The deluge is over. Madrid is back to its normal sunny self, at least for the time being. The weekend has been gorgeous and the Madrileños are out in full force, doing what they love best: getting dressed and having a drink at one of the hundreds of terrazas in the city. Families with hordes of children dressed in the cutest Spanish kids' clothes, couples young and old, singles with a dog or a book or a paper. They're having a beer or a clara or a café con leche, accompanied by the ubquitous plate of patatas fritas. It's Sunday--what else is there to do?
On Sundays, Spain virtually shuts down. Generally the only businesses open are bars and restaurants, bakeries, and pharmacies. You can find convenience stores open in the big cities. So, what to do? Eat and drink, of course. Sit in a bar or a terraza, people watching, being social. Pasear with your new baby in his 800-euro stroller, stopping every hundred meters or so when someone wants to ogle your adorable addition to the world. Play tennis, go running, clean the house, do laundry. More or less typical weekend things, with a Spanish flair.
I spent Sunday morning running a race--the second annual Retiro District 10K. I did it last year, too, but under notably different circumstances. I'd been unable to sign-up because they'd capped it at 2,000 runners. But out in a bar the night before the race a friend suggested that what the hell? We'd run it anyway, just without numbers. And we did, after sleeping about four hours. Well, this year I made sure to sign up early and go to bed at a reasonable hour. No biggie that I signed up, though. I arrived to pick up my timing chip on race day, and they apologetically informed us that the chips for race numbers 1300 and up had been stolen. Huh? Yes, it's true. So we ran without chips and lined up after finishing to report our times to a woman with pen and paper. No problem.
My main problem with races here is post-race. Maybe I got spoiled running all those New York Road Runner races in Central Park, which run like clockwork and dependably feature huge tables of water and some sort of food just after crossing the finish line. Lamentably, at none of the four races I've run here has food played a role for we poor hungry runners. But on several occasions you could cross the finish and drink a Coke right away! You had to wait in a long line for your goodie bag with one puny bottle of water. When I cross the finish, I want to gulp down several cups of water in quick sucession. I don't want a Coke, or a Nestea, or whatever sugary drink is sponsoring the race. And I definitely don't want to wait fifteen minutes in line to get the tiny bit of water that's in my race bag. Why does Coca-Cola sponsor the races I've run in Madrid? Where are the bananas, apples, and bagels for chrissake!?