Back to 68 Lepelstraat. The flat of all flats in downtown Leuven, a place muddled with clothing stores, overpriced restaurants, and some of the most beautiful architecture I have ever seen in my life. More than anything I was just happy to be back in a place where I would stay for more than 3 days. When I got to the flat the roommate situation had pulled a Houdini. It had transformed from a quaint family residence to an all out bachelor pad. We had Robby Andrews, Mike Rutt, Matt Sonnenfeldt, and me living under the same roof. It was freaking awesome, and slightly smelly. If only it had lasted more than the four or so days we had prior to them leaving back for the states…. Anyways, the time while we were all there together was cool. We would all start the day by bike riding to the track and going for a run or taking care of our workouts. Then after chatting with the community of American runners that was overrunning (no pun intended) Leuven, we’d come back to the flat, attempting to all cook breakfast in a kitchen meant for 2 people and get some food in our systems. And do not even get me started about what happens when you get 4 guys under the same roof for an extended period of time… their poo cycles align, and I mean good god I’ll just say roses wasn’t the first thing to come to mind when you walked in the place. Probably a top five moment of Leuven occurred when Robby introduced me to Pokemon on the laptop. This brings me to our afternoons at Lepelstraat. I’ll break it down for you. We’d have Robby and me getting after it in some Pokemon. I stick to the classic Blue version, while Robby was well versed in some of the newer versions. Then we would have Mike Rutt on the IPad, running the streets in Grand Theft Auto. Matt was super lame and just worked on logistics & such for all of the athletes… aka Matt made sure Europe flowed smoothly for everyone and actually had productive afternoons. Then we would get a nap in (gotta get the recovery in) and maybe do a second session in the afternoon back at the track. Following an evening session we would get some grub and walk around Leuven to flush the legs and get some fresh air. That’s about how we did it, for a good while. Training hard, being with friends, and chasing fast times. That’s what it’s all about.
After Robby, and Mike left for the States, Justine returned and it was back to the OG Lepelstraat crew. Dunbar briefly joined us for some days, but for the most part it was just us three living it up on Lepelstraat. Though racing well and racing fast was at the top of our lists as most important, the stuff in between is what made for a truly memorable trip to Europe. The three of us spent our time training hard, and getting to know what Leuven was all about. One afternoon Justine and I went to an Abbey, with a monastery and everything. Another time we went to one of those “hole in the wall” chocolate shops that we had biked by 100 times and never thought anything of it. Let me tell you, the chocolate there was insane. It was one of those bites where afterwards you feel as if you are ready to die. All together I felt as if we had taken in Leuven and taken advantage of what it had to offer to us. The food, the architecture, the culture, and the people made it special.
During the last few days in Belgium I definitely got a little homesick, and the days seemed to last forever. The feeling was further heightened because I was done racing in Europe and just waiting for my flight date. Luckily, that feeling kicked in very close to the end of my journey. When the day finally came to depart and head back to the States it was bittersweet. Matt and I were ready to get back home, but we were definitely going to miss our time in Leuven. We said our farewells to Justine and got on our way back home. The journey was great and the adventure was more than I could ever ask for.
Cheers to all those on their own journeys and their own adventures.
Take risks, live fully, and above all else RUN FAST.
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