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A Good and a Poor Run, Odds and Ends and Annoying Liza

Last Monday I did start Shadows of Self, though at first I meant to give up on the idea when dad asked me to transcribe something for him just when I had decided to push forward in Venetica, to advance before starting to read in order to have a better chance to be able to get myself to continue. In itself, it was just bad timing and would have taken half an hour or so, but the file didn’t work at first, not even when I copied it again on the USB stick, then I meant to work on it on his computer instead, but didn’t want to use his headphones and the new monitor he received doesn’t have speakers, though I thought it did, and by the time I was done pointlessly fussing with it he also said he wanted to write the rest of the article while I did that. Worse, when I meant to e-mail it to myself, I forgot to actually send the message, and when I got back to check I forgot I hadn’t disconnected my computer first, so both of them were connected for a bit and it had been my fault. So I had lost a fair bit of time and was quite a mess, and the plan for the rest of the day no longer added up at all… But in the end I decided to go for it after all, and since it reads so easily actually managed to get two days’ worth of reading in, which actually was the original plan, seeing as I knew I wasn’t going to spend much time reading, and in fact ended up not reading at all, over the following two days. Gave up on the idea of also pushing forward in Venetica that day, however.

Last Tuesday the alarm was set to ring at 2 PM, but my internal clock worked again and I was up a couple of minutes earlier. Then I had the usual stuff plus raisins in white chocolate, counting those as the sweet thing, put on the full running gear, with just an undershirt underneath, and went out at 3:50 PM, when the reported temperature was about 16°C, supposed to drop by 1-2°C by the time I’ll finish. It was cloudy, but after a particularly windy night and morning, the wind had died down almost completely as well, so I kept wondering whether to wear the jacket on the way and eventually decided not to.
The time was 47:11.30, which makes it the best since October 20 and the first under 48 minutes since November 16! Sector times were 4:08.57, 5:00.33, 5:52 (5:51.25), 4:24.38, 4:55 (4:54.82), 5:50 (5:49.86), 4:26.28, 4:55.49, 5:51 (5:50.80) and 1:50 (1:49.52), making for lap times of 15:00.15, 15:09.06 and 15:12.57. Of course, the weather helped, as did the fact that I no longer carried the jacket, but I was also applying what I think I figured out about my breathing during lap three of the previous Friday’s run, which really helped me sustain those sprints on the straights, and pushing much harder in general, having realized that, despite repeatedly saying it was all I had and was exhausted by the end, I’ve been feeling too good after all of these recent poor runs, without the usual pains coming from various organs in my abdomen, without my nose getting irritated, without my joints really complaining, so I had to find ways to whip myself harder, because these times aren’t supposed to be easy to get.
There were plenty of people, however, and there was a roadblock right on the long straight of sector one of lap one, making me take to the grass when a guy with a dog allowed the dog to drag him my way just as I was trying to somehow squeeze between the group he was in and the couple that was right behind them. And the problems caused by people continued, weaving and going the long way around being quite the norm and roadblocks making me take to the grass or briefly slow in order to reach the spot I could squeeze through right when it opened up appearing on most, if not all, sectors. I never had to actually stop, but remember roadblocks on that sector one straight on each lap, that first one being followed by one towards the end on one lap, which I rather took as my cue to end the sprint and prepare for the next one, and two on another, though I can’t recall which was on which lap anymore. I also had to take to the grass at the start of that long sector two straight, I believe on the first lap, starting my sprint after that, and had other tight spots to squeeze through on the other laps, and there was a roadblock I had to just squeeze through under the bridge on one lap as well, while on sector three of lap one I had to go on the grass and around a couple of benches and garbage cans, though that admittedly meant cutting the turn, on lap two a dog made for my legs and instead of leaping away I felt the leg it aimed for rather freeze for a moment and it took me a couple hundred meters to recover my pace, and on lap three there was another dog I worried about. And on the final sector I had to squeeze past a couple of women and rather leap on the stairs, which made it harder to take the next few steps. And there were other moments as well, some of which I can’t quite recall or place accurately anymore.
All of that made the time even more surprising, but even if I did start quickly, aiming for an unsustainable pace, it was surprising from the very first sector, where I managed a top ten time. That and the decision I had made from the beginning, to push myself harder than I’d normally think possible anymore, made me just keep pushing in that same manner, wondering whether I’ll somehow manage another lap in less than 15 minutes, which would have also been for the first time since November 16, and being quite frustrated when I missed that target by such a tiny margin, possibly having to do with the exact moment when I pressed the button. But that told me I had a real chance to stay under 48 minutes and, while at first that was all I was aiming for, after lap two I realized I had a shot at staying under 47:30, and while I doubted it after sector one of lap three, I just continued to give it everything, forcing myself to just keep going at that pace even if I started feeling quite a pressing need while sprinting on that long sector two straight and realizing after the end of that sector that I’ll quite clearly manage that as well. With that pressing need not going away, it was a bit tricky to maintain focus all the way to the end, but I nevertheless managed it and at the end of the lap realized I should be aiming to stay under 47:15 as well, which I also managed despite that issue with those women, which caused me to be rather slow on the stairs.

Despite initially only meaning to check Mega Image on the way back for raisins and peanuts in dark chocolate, which were on sale, and possibly only do so if I’d manage a good enough time, after the run I decided to jog to that Carrefour after all, mainly to check the expiring things… And found that they had finally restocked the food for Liza, and it had a slightly better price than anywhere else. The problem was that I had only taken a little money with me, just enough for those things I had meant to look for and maybe a bagel, so I could only get a few and had to give up on also getting some bio (organic) eggs that were discounted due to expiring soon to even afford those. We did already have plenty of eggs though, and Liza’s food was the emergency, and the main reason why I had planned to go out again the next day, so I grabbed what I could… And then had to get myself the correct change, taking a 0.05 RON coin out of those the cashier had in front of him to add to what he had given me.
Even if it was no longer necessary, with the Thursday forecast quite clearly listing rain, I was still going to go out the next day, so that could have been it for that day, since those things I wanted from Mega Image were supposed to be on sale said next day as well and I was going to pass quite a few of their stores on the way, but I wanted to reward myself with a pretzel or bagel and the few coins I had left weren’t enough for it, so I just dropped off the cat food, grabbed the last of the money I still had and went right back out, to this nearby Mega Image… Which again didn’t have any regular pretzels left, but they did still have two bagels with sunflower seeds, so I got one of those, but did so after getting those raisins and peanuts in dark chocolate. After seeing that the spot where it seemed they should have been was empty, I thought they were out, and the small space and a woman checking something else in that area for a couple of minutes meant I had to wait my turn to have a better look, but when I did I found that they had placed them at the end of that shelf, I guess to make them more visible, and while they still had several bags of the peanuts, they just had three of raisins left, and the sale only applied if you bought at least two of a kind, so I guess I got there right on time to avoid needing to check other stores for them the next day.

After stuffing myself with mamaliga, again with a bunch of things added in it, at night, I kept needing to get up to pee, so the fourth time this happened, at 11 AM, I considered getting up for good, but calculated and realized I could afford a couple more hours of sleep, so eventually got up for good the fifth time, at 12:20 PM. Took it easy though, leaving at 2:50 PM, also taking the plastic and metal to drop off in a bin on the way, which wasn’t the first one I passed by because a street cleaner was just standing there at the time and I couldn’t get myself to go right up to her and dump something in there.
I first went straight to the Auchan from Vitan, but couldn’t find those “creamy” yogurts that were supposed to be two for the price of one, though the site listed them as still in stock at that location as well. Searched thoroughly for quite a while, then finally gave in and asked an employee… Who asked another one, who took me to where they should have been on the shelf and, after seeing that there wasn’t even a price label there, went to ask yet another employee, who in turn came to tell me that they used to be in a different spot but they didn’t have any anymore, then went to ask yet another employee, to make sure, and she also confirmed that they were out. So I just got some tea and bread… And found that they placed self-checkouts there again, or more exactly modified some of the machines that used to only be used to pay to also be able to scan products, and you can still also pay with cash, so I used one of those, also finding quite a pile of coins in it.
After getting a bit confused on the way and then pretty much just going in and out of the Penny that’s close to it, seeing that what I might have been interested in was imported, I then went to that newer Kaufland, seeing that they were still in the process of changing the price labels to reflect the sales which had started that day, and while the product I was mainly looking for was placed in the special “sale” area and had a red label, said label failed to mention that it was a two for the price of one deal, and it seemed that not that many of those who had checked the catalog had been there yet, since only a few had been bought and I could easily get eight, plus one more thing for dad and a pastry for myself. Then again, there were surprisingly few customers there at that moment, which made it even stranger that I kept bumping into a certain one, a girl who was checking out the bakery area when I also got there and we took turns giving each other space while trying to decide, then I bumped into her again when I got to the expiring products, wandering around until she finished looking through them and I could do the same, then I think there was another place we both checked out at the same time, albeit briefly, then we both accidentally ended up in the dog food area at the same time, stopping in our tracks and turning around when we realized it, and then we both used self-checkout machines that also accept cash, right next to each other. Almost made a comment about it as I left, since she was still scanning her purchases, but couldn’t get myself to actually say anything, and it’d have probably been quite awkward if I’d have done so.
After retrieving the previous purchases from the cabinet, spending some time arranging everything in a bag, realizing quite late that someone else was waiting after me, quickly stuffing everything back in the cabinet at that point, going to the toilet, retrieving the purchases one more time, moving a few steps away and finally arranging them properly, I decided to also go to the Auchan from Titan. Hadn’t checked the route between those two places before leaving and never used it before, but I got there well enough and also found plenty of those yogurts, so I got as many as I thought I had a realistic chance to use before they’ll go bad and one more bread, of a different kind.
The last stop was the Carrefour from the park, getting as much of Liza’s food as I still had money for, giving the cashier all the bills and a handful of coins, which caused her to wonder how had I gathered all of those and put them in the cash drawer without counting them, saying she just assumed it was the right amount. But that happened after the machine directing people standing in the single queue they use at that location to the checkouts it estimates will result in the lowest waiting time directed me to one where the person ahead of me had a full cart… And then, as I resigned myself to the wait, a guy who also had a full cart squeezed past me and reacted to my frown by saying he was with her. That made me give their two full carts quite a hard stare and, noticing that and that I just had one box of cat food, she told me to go ahead, which I gladly accepted. I still had to wait a little though, since the person ahead of her had a product that didn’t scan and the cashier couldn’t see the product code either, so after a few attempts and asking the customer to help as well she just put it away. She did, however, ask the customer why was she buying the 200 gram bag of almonds when the 500 gram one was on sale for only a little more, which was something I had almost said myself after spotting it there, so there was a quick exchange between the three of us at that point, but things were left as they were and my turn came… And then I wished the cashier good luck, gesturing towards the two behind me and their full carts, which she apparently hadn’t yet noticed, since at first she just thanked me apparently out of reflex, then rather froze for a moment when she actually had a look, before turning back towards me and making a face. But at least I had everything at that point, and was back just before 8:15 PM.

Monday the alarm was set to ring at 1 PM, so when I woke up for the second time and saw 12:18 PM and didn’t need to pee quite that badly, I just got right back in bed and actually managed a couple more brief naps, my internal clock being particularly accurate, as I woke up from the last one mere seconds before the alarm, still “disentangling” from the last dream when it rang. Then I had the usual stuff plus the last of the old almonds, the yogurt being one of those “creamy” ones with 10% fat and also adding the couple of spoonfuls that were left in a bottle of kefir dad said he had finished, while for the sweet thing I resorted to those nicer biscuits again, with added honey. One issue was that the forecast was once again inaccurate, however, all sources listing a high of 2-3°C even when I went to bed in the morning, which changed to about 6°C when I woke up, though when I left, at 3:30 PM, the reported temperature was 4-5°C, which if I was to believe the forecast was supposed to remain pretty much unchanged until 5 PM, but drop rather sharply after that, since I was seeing 1-2°C at 6 PM. So at first I put a second t-shirt on, then removed the one I wear inside when I saw that, ending up in the old running suit, with an undershirt and a t-shirt underneath, plus the running shoes, that thing around my neck, again pulled up so I won’t also wear a mask on the way, and the gloves and jacket, which I obviously tied around my waist for the run.
Since this run marks the start of that little training schedule for the half marathon, which I’ll stick to, at least for now, even if it seems to have once again been postponed, I went for 16 km again, the time being 1:21:22, with sector times of 4:26, 5:18, 6:14, 4:41, 5:17, 6:13, 4:40, 5:20, 6:14, 4:41, 5:26, 6:20, 4:46, 5:33 and 6:13, making for lap times of 15:58, 16:11, 16:14, 16:27 and 16:32. I did start in a controlled manner, so the first sector time didn’t bother me that much and at that point I was wondering whether I’ll manage a first lap in less than 15:30 and be well on my way to at least stay under 1:20, but the next sector put all of that out of my mind and I changed the goals to at least complete that lap in less than 16 minutes and perhaps try to stay under 1:22. Then, seeing that bad sector three time as well and that I just barely stayed under 16 minutes on said first lap, I ended up just aiming for 16:30 on the second, wondering whether I’ll manage a time that will be less awful than last month’s or I’ll just have to aim to stay under 1:24. However, I then noticed that, while slow, I was maintaining a particularly steady pace, obtaining nearly identical times for three full laps, between sector two of lap one and sector one of lap four, just sector two of lap three being a couple of seconds slower. That made me recalculate my target as time passed and I wasn’t getting even slower, eventually returning to 1:22 and, despite getting even slower from sector two of lap four, hoping for 1:21:30 by the end. That was in doubt after that awful sector two of lap five, but that was actually caused by passing by a beggar who sounded so desperate I thought she might even start attacking people to get something, making me lose focus and basically forget about trying to sprint on the straights, so after recovering I could push and return to that steady pace on the last sector.
Other than that beggar, there were a fair number of people again, so on top of plenty of weaving and going the long way around, there were a few places where I had to squeeze through and slow a little, and one where I had to briefly stop, on sector two of lap two, when a pretty large group of people had a small dog on a long leash, so I tried to go the long way around when it was blocking the inside as I approached, but it ran that way by the time I got there, the leash ending up blocking me again. Things did get better from this point of view as I went along, however, the notable issues caused by people pretty much ending halfway through or so. On the other hand, I started needing to take a shit from sector three of lap three and the feeling, while never particularly bad, didn’t go away, probably also as a result of having stuffed myself the previous evening and clearly not managing to get rid of as much as I should have before leaving, and the forecast proved wrong in another way as well, as there was supposed to be little wind but that wasn’t what I felt, having to push against it on that long sector two straight even on lap one, feeling it at some point during the next sector as well, and then seeming to become even more of an issue later, making it harder to sprint on some straights and also simply making it colder, the fact that it was also cloudy leading to actually feeling cold at times as I ran, though that reported temperature should have made me even overheat, considering how I was dressed.

As for Thursday, there were no visits recorded in either view again. But, to start with the morning, I kept having weird dreams and waking up, but only needed to pee the first time and otherwise actually managed to get back to sleep quickly after either just checking the time or not getting out of bed at all. After finally getting up just before 1:40 PM, I left at 3:25 PM, first having a quick look in the nearby Mega Image and seeing that they seemed to be already out of the 2 kg bags of oranges that were supposed to be on sale starting that day, but thinking that it was just because that’s such a small store. However, after not seeing any when I also checked the much larger one next to the pharmacy, I realized that finding some was going to be a problem.
At least I could go right into the pharmacy after that, realizing that the line which had made me turn away and head into Mega Image when I got there wasn’t for what you can get yourself, so I stocked up on some things for dad, though the discount I had seen on-line wasn’t listed for some of them and I first asked an employee to confirm that it did indeed apply… And focusing on working up the courage to do that and hold it together once I did probably had a fair bit to do with why I somehow forgot the one thing I wanted to get for myself. Realized it after walking out, but didn’t want to go back in when you’re told to not spend more than 15 minutes there… And then I also somehow “managed” to knock most of the coins I had out of the pocket they were in, so after picking them all back up and counting carefully, I just wanted to get away from there.
The next planned destination, Auchan, wasn’t one I really needed to go to, the potatoes being only a little bit cheaper there than in quite a few other places, but since they’re mainly for dad and he only wants large ones, I also thought there was a better chance to find enough of those there that were nice enough, which proved to be the case. Then I went for the first time to that Profi that’s on the way to that Kaufland, for something for my mother, but that spot on the shelf was empty and I even asked an employee and she didn’t seem to know what I was talking about, though it had been the product advertised in their TV ad those days. I did later realize that I had misread the dates, the sale having ended the day before, but it was still odd that she seemed to have no idea. Either way, despite passing by that Profi whenever I used that route to or from that Kaufland and therefore knowing that if I turned around the right way, said Kaufland should just about be in sight, I guess I then somehow turned the wrong way and took a little while to realize it, so I had to get my bearings and eventually made my way to a main road some distance away.
That proved fortunate, however, since I found myself next to another Mega Image and decided to go in. I couldn’t spot the cabinets, which I later saw were around the corner, walking in with the backpack and the bag with the potatoes, and while at Profi, where I had done the same, nobody seemed to care, there the guard kept her eyes on me and even approached a couple of times as I circled around the fruits and vegetables several times, looking for those oranges, and also thoroughly searched the bin with those that were discounted due to starting to spoil. And that was probably why I only finally spotted the last two of those bags of oranges when I was about to give up, since they were actually near the entrance, where she was standing. But at least I did spot them and got the better one, muttering that I had searched everywhere for them, and then also decided to grab the handful of discounted carrots that were in that bin… Which for some reason prompted the guard to actually walk up and speak to me, so I had to quickly remove one of my headphones and ask her to repeat herself, though I still have no idea why she felt the need to tell me that they also had “good carrots, for a leu and something” when, after circling that area so many times, I had obviously noticed that, plus that “a leu and something” was in fact 1.99 RON. Either way, I told her I just wanted to add something to the oranges, then went to the checkout… Where, seeing as they charge for those discounted products separately, the cashier first scanned the oranges and looked at me expectantly until I paid for them, then she handed me 0.05 RON as change instead of 0.09 RON and, after also charging for the bag I was forced to use, the carrots being in it, asked for 0.70 RON for those, and I pushed back the coin she had given me and gave her 0.65 RON more, not arguing that I should have in fact given her 0.61 RON.
Though I finally had those oranges, since I went around that area on my way to Kaufland and spotted another Mega Image across the road, I decided to quickly check that one as well, not finding anything interesting… And then I also ended up just wasting time in that Kaufland, since I was mainly going there for the toilet paper that was on sale and couldn’t find any. So I decided to head to that newer one as well, eventually getting there well enough even though I had never used the direct route between the two and got a bit confused on the way. And that was the right choice, since I did find some there, so I got that and a couple of other things, then also went to Penny and got a couple of things from there as well.
Since at that point I didn’t yet know that I had misread the dates and passed by another Profi on the way back, I had a quick look in there as well, and when I saw that the price on the label was the regular one I asked an employee and she said that if the sale price wasn’t listed, the sale must be over. Then I also meant to just have a quick look in yet another Mega Image that was on my way, but the guard told me that I won’t be able to stuff everything I had in their cabinets, so I turned around and just continued on my way to the Carrefour from the park, just getting a small cabbage. The unpleasant part was that, with my gloves off, the velcro from my jacket’s left sleeve ended up scratching my hand a fair bit and I only realized it when I got out, and there are still marks and it still stings a little even now. But at least I was finally done with everything and got back here at 9:05 PM, having carried 16 kg, including clothes and the usual stuff in my pockets, which was a bit of a problem since all the purchases except those from the pharmacy were in the two bags I held in my hands, since everything seemed to fit really well in them when I left that newer Kaufland and by the time I realized that the weight was going to be a problem I decided that making proper use of the backpack probably won’t be worth the time needed to rearrange everything in order to do so.

Otherwise, actually ended up advancing a little bit in Lords of Xulima last Friday evening, when I also pushed to catch up on reading and make sure I’ll finish the next day, but then I set it aside again and once I did get back to Venetica, Sunday evening, so a day after finishing the book and posting the quick review, I actually kept playing. And while it seems wrong to add it here, at odds and ends, I will add that in between, last Saturday evening, I ended up sending another message to Andra on Goodreads, for the second time risking a block there as well… And at least I don’t seem to have been blocked because of it… So far…

That should and would have been everything if Liza wouldn’t have had other ideas today. Of course, this particular behavior is entirely dad’s fault, since he’s the one who taught the cats that he’ll carry them on his shoulders whenever they want to climb somewhere and even come right away when they call in order to get back on his shoulders to get down. In fact, he did it again right in front of me shortly after I woke up again, squatting on the hallway when Micky started meowing and circling him and repeatedly asking where did she want to go and telling her to climb on, though she didn’t exactly seem inclined to do so.
Back to the morning, I meant to wake up at 10:30 AM, to watch ski jumping and also glance at the Australian Open women’s final, but ended up getting up at 10:55 AM, since there was no alarm. I thought I had set it, and also that I had seen the alarm icon on my phone’s screen when I checked the time when I woke up to pee at one point, but I guess I was wrong, so I ended up missing a part of the ski jumping and quickly searching for a stream to see it, since it also included two of the Romanian jumpers.
Either way, since I had also eaten some pumpkin seeds towards the end, before getting back to bed after it was over I went to the kitchen to throw away the husks and also tell dad that I was going to get back to sleep, and since he had dumped some plastic things on the garbage bin, as he tends to do, I grabbed those in order to be able to raise the lid and then went to throw them in the bin for plastic and metal… Which brought me in Liza’s range, since she was on the heater, and she jumped straight on me, sort of going over my head to get on my back. And I was in my pajamas, which I definitely don’t want to get anything on, wanting them to be just for sleeping and something I feel clean and safe in. And I guess dad realized how angry I was when I swore and froze there, since he got up immediately, pulled her off me, took her to the living room and closed the door, but the damage was already done, and likely made even worse when he did that, since she had one claw in my shoulder, obviously going through my pajama shirt and the t-shirt underneath, and when he pulled her off it obviously left a little hole. There may be a few other tiny ones as well, since I thought I felt the tips of a few more claws on my skin, but that was the one I saw at a glance, and took a few minutes to sew it as well as I could right away. But, again, the damage was done…
Did get back to bed after that, but I was too angry, and that faint and elusive feeling of safety and control had been shaken as well, so I needed quite some time to be able to get back to sleep and didn’t stay asleep for long once I did, and now I know that those pajamas are also damaged, and that Liza had her paws which for all I know might have just been in the litter box on them and then I got back in bed wearing them. And, on top of that, after dad left and I was getting something from the fridge, she climbed on yet again, actually jumping right on me, grabbing on to my pants before climbing on my back, which also led to a few little scratches. At least that old training suit was already damaged by both of them climbing on in such a manner before, and I don’t treat it the way I treat my pajamas, but under those circumstances that made me really, really angry, so I chased her around for a while, until she got in the small bathroom and I could close the door to keep her away until I finished getting the food I wanted and taking it to my room… And then, I guess as revenge, I found that she had thrown up right on the side of Micky’s food bowl! Or at least I believe she did that, considering the food that was thrown up, though I didn’t actually see.

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