, puppets, Mr Potato head and the other teachers who have helped to come up with a few systems to encourage the  children to listen! The children’s English has improved since I started so that makes the effort and energy worthwhile!

As for my running I have been fitting in training before and after work. The first run of the day has been in the dark  (hopefully not for too much longer as the days are getting lighter). At the end of my morning run I have seen the most beautiful sunrises, pale pink skies with the snow capped mountains standing in their glory. Sadly no photos to show but I have the memory etched in my mind! My friend did capture it that morning from her balcony so I have used that in the cover photo. Thanks Abbie!

I have been battling tiredness but have kept the quality speed sessions going and have had to be open to adapting or switching the training sessions around accordingly as I juggle work, family life and managing my tiredness. It was really helpful having a good friend staying who is also an athlete so we have been able to train together and push each other on.

One run I did was on the trails that are out the back of where we live. Most of them are incredibly steep but I discovered a more gradual climb. This was on an easier day and on one of those days where I had to drag myself out to get running. It turned out to be the best thing that I could have done and is an advert for how exercise does make you feel better. The smells of the pine trees were incredible, along with the heather and lavender. I came across some mint plants…fresh herbs are hard to come by in the shops here in Spain so I jumped at the chance and filled my pockets with mint leaves. I also picked a few sprigs of lavender and heather in my other pocket and set off on my way again. As I was running down the trails into the valley even the puddles from the rain where a beautiful bright orange from the orange mud. I arrived back to the house a new person, my spirits were lifted and that run was one to remember why I love running.

The Barcelona Half Marathon on valentine’s weekend was a great race to do. I was so excited to be racing again. I love being on that start line and having the opportunity to run as hard as you can, a chance to prove to yourself that the hard work is paying off and I find that racing gives me even more motivation to keep pushing on in training. I think for this race  I felt even more happy to be doing what I feel I am made to do because I have felt out of my comfort zone teaching!

The field was strong with the world record holder for the half marathon on the start line along with many other strong international runners. This is always a good opportunity to be pushed on. It was a windy day so it was more of a tactical race having to speed up in places to ensure that there were people to tuck in behind to act as windbreaks. At one point in the race a group of us were all in single file like a long caterpillar all trying our best to conserve some energy. The bands playing along the route were fantastic especially the drummers. One band were blasting out a Sting song and I seem to recall Bryan Adams being played too. I finished with a 73 minute 38 seconds not a PB but not too far off it. I was pleased to be back in the 73’s as I hadn’t hit that since I was injured last year and I am even more determined to push on and get faster.

My pursuit of obtaining an NIE card has been on going! Here you need an NIE number for everything, it seems more important than a passport number. You need an NIE number for  getting a supermarket club card, opening a bank account at most banks, obtaining a Spanish racing licence, to get taxed at a normal rate, to register with a doctor. The list is endless. I have been to the office 3 times now and have faced the ‘fierce beard man’ each time. My second to last visit I had all the necessary documents that I had been told I needed: bank account, work contract, house contract and passport. I was feeling more hopeful this time, however upon my arrival the fierce bearded man was in a huge argument with an Irish man that was taking forever. In the end the farce bearded man just shouted goodbye in the man’s face and carried on looking at his computer pretending that the he had vanished into thin air. Not a good start for my petition. I sat down with all my documents only to be told that I didn’t need half of those and needed to go to a different office to collect a different number and to then return and surprise surprise that office was now closed because it was past 2 o’clock. I explained that I worked 9am-2pm the exact times that the office is only open from and he just shrugged. Better luck next time! I have since got my NIE number after my 4th visit and having to two and fro from one building to the next, via a photocopy shop and a bank and eventually got given the card. I never thought that I would feel so happy! This is the bureaucracy in Spain for you.

Rich has been busy working on two cycling training camps. One with the UWE cycling team and another with one of the pro teams based here in Girona. His physio seems in popular demand here too which is good.

Josh is continuing to enjoy school and is picking up the language quicker than we are. They had the excitement of a Children’s TV programme here coming to surprise them in their school show. He loves our garden and is a happy soul most of the time.

Until next time.



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