Tag Archives: Madrid

San Silvestre 2015

Fifteenth participation (1) in the popular San Silvestre Vallecana on New Year’s Eve.

The team this time was composed by some 8 friends (Nacho, me, Pablo, Maicol, Carlos, Sara, Jaime and Alicia):

This year, we finished the race with a sprint over the last 200 meters, after having been joking about it all along the race. Even with that last rush, we added some more seconds to our record: this year it took us 1h12’17” to complete the 10km.

The time in this race is the less important aspect of it. As always, it is a pleasure to share a run through the centre of our home town with friends to give a healthy, funny and colorful farewell to the year. Be sure that next year we’ll be there to laugh, jog and beat our time!

(1) I took part in it for the first time in 1998, when less than 5,000 raced in it, and have always participated (not always inscribed though) except for 3 years (twice I spent New Year’s Eve in the Netherlands and other time I was injured).


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San Silvestre 2013

Yet another year running on New Year’s Eve the popular San Silvestre Vallecana.

This year we had some newcomers to the community: Maicol, Alicia, Almudena and Ubaldo with friends (1) and Nacho managed to run again.

Jaime was running his 15th San Silvestre in a row. Impressive!

This race is a tradition that can hardly be matched (2), that is one of the reasons why I try to spend every year New Year’s Eve in Madrid. Again, we had talked a bit about dressing some costume or preparing something for the race but we did not.

This year my second half of the race was less fun than other years. Just after the kilometre 3 I let myself lag behind our main group to join two of our runners to talk a bit. At the km 4.5, not seeing the rest of the group, I decided to go ahead again in pursuit of them. After some 2-3 kilometres running a bit faster (~5’05″/km) than we normally do in this race (~6’30″/km) I realized that I had overtaken them without seeing them. What do I do now? Wait for them? Run softly till the end? Finally, I tried to run moderately fast when the crowd permitted (very difficult in the last 2 km).

I crossed the finish line alone, something which I think had not happened to me in over 10 years… and hopefully the last time.

Final time: ~1h00’51” (best time I have managed in ages, departing at the back of the pack).

(1) Though compared to last year we missed Pablo, Juanma and Abraham.

(2) In 2013, during the honeymoon I run the Bay to Breakers in San Francisco, which in essence is very similar. Except that it is not on New Year’s Eve and there is much less of a crowd cheering the runners.

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San Silvestre 2012

One more New Year’s Eve running the popular San Silvestre Vallecana.

Year by year we’re creating a small community: Jaime, Pablo, KikeJon, Juanma and Abraham.

Compared to the last year, this time Gonzalo and Nacho could not run. Though the fact that the latter couldn’t, made it possible to have the great pictures he took of the rest of us in Calle Alcalá. Enjoy them:

Kike, Jon, Pablo, Abraham, Jaime and I (picture taken by olemiswebs).

Pablo, Juanma, I, Abraham, Kike, Jon and Jaime (picture taken by olemiswebs)

Jaime was running his 14th San Silvestre in a row. Impressive! I was doing my 12th (I missed three along these years: one due to injury and other 2 being in NL). Pablo must have done around 5, Kike 3, like Juanma (?), this was the second for Jon and Abraham, I believe. But they’ll complete many more.

Numbers… the time was ridiculous: 1h7′. As usual it was impossible to run, and this time we had to fully stop twice in Vallecas due to runners’ traffic plus the long pause to make the pictures. I cannot attach the route as at the beginning of Xmas time I forgot my Garmin watch in Toulouse (Kike, Jon, if you read this, please, could you attach the records in the comments?).

Commenting on the difficulty to run in that race nowadays: I remembered our first San Silvestres back in the ’90s. Already then it was difficult to run, especially in Vallecas. I tried to find the results from the first one I ran and I couldn’t, but I found those of the 2nd, in 1999, already with Jaime. We then finished in around 55′ to 56′ net time and positions around 3,500 out of less than 5,000 finishers… about one tenth of today’s figures.

Due to the strike of underground metro workers, this time we came back from Vallecas to Jaime’s flat, close to Retiro… adding up some nearly 4km after the race.


PD: In last year post, I wrote that Luca wanted to have spent the past Christmas in some sunny island… well, one more year Madrid and its San Silvestre got it :-D.


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San Silvestre 2011

Running the popular San Silvestre Vallecana is, no doubt, the best possible farewell event for the year.

Some of you may think that it is too cold, that running is too hard, that you are not prepared, that you would have a hard time running, etc. All that may be true and still you would enjoy it, laugh in it and want to come again. I have seen that once and again with family members and friends.

This time we run together with 6 other friends: Jaime, Nacho, Pablo, Kike, Jon and Gonzalo (for the last two I believe it was their first San Silvestre, it won’t be the last one). All of us had been training more or less during the year, and this year even though the pace we run (1h4’30”) was more or less the same as we did last year, we felt much better, we laughed more.

Jaime was running is 13th San Silvestre in a row. Impressive! I was doing my 11th (I missed three along these years). Pablo & Nacho must have done around 3-5, but they’ll complete many more.

Luca wants to spend next Christmas at some hot and sunny island somewhere (obviously Madrid & Vallecas don’t fit in that). I’d better find one island in which a San Silvestre race is organized, I don’t want to miss that :-).

You may find some data about the performance of the race in the Garmin record of it.

Enjoy the pictures:

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Great Toastmasters Conference in Madrid (May 7th)

Let me close the “Toastmasters blogging week” by informing you about a great Toastmasters event in Madrid next May 7th.

We will celebrate the Division Conference in Madrid (this is happening in Madrid only once about every 4 years). It will be open to all kind of participants. You don’t need to be already a member to take part in it.

There will be some very interesting presentations but most important of all, there will be 3 speaking contests: public speaking contest in Spanish and English and evaluation contest. There it will be decided who are the champions for Spain & Portugal, who will compete in the next level. It will be a big show, where you’ll be able to meet many people, learn a lot and put an end to the day with a wonderful gala dinner. There is a wonderful team working to make it a great event.

Even though I am now based in Toulouse, I’ll go to Madrid that day to take part in that event as the contest chairman, in case you hesitate whether to join the event not knowing anyone (you’ll at least know me!).

Check the website of the event, “Madrid Conference 2011: Dare to fly, dare to shine!” and register to it (there is an early bird discount if you register before end of March).

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Mi adiós a Ibercaja

Llevaba tiempo queriendo cerrar una cuenta de Ibercaja por varios motivos: cobran por las tarjetas, cobran por las transferencias realizadas por internet, hace años me colaron un seguro de vida al pedir un crédito para irme de Erasmus, tiene pocas oficinas, etc.

Hasta ahora no había cerrado esa cuenta porque seguía pagando un préstamo, y no quería cancelar el préstamo porque al principal que me quedaba por pagar le podía sacar una rentabilidad mayor invirtiéndolo que el interés que me cobraba la caja. Pero en junio terminé de pagarlo.

Hace unos días transferí casi todo el dinero restante a ING. Pregunté si seguía necesitando la cuenta de Ibercaja asociada, y me confirmaron que no, que al tener la cuenta Nómina de ING con sus tarjetas (gratuitas) asociadas no era necesario. La comercial de ING me ofreció que ellos me realizaban la gestión de cerrar la cuenta de Ibercaja: “No, gracias, prefiero ir en persona”. Para eso había dejado 22,53€.

Esta mañana, antes de ir al trabajo, he pasado por la oficina más cercana (c/ Francisco Silvela, Madrid).

–  Hola, venía a ver cuánto dinero hay en la cuenta.

–  22,53€.

–  Perfecto, quería retirarlo.

–  ¿22 euros ó 22,53?

–  22,53€.

El hombre de la caja recoge el dinero, hasta el último céntimo y me lo da.

–  Tiene que firmar aquí.

–  Ahora quería cancelar esta tarjeta que me han enviado, que no he pedido ni activado y me dicen que me quieren cobrar 17€ ahora en octubre.

Comprueba unas cosas en el ordenador, me señala otros dos papeles donde debo firmar…

–  Y, por último, quería cerrar la cuenta.

[El orden de retirar primero el dinero, cancelar luego la tarjeta y por último cancelar la cuenta era premeditado: para evitarle la tentación de inventarse un “cargo por cancelación” dado que él vería que ya no quedaba dinero y para que fuese lo más parecido a una muerte anunciada]

–  … No puede ser, tiene que ir a su oficina (Las Rozas, a 22km de Madrid).

–  ¿Cómo que tengo que ir a un pueblo donde no vivo ahora para cerrar una cuenta? Deme una hoja de reclamación que voy a poner una queja.

–  Espere… voy a llamar a la oficina de Las Rozas a ver si me autorizan.

Esperamos a que llegue el fax… A quienes vivimos en Madrid, esto de tener que ir de Madrid a Las Rozas puede no parecer tan extraño, pero ¿si hubiese abierto la cuenta en Sevilla? Me parece estúpido pretender que cada persona haya de ir a cerrar una cuenta donde la abrió… En Ibercaja parecen serlo.

Llega el fax:

–  Usted tenía un seguro de vida… ¿relacionado con un préstamo?

–  Sí, me obligaron a abrirlo. No lo quiero.

–  Además, tiene una libreta.

–  No lo sé, si en algún momento la tuve no sé donde está.

–  Necesito que traiga la libreta, si no, no podemos cerrar la cuenta.

[Este fue el mejor momento… me costó no reírme: ¿qué debía pensar el cajero? “Si le retengo unos días hasta que encuentre la libreta, igual se lo piensa, recapacita y quiere volver a ser nuestro cliente”… esto es como entienden el servicio al cliente – ni que hablar de no cobrar por realizar transferencias, ni por las tarjetas, horarios de apertura, horarios de atención telefónica, etc.]

–  No me ha entendido: no tengo esa libreta ni se la voy a traer.

–  … Bueno, si un día la encuentra corte la banda magnética…

Firmé un último papel y salí del banco sonriente.

Aunque muy pocos, hay días en que el ir a un banco o caja puede hacer que tu día empiece de la forma más feliz.


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Is a hassle-free airport possible?

Some years ago on trip to India, I remember having passed through the security check just before getting into the airplane at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam. However in the subsequent flights I have taken from there I never saw this again… until last summer, on another trip to a non-Schengen destination, Tunisia.

Here is the picture I took.

X-ray scanners and metal detectors at Schiphol, Amsterdam.

As you can see, in terminal 1 departures D of Schiphol airport, the security control is located just where each boarding gate is.

You can imagine how much this measure reduces the hassle passengers experience in airports. To take that flight, we arrived at the airport, dropped our luggage, showed our boarding pass and passport to an official (no long queue, no removing of personal belongings…), walked to our boarding gate and only there we made a small queue for the security control… The difference: that queue is composed of just the people who will come in your flight, you are seeing the airplane out there, there is no rush, they are seeing you, you are not missing the plane…

I tried to get the numbers from Madrid-Barajas airport but I did not find them (if any one has better estimates or a reliable source, please feel free to contribute), nevertheless, from having seen the different terminals I can figure out that:

  • It may have around 230 boarding gates among all the terminals (over 60 between T1, T2 and T3, around 90 in T4 and over 60 in T4S).
  • It may have no more 50 than x-ray scanners…

If you wanted to install 2 per boarding gate, you would need to invest in buying and staffing more than 4 times the number of x-ray scanners and metal detectors than the ones that there are now… It would be so easy… if just air traffic controllers did not suck up a whole 30% of AENA yearly costs [pdf, 741 Kb] (~1bn€)…


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