Saturday, June 18, 2011

Barefoot In Mallorca

By chance, by the grace of a friendly taxi driver, instead of staying at a hotel in Palma de Mallorca, the main city, I ended up in a cheap hotel 10 kilometers outside of town, in the Playa de Mallorca section, an 8 kilometer stretch of beach. At first I hesitated, because I´m not a beach person, and the Germans are out in full force for their summer vacations: the equivelant of our Spring Break, but the Germans ended up being helpful to me as a barefoot runner, since they basically let it all hang out here, walking around in shorts, and the women in just bikini bottoms, and a lot of folks walking around barefoot. So one more shirtless shoeless white person is, if not normal, then just part of the German invasion to the locals.

Don´t get me wrong, I´m still getting wierd looks, from both locals and and tourists, but I guess the level of craziness they see in me is lower than if I were back in Barcelona.

The sandy shore on the beach is actually a little too steep, and the sand a little too loose, to really be able to run on the sand, much as I would like to. But, there is La Rambla, the walking/biking path that runs along the whole beach, made of smooth square stone tiles, almost the easiest surface I can imagine for barefoot running. East of the beach, away from Palma, the path continues as part of a marine sanctuary, though there are apartments right along the whole thing. The Rambla also runs all the way west into Palma, and along the port, with all the huge yachts docked, waiting for their rich owners.

I´m not in a hotel, instead of renting a room from someone. A little pricier of course, but much better for me: I can run when I want, barefoot, and not have anyone freak out about getting the shower dirty. My routes are basically east or west, as long as I want to run, though I tend to avoid the east part of the beach, just because of the hordes of Germans over there. The beach is just teeming with folks, and various gangs of Hitler Youth hang out on the Rambla wall, drinking from buckets of beer and chanting in German.

Here I´ve really been able to prepare myself for the upcoming 100 miler. I have one route that takes me to the other side of Palma, four hours there and back, and where I´ve found a little hidden cove that I can strip down and take a quick swim, which does wonders for my return leg. Refreshing, and very primal to swim naked in the ocean.

This week I´ve ran that four hour route three times, every other day, getting closer to my original goal of running four hours a day, in order to bring myself up to the equivelant amount of hours I´ll be running for the race. It´s all flat running, I do miss the bosque nacional in Barcelona for hills, but it´s also been basically hot and sunny for every run, so good practice in staying hydrated.

I originally only thought I´d stay five days here, but I´ve been here two weeks almost, and I´ve decided to just finish my Spain trip here, because where else in Spain would I be able to run barefoot whenever I want? I think I´d grow bored of beach life, but I´ve also made some friends at the Tattoo Bar, a small place right on the beach, and especially with the owner, Lucas, who took me on his favorite one hour run, with the now almost obligatory swim. He´s inspired by me to get back into his running groove, and hopefully will be showing me more routes to the east. There are also mountains, but without a car I´ve been unable to get over and explore them.

´Nuff said. Mallorca is maybe the ideal barefoot running location!