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Under 3:30 for Over 35 Kilometers!

Last week’s run was Wednesday, and it went just well, with the new shoes no longer causing any issues at all, and really feeling that they help, both in the sense of absorbing the shocks better and actually pushing my legs back up a bit. The time was 47:46, with sector times of 4:17, 5:03, 5:51, 4:25, 4:53, 5:50, 4:26, 5:06, 6:01 and 1:54, making for lap times of 15:11, 15:08 and 15:33. Interestingly, I didn’t just cover the first lap in the same time as the week before, but had the exact same sector times on it as well! On the other hand, the second lap’s second sector was particularly fast, but I didn’t quite remember the exact time after the previous sector, so I was thinking it was possible that the exact time was 4:53.05, but I’m not sure.

But the main point of this post is this week’s run, which was Thursday evening, starting just after 6:30 PM and finishing just moments before 10 PM. First evening run in a long time, but I wanted to be able to prepare and have the best conditions I could find for this, not considering the number of people in the park as that much of a problem this time, since I was going to be slow anyway, so I meant to take the moments when others would be in my way as cues to slow down instead of trying to weave around and squeeze through as fast as possible. And the conditions were indeed good, next to no wind, the temperature also very much all right, not wet even though it had rained a little bit earlier, which was unexpected according to the forecast, but the few small puddles were in the usual places and likely not caused by that.
The day didn’t start well though, since I got up just before 9:30 AM, when somebody started drilling. It was very on and off, but I couldn’t just keep staying in bed if it didn’t seem like I’ll be able to sleep properly, so took the opportunity to make more tea and eat some more pasta, then got back in bed at 10:40 AM, actually sleeping better after that. Woke up to pee around 12:45 PM and for good just after 2:30 PM. Then it was a matter of preparing, filling the second half-liter bottle with the new tea, after having filled the first at night, trying to see how to best put everything in the backpack I wanted to take and trying to move around and run in place a bit with it on. Had at first asked dad for something I could put around my waist, but couldn’t use what he had, so meant to try using that backpack, yet gave up on it as well just before leaving, when it was clear that the straps would rub my skin raw through the t-shirt, and the weight of the bottles moving with every step would be an issue as well. So I just gave up on it and put the bars and gel I had bought in a small plastic bag and the keys, one 1 RON bill, my ID card and a little note with dad’s name and telephone number listed as emergency number in another, to make sure nothing could slip out of my pockets without me noticing. Then put one bag in each pocket, took one bottle in each hand and went out. Had also meant to bandage my toes again, but gave up on that as well, as even so it was 6:20 PM by the time I went out the door, some ten minutes later than planned.

As you can see from the duration and preparation, this was a long run, 11 laps around the lake to be exact, so what should be 35.2 kilometers, though there is some error margin at such a distance. The target time was three and a half hours, and I was comfortably inside it, finishing in 3:26:38! Specifically didn’t check sector times, never even looking at the time at those specific points, checking at others when I wanted to get an idea of my pace, just so I won’t even try to remember them, since it’d have been impossible to remember all and it’d have been entirely pointless anyway. Did check the lap times though, and those were 17:27, 17:44, 17:16, 17:50, 17:57, 18:23, 19:12, 18:42, 20:38, 20:28 and 21:01. May have hit the button a second or so early at the end of lap five, so it may be 17:58 for that lap and 18:22 for the next, but I’ll list them like that and otherwise they’re all accurate. Had set a target of staying just under 18 minutes per lap for as long as possible, thinking I’ll be completely safe if I’ll manage it for the first eight laps and in trouble if I won’t even manage it for the first seven, so laps one and three were too fast and things started to go wrong from lap six, being very wrong on lap seven, but in the end it worked out just fine and by quite some margin.
There was time lost to eating and drinking on laps four to ten, as I ate the protein bar on lap four, the high carb bar on lap seven and the gel towards the end of lap nine, and drank on laps five, six, eight and ten, about half a bottle each time, probably somewhat more the first time, slowing to a walk whenever I did this and struggled to get something out of my pocket and then put the rest back in, seeing as the bars and gel were in that bag and it was a whole lot harder to do it while holding the bottles as well. Also lost a few more seconds at the start of each lap after it got dark since I had to stop to check the previous lap’s time under a light, usually doing so more than once, to be sure. Know I could still see the time of lap five normally, but can’t quite remember whether I first had to stop after lap six or seven. Still, while all of this explains the difference between the first three laps and laps four and five, and also between lap seven and laps six and eight, since I struggled a fair bit to tear the packaging of that bar, the difference between the first five laps and the next three show that I was tiring, and from lap nine I was absolutely crushed, having hit the wall around the end of lap eight, so after about 25 kilometers. As for the last lap, while there was no more eating or drinking, I had something in my right eye that really bothered me and I tried to get it out a few times, which I think was also the reason why I pretty much stopped at one point and found myself rather stumbling to the left and almost falling, making me decide to just keep going from then on, keeping that eye closed when it was bothering me too much.
Those last ten kilometers were just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other step after step, my legs hurting and burning and getting ever heavier as other body parts were going numb. At one point I even had a cramp under an armpit, though it’s possible that holding the empty bottle there while getting something to eat had something to do with that. Often I was counting, the distance left, the time left, as much as I could estimate it, breaths, sometimes simply counting. Was setting myself points to reach that got ever closer to each other, calculating them as distance to the end or simply points on a lap, to always have goals I could believe I could reach, the end seeming so far away. And yet I was still noticing how slowly others were running. Sure, there were some who were way faster than me too, but even on the last lap I easily overtook at least one couple that seemed young, not sure if not others as well, since I wasn’t noticing much at that point anymore.

What I signed up for next month really hit me after pushing through it all and finishing that run. You mean I’ll have to run seven kilometers more, in the morning, on next to no sleep, likely in the sun and with the temperature increasing all the time? That’s just frightening, and it seemed completely impossible and I just wanted to give up; on the way back I was trying to see just how I’ll tell dad I won’t be going and he paid the fee for nothing. Calmed down a little after a while though, as I was starting to recover just a little bit that evening, and switched to thinking I’ll just do it once, cross running a marathon off my bucket list, and that’s it. The plan before this run was to alternate, run both this year and then the half in one year and the full marathon the next, but now I don’t think I’ll want to put myself through that if I’ll manage to finish it the first time, especially if I’ll stay inside my target time too. But who knows what I’ll actually end up doing…
That walk of one kilometer or so back from the park felt awfully long that evening though. Somehow got myself up those stairs, drank the last little bit of tea left in the bottles, probably because it had mostly turned to foam at first, and then almost broke down crying. It just hurt too much, I was too exhausted for anything and just didn’t know how I was going to get back. But did know that if I stopped my muscles would seize completely and I’ll really collapse screaming, so I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, careful not to stop even when waiting for the light to turn green, circling around a little instead. Going up the stairs once I reached the building wasn’t quite as hard as I feared, but the moment I sat down in the kitchen it really hit me, could hardly either move or sit still, and trying to get my shoes off was pointless at first, needing to give myself some time before managing even that. My legs were in pain and on fire and there were pins and needles everywhere else, even in the muscles of my face or my stomach or diaphragm.
The shoes really did their job though. I was worried about what I’ll find when I’ll look at my feet, but there was nothing wrong. Still have bruises under two toenails, but there were no new ones, nor any blood or blisters anywhere. There was one toe that bothered me a little at one point, but I changed the position of that foot just a bit while running and it seemed to have been enough, and taking a moment to arrange my left sock a bit pretty early on also seemed to have been enough for another small issue I was feeling at the time. My left ankle also seemed fine, though I still feel a bump there after hitting myself almost a month ago and it does feel just a bit uncomfortable now. And I guess that changing the position of my left leg while running just a little bit was enough to reduce the problems with that knee as well, as it had started bothering me pretty early but felt quite fine after that, at least until the muscles calmed down a bit and I could feel other things…

One thing I noticed was just how dirty the air in this city is. I had just washed my hands and face as soon as I could do so, struggling to manage even that at the time, then a while later put a dry hand on the back of my neck and it felt like a piece of furniture not dusted for at least a month, and it was the same with my ears, my nose, which I guess I hadn’t washed too well that first time, or the exposed parts of my head, which hadn’t been covered by the cap. And it was almost midnight when I finally managed to get that thing out of my eye, as it was only then that I finally managed to hold it open and stare down for long enough for it to clean itself properly. Don’t think I want to know what ended up in my lungs…
Also not sure I really want to know what went on inside me in general that evening, or what may still be going on, though today I finally feel that I’m recovering. Made more tea as soon as I could and drank it that evening, then took a bath after midnight, then ate, trying not to rush. Was wondering whether my digestive system will work well enough, but I guess it did, as there was a tiny bit of nausea that night but I kept everything down and nothing seemed unusual in what came out the other end the next day either. Breathing still took some effort and there still seemed to be some issues with my sight even when I went to bed, but the issues with my eyes may not have been caused by the effort anyway and otherwise I was starting to feel better, with the numbness and the pins and needles gone and my legs being somewhat usable again.

Couldn’t sleep much that morning, unfortunately, waking up to pee for the second time around 9:15 AM and being unable to get back to sleep despite trying for a while, so got at most three and a half hours at first, possibly not even that. Got back in bed around 4:30 PM and got up for good just before 9 PM, but more tea and watermelon, plus my kidneys probably being affected by this as well, meant I still kept waking up to pee even more often than usual. I was just so exhausted, completely drained, only seeming to start to recover after eating that night, but it was interesting that my muscles seemed to be rather beyond hurting. They had hurt before running, and then of course it had been awful during and just after the run, but then they just didn’t anymore, and still don’t. The one issue was my left knee, or more specifically a spot on its left side, which hurt pretty badly yesterday, but by now that’s much better as well. And now, after managing to get some seven hours of sleep this morning, spending some eight and a half in bed, waking up a few times but only needing to get up to pee once, I’m not feeling exhausted anymore either. In fact I feel unexpectedly well; thought it’ll take me longer to get here. But, of course, now I must make sure to keep taking it easy and not push myself too soon in any way.

To get back to last week now, Thursday was quite messy, literally, since dad cooked and on top of making a complete mess in the kitchen, which is the norm, he also clogged the drain of the kitchen sink. In itself, that also wouldn’t be unusual when he cooks, but this time it was clogged so badly he couldn’t unclog it that evening despite taking it apart, leaving me unable to even wash stuff there or do much of anything, and with the things that are usually under the sink and various other items spread all over the kitchen. Good thing I wasn’t planning to make a salad that evening anyway, so just ate what I had and washed what I used in the sink from the small bathroom.

Dad sorted out the drain issue the next day, but more relevant for this post is that I went out then to buy some things for the run planned for this week. Dropped off the recyclables on my way to Kaufland and Carrefour, checked prices there, also had a look at Hervis and spotted a gel that was cheaper than the one I had in mind to try and which would have required me to go a lot farther anyway, but didn’t buy anything just then, instead going from there to Auchan and getting the high carb bar and a couple of other things from there. Then got off the free bus from there earlier and went back to Carrefour and Kaufland, still getting nothing from Carrefour but picking up that gel from the Hervis that’s right there, and the protein bar and a couple of other things from Kaufland. Meant to get one of those very cheap cereal bars as the third thing, to try that as well, but had checked out these bars when I first had a look through Kaufland and when I went back I saw that some had been discounted due to expiring relatively soon. The discount was only 30%, but they weren’t expiring quite right away either, so I grabbed one. Wanted to go to the farmers’ market too, but it was late already, so gave up on that idea that day. Had passed through the other one on the way to Auchan, but didn’t buy anything then. Noticed that the recycling machine next to that market was working then at least, but the one from Auchan was still broken.

Last Saturday I had to choose between writing a personal post and pushing to finish the book I was reading, and chose to read. Could have actually finished that night, but left a little bit, to finish it the next day and post the quick review then as well. Had to do that before the evening, because then I went to a “free shop” that was announced, dropping off a jacket and a pair of pants my parents had to give away, plus an old clock they had brought from my grandmother’s and wanted to throw away, four rolls of old fax paper and a few books my dad also wanted to throw away, the April to August issues of National Geographic and their calendar for this year, two old but unused packs of playing cards which I got with some issues of FHM way back then, and three bookmarks from this bookstore I prefer to buy from. As usual, saw nothing I wanted to take, nearly everything there being clothes, shoes, and a handful of purses and accessories. In fact the only other items when I got there were a book, a pack of playing cards and a few bottles of nail polish, two older people who came as I was looking over the books in the “alternative library” that’s also there adding a couple of pieces of jewelry and a small decoration on that table. Spent some 15 or 20 minutes there before heading back.

Monday could have been ugly, since dad again started leaving closet doors open, and for that matter also the bathroom door now that he mostly finished the other changes he insisted on making there, to let the cats go there, and of course I close them as soon as I spot this, and when I woke up I saw an angry note on the kitchen table saying I had closed Micky in the closet and that he kept telling me not to close doors unless I see that the cats are elsewhere. Right, and I keep telling him to stop leaving them open and letting them in; we both ignore each other and keep doing what we’re doing. But I can’t figure out how I could have missed the fact that Micky was there when I saw that door open after coming back Sunday evening, because I looked, also moved my old running shoes, which I had just put there, to a spot where I thought they’d be less likely to get damaged by the cats when he’ll let them in again, and there didn’t seem to be any trace of her. But indeed, when I looked again that day, after reading the note, there was cat hair everywhere, some things were moved a bit, and those shoes of mine looked like something had been placed on them, or I guess more exactly like a cat had sat or pressed on them. If he only found her when he woke up that morning, it means she was there for 12 hours or more, but I didn’t notice any shit at least. Then again, if I did indeed close her in there, I had even failed to notice a cat, which is far larger than a cat’s shit. And piss would be a lot harder to notice…
Was thinking that if he’ll get back before I’ll leave to go to the farmer’s market, there will be a shouting match, while if he won’t I’ll be leaving an angry note in return. But he did get back before I left and we both ignored each other; I went right out, he stayed in the living room. Then he mumbled a hello when he came to get some water after I got back and was washing dishes, repeating it after I asked what did he say, so I mumbled hello as well and he left, then said a few more words when he came to the kitchen again a bit later. No mention of the mess from either of us, so I guess that was that. And I did spend some time with Micky before he got back that day, I guess as a way to apologize if needed. But the way to not risk them being closed in is still to not let them go there in the first place!
As for the market, definitely had to go because I wanted certain things for the salads I was going to make those days, before the run, and ended up putting something I bought then in the pasta I cooked that night too. There was a somewhat uncomfortable moment though, when I saw some pretty good cucumbers at 1.50 RON / kg, when others were selling the rather soft ones at 2 RON / kg, only noticing after saying I wanted all of them that they were being sold by that old woman I usually know to avoid, because she has one of those old scales, not an electronic one but balancing weights and the products. When I realized it, I stared for a moment, meaning to walk away, but she had already placed the weights and was asking if 2.50 RON would be all right. I eventually said to make it 2 RON, meaning that she should take some cucumbers off, but she took it as me haggling, paused for a moment, then said that was fine, not taking any off. And in fact it was fine, because I weighed the cucumbers on another scale and it said 1.35 kg, so just about exactly the amount for 2 RON.

After that I meant to take it easy, but Tuesday I did 200 squats at once and my upper leg muscles didn’t like that too much. Had to do 200 because I knew I won’t be doing any Thursday, and did them Tuesday just so it won’t be too close, but while I did 200 in a day plenty of times before, either preparing or making up for such a missed day, that was the first time I did them all at once instead of in two series of 100, and the next day there were some consequences. Might have still gotten away with it though, but Wednesday, other than stuffing myself both in the afternoon and at night, I also stood in a bad position, straining those same muscles, while washing the garbage bin in the bathtub, and then of course did the regular 100 squats that evening as well, leading to those muscles hurting a fair bit from then on. And they still hurt the next day, which was the reason why I left myself the option of delaying that run until Friday until almost the last moment. But I didn’t delay it after all.
Still, while I was taking it easy otherwise and since I had just made a backup, Tuesday I also finally got around to installing Vivaldi, which I’ve been meaning to do ever since using it while using Linux for a while almost two years ago. Still like the customization it offers, but still can’t find plenty of the options found under Security and Advanced in Internet Explorer and which I want to be able to set. But what really makes it unusable as the main browser is how it renders fonts and resized images, the images being blurry and the fonts really hard to read, especially by comparison with what Internet Explorer displays. At the same time, after looking for a way to fix the really messed up colors Vivaldi had for everything at first, I figured out how to apply the same fix to Firefox as well, so images finally look right in that too, years after the problem appeared. In case you’re wondering, you need to set Force color profile in Vivaldi and gfx.color_management.display_profile in Firefox to sRGB, because the default profiles are wrong.

And this was even more trouble than it’d normally have been to write due to my keyboard having issues with the space bar. Had been noticing the occasional double or missing space, but since the space bar is harder to press than the other keys and I press on one side of it, close to the edge in fact, I kept thinking that maybe I wasn’t pressing enough or, thinking I hadn’t pressed enough the first time, was pressing again without really realizing it. But it started happening too often and last Wednesday evening I actually checked, pressing right on the edge and seeing it happen more than once every ten times. Usually I get two spaces, still happens even though I try to not press right on the edge anymore, but there may also be some moments when it doesn’t register the press at all, though that only seems to happen when it’s right on the edge. And the key isn’t straight anymore, it’s clearly lower on that side, and since I see that it just has two springs, one on each side, I’m guessing that the one on that side just got weaker due to being the one being pressed all the time and it makes it wobble, since it’s not a mechanical keyboard and that second space actually comes a bit after the first, so a fair number of times it appears after I type the first letter of the next word. But it’s still under warranty, so should take it to be fixed, whatever the issue is… The problem being that I may have noticed some issues with other keys as well, but very rarely and really don’t know whether it’s the keyboard or the way I press. The left Alt may behave oddly more often, but it’s hard to properly test.

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