When you have no expectations, it’s hard not to be impressed. This was our approach to Madrid, and it sure did work in our favour.
Having spent the week prior exploring some beautiful corners of Spain with friends; Barcelona, Valencia, Granada, Ronda and Seville, we took the 6+ hour drive to Madrid because it was ‘somewhat’ in the right direction to where we were headed next; – Porto.
Two nights and some very full days was enough for us to enjoy the city, eat and drink our way around, walk endless kilometres on end (25km days in shitty shoes! – it’s no wonder that my legs are s.o.r.e.) and to discover its beauty and impressive landmarks.
Upon arriving late at night, the city felt instantly warm and inviting. In a small radius there were so many incredible works of architecture, as there often are in large European cities; however, they were all so clean and it seemed a very easy space to navigate. However, on speaking with others’ in coming days, it was interesting that they’re impressions were quite contrasting to ours. Nonetheless, it was a big city with a small town feel in parts, with a lot of parkland for some legs that needed to cover off some kilometres quickly!
With a couple of marathons quietly creeping up – New York Marathon for C at the beginning of November, and the Narragansett Marathon for myself a week prior, it’s been priority to get some kilometres on the board. Neither of us run well in the heat, and with delicious sangria in 36 deg. on offer on every corner, it’s sometimes hard getting those key sessions banked. In saying this, we were well behaved and got out for a run each day around the beautiful El Parque del Buen Retiro (El Retiro).
The El Retiro park (‘Park of the Pleasant Retreat’, in English) covers over 125 hectares and includes several smaller parks within its boundaries. The route we chose was roughly a 5km loop around some of the exterior, which involved not needing to cross any roads. There are many options to cut through the centre and to enjoy its winding trails that are a mix of compressed gravel and concrete, which are really well maintained.
For those who want to sharpen their speed work skills on a flat, wide and sealed surface, as well wouldn’t mind a pretty impressive view, the Alfonso X11 monument near the pond is your space. It would be a good couple of hundred metres of concrete, with not a lot of traffic (people and vehicles) at all. Intervals are your friend right here!
We ran around 7.30am both days, which is a bit of a late start considering, but, – when on holidays… 😉 and the park was relatively quiet. Unlike our beautiful spaces in Melbourne, particularly the ‘Tan’ where runners/walkers move in varied directions to ensure the incline/decline works to their favour; here, it felt that the general consensus was to run anti-clockwise.
It was great to share the space with the local runners and to see a mix of abilities out there pounding the pavement too. A bit more company always keeps things interesting, as does a new environment, and this was a beautiful playground to kick the motivation back into gear.