Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I always wanted to fly. I have this reoccurring dream of lifting my arms, concentrating really hard and... fly until I am all alone in the clouds. Then I usually wake up. I am still in my bed, maybe a bit sweaty, since flying takes a lot of efforts, you know... :)
About 10 years ago a friend asked me if I wanted to join paragliding. I have the tendency to say "yes" to things like that. We flew pretty much every weekend that summer. It was beautiful and naively optimistic that nothing wrong can happen. Fall came and so as my accident. My wing closed around 6 meters above the ground and I landed firmly on my butt. I could not move from pain. The emergency came and few hours later my doctor told me that I have broken my back and I might not be able to walk again. A night in agony followed. The next day they did some more tests and realized that I have just broken one of the ring on my spine, much less serious injury. I end up staying in bed good 30 days, not being able to move, wearing a giant tight belt around my waist. I didn't fly again... Until last week. 
I went to the South of Spain, signed up for a proper training and I flew! 
I have been lucky to experience a lot of great things, but Paragliding is by far one of the best. It's not only a sport. Not only an extreme sport. It's a journey, to self. The obvious accessory is the fight with your fears and literary rising above them. My favorite though is the rush of thoughts that run trough my mind standing up on the hill, waiting for the right winds to blow up my wing. It was a bit like on graduation day. What is next, what will happen? Will I crash and burn or would I spread my wings and fly beautifully above all those thorns hidden in the bushes, ready to tear my delicate skin. And then I flew... I can only describe the feeling as a very long-lasting orgasm. It's a mix of euphoria, relief, adrenalin rush, endorphin raise, triumph, not wanting it to stop, all in one, creating as much physical as a psychological state of absolute happiness. Even of only for a minute...
I am hooked and I want to do it again, and again. I want to become better and fly longer and higher. I feel so lucky being able to do things like this while having two small children. It wouldn't have been possible if my mom wasn't so great with taking over for a week or two at the time, hubby wasn't so understanding and most of all, right now, being able to afford it. It's all matter of priorities, of course. 

Otherwise the whole experience was pretty nice. The school was in the middle of nowhere in Andalusia. Stunning scenery, great mix of people, great conversations, good wines, inexpensive fresh food every evening. The whole concept is pretty much like a "package paragliding holiday" in which though you need to work really hard almost 12 hours a day. But it felt easy, since the pay off was incredible. I had a blast. If I have known how great that was, I would have done it much earlier. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

I did it. I ran that marathon! 
Crossing that finish line felt like a victory. I was a newer, braver me. 
In fact I liked it so much that am already plotting my next runs. Not sure how healthy is to run one marathon each year, but I may as well try. My time was pretty good for a first-timer, 4:31. I thought if I  hit 4:30 would be a miracle, so I guess I can thank the witchcraft. The key success factors were good sleep, plenty of hydration, large breakfast, two power gels and 2 bananas. Key slowing down factors: I needed to use the restrooms once after drinking all that water, and the fact that I stopped at pretty much all water&power stations. Next time I hope to better my time. No excuses about being a first-timer anymore. But just as a friend told me once, you will never forget your first marathon, and I know now what he meant. Item One scratched from my bucket list, yeah! :))
Before the race:
Berlin was great. It definitely helped that the weather was absolutely amazing and I stayed in Nhow. Sitting outside on the sun, overlooking the Spree with a glass of rose after the run, was Awesome! 
I didn’t really checked the night life, but no regrets there. 
After the marathon I took the train to Munich. Great experience. The train was clean, comfortable and on time. I've got inexpensive first class ticket, no complaints there at all. In fact I am thinking of taking trains more often. It still took 6 hours to get there though. The closer we were to Munich the scenery became so beautiful, I was compelled to glue myself to the window. Bavaria is like a fairytale, rolling hills, farm houses, green with the Alps in the distance. 
Then it was Munich, and October fest. That was one hell of an unhealthy party, though a great fun. I drank and ate way too much, and only the fact that my friend had to work prevented us both from having a hungover every day. 
I have purchased my outfit onine from the USA. That was Not the right outfit that they wear over there! Fact is, short skirts just don’t go. Everyone is dressed really traditionally, which means a long skirt. In fact they call my outfit a “porno dirndl". Not fun. Well, a litter of beer at the sun at a downtown beer garden and I was brave enough to put it on. No one knows me in Munich anyway, right? Sure enough we had no problem with the bouncers to get in the tents, or get service. I was popular!:)) Not alw the kind of attention you want, but whatever.
Reconnecting with old friend from Uni was great. We used to live together for almost a year. And we were kids back then, It was big. Turns out we haven’t seen each other 5 years! I promised myself it would not be another 5 years until next time. 
Observations about Germany based on that trip. I love Munich. I found the locals a bit snobbish, but more sophisticated than grungy Berliners. I spoke to an elderly physics professor at the fest and he was so proud to share that he was born in Munich and there are very few people that are actually born in the city. He was perfectly dressed and had fine manners. Also very fast to leave when he heard I was so not interested ;) Munich is beautiful, atmosphere great, running opportunity plentiful, people dress and look nice, and smile (!). But Munich lacks the cosmopolitan feel that Berlin has. Berlin seem a bit more happening and free, yet, quite a bit uglier. 
I managed to squeeze in a day trip to the greatest country of Lichtenstein. It was pretty, and pretty boring . The "country" is locked within the Alps, between Switzerland and Austria. There was not so much to see out there: few banks, an old castle,   that's it. But the road trip itself was well worth it.