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Another Busy Saturday and Ten Kilometers in Under 49 Minutes

I’m way too tired and fucked up after these days, so I’m hoping this won’t be as long a post as it’d normally be, considering everything it covers. That won’t be easy, but unless I cut out details and make a real effort to rush through it, I don’t know when I’ll end up posting it, and delaying’s what got me in this situation in the first place. I mean, if I’d have at least gone through March 25 last week, I’d be trying to write about last Saturday now instead of leaving it and various other things from last week for later, but I was struggling to finish The Tower of the Swallow then, which I only managed to do Thursday, and then needed another to day to even post the quick review for it. And today I started The Final Empire, so that situation will continue, but at the moment I’m not planning to go out again this week.

Yes, that means this week’s run was today, despite the exhaustion and various aches and pains. Didn’t mean to at first, considering both how I felt and the wind mentioned in the forecast, but I didn’t notice wind when I got up and thought to just get it over with. Was thinking I’ll be content if I’ll just stay under 53 minutes, so 17-minute laps, and when I got there I was suddenly met by some pretty strong gusts of wind on the first sector, which made me seriously question the decision to try it at all, but it got better after a while. So I was setting target sector times meant for 16:40 laps during the first lap, easily met those, then tried and managed a second lap that was better than the first, then saw I was on target for staying even under 51 minutes after two laps, and tried and managed an even faster third lap and then a fast final sector as well, both that third lap and the final sector being the third fastest so far. Final time was 50:28, with sector times of 4:42, 5:25, 6:17, 4:42, 5:18, 6:15, 4:40, 5:14, 6:08 and 1:47, making for lap times of 16:24, 16:15 and 16:02.

Yet the far more notable run was last week’s, on Wednesday, March 29, when I set a new record for ten kilometers: 48:42! Sector times were 4:32, 5:05, 6:00, 4:36, 5:02, 5:57, 4:33, 5:13, 6:00 and 1:44, making for lap times of 15:37, 15:35 and 15:46. I just gave it everything almost every step of the way, pushing just a little less when the path climbed but otherwise not sparing my energy, and that was the result. Also marks the second fastest second lap ever managed, beating the one managed during the record seven-kilometer run, when I didn’t have another lap to run after it, by one second. On top of that, the fastest third lap and also the only one so far under 16 minutes, the previous best being 16:01, and the fastest final sector, two seconds faster than the previous best, which had been managed way back on my last run before last year’s half marathon. Other sector times were obviously excellent as well, but it’s getting hard to keep proper track, despite having everything saved.

And now let me get back to March 25, when I left around 1:30 PM, got back around 10 PM, attended three events, did some work at one of them and, without counting the wandering around at the three locations, walked what Google Maps says was a little over 23 kilometers, which included some running in the first and last parts. And did it all on some three hours of sleep. All locations were close to metro stations, but the card had expired and dad hadn’t bought another yet, so I risked hopping on a bus for a few stops on the way to the first event, when one of the right number happened to reach a station just when I was there as well, hopping off three stops before the one closest to my destination because I was thinking the risks were increasing, but that was just because I really needed the help to get there on time, so just walked otherwise, and even more than I needed to. And no, the 23 kilometers don’t include the distance covered by bus.

The first event was what should have been Bucharest’s March for Europe, and thanks to the bus and the running I got there right on time to catch the moment when balloons were released, at 2:30 PM. Had arrived at Victory Square some five minutes earlier, but a protest of police workers was taking place there at the same time and they were in the usual area, with those who were there for the March for Europe in another part of the Square, with all traffic allowed to continue normally, so I had some trouble figuring out how to get to those I meant to get to and went around three sides before meaning to cross, only for a gendarme to ask me to go back and cross at the other end of the section of sidewalk I was on. So I ran back, crossed and reached the crowd just as they were starting to count down from ten, barely managing to turn on my camera and snap the first of the pictures I took while the balloons were still held down.
Things didn’t go so smoothly after that, as there were few people and the police and gendarmes were stretched thin, between their own protest and the other events taking place. The organizers were in good part to blame for that as well, because for a long time the event called people to start gathering at 5 PM, with the march starting later, only for them to change the times to match the other events not long before, despite being aware both of the fact that people here don’t usually show up during the day and of said other events. So I saw estimates of about 350 participants, which seems fair, and that wasn’t enough for the gendarmes and police to block even one lane and allow us to march on the street, leading to some saying we shouldn’t march at all, others agreeing to use the sidewalk and yet others insisting on just blocking the street if it won’t be allowed otherwise.
Some five minutes before 3 PM, when the latest schedule stated the march was to start, we got moving, those who had agreed on using the sidewalk appearing to have won. But that was only a momentary impression, as immediately after leaving the Square some placed themselves right in front of the few gendarmes supposed to prevent us from taking to the street and demanded to be allowed through, everyone stopping behind them and neither side being willing to give in. As the stalemate continued, a few tried to argue in favor of continuing on the sidewalk, with the large flags rolled up, and unfurl them again after reaching University Square, but their words fell on deaf ears, so eventually a few just left and a handful of others, myself included, meant to just form a small group and walk the rest of the way, leaving the rest behind. But after stopping after a few steps and seeing that we were only around ten, we waited for a while longer, heard that an agreement had supposedly been reached to wait until after 4 PM and then march on the street, and eventually wandered away, that wait being too long and for no reason. I for one left around 3:40 PM, among the last of that small group.

From there, I went to University Square on my own, looking for what was supposed to be a small protest against the so-called “march for life”, as in against abortion and strongly supported and promoted by the Church, which also took place that day. However, the time for that small event was listed as 3 PM and there was nobody left by the time I got there, so I went to the bathroom in the underground passage and then walked back to Romana Square, seeing a few others who had been in Victory Square on the way. Later heard that it had been decided to remain there after all, so there was no march whatsoever, and those were probably those who had disagreed with this and left as well, only significantly later than those first few of us. But I don’t really know, as I was too fed up with that unreasonable attitude to even look for more information. I mean, why the fuck was it so hard to understand the day’s specific circumstances and just use the sidewalk in order to have some sort of march, mark the event to some extent, instead of turning it into an unnecessary local conflict and end up not doing anything because of it?

Either way, from Romana Square I walked to Bucharest North, more specifically to the metro station, the entrance to the railway station being a little farther on. That’s because the second event I wanted to attend, which had just been shared by an activist I follow shortly before I had left that day and involved making benches from pallets, was taking place nearby. That was how a group chose to mark Earth Hour, though the work was to take place before that time and they stated they’ll turn lights and tools off during that hour, and it seemed like an interesting idea to me.
Had a bit of a hard time figuring out how to reach the exact place, first seeing that one of the entrances which had been mentioned was closed and not feeling like walking up to see whether any guards were around to open, so choosing to walk through the next gate, which was open despite the sign saying it was a private property. Nobody seemed to be there, which was probably a good thing, otherwise I assume I’d have been chased away, but as it was I ended up at the fence at the other end, then returned and walked around to the second gate mentioned, on another street, which was open. There was even a map of the area on a wall, but when I walked up to it a guard approached and greeted me, probably realizing I was rather lost and wanting to offer directions, but that just made me get away quickly, though by then I was quite sure I knew where to go, and a little later I was proven correct.
Once there, I was quite lost in another way, not knowing anyone or what to do. Still, after seeing a couple of other people who had arrived just after me walk inside, I did the same, had a look around, found some equipment, put it on, got back outside and asked a girl if I could help her paint the back of a bench, since she was right in front of the door, working alone and seemed to just be starting. Also, after getting a few drops of paint on my shoelaces, fortunately somehow managing to miss my shoes otherwise, I had a better look at her and noticed how she had protected her shoes as well, eventually managing to pull the protective pants down the same way. We didn’t work together long though, and what we did probably didn’t count for much, as there were some skilled painters there and we had even started wrong, as she had said she wanted to use one color on some areas while I could paint the others with another but without taking turns and going from top to bottom there were drops and even brush strokes messing things up.
Before that, I had been looking at those working on actually building the benches, since there were fewer of them and at one point just one girl seemed to be left, but when I asked she said she didn’t need help. Still, after the back of that bench was more or less painted at least in those basic colors, I got back there and looked for something to do, a guy telling me that if I’m not otherwise busy I could try to get the paint off a cabinet which a coordinator had brought. And that was what I did from then on, figuring out what tool to use after somebody told me where to move the cabinet so the cord will reach, figuring out exactly how to use said tool by seeing what had better, or in fact any, effects, and accepting a mask when somebody asked whether I wanted one and glasses, and then taking glasses as well a bit later. It was really slow and it only worked in one particular way, the fact that somebody replaced the sandpaper the tool used not making much of a difference, but that one way was at least one that worked to some extent, as when a couple of people tried to help by trying to just scrape the paint off, they quickly realized that didn’t work at all. Was rather awkward after a point though, as I tried to change the sandpaper again myself and didn’t really know how, so it kept falling off and I had to keep stopping and trying again until I could slowly get better at it.
Was even more awkward when they started insisting on taking pity on me and not only offering me plenty of opportunities to give up but even pressuring me to do so, or at least that was the impression I got. I’d have scraped the entire top side, at least, but I was feeling increasingly embarrassed due to the attention, and when the coordinator asked to try herself and quickly gave up and started asking for other solutions and most seemed to be heading inside, I decided to follow, removed the equipment, endured a few more remarks generally stating that I had been the nice and quiet one that the coordinator had ended up taking advantage of that time around, rather surprisingly managed to almost completely wash away some red paint which had ended up on my hand after removing the gloves after helping to paint the back of that bench, and left at the same time as a few others, around 7 PM. And yes, took some pictures there too, including one in which you can see how far I had gotten with that cabinet.

Then I went to Izvor Park, where WWF Romania’s Earth Hour event was to take place. Got a bit confused on the way but figured things out quickly enough, though the route included some areas I didn’t feel all that comfortable walking through after dark. Even arrived early, so wandered away again after a bit, looking for a bathroom but not really looking for the proper one I thought I remembered being in the park, since I had plenty of time to kill. So I just left the park and kept going, ending up somewhere close to Unirii Square before crossing to the other side of the river and getting back. Crossed the river again to return inside the park, then went back to the other side of the park to use that toilet before returning to the area the event was to take place in just before 8:30 PM.
Have some pictures from there as well, and I rather like the one of the Palace of the Parliament in the dark, which I managed to snap during the few minutes when the lights were off in the park as well, at a moment when no lights from cars ruined it either. Exposure time of two seconds and a flowerpot as a makeshift tripod. Kept being worried that the camera will corrupt it despite having saved it well at first, as there are some rare situations in which that happens as well, but despite meaning to take another I couldn’t, since the park lights turned back on. Was just giving up on waiting for them to perhaps turn off again when a reporter recorded a brief piece about the event, twice, calling it Earth Day both times, so I surprised myself by coming out from behind that tall flowerpot, walking straight to her and telling her it’s actually Earth Hour. She said it’s not the same hour everywhere in the world, so it’s Earth Day, and suddenly whatever had made me capable of saying that much wore off and I couldn’t point out that Earth Day is something else, so just walked away and spent some more time listening to the little acoustic concert before eventually leaving, just after 9 PM, so halfway through the hour.

Did consider hopping on a bus again on the way back, but after just missing one, no other of the number I knew to take me relatively close arrived, though I rather ran from stop to stop, hoping none will come past me while in between to cause me to miss it again. At least that meant I got back faster, if also more tired. And while being away all day meant I didn’t turn the computer off during Earth Hour this time, as I didn’t turn it off before leaving, I hope I did some other things that counted for something, and even having the monitor off all those hours adds up to something as well.

And this post was initially meant to include last week as well, including Saturday’s tree planting, but that attempt to rush through all of this and skip the details sure was a failure. It’s huge, I’ve been struggling to write it for hours already and it’s nearly midnight, so I’m stopping here and leaving the rest for later. Will just quickly mention March 26 though, just to say that, after all that walking and the little sleep the previous day, I woke up in the morning after just two hours of sleep to watch the season’s first Formula 1 race, and then the season’s last ski jumping competition followed, though it was rather disappointing to see the final round canceled. In the end, with some later naps, got a total of some four hours of sleep that day. Brain felt like muck, cramps woke me up, but at least my right arm was rather surprisingly all right, despite all the warnings received while trying to scrape that paint off, that using that tool so long will have consequences the next day.

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