I am excited to offer my first contribution to this blog, though I hope that you will not mind I will have to write in English. Those of you who have been so sweet and patient enough to listen to my very novice Portuguese on training runs will surely appreciate the necessary choice of my native tongue to adequately describe an amazing run I shared this morning with João and Luisa Ralha, and João Fialho. Arriving in Sintra, sleepy and wishing we had gone to bed 3 hours earlier (or at least I am speaking for myself!), we set off on a loop that traversed 21 kilometers of the most beautiful winding roads that the mountain offers to us runners.
Immediately after leaving the historic center, I forgot my sleepiness and remembered why I get so excited every time an opportunity to run in Sintra presents itself. Today was particularly beautiful, sunny and clear and perfect for running. As we headed first towards Monserrate, winding through roads paved with gnarled oak trees, I was struck with a strong nostalgia for my hometown of Santa Barbara. As I have shared with some of you, parts of Sintra and the coast near Guincho are so similar to where i am from that I feel remarkably close to home. Running through the oaks, with each turn offering a view of the ocean and even glimpses of whitewater from the crashing waves, I keep feeling that I could very well be running through my family's property in Refugio, the mountains above Santa Barbara. Happy memories of home, and a feeling of thankfulness for the awesome beauty of this place I now live in, successfully distracted me completely from the increasingly steep hills that stretched before us, as we wound our way up the mountain. Waiting for me at the top was a fantastic surprise - a street called "Calçada de Santa Barbara"! confirming my sense of this being a 'home away from home".
The rest of the run brought us through ever more beautiful parts of the forest, and I kept reflecting on how lucky I have felt since I arrived here in Portugal. This group of runners has made me feel so welcome and is reflective of my experiences with everyone around me. I have been absolutely loving running here- it is a perfect way to explore this new place and share it with some amazing people!
To conclude I will just say that the last part of the run was some of the best training I have had in a while! João Fialho encouraged me to really push myself, and we kept an awesome pace from Capuchos back to the fountain. The last few inclines were hard as hell, and seemed infinitely longer than the same path we ran on Saturday! Now, hours later, my legs exhausted and tender, I am still basking in the glow from our run and feeling just as happy as when we finally finished the last kilometer.
Thank you all SO much for sharing your group with me, inviting me on runs, giving me rides, and just generally making my time here in Portugal so much more wonderful! Below are a few photos of Santa Barbara in case you are curious :)