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The Week Before My First Official Run

Yes, two days ago I actually did what I’ve been planning and sort of preparing for since late March, but I’ll get to that in another post. This one is about the week before, starting on Sunday, May 8, when I walked the route I was to run, to learn it and notice slopes, turns, potential choke points and any other details I should keep in mind. Also used that to see how I handle the wind, since there were some rather strong gusts and the forecast at the time included similar wind conditions on race day, and the conclusion wasn’t too encouraging. Worst part, however, was the rather steep climb on Calea Victoriei, after some 15.6 or 15.7 kilometers, and with a single lane available. It was clear I’ll have serious problems there and then pretty much all the way to the end, as that entire stretch after turning around on Victoriei and getting back down to the river somehow felt like a slight but almost constant climb, despite going one way to a point, then crossing a bridge and coming back on the other side.
The initial plan was to do that walk Monday or Tuesday, but that assumed I’ll manage to run again before then, since the plan of 16 kilometers at a certain pace, then ten kilometers on the track, early in the morning on no or next to no sleep, and finally 6.4 kilometers, as in two laps around the lake, starting at the same time as the race itself, had to be dropped and replaced due to finding myself without a working watch. So I had added those two roughly timed seven-kilometer runs after the one I had to abort after a bit under ten kilometers, but definitely wanted at least another good ten-kilometer run, which I planned for the first day without rain after Easter. Since I still had no watch by the end of the week, however, I moved things around, deciding to walk the route earlier and hope to run Tuesday at the latest, assuming the watch matter will be settled on Monday one way or another.

Well, it wasn’t settled on Monday, but I did run Tuesday after all, because after being told the old watch can’t be fixed, or at least not at a reasonable price, and dad didn’t know where to look and said any he saw that fit my criteria were too expensive, I went and bought one myself from the first place I thought of, at a little over half the price he said the cheapest he saw was.
And then I just changed and put that new watch to use, aiming for that time I hadn’t managed three weeks earlier, and actually making it quite easily. So the target was 53 minutes for ten kilometers, with 17-minute laps and two minutes for that final section, and the result was 52:14, with 16:52 and sector times of 4:55, 5:28 and 6:29 on the first lap, 16:53 and sector times of 4:59, 5:33 and 6:21 on the second, 16:43 and sector times of 4:51, 5:31 and 6:21 on the third, and 1:46 on that final section. After the second sector of the second lap I upped the pace a little because I was feeling better than the pace up to that point suggested, and I still had a little left at the end, so getting under 52 minutes shouldn’t be a problem if I’d push a bit harder. Plus, my fibula seemed to have recovered during this time, so it didn’t hurt anymore and I no longer feared a stress fracture.

Moving on to Wednesday, I went to buy some things, as I hadn’t been in nearly a month and was close to running out of some things even that last time, so it was really needed and I wanted to stock up on some things as well, so I won’t need to do something similar again too soon. That took me pretty much all day, checking three hypermarkets and going to two of them twice, once just to check prices before making most purchases from the third, then dropping those off and going back to the first two for the things that were either only available there or cheaper. Always unpleasant, having to do with money and this rotten system this society maintains…
What made it even more unpleasant was that I got confused, more than once, the first time after an old man called me and, when I got closer, shook my hand and asked me for 2 RON, supposedly for some water because he was thirsty. This coming after a young man had called me from the other side of the street that last time I went shopping, crossed the road despite cars still coming when I walked away, introduced himself, shook my hand and started telling me a story that boiled down to him supposedly needing 38 RON to buy some things for others, then trying to squeeze more out of me when I handed him 5 RON, which is probably the first time I gave anything to a beggar. But if that one did get those 5 RON at least, now I didn’t even have such small bills on me, even if I’d have been inclined to give something again, so I made a face and haltingly walked away. However, despite first saying he’s just asking if I want to help him, don’t have to give him anything, the man then came after me, asked me to look at how old he is, then to look at his “golden hands”, probably meaning rough and showing signs of working hard, then even grabbed my arm and tried to hold me back, at which point I roughly pulled myself away and sped up.
The problem was that I was quite panicked at that point as a result of that sort of interaction and completely missed a turn, took another without realizing I was wrong, then took the next as if I’d have taken the first one correctly and only then realized something was wrong. Worse, I then kept going, thinking I’ll sort it out on the go, before realizing I was only making it worse, taking another turn that should have gotten me closer to where I had to be, reminding myself that a panic attack sharply drops your IQ and stopping to calm down a little before making any other stupid decisions. So I eventually got to the first destination, but wasted quite a bit of time from the start and that state of mind made me slower from then on as well.
And, as if that wasn’t enough, I then lost even more time by not paying attention to the number of the bus I got into, out of the free ones offered by that third hypermarket I went to. Finished shopping there at a time when a few different ones pick people up and somehow “managed” to get in the wrong one and didn’t even realize it for quite a while, as I just kept checking lists and prices. Only noticed it some time later, when I took a look out the window and realized I definitely wasn’t where I should be, so I then quickly looked for any place I recognized, saw one and got off at the next stop, knowing a metro station should be nearby. Still took me a while to find it, as I wasn’t sure which direction it was in from that intersection, but eventually did and got back by metro, after wasting another significant amount of time.

After taking it easy Thursday, Friday I went to pick up my race kit, walking to Constitution Square and back. Happened to bump into one of the activists on the way and was asked where I was going, at which point I didn’t want to answer but wasn’t sure how to say I’d rather not say, so when he asked again I simply said I was going to pick up something. Then I wasted a bit of time by not taking the usual route, as I would have needed to cross the road a bit oddly, in the sense of going the long way around that intersection, which wasn’t something I cared about otherwise but suddenly didn’t want to do it when someone I knew could watch, so I kept going until the next place where I could cross safely and used a couple of smaller streets to get back to the usual route.
Either way, once there I had to see what to do about the fact that my name had showed up wrong in the confirmation letter due to me wanting to make sure it was right, in case they’d be so thorough in checking. The issue was that there’s a special Romanian character in my last name and, extremely unusually for me, I actually typed that when I registered instead of replacing with the standard character, only to see that their system couldn’t handle it when the letters were posted. So I went there with the letter printed as it was, with two other characters instead of that one, and tried to see what will happen.
Well, what happened was that nobody cared about that character, but it was confusing to get the kit either way. A map I had found on the site had the pick up area outside the main tent, but there was nothing in that spot when I got there, so at first I glanced inside the main tent, then went back outside when I saw a sign saying new registrations were there, entering the smaller tent with the sign saying “confirmation letters”. But all that happened there was that I had another letter printed, the person assuming I hadn’t printed it at home, and this one had that character replaced with a question mark. When I pointed it out, she said she can’t make any changes, but that it shouldn’t matter, and told me that I need to go inside the main tent after all.
Quite confused by that point, I went back inside the main tent, walked past the new registrations area and to the next signs, which did say “race kits”. However, when I got there I was told to go back and pick up the number and timing chip first, so I got back to the new registrations area even more confused. And then the person who was there sent me back farther on, finally explaining, when I said that from “farther on” I had been sent back there, that in fact the place everybody had been sending me to was in between “new registrations” and “race kits”, having no sign to indicate that people should go there.
So it took a while, but eventually I did get the number and tracking chip, then the bag with a couple of magazines, a couple of samples and advertisements and the sponge, and then, after the person who handed me the bag made sure to mention that it wasn’t included and had to be picked up from yet another place, at the exit of the main tent, the t-shirt. Bit of a funny moment there too, as the person who gave it to me suddenly asked if I didn’t want an S instead of the M I had reserved, then refused to repeat herself and just wished me luck and told me to drop it, “seriously”, when I asked her to say it again, since she had said it too quickly at first and I didn’t catch it right away, only figuring it out a while later.

Once that was done, I tried to sleep some more, but barely caught another hour or so Friday evening. Still, that was better than Saturday, as I woke up and needed to go to the toilet over an hour earlier than planned, so shaved before watching the qualifying for Sunday’s race instead of after, as originally planned. After that, spent another hour or so at the computer, then got back in bed, where I stubbornly stayed for the next three and a half hours or so despite being unable to fall asleep again. Admittedly, it counts as resting, and for a while I even sort of tried to meditate, but there was no sleep.
At 8:45 PM I finally got up and made myself something to eat while watching the Eurovision final, which started at 10 PM. Then, after it was over, I made myself tea for the next day, posted the first part of my opinions about this year’s competition, got everything more or less ready for the morning, which included struggling for quite a while to properly pin my number to the t-shirt, quickly added another pointless paragraph in my story, checked to make sure I had two alarms properly set, at 6:15 AM, and got in bed again. It was slightly earlier than my usual time, but not by much, and even though I did eventually manage to fall asleep, it wasn’t quickly, so I only got about half an hour.

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