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Dream Trek Summer Edition 2020

Dad was saying the daughter of the woman living above us should come Saturday morning, between 11 AM and noon, to have a look at the damage caused by the flooding, and then he’ll leave to go to my grandmother’s, so when I woke up at 11:50 AM I waited, even if it was quiet. But when it remained quiet for a quarter of an hour, I checked and found a note on the kitchen table saying the woman didn’t know when her daughter will be able to come, so he didn’t wait and left earlier. So I went to the toilet while the water boiled to make the tea I was going to take with me, and after that was done I got back in bed, yet an hour later I was up to pee again. Got back in bed after that, but I guess that woman’s daughter had arrived, since I was just about to fall asleep again when something fell, and more noise followed from above, like furniture being moved, and while the noise did stop after a while, waking up with a start had made me too jumpy to fall asleep again and I eventually cut my losses and at 2:40 PM was quickly checking what the organizers of Dream Trek had posted in the morning, then did the other things I had to do.
Eventually got back in bed at 5:45 PM and managed to nap for likely less than half an hour, before I think the rain woke me up, though I stayed in bed until the alarm rang at 7 PM. Then I tried to take a crap again, but even though I seemed to need to, I was just wasting time, so I gave up, thinking that at least I had managed it when I first woke up, finished getting ready and left with dad, at 8:05 PM, getting there at 8:20 PM, though we stayed in the car until 8:35 PM. I wanted to go out at least at 8:30 PM, but he said I should wait at least that long, before realizing that arriving later, even if the meeting time was 8:45 PM, may put me at a disadvantage in terms of choosing teams. But it was already almost 8:35 PM at that point, so there was nothing to do about it.

Radu was already explaining things when I got there, and with sunset at 9:03 PM, I thought we were going to start then, but he said we’ll start around 9:30 PM, and should time it so each part of the route will take two hours, including pausing to go to the toilet and buy things, since we weren’t going to be given anything along the way, and didn’t even have a place to leave things and retrieve them later, and if possible it should take less than that, to allow for a pause when returning to University Square as well, longer than what’d be needed just to take a picture. If it’d be clear that we won’t complete a part in that time, multiple members of a team being unable to sustain the required pace, the idea was to find a suitable spot to turn around before the listed one, but if a single member was holding the others back they should be told that the team can’t wait and left behind.
The main issues at that point, however, had to do with the number of people, since five teams would have only allowed for 30 participants in order to stick to the current regulations, stating that up to six people can gather for sports, but by the time we were getting ready to leave, I counted 51 or 52, so teams had to be a fair bit larger and the one I was in was the largest, having 12 members. In addition, with five teams and four routes, they also couldn’t completely stick to the idea of each team starting on a different route and then going through them in clockwise order, two needing to share a route, and it was again the team I was in that ended up sharing with another, that other one starting first. We quickly fell well behind them, however, and after they waited for us at the far end of the first part, we used partially different routes back, so it wasn’t an issue.

Considering my current form, I had chosen my team according to which leader seemed the weakest and least social, and it was the correct choice… Or would have been if Monica would have actually led all the way. But it really was fine at first, with a slow pace and hoping to catch red lights all the time in order to stop to rest, frequent stops for pictures, especially on the first part, and a few longer stops to buy things or for those needing a toilet break on the second, saying multiple times that she had brought a friend whose longest run had been 15 km and she wanted to complete two parts of the route, so about 27 km. After reaching the far end of that second part, said friend was completely drained and we didn’t do what Radu advised, so we adjusted our pace and stopped to rest as needed in order to keep her with us, which meant that it was 1:38 AM when we all huddled in the bus stop at the start/finish location, to take shelter from the pouring rain, when we should have started the third part at 1:30 AM. By then I had already suggested to give up on the fourth part, which for us should have been the longest one and clearly impossible anyway, wait until 2 AM and take it slowly on the third part, aiming to get back around 4:30 AM and waiting for the others after that, but the guy who seemed at least a close friend of Monica’s was already starting to take over at that point and he initially rejected my idea.
Getting back to the rain, it had rained between 6:30 PM or so and about 8 PM, but wasn’t supposed to rain again after that, the risk I saw until 8 AM being 1% on one site and 5-10% on another, and the last forecast I saw on television stated that the risk of rain would keep decreasing late in the evening and through the night. But the clouds were telling a different story and there was a light rain even on the first part of the route, starting quite early on it in fact, and then it started again just as we were getting to the far end of the second part, which was also part of the reason why we didn’t look for the actual spot where Radu said we should take the picture, just taking one to prove that we had reached that area, since nobody knew exactly where that spot was and we didn’t want to be standing around under those conditions.
But it continued raining after that, and just as we got back to University Square it started really pouring, so we rushed to that shelter, joining Radu’s team, which was already there. Out of my teammates, two had announced from the beginning that they’ll stop after the first part and one at the far end of the second, but in fact one of those first two stopped after only a few kilometers, his friend catching up to us after a while to let us know he had knee problems, and there was one more who decided to stop at the far end of the second part, so we had lost four people by then, while the fact that we were 17 or 18 huddled in that bus stop and Radu’s team had been smaller to begin with meant that he had lost fewer, if any, but we nevertheless were three times more than the number allowed to gather, and we could barely fit in there, so there was no trace of distancing. And Radu asked us to rush to the street at one point, when no cars were passing, for a picture of the conditions, and a police car stopped next to us moments later, but while they had every reason to give each of us multiple fines, they just asked whether we had taken a picture or were about to start a fight, then drove away when they were told it had just been a picture.
I’m pretty sure it was a little after 2 AM when the rain finally lessened and Radu’s team left again… And we found ourselves down to a mere four. Other than Monica’s friend, one more had announced leaving at the end of the second part, but two more decided to do so while we were waiting, one saying that he had been in doubt before and didn’t want to continue in the rain, so that helped him decide. I had also started with the thought that I’ll just aim to do two parts, then assess whether my condition and remaining resources seemed to match the team’s plans for the third, but had only said at the start that I’ll stop after part three, and seeing as I was feeling just fine at that point, not even my left calf bothering me at all, I still had most of what I had taken with me, after only sipping a bit of the tea I was carrying in each hand before finishing that second part and finishing just one of the bottles while waiting in that bus stop, and not touching the protein bars, almonds or garlic at all, and the others said they’ll take it easier too, I had no reason to stop. So it was the four of us who eventually, I believe around 2:15 AM, got going again, the rain having lessened and not giving any sign that it was going to actually stop.
An annoying part was that Monica pretty much “officially” handed over the role of team leader to that guy at that point. He had started taking charge to some extent during the second part as well, but then she said she didn’t know that third route at all and we’ll have to rely on him, and he was this awfully extroverted guy who was also in very good shape, had a lot of energy to spend, and kept shouting, cheering, wanting to talk, and seemed to have taken a special interest in me even during the second part, probably just because he noticed I wasn’t really communicating otherwise and wasn’t using or buying anything. And with so few of us left, he focused on me even more and just kept pestering me, asking how I felt or if I was fine, which usually prompted Monica to ask why doesn’t he also ask her, at times seeming to just try to get me to talk, insisting for me to “vote” when he wanted us to decide on buying something, and keeping at it despite the fact that I was pretty much completely ignoring him or even pointedly looking away and huffing in annoyance, especially after I started tiring, as we were approaching the far end of that third part.
I was still quite fine when we took a detour through Carol Park, when the other remaining guy wanted to go there to pee, and I followed him, both of us actually stopping behind the toilets, since there was no light there and we couldn’t have used them anyway. Sure realized how much I actually did need to pee once I started, though I hadn’t really been aware of it before then, despite feeling that my bladder was hurting pretty much as soon as we started part three. Also used the nearby drinking fountain to wash my hands a little at that point, then ran back to the others, only to find them coming back towards me, the acting leader having decided that we needed to take a picture in front of the mausoleum, so we took it easy and walked around it to get to the front, several pictures were taken, and then we went back the same way to return outside the park and continue. At the pace we had at that moment, I could keep going a while longer, but as time passed I had to dig deeper and deeper to keep up and was more and more thankful for every stop, and for a while we didn’t really stop, so it was starting to be a problem.
Nobody seemed to know exactly where the fountain we were supposed to stop at was, but the acting leader decided to take the picture in a spot that I later noticed was just meters away from it. When we got back to the sidewalk and I said we were supposed to get to a fountain, the other guy pointed and said there was one right there, but I didn’t see it then, thinking he was pointing to some other things that were closer and wondering whether those were in fact a fountain that was turned off at that time. But those few meters definitely made no difference, while the detour to Carol Park and actually getting to the front of the mausoleum sure did, since it seems we ended up with a total of 14 km on this south route while the direct route to that fountain had six kilometers each way, the 13 km listed as the total for this south route probably assuming that the runners will take the shorter route one way and that longer one the other, since only the far end of each route was specified, nothing else, and Radu had suggested using somewhat different routes each way, so it won’t get boring.
Either way, getting back from there was hard. It wasn’t a matter of pain, and Monica actually dropped back next to me at one point to ask what was hurting and I said, with some surprise, that nothing did, but I was just drained. Kept thinking that I ran a marathon while feeling that I was about to shit myself after 15 km and hitting the wall around 25 km, so I should be able to just push through it, but there was also the fact that I wasn’t allowed to focus on that and didn’t just have my pace to focus on even if I could, with the others, and the acting leader in particular, asking me how I was feeling and whether I wanted anything more and more often, trying to push to keep up with them when they ran a bit more and then slowing or stopping completely again when they saw that I was dropping behind and waited for me, plus when we had to stop at red lights, and feeling like crap for holding them back like that. Wanted them to just go on ahead more and more, and said so a few times, both so I won’t keep holding them back and to no longer need to interact and be able to just focus on putting one foot in front of the other, but that wasn’t happening.
Then again, the most awkward moment was just after we reached the far end of this third part, when the acting leader said we’ll just walk to that nearby restaurant, or probably fast food place, I didn’t even really look, and rest for five minutes, and also kept asking whether we wanted a shawarma. Monica had mentioned that when we had passed another such place, relatively early on that third part, and he had said he’ll buy for all of us when we’ll get back there, but at that time he seemed serious and even insisted, and when the other guy said he didn’t want anything, since he won’t be able to keep running after eating, and she seemed to suddenly realize that as well and was uncertain, he kept pestering me, saying I had the deciding vote, until he finally realized he’ll get nothing from me, went back to asking her, then just put on his mask and went inside, probably to ask what was available. When he poked his head back out to ask again though, she said she really didn’t want anything either, so he apologized to the employees for wasting their time and we got back to running.
There was another moment, I think just after we started running again, when Monica and the acting leader shared most of a chocolate bar and then he told me to take what was left of it, insisting when I refused, but I just refused even more firmly. I mean, seriously? You want me to eat something you just had your mouth on? I wouldn’t have done that before, much less now! But I did end up taking half of a chocolate bar from the other guy when we later stopped close to a store and the acting leader asked what I wanted, all of them insisting that I was dehydrated. That was probably true, but I still had most of one bottle of tea, so I only drank that then and again refused anything he offered. Yet that other guy, whom I had also always refused when he had offered sweets to the others a few other times during the evening and night, offered me something again and that time I gave in, though that was awkward as well, since I thought he was going to give me all of that bar but instead he pulled the wrapping off half of it and told me to break it off from there when I was about to take it all. Didn’t really want to touch it with my hands and then eat it at all, but I just did it and then kept going.
I’m not sure it’d still be appropriate to say that we kept running though, since there were parts of that return leg that we just walked, obviously for my benefit, including the last few hundred meters and another stretch not long before that. Since I recall that, when we stopped and I accepted that half of a chocolate bar, I saw 4:19 on my stopwatch, as the time actually spent moving, and said I had completed a marathon in that time in 2018, if I also correctly remember the location, just after we got past Tineretului Park, it would mean that we averaged less than 7 km/h on the close to 2.5 km left to the end, and that’d be the average speed while moving, not including any other pauses, as I’m quite sure we caught at least one more red light. Nevertheless, I’m quite sure I correctly remember that we arrived back at the statue at 4:23 AM.

After getting there and taking another picture, the acting leader was saying we had seven kilometers to go to reach 50, according to his tracker, while the other guy wanted four more to get to 42 according to his, so the three of them kept going, but I obviously stopped there. The acting leader tried for a few moments to push me to continue, but there was no way that was happening, and at least he realized it soon enough and gave up. Did consider asking the other guy to let me know when we’ll cover one more kilometer and joining them just up to that point, returning on my own, probably at a walk, after that, to be sure of covering at least 40 km even according to the conservative measurement, and I should have been able to cover that distance while at least lightly jogging, but didn’t want to hold them back like that or need to argue to be allowed to get back on my own from that point, so I just stopped there and went to the underground passage after they left, waiting for them and others to return. Since I had taken the bag with some almonds and garlic out during one of the stops, close to the end, but hadn’t eaten them yet, I did that then, pouring them into one of the bottles and then using that to get them straight into my mouth, so I won’t touch them, being unable to wash my hands since the toilet wasn’t going to open until 6 AM.
The doors to the metro station were opened at 4:50 AM and, while I’m not really sure anymore, the fact that I remember thinking they’ll notice and ask why wasn’t I taking it already makes me think it was just after that when another team passed through. But the leader just asked whether we had stopped, I said I did but the others wanted some six or seven kilometers more after finishing three routes, and he said that was sort of their plan as well and kept going… Only to return, along with Monica and the acting team leader, minutes later, going back out on the other side. The other guy followed shortly, asking me where they went and saying that they had probably gone there for a picture and we should follow, but when we also went out, couldn’t see them there and I said they probably continued running, he said that’s their business and went back down with me for a little while, during which time he again offered me sweets and at first I refused, especially since I hadn’t touched the two protein bars I had taken with me, but when he insisted I gave in again and grabbed a Bounty. Then he said we should return to the statue and, while I didn’t really want to, since it was a bit warmer and also obviously not raining down there, I followed him and we found a girl from the other team waiting there alone, after having stopped as well, and waited with her for the others to return, sunrise and therefore the scheduled end being at 5:30 AM, after all.
A total of 19 were there at the end, those being the three of us, the remaining members of the two teams that held quite a number together all the way to the end, Monica and that, probably, friend of hers, who circled around the area until he said they had reached 50 km, and the sole remaining member of a fourth team, who arrived as we were about to finish the stretching exercises. Radu was saying that only two had been left in that team for some time and, according to the one who arrived, the other apparently gave up before returning to University Square. As for the fifth team, while I guess it’s also possible that it merged with another one at some earlier point or even that I missed their arrival, it was my understanding that all of its members went home earlier, none getting back there for the end. Either way, with the exception of Radu, who was taking it, you can see the rest of us in the final picture, again taken in the street.

It was some point before 6 AM when the end was called and I left, though I can’t remember the exact time anymore. I seem to remember that it was 5:55 AM, but I know I was back here at 6:40 AM and really don’t think I walked that quickly, so that makes me think that it was probably a bit earlier. Then again, I also used a slightly shorter route, was trying to rush because of the rain and was surprised that I felt just fine while walking, almost not even feeling tired except when I jogged to catch a green light, when I got to this nearby metro station, so getting here in 45 minutes is not impossible. Would have wanted to get myself a pretzel or something on the way, but nothing was open at that hour, or at least nothing was ready yet, though I saw employees working in one or two bakeries.

Considering that walk back, you could say that I covered an even greater distance, but I won’t count it, though I will count the distance walked over the route of Dream Trek itself. That other guy from my team had 38 km when I stopped, after three parts of the route, so his equipment probably only counted actual running, while the acting leader said that his was also counting his movements when he was dancing or wandering around during breaks, which was why he had 43 km at that point, but if I check on Google Maps, I see that I covered 41 km. The distances listed in the e-mail were 13 km for the north part, 14 km for the east and 13 km for the south, so a total of 40 km, but only the destinations were specified, the exact route being left to the team leaders to decide, Radu only suggesting to use at least partially different routes each way, so it won’t get boring. And, while the east part does get to 14 km if using the direct, shorter route both ways, and we did that when we ran it, different routes are needed to even approach the listed distances for the north and south, each only having 12 km if using the shorter route both ways. But we clearly got to 13 km on the north route, since Monica wanted to meet someone and get a portable speaker, so we went back the same way up to a point, then made our way to the rest of the intended return route, adding a fair bit. And then, led by that guy, we took the longer south route both ways, which in itself got us to or slightly over 13 km, and also made that detour through Carol Park, bringing that south route to 14 km and the total to 41 km.
We mostly walked through Carol Park though, with the exception of me and that other guy running to the toilet and me running back to them before seeing them in the park as well, and that was close to one kilometer. Then, as I already mentioned, we also walked from the far end of that third part to that nearby restaurant, and for a few more stretches on that return leg, including the last few hundred meters, as they were trying to not leave me behind. Those bits would likely add up to one kilometer or so more, and the remaining kilometer may be obtained from the bits we walked over the first two parts, such as when approaching red lights, crossing carefully, trying to allow Monica to take a picture or being about to stop at a store, so it does seem probable that, over the course of those three parts, we actually ran the 38 km that guy mentioned. But, again, I’ll go with that total of 41 km covered during the event itself, until I stopped, my stopwatch listing a very rough total time spent moving of 4:40:44. That’s 43 minutes more than the rough time spent running about 40 km last year, but these times obviously rely entirely on when I paused and restarted the stopwatch, and now for example I forgot to pause it when we waited at the first red light, trying to restart it a similar amount of time later after that but obviously using a very rough estimate, then there was another moment when I must have pressed a different button and it didn’t restart, so I tried to compensate by stopping it later the next time we stopped but wasn’t even sure of the time lost to even try to make a rough estimate, and then there are all the seconds that add up, stopping and restarting a little early or a little late so many other times.

One last thing I’ll add here has to do with respecting the current measures, and I must admit that the event itself didn’t because of the size of the teams. At the same time, it’s certainly strange, to say the least, that the current regulations allow up to 50 people to gather outdoors and up to 20 indoors for “private events”, but only six for sports. Still, we were just over 50 at the start and not standing two meters from each other, though some, myself included, tried to keep some distance and Radu kept reminding people that they should do so, and also shouting when he noticed some about to shake hands or even hug, though others still did it behind his back. Past that, while running, we were no more than 12, and that was my team, and we were in the open and running, and it rained most of the time. But then there was also that moment when 17 or 18 of us gathered in that bus stop, to take shelter from the rain, and spent quite some time there. And I don’t know how it was with others, but those two from my team who left at the far end of the east route and I think at least one of those who left after we completed that east route gave high fives instead of elbow or at least fist bumps. I actually meant to leave the first guy with his hand up, but couldn’t quite get myself to ignore the high five, and then I was wiping my hand on my t-shirt, with what was probably a rather disgusted look, when the other made the same gesture and I also went through with it, probably wiping my hand even more pointedly after that, though if they even noticed, they didn’t seem to care. And we did also huddle rather close for pictures, though I usually tried to be in the back row, so others won’t breathe towards me. And there was also that half of a chocolate bar, which I had to grab with my hand like that. But now we’ll see what will happen, all that rain, dehydration and exhaustion likely being worse concerns.

Since I started this post with the morning before the run, I’ll finish with the period after it, adding that I took a bath, ate and spent some time on-line after getting back, finally getting in bed at 11:45 AM. There is some bruising under a toenail from each foot, but otherwise I felt surprisingly fine, with very little pain in either muscles or joints and not even feeling quite so exhausted, despite getting up to pee four hours after getting in bed and probably not managing to sleep any more, and certainly no more than a few minutes more, until 5:30 PM, when I got up. Wanted to order a pizza in the evening, but saw that the place I wanted to order from, the one I had ordered from after the 2018 half marathon and marathon, is now closed on Sunday, so I couldn’t.
Only got in bed again at 5:25 AM… And woke up at 10:40 AM, when I guess the plumber started working in the apartment above. Spent almost one hour trying to get back to sleep, but couldn’t, so I got up then… And dad decided to unplug the refrigerator so it’ll defrost, since the freezer was full of ice, and meant to wait until evening to really do much of anything else about it, and I doubt he’d have done much to clean it on his own even then. So I ended up taking the stuff out of it, cleaning it and putting most things back, all of this meaning four hours of effort that in some ways made me feel more tired than I felt after the run, while he just washed the removable bits and vacuumed and quickly and shallowly washed behind and under it. Only managed to nap for another hour, or maybe just a little bit more than that, in the evening.


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