Bucharest Half Marathon 2018
Leaving the evening and night for the post covering the previous days, which I’ll write some other time, I’ll start this with Sunday morning, at 6:45 PM, when I woke up, having actually managed to sleep until the alarm rang. Did wake up at one point to go to the bathroom, I think a little after 5 AM, since I fell asleep at some point after 4 AM, but either way that means I got more and better sleep than I thought I would, even if I had set the alarm 15 minutes earlier than last year.
Speaking of last year, back then I got up 15 minutes later and left ten earlier, since now the plan was to leave at 8:15 AM and only barely managed even that. And had no more luck on the toilet now than I did then, though now I actually tried twice, even if I didn’t struggle for so long each time. Did think that was really going to be a problem, after stuffing myself the previous evening and not, shall we say, releasing any of it before going to bed, but in the end it wasn’t in the least. Or I guess there may have been a slight discomfort related to that early on, but not much and it went away quickly on its own.
Still on that topic, the first time I gave up after I felt something as I was sitting there, rather hunched over at that moment, and when I opened my eyes and looked I saw a cockroach on the top part of my pants, having either crawled up from the floor or fallen from the ceiling. The building’s basement is certainly infested and they keep crawling in through the walls, near pipes or through any other cracks they can find, and for a while they were dying when they got here, after something had obviously been sprayed there, but now they no longer seem affected, so it’s worse, yet that usually happens at night, so that was quite surprising, and definitely unpleasant.
Either way, in between those two attempts I ate something, including using the chocolate-flavored soy drink that was part of the race kit instead of yogurt for the cereals, also quickly fixed a paragraph in the first post about this year’s Eurovision, which I only realized after going to bed I had copied from last year’s first one and forgot to change before posting, and made sort of sure I had everything I wanted to take. Not particularly sure, as I didn’t actually check carefully, but it was all right in the end, and I took more things than I used anyway, including my jacket.
I was in a rush and quite a mess by the time I left, and having both my parents awake and around definitely made that a whole lot worse. But there’s also the fact that dad drove me to the metro station this time around, so even if it may have been just after 8:15 AM when I left, I was at the station I can take the metro directly to Izvor from before 8:25 AM. He had said several times that he could drive me all the way, but it’d have been entirely pointless and would have likely taken a fair bit longer anyway, and even this seemed rather odd to me, but since instead of going around he just used the streets we use to walk there, getting me as close as a car can get that way and just leaving me to walk the last little bit, it did mean I got there faster and also didn’t have to walk. My eyes did fall on a dead pigeon on the sidewalk in front of the building just as we left though, so that was unpleasant, and I probably wouldn’t have noticed it if I wouldn’t have been going straight ahead, to get to the car.
In the end, I was at Constitution Square at 8:49 AM, when last year I see I got there at 8:55 AM. Still didn’t take part in the warmup though, instead wandering around for a while, at first with my bag, just in case somebody’ll give me something again. And I did see the ones who offered me that radler last year there again, and actually stood next to the girls for a few minutes, but they ignored me completely, giving bottles to others who were passing by… Until I dropped off my bag, later, and happened to walk past again, at which point one of them offered me a bottle, which I had to refuse for the same reason I did last year, namely that I wasn’t going to drink it and didn’t care to go get my bag again and put it in it to bring it to dad.
But this time around, on top of eating the energy bar that was also in the race kit while wandering around, I also grabbed an apple from those that had baskets of them for people to take, then also got a glass of water from where those were offered, drinking part of it and using the rest to wash my hands and the apple before eating it, since there were just two of those things where you could wash your hands in that area and neither seemed to be working. There were a lot of them in front of the last line of toilets though, those before the starting area, where there hadn’t been any last year, so I used a toilet in Constitution Square but washed my hands there.
The start time was approaching when I got to the start area, and since there wasn’t a fence at the end of it I just went straight in by mistake, at the back of sector E, instead of going around and entering sector C directly, so I had to make my way through. But did so in time, getting all the way to the front of sector C and staying there until the start was given, though many stepped forward just before that, runners from all sectors gathering in sector B. Considering the very few disqualified runners listed in the results, it again looks like all their warnings that those who’ll line up in the wrong sector will be disqualified were only empty threats, and in truth I don’t really see how they can be anything else.
Still on the topic of the start time, I guess I missed it by some three seconds, as my stopwatch was showing 1:52:50 at the end but the timing chip reported 1:52:53.25 as official time, yet the real time was 1:51:54.09 and 1:51:54 was also the real time I had calculated, after getting to the start line when my stopwatch showed that 56 seconds had passed since the start. So I guess the guy counting down got it wrong, and I did think I heard the gun go off a bit before he gave the start, but chose to ignore that sound and listen to him instead. Good thing it didn’t make a difference.
Despite all those people who moved forward before the start, it was still a whole lot better than even last year, many of those around me having a more or less similar pace and the route offering plenty of opportunities to overtake early on. Of course I was still held back at times, but I covered the first kilometer in 5:33, which was a fair bit faster than expected, and only got faster after that. I think I covered the next kilometer in 5:14, but base that more on what I remember about the next times, so I may be a few seconds off. Then I missed the sign for three kilometers, but know that I got to four 10:22 after reaching two, so an average of 5:11 for three and four. I was thinking that the reason for missing that sign might have been the big pile of dung in the middle of the road that I had to avoid on Unirii, obviously from one of the horses of the mounted gendarmes or guards, but that rather funny moment, which prompted a guy behind me to shout a warning that we’re in an obstacle race, seems to have been before the point where that sign should have been, at least from what I remember. Either way, I was doing well at that point, and did even better on the next kilometer, which I covered in 5:00.
Then things got worse. Kilometer six wasn’t that bad, since I seem to remember covering it in 5:26 despite getting a cup of water, one of juice and a slice of apple at the refreshment point and pretty much just walking while I drank, even if I ran for a few steps with the cup of juice in my hand and spilled some on me as a result. But after that the times were not dropping sufficiently and I was worried about what was coming, since I made use of every refreshment point, getting water and juice and apple each time all were offered, and I think there was just one where only water was available so I just got that, and they were more frequent after that, with what should have been sponge points in between the refreshment ones. And in fact the one after the first relay change point didn’t seem to be a sponge point at all, so I got my sponge ready and then just put it back in my pocket when I didn’t see the water to put it in. But the bigger concern was the part of the route that was coming, as I had walked it and knew it was going up and down to some extent and included a steep climb at one point, even if it was short. Heard a guy tell another that it’ll be hard after kilometer 11, until about 16, and I assumed they were talking about the same thing, but it didn’t add up and I really have no idea what that was about, because between 11 and 16 there was Kiseleff and going mostly a bit down on Victoriei, which I’d say was the easy part.
The hard part was before that, but it was also somewhat shorter than I feared. We still hadn’t reached it when we passed the sign for 19 kilometers, which was obviously going to apply when we’ll pass by that spot the second time, and I heard a guy joke that we were almost at the end. But I know the sign for eight came after that for 19 and I was still focusing on getting to the end of that area before the first ones will go through it a second time, so I won’t have to move aside. Managed that, but while I no longer remember the exact times, I know I ran that part against a noticeable wind and definitely wasn’t happy with my pace. And the next times didn’t make me any happier either, even if I reached that steep climb faster than I thought I would and that entire area, of two kilometers or so, wasn’t as bad as I feared. Did do what I could to not tire myself more than I had to, using little steps for that steeper slope and otherwise staying close to the sidewalk when I could, slopes being less noticeable there, doing my best to stay behind others to get a little help that way and in the shade where possible, but even so I thought it was going to be worse than it was. It was odd that the side roads leading to that one hadn’t been closed though, so at one point I saw a line of cars stopped after being able to reach the intersection but go no farther, and a driver arguing with police officers, or another trying to come out of somewhere.
The refreshment point after ten kilometers came after that area, so while it helped in one way, in harmed in another, as I lost time again, and remember covering kilometer 11 in 5:31, which really wasn’t something I could put up with anymore. So I decided to push harder, which also meant leaving behind a girl which had been more or less just in front of me for quite some time, possibly several kilometers. Didn’t check her number, so all I remember was the little skirt she had and therefore couldn’t identify her, not seeing pictures so far either. Did identify the guy who maintained a similar pace with me over the next kilometers though, as he had “Andrei W” on the back of his t-shirt and that W indicated a rare enough name. Not that I know just what that pace was, as I again don’t remember the exact times, but it was getting better, and then got even better after 16 kilometers, when I pushed even harder and left him behind as well.
It wasn’t fast enough to keep the 1:50 pacemakers behind me though. Since their starting location was halfway through sector C, they started behind me and were gaining little by little, eventually overtaking me when I slowed down again at what should have been the sponge point at 12.5 kilometers, which was actually around 13.5. There actually was water there, so I could wet my sponge and then use it on my face and the back of my neck, but then after putting it back in my pocket I soon felt something different in said pocket and when I checked I noticed that it was empty, and I didn’t see any sponge when I glanced back a couple of times. So I lost it and couldn’t use it again at the last sponge point, nor bring it back here, where we’re still using the one I brought last year to wipe the kitchen counter or table, even if it’s falling apart by now.
I was just behind the 1:50 pacemakers at 14 kilometers, but by 15 they were pulling ahead, and after the refreshment point that came after that distance I was in danger of losing sight of them, since the road wasn’t exactly straight. Since we were on Victoriei at that point, others were getting in the way again as well, the road being narrow there. I also remember a pretty large guy wearing black who stayed around me for some time around there, but couldn’t identify him either and I didn’t exactly try to, for some reason not really noticing him as clearly at the time as I did the other two I mentioned and, most of all, this other girl who had put the sticker with the number that you were supposed to place on your bag on the back of her t-shirt, so I could clearly see the number when she was in front of me. We passed each other several times on Victoriei and after that, when we got back to that area the route passed through twice, and I think we may have in fact started doing so earlier, while still on Kiseleff. She didn’t seem to be maintaining a certain speed though, going a fair bit faster when she was passing me and then slowing down. Left her behind too, if not by that much, when I pushed even harder towards the end, but I see that her real time was better than mine, her start time being more than double even though she should have started from the same sector, and I actually looked for her and sent her a message to congratulate her for it.
Either way, with the 1:50 pacemakers getting quite far ahead by 16 kilometers, I also ate that energy tablet that had been in our race kit then, having kept it in my pocket for a moment when I’ll think it may be needed, and pushed even harder, slowly starting to realize that I may actually manage a new record. Think I was around 20 kilometers when I realized even my official time may beat the time managed over this distance through the park at the start of April, until then thinking I only had a chance to do that for the real time, which is the one that matters when it comes to this anyway. Then again, I didn’t really think that far for the first couple of kilometers after starting to push then, since I knew that the part on Elisabeta started with a slope going down but then returned the same way, and wasn’t sure how climbing a slope after 17 kilometers was going to affect me. But, again, it wasn’t as bad as I feared.
The final kilometers actually seemed easy. Once again, easier than they should have felt, telling me that I hadn’t pushed as hard as I should have. And since I remember the exact times again, I’ll say I covered kilometer 20 in 5:08, 21 in 5:00, making this tied for fastest with kilometer five, and those final meters in 26 seconds. That actually makes me slower at the end than last year, as then I covered the final 1.1 kilometers in 5:09, while now it was 5:26. But was nevertheless overtaking plenty of people over that final part, and raced a guy right there at the end and finished ahead of him as well. Was actually somewhat amused by those who were on the sides and telling the runners that there’s little left and we can do it, when I felt that I could have done several more kilometers quite fine.
After crossing the finish line I got my medal, as the timing chip wasn’t that kind that had to be returned anymore, so there was no other step to go through, and then walked to the area with stuff for the runners to grab, getting a large cup of juice, which I drank, and a water bottle, which I just took back with me unopened. Didn’t see bottles of juice anymore, so I then moved to the tables on the other side, grabbing two slices of apple and stepping out of the line to eat them, then getting two pieces of orange as well, but dropping one and deciding to go back because of that, grabbing two more slices of apple. Also got a napkin and a piece of paper roll to wipe my hands and mouth while I was there, since those were on one of those tables as well. And then I went to the table with small cups of juice, possibly a sports drink, and grabbed and drank one of those as well before leaving that area.
Wandered around a bit again after that, ignored those offering massages, and went back to those offering those radler bottles since I knew they were also taking pictures and waited in line to have mine taken as well. They were actually printing them out, so I can’t put a link to it, but you can’t even see the medal in it, much less my stopwatch, which I had removed and was holding next to the medal just to have my time there as well. The guy told me “higher” and pointed to the lens, but I held my head higher instead and didn’t quite get to move my arms as well before he took the picture. And while you could just grab bottles of radler from their coolers and another girl was also handing them out to those who had their pictures taken, I can’t say I noticed her until after I walked away, so after standing around a little I just walked back and said I didn’t get one, so she gave me one too, which I took back in case dad wants it.
Not quite sure of the order of things after that, but do believe I got my bag back before anything else. Then went to the men’s changing area, checked that everything was still in the bag and saw a sponge left there on the floor. Since I had lost mine, I wanted to take that, but not put it among my things, not knowing who had used it and how, so I took the little bag with the two cloves of garlic I had taken with me out of my pocket and ate those, trying to hide what they were from others, then grabbed the sponge and put it in that plastic bag. Not that I actually took it in the end, deciding that it was likely too unhygienic and just throwing it and the bag away later, before leaving. And the other thing I did while there wasn’t a good idea either, since I changed my t-shirt with the other one I had with me but then realized I didn’t actually have a picture where I looked like a runner, the printed one not counting, so after considering changing back outside, behind something that I believe was a generator, I eventually got back to the changing room and changed again there.
Not sure exactly when, but at some point I also got another apple from the same place I had grabbed one from before the start, and this time around I went to the area with tables and just grabbed a half-empty bottle of water left on one and used that to wash my hands and the apple before eating it.
Also looked for the people from Let’s Do It Romania, I believe twice, since they’re those I chose to support with that part of the fee this time around and was wondering whether I could ask them to take a picture of me. But they were in their location inside the large tent, close to the exit but otherwise in a location better associated with those selling things than with the NGOs that could be supported, all of those except them and one or two others having tents outside. And they didn’t seem to be involved with regular runners, as I just saw those in their t-shirts sitting there and resting. So I couldn’t get myself to bother them, and didn’t really see the point anyway, especially since I didn’t exactly want a picture inside. Did spot some of them outside too, at one point, but didn’t bother them then either.
That still left me with no picture, so I first took a selfie with my phone, but that couldn’t be enough and I didn’t even get it on my computer yet. So I took out my camera and started wandering around, staying around a few people I saw taking pictures of others for a bit but being unable to say anything, then going to that area that’s across the road from the Parliament, where the finish line was, still trying to work up the courage to ask someone. Sat around a couple of girls at one point, then for longer around a group of people, but couldn’t get myself to ask any of them either, and eventually wandered away, feeling that I may just leave without a picture after all. But then I saw an older guy taking a picture of someone and then trying to take selfies and close pictures of his medal, or possibly multiple medals that he somehow had, can’t remember anymore. So I somehow managed to get myself to ask him, but it would appear that what I said made no difference, and he did seem to look at me as if he couldn’t understand what I was saying but got the idea well enough since I was handing him my camera. Couldn’t recall his number, but I’m quite sure it was over 6000, and possibly starting with 62, and that he seemed to be over 50 and, certainly, had the name listed as “Oleg”. And I could just find one Oleg, and everything else matched as well, since he’s also listed as being Russian, so I guess I know who took my picture now. He actually took two, but I just used one.
After that, I checked that the pictures had saved correctly, knowing that my camera may corrupt them, and breathed a sigh of relief. It also seems that two pictures was everything the used batteries I had put in it could handle, even though there had been no low battery warning, as after that, when I took pictures of my stopwatch, the display wasn’t working anymore, which is what happens when the batteries are very low but for some reason the camera doesn’t turn off yet. Though I think it was turning off too, but not sure anymore. Not that it matters, since my stopwatch was wrong by those three seconds anyway.
Not sure whether I took those pictures before or after changing my shoes either, or even some before and some after. Did that outside, no reason to get back to the changing area for that, and it was close to 1 PM already anyway, so getting a bit late to get back there, the popular race being about to start. So I spent quite some time around that area before finally leaving, as I was just heading to the metro station, yet to reach the park and therefore the start area, or just reaching it, when the start for that race was given. It was funny to hear the guy starting to count down in Romanian, then remembering that there may be foreign runners in that race as well and switching to English at eight, but taking a moment to do so, which left him needing to catch up and resulted in him counting down really quickly from five.
Went straight to the metro station since, after wondering what to do for quite some time, I had again decided against getting something from a place I could walk to from there. I keep meaning to get something from there but so far never did, and this time around I also broke the “tradition” of getting a pizza from that other place after a half marathon, instead getting straight back here and allowing myself to decide later whether I’ll order or get a pizza from another place I had found out about or go to them after all, after changing. That did mean I didn’t go to the toilet again, since I didn’t use one of those that were there before leaving either, and that did quite suddenly become a problem just as I was almost back and stopped to put my bag on a bench and search through it for my keys, which I had just thrown in there when leaving, since dad was going to lock the door. And as I was doing that my body suddenly realized how much I had drunk and I really was just about to piss myself before I finally found my keys and got here, though once here I could take some things out of the bag, albeit while sort of dancing around, before finally rushing to the toilet.
As for the pizza, this other place seemed to take orders on-line as well, and could deliver here, and has a special offer depending on the day, and Sunday after 3 PM you can get a 32 cm pizza for free if you order a 40 cm one, and you can pick anything, doesn’t have to be the same or a cheaper one if it’d be the same size. And since dad had left before 3 PM and took the metro card, I wasn’t that keen on walking to either of the places, being in opposite directions but at a similar distance. Wouldn’t have been a problem at all, of course, but I just didn’t feel like it, and didn’t want to change twice either, so that was another thing in favor of ordering from this newer place. That did mean spending all I still had out of what I had set aside to use for things related to the half marathon on that very large pizza, so not getting anything sweet as well, but I had gotten enough of that in me that day and it also meant getting a second pizza, which I could eat the next day.
So I waited until it was a bit after 3 PM and then sent them a message, making sure I understood the offer correctly and ordering the slightly cheaper pizza in the large size, as that meant spending all those 36 RON (€7.77 or $9.27) I still had for this, and the slightly more expensive one in the normal size, as that’d have been 38 RON (€8.20 or $9.78) in the large size. And, while the more expensive one fits my “definition” of a pizza better, having both mushrooms and olives, I liked the other one better, so it was a good choice after all. And they did deliver it in the 45 minutes they said they would, or perhaps just a little bit faster, but I was still caught rather by surprise because I was asked for my phone number along with the address, so I assumed they’ll call first and they didn’t. Now that would normally be a good thing, but since I was expecting a call I wasn’t expecting to need to open the door without one, so I rushed out of my room without taking my keys, dad’s were obviously not there, and since my mother was here at the time I asked for hers but they weren’t where she said they’d be, so we both searched for them quite desperately for a few moments… Before she noticed that they were actually in the door.
After that, everything went fine, just handed the guy the money and he gave me the receipt and the pizza boxes, then I took them to the kitchen and had a look. Asked my mother whether she wanted a slice of the large one and left her one on a plate, then actually took both to my room. I didn’t intend to eat half of each, but wanted to leave myself the option, and either way that meant the other one could cool here, so after I finished that large one I could just put it in the fridge. And yes, I did take a picture again, but I didn’t upload it anywhere yet.