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Under 3:25? Try Just Under 3:45… And Walking a Good 10% of the Distance…

Forgot to mention in the previous personal post that, when I meant to get myself some watermelon after last Thursday’s run and purchases, I “managed” to spill a lot of its juice on myself, and the slipper much of it ended up on is still sticky. Since it was overripe, we had placed it upside down in the fridge after cutting a slice, so the juice will go on the plate it’s on instead of gathering inside it and spoiling it faster, and when I lifted it over the counter I somehow tipped it towards me instead of towards the sink, and a lot of juice had gathered on that plate, since dad doesn’t seem to care for it and I hadn’t touched it in a few days.

Moving on to Sunday, after it was again almost 5:20 AM when I got in bed, kept waking up to pee after the salad I had, and a couple of times without needing to pee as well. When I went again, at 1:55 PM, after dad left, I also washed what he had left in the kitchen, then got back in bed but immediately got back up and returned to the toilet for the other thing, since I suddenly felt a need and didn’t want to hold it in and risk being unable to do it at all later, so even if I was quite fast it was still almost half an hour after getting up when I really got back in bed, and had a hard time getting back to sleep then too. My back keeps worrying me, that bone spur but also another spot, pain also going down on my left arm from that spur, and that makes it hard to find a good position. Still, managed to get a bit more sleep until the alarm rang, at 3:45 PM, then had the usual stuff plus almonds, drank the tea left after I filled the rest of the remaining bottle, having filled one and part of the other with the one made at night, and the sweet thing was a protein nut bar that seemed really good and just showed up at some point in the past, I guess brought by dad. They say you shouldn’t make experiments, eating anything new, before long runs and I never had that sort of bar before, and it expired almost a month ago too, but it did seem a really good one, and nothing that’d go bad if it’s expired. Besides, took those two old protein bars to eat during the run, after having that other one before instead of one of them, and those expired back in March…
It’s a good thing I did go to the toilet when I woke up that time, because the race was red flagged, so it only finished at 6 PM and it was on a TV station I can watch, so I definitely didn’t intend to go before it finished and going after that would have meant leaving later. Then again, maybe it would have been a good thing to leave up to half an hour later, so I could and, even if it wasn’t an issue while running, perhaps should have at least tried to go again, and the initial plan was to leave at 7 PM, but I wasn’t sure I’ll be allowed in the park as late as I’d need to in order to finish, so I first meant to leave at 6:45 PM and then actually ended up leaving at 6:35 PM, also taking some garlic with me, as well as my ID card and that slip of paper with my blood type and dad’s number listed as emergency contact. With the reported temperature at 6 PM being 29-30°C and the forecast for 7 PM listing 26°C in one place and 28°C in another, I guess it was 27-28°C at 6:50 PM, when I started running, and about 20°C at 10:35 PM, when I finished, since the forecasts agreed on 21°C at 10 PM and it would have dropped a bit more after that, but I didn’t check what they said for 11 PM to have a clearer idea. What is clear, and fortunate, is that there was hardly any wind.

The start and end times make it clear that I was terribly slow, the time being 3:44:40, with lap times of 17:04, 17:21, 17:26, 18:10, 19:40, 19:03, 19:05, 19:47, 21:11, 24:06 and 31:47. And no, that’s sadly not a typo. Since I was trying to press the light and interval buttons on my stopwatch at the same time and either didn’t or it doesn’t register two button presses at once, I didn’t see an actual time listed specifically for the end of laps five and eight and I’m listing what I saw when I looked, so the time for those laps is possible, and in fact likely, to have been a couple of seconds less, and that for the next ones a couple of seconds more, but I’ll just list them like this, especially since I was pretty much stopped on the line I consider to be the start and end of a lap at that moment, so I didn’t really cover a part of the next lap during those seconds.
The park was, as expected, packed when I started, and it was only on lap six that I’d say it went from packed to “merely” crowded, and lap eight when it started clearing, people not really being a problem anymore on the last three laps, though there was a moment even as I was approaching the end and running again, when I just about ran into a group coming out from behind an area for children, probably after having closed for the night, a woman yelping in surprise and stepping back just enough at the last moment to let me squeeze through while just brushing her and one of the men instead of slamming straight into them. But during those first several laps it was a matter of finding some space to move, roadblocks coming one after the other and the areas around the stalls in particular being completely packed, people obviously caring nothing for distancing. There were some stretches that were clear enough to let me try to recover some of the time lost elsewhere, but too many times to count I had to slow to a walk or even completely stop for a moment, struggling to find ways through or around, plenty of times going off the path and around benches or garbage cans, or even behind a stall in one place, after realizing that I was losing less time that way compared to trying to find a way through the crowd that was constantly in front of it, on the path. This meant that it wasn’t a matter of keeping my pace in check during those first laps, but just pushing whenever I could find some space, doing all I could to not fall behind even the target times for 3:30 right away, since after lap two it was already clear that 3:25 was a lost cause. And this, of course, played an important part in what happened towards the end, but it’s still no excuse.
Might have lost more time drinking and eating, however. Yes, that also had benefits, but seeing as I didn’t keep running all the way to the end even so, I’m quite sure there was a net loss, as in I would have finished at least a bit sooner without drinking or eating anything, and without carrying the tea around in the first place, assuming I wouldn’t have just collapsed. There were also those seconds lost at the start of each lap after it got dark, when I had to stop to be able to really see the time, but I drank some of the tea at the start of laps four, six, eight, ten and 11, and finished the last of it at the start of sector three of lap 11, and ate those protein bars at the start of laps five and nine. The garlic remained in my pocket, since by the time I started feeling a certain pressing need I had worse problems, and even that feeling soon passed anyway. But the first time I drank I struggled with the bottle for a while, walking probably some 200 meters and losing about a minute until I finished and got back to running, and then, the following lap, I walked at least 250 meters, probably even 300 meters, and more slowly as well, losing a good two minutes as I struggled to eat the first protein bar, which had been squashed and melted, making me need to take pieces of it with my mouth and even lick plenty of it off, while at the same time trying to avoid touching it with my hands. The second went much better, but I still walked some 200 meters while eating it, and at the very least 100 meters, and likely around 150, the other times when I drank, not counting lap 11, when I was mostly walking anyway. So I quite clearly lost more than five minutes because of this, and I really should learn to do this much more efficiently and lose much less time with it.
Physically, my right knee started bothering me halfway through the first lap, but it seemed to hurt less and less later, or at least I no longer noticed it, because it’s been hurting a fair bit since then and I’m even seeing what seems to be a faint bruise in the painful area, which makes it even more concerning. On the other hand, putting myself through that seems to have somehow helped my back a little, and it’s been a bit less of a problem since then, especially for the first couple of days. And, other than some cramps that my left foot threatened with a few times over the last two or three laps and which were nevertheless pretty easy to control, there were no other clear, separate issues, things just starting to go badly in general pretty much the moment I reached a half marathon distance, at the end of sector two of lap seven, when I felt myself hitting the wall. It wasn’t too bad for about one lap after that, and on sector three of lap eight I was thinking that I knew how to deal with those symptoms, my legs getting heavier and burning and my arms going numb, well enough to finish another lap quite fine and struggle to the end of the tenth, at which point I’ll just have one left and maybe that will be enough motivation to make me somehow get through it as well. It didn’t work like that, however.
Yes, I’m far from where I was physically as well, but the main problem was the mental one now, though it admittedly started from a mistake made while calculating the times which I didn’t correct until I got back. That meant I thought all along that I was already behind the target times for 3:30 after five laps when in fact that only happened after nine. Believing that I was already behind after five laps had made me seriously consider stopping earlier, and if I wouldn’t have realized I’d have almost certainly failed to cover the distance even in two hours I’d have quite likely gone up the stairs and on the bridge on lap seven in order to just do a half marathon distance and stop there, but as it was I continued then out of sheer embarrassment, thinking to at least make it to 25 kilometers. But I reached 25 kilometers just on that sector three of lap eight when I was busy with the thoughts I already mentioned, which caused me to fail to notice the spot marking 500 meters, and also ten kilometers, which I had realized should be some 600 meters from the end of the lap and therefore mark pretty much exactly 25 kilometers for me. Then again, those thoughts make it quite clear that I wanted to keep going again by that point, thinking that I’ll aim for 3:35 and maybe just manage a 3:33 that’d look rather nice in a way, however disappointing it’d have been, so maybe I failed to notice that spot because I didn’t want to…
Either way, things obviously didn’t go according to that plan at all, and that was mainly because I became completely disheartened after nine laps. I was definitely struggling at that point, but had nevertheless been under the target time on lap eight, for the first time since lap three, and hoped that, even with the time lost eating that second protein bar, I’ll manage a similar time on lap nine and then somehow at least stay around those 21 minutes that were the target for the last two laps. However, when I saw over 21 minutes on lap nine, all of my determination just drained away. I’m thinking it’d have actually been worse if I’d have calculated correctly and realized that it was just then that I ended up behind the 3:30 target times instead of thinking that I had just lost even more time, but it just crushed me either way.
Was reading what I wrote two years ago, the methods used to keep going after hitting the wall, the level of pain I endured, what I had to deal with after I finished, and this time I did none of that. Yes, I pushed through that lap nine, but after seeing that time I pretty much gave up. Didn’t drink all the tea I had left at the start of lap ten, leaving some for the last lap as well instead of meaning to keep going without another pause, and once I got back to running I rather listened to my body instead of pushing it and just stayed at a jogging pace… And then, on sector three, when I felt as if I had hit a second wall and my body was screaming at me to stop, I, well, did. Not completely, of course, but I suddenly found myself just walking again, almost without realizing it. After a couple hundred meters, I tried to push through it again, ran a little longer, but then got back to walking one more time. Another couple hundred meters later, I forced myself to run again, to at least finish the lap like that, but didn’t care to keep doing that after that point.
At the start of the last lap, I again drank only a part of the remaining tea, meaning to finish it towards the end, and told myself I’ll cover the distance, but won’t keep running. Even lightly jogging, I’d have probably managed to stay under 3:40, but that wasn’t a target I cared about in any way, so while I did make another attempt after passing the bridge, my heart wasn’t in it at all and you definitely need to be completely dedicated to keep pushing yourself after such a distance, so I quickly slowed to a walk again. What’s more, I had seen a Kaufland catalog next to a bench from the beginning and meant to have a look through it after the run, so I actually paid more attention to that, so I won’t walk past it and miss it, than to even walking as fast as possible over most of what was left of the first sector. And yes, I did pick that up when I saw it again, then just kept walking, albeit slightly faster, with it in one hand and both bottles in the other, until the start of the last sector. It was only then that I drank the last of the tea and forced myself to run again, meaning to at least finish at a run… And finding that it was surprisingly easy. Not in the proper sense of the term, of course, but shockingly easy compared to what I expected. Felt like I had around the end of lap seven or start of lap eight, shortly after hitting the wall, or the first wall, and at that point it wasn’t at all a problem to keep pushing under those circumstances, making me realize that I had rested too much and should have really tried to keep pushing and aim for that 3:40, as disappointing as it’d have been. But I couldn’t go back at that point, so I just aimed to stay under 3:45 and at least managed that, for whatever little it may be worth.

Analyzing things now, I see how one decision might have made all the difference, the original plan having been likely to have allowed me to maintain my motivation to the end, which would have likely meant running all the way to the end and probably gaining at least ten minutes, if not even all the 15 needed for that 3:30 target. If I’d have ignored that nut bar, eating the old one that was more squashed before leaving and only the other one during the run, on lap seven, I doubt I’d have needed to give up significantly sooner because of the lack of energy, but I wouldn’t have lost those two minutes or so, and would have been able to just push on laps five and nine, only losing some time on lap seven, instead of the other way around. This also means I wouldn’t have ended up believing I was behind the target for 3:30 after five laps, being very likely to in fact gain at least a little time on that lap and therefore also quite certain to still be on pace after nine laps. That would have motivated instead of disheartening me, which would have likely made me drink all the remaining tea then, at the start of lap ten, and then give it everything I had, making use of all those methods to keep going again, instead of just jogging for most of that lap and even slowing to a walk towards the end of it. And then, with nothing to gain from it and knowing I’d just get disheartened if I’d see that I ended up behind the target, I’d have had no reason to slow again at all at the start of the last lap, that last interval time remaining listed on my stopwatch at the end, so I’d have wanted to keep pushing instead of ending up just walking for about two thirds of that lap. Don’t know whether I’d have been able to keep running, and if so at what speed, but I’d have definitely done a whole lot better… And would have also still had that bar for a later time.

Back to what actually happened, after finishing, I went up those stairs just fine, did just a little bit of stretching, and then slowly moved from one light to the next, looking through that Kaufland catalog on my way to the park exit, the fact that I could do that making it even clearer that I hadn’t pushed myself to the very limit. Took my time, so I finished it first and left it on a bench, then got back here. There was an unpleasant moment on the way, when I was about to cross a street and a truck spraying something, I guess against mosquitoes, was coming, but while at first I meant to run and cross ahead of it, I stopped myself, ending up right in its target area, since it was spraying towards the side I was on and then turned that way as well. It was aiming high, so not spraying me directly, and I did duck and run when I saw it turning, but still ended up in its target area from two sides.
Was back at 10:55 PM, and when I weighed myself before grabbing anything to eat I saw that I had only lost one kilogram compared to what I had before leaving, which is strange for such a distance. Then again, that put me below 45 kg, so I’m guessing there’s nothing left to lose and this should probably concern me even more than it does, something definitely not being right for quite some time, my normal weight being 49 kg pretty much ever since those long marches from the autumn of 2013, with moments of going over 50 kg, 47 kg something I was seeing rarely, after hard runs or maybe after a period of making a lot of effort in other ways, and 46 kg something I only recall seeing once before these recent months.
Either way, grabbed something then and made myself another tea, and dad had left some pizza, which ended up being my dinner, along with the salad I made. Not that I felt that I deserved it in any way, and my original plan, even if things would have worked out, was to make myself mamaliga again that night, but was wondering when I’ll manage to do that, after taking a bath. Even so, I only started eating dinner at 3:45 AM, and it was after 5 AM when I finished, adding a little bit of something else at the end, so it was a good thing dad ended up bringing that from wherever he had been that day, or at least that’s what his note said.

Before going to bed, since I was chosen by another participant as the next recipient, I redeemed The Bard’s Tale IV: Director’s Cut from yet another giveaway organized by the same user I received so many games from already. It means I’ll need to remove the installers for the games I grabbed when they were given away for free but I’m not interested in from the external HDD the next time I’ll connect it, and if I’ll get another one of a similar size I’ll need to remove them from the computer as well, but that’s an issue for another time and I was thinking of doing it anyway, since it’s pointless to waste space with those. What mattered then was that it made me feel both better and even worse at the same time, but I’d say the overall impact was a positive one and it improved my mood a bit before I finally went to bed, close to 5:30 AM. Good thing dad wasn’t back yet.

Speaking of that, I keep going to bed later these days, again at almost 5:30 AM this morning, 5:20 AM Thursday morning and after 5:20 AM yesterday morning, dad actually being back by then that time. Also tend to sleep better though, still waking up to pee a couple of times, and probably a couple more times without needing to, but usually also getting back to sleep quickly and getting a pretty good number of hours, if I add it all together. Sometimes I may not even be woken up by dad, and for example I didn’t even know when he left Thursday morning.

Since I got to Thursday, I ran again that day. Woke up to pee at 1:20 PM and was wondering whether to get back to bed or stay up, the alarm being supposed to ring at 2:30 PM, but when I went to the kitchen and saw dad’s note, saying he’ll be back around 1:30 PM, I decided to just get back in bed for a few minutes and get up when he’ll get back… But he only did around 3 PM, so I was in bed for another hour, actually sleeping for most of that time, before waking up again, seeing that the alarm was supposed to ring soon, turning it off and getting up. Then I had the usual stuff plus almonds, the yogurt being that interesting one that was the last expiring one picked up from Carrefour, and just regular biscuits with jam as something sweet. Since I was going to go to Auchan after the run, considered taking the regular shoes again, but eventually had the full running gear on, and stuffed some things in my tights again, though not so many bags that time. Was out at 4:30 PM, the weather being sunny, with next to no wind and a reported temperature of 29°C, which should have pretty much held steady, maybe just dropping by 1°C, by the time I finished.
I knew I shouldn’t expect much if I’ll run again so soon, especially considering that knee, even if the path was pretty clear, so I was thinking that 48:30 would be outstanding and I’ll be content with 49 minutes. Even that showed far too much optimism, however, the time being 49:23.81, with sector times of 4:21.26, 5:04.64, 6:03.07, 4:41 (4:40.27), 5:16.28, 6:10 (6:09.77), 4:39.14, 5:17.03, 6:02.04 and 1:50.31, making for lap times of 15:28.97, 16:07 (16:06.32) and 15:58.21. Started on a pace I knew I won’t be able to maintain, to see what that meant, and when I saw that it meant a first sector that was only a bit faster than the target for a 15:30 lap, I knew 48:30 was out of the question, so from that point I tried to see what a lap at a pace I won’t be able to maintain for the next two meant. When I saw that it meant just barely staying under 15:30, I realized that staying under 49 minutes was highly unlikely as well, and that became a certainty after sector one of lap two. Still tried and hoped, but after lap two I was even fearing for my chances of staying under 50 minutes, the slightly less bad sector one of lap two calming me down to some extent and making me aim to at least be faster than a week before. I was getting concerned again by the end of sector two, however, that knee becoming quite a problem, having hurt from the beginning but getting a fair bit worse at that point, when I was pushing as hard as I could. But it held, and I was able to at least get back under 16 minutes for that lap, including a sector three that was the least slow one, giving me a chance to get under 49:30, which I at least managed, after a final sector that was surprisingly fast under those circumstances, and which is probably the only good thing I’m left with after that run.

After stopping on a bench to write down the times, which was again unnecessary, since I still remembered all of them just fine when I finally got around to writing them in a file the next evening, I put on my mask and went first to that Carrefour, just to check prices and see whether there were any other interesting yogurts among the expiring products again. Since there were none, I then made my way to the Auchan at Titan, though I stopped to also have a look in a Mega Image on the way. The problem was that I went to that Auchan to get that kind of bread that is only found there, yet while they did still have plenty, even at that hour, it was all sliced, so I didn’t get any. But at least I found one last bio (organic) yogurt of the kind I wanted and grabbed that, along with a few other things. When I had checked the site before leaving, that yogurt was listed as in stock only in two stores from other cities and with a limited stock at the Titan one, so at the time they seemed to be running out of it and no longer bringing any, though now it’s listed as back in stock in several stores, including that one. But at least that one was still there then, and for a price that was 5% lower than the normal one, the reason becoming obvious when I saw that it was going to expire in five days, so they wanted a slightly better chance to get rid of it before needing to place it with the expiring products… Though I’m seeing that it’s still listed at that lower price now, when it’s back in stock, so I’m not sure that was the only reason.
Either way, I was already running rather late by that point, but there’s a Penny there as well and I wanted to get some things for my mother from one, so even though I didn’t have the money for them at that point, I went in to have a look… And only lost more time, since I couldn’t find any. But at least that meant I knew there was no reason to want to try to get back there that evening, so I hurried back, getting here a bit before 8:15 PM, quickly changing, grabbing more bags and money and getting back out less than 15 minutes later, knowing I really had to hurry to get to this other Penny that was the only one I ever bought anything from, when I recently got that bag of detergent. And I did indeed get there at 8:45 PM, which would have just barely given me enough time to make some purchases, but while I knew that it closed at 9 PM, and apparently so did the girls running past me just as I was about to get there, telling each other to hurry up before it closed, the time I saw listed at the entrance was 10 PM, and there were no announcements about closing while I was inside, and it was exactly 9 PM when I got checked out.
One problem was that I couldn’t find the main thing I wanted to get for my mother there either, so I guess you need to catch such a good offer right away, since it had only started the day before. Still got a few things though, including a watermelon, one reason why I did that being that I knew I had to get back before returning to that Carrefour from the park, since one of the straps holding my mask had broken off on the way there, so I did my best to tie it to my ear but it was falling off and I wasn’t going to go somewhere else with it like that. Also spent some time calculating to make sure that the discounts were applied correctly, since they show up separately on the receipt, and while I was doing that I spotted a 0.10 RON coin next to the stairs I was standing on, in front of the store, so once I was done I grabbed it even though it was among spiderwebs and who knows what else. Hadn’t spotted the spiderwebs when I reached in though, so I pulled back the moment I felt them, but then put my hand back and grabbed it anyway, thinking that I had even had a spider on me that day.
That was a rather creepy moment, for that matter, happening when I was in that Mega Image, on the way to Auchan, and I felt something on my arm as I was looking at bread, just after somebody promoting some instant coffee or something of that sort had approached me. When I got up and looked, I saw a spider hanging from my arm, trying to hurry up its thread, but when I passed my hand through that thread it just seemed to vanish. I felt that bit of web on a finger for a moment, but the spider was nowhere to be seen, even if I tried to have a good look on my clothes and the floor. But it was black and so are my tights, so it’d have been invisible if it had ended up on them… And when I got back after that first part of the trip and took my running shoes off, I saw a spider on the floor, which I quickly killed, so maybe it was that same one, having caught a ride on me all that way.
Getting back to that second part of the trip, it ended at 9:25 PM, when I dropped off those purchases. Then, a bit after 9:30 PM, I left again, getting to that mall from the park a quarter of an hour later. Since that Carrefour closes at 10:30 PM, I didn’t hurry too much because of that, the one concern being that it might have been too late to still find that bread that I get from there, which is also discounted again these days. But I still found plenty of it, unsliced, so I got three of those and the other things I wanted to get, and got checked out at 10:20 PM, being back here a bit after 10:45 PM. Then I also made myself mamaliga again that night, after having done so Tuesday night as well, since I hadn’t after Sunday’s long run, and as a result the bread was still on the table when I went to bed, cutting it in parts and putting it in the freezer taking time I didn’t have that night.

Otherwise, I’ll also mention that Wednesday I finished The Count of Monte Cristo, also writing the quick review that evening, but only posting it the next day. Still didn’t start Syberia II though, not even installing it yet, and now dad gave me some interview lasting over half an hour to transcribe, saying it’s “no hurry” but adding “a day or two” when he sent the files last night, so a day already passed, and since most of the time I spent on the computer today was dedicated to writing this, I have some 19 minutes left, which means at least two more hours tomorrow, possibly two and a half. And what Sonya sent me to have a look at almost two weeks ago is still waiting for me too, which is awfully embarrassing, as I only sent her back comments about a second part last night and what’s left is close to half of the total.


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