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Dream Trek Summer Edition 2021

In the previous personal post, I skipped ahead as we started running, a few minutes after the scheduled time of 9:03 PM, at sunset. We did that directly, with no warm up, since it was raining and we were already running late. The rain soon eased, however, and with everyone bar me and one other guy having rushed to put their jackets on before starting, they started trying to get them off while running. Still, there were puddles, some of them large, and we were running through some dark areas, plus that at that hour there was traffic, and plenty of people on the sidewalks as well, so avoiding them wasn’t that easy and I ended up stepping in a few. Some were saying that soon enough it won’t matter anymore, I guess because we’ll be too wet to notice, but it wasn’t as bad as the forecast might have made us believe even then, and for the rest of the run it was actually just fine, with some moments of light rain but nothing notable, and the puddles became fewer and smaller as we went along. There seemed to have been quite a gust of wind at some point, however, maybe before the rain started, while we were still in the mall, since we ran past a fallen tree in an area I should have seen on my way there, and Radu also shouted and said he hadn’t seen it earlier either, indicating he lives around here as well. Otherwise, I got some warnings from my right knee, but there was nothing notable, that first part actually seeming too easy. And we had a refreshment point during it, where I drank a bottle of protein milk, I think the vanilla one, and took two protein bars, one of each kind, eating the chocolate and mint one and leaving the white chocolate and strawberry one in my pocket, and also grabbed and ate a couple of bagels before the stuff was gathered.

The first half, or maybe even the first two thirds, of the second part also felt easy and I was staying with those in the lead. The group even split at one point and I stayed with those who rushed ahead, albeit hesitantly, but before the split it’s certain that staying ahead helped at Izvor Park, where we stopped at the toilets and, after not going when we stopped at a gas station during the first part, I ended up the second one at the better toilet that’s there, so I didn’t have to resort to one of the others or have Radu try to pressure me to do so to reduce the waiting time, as it happened to those who were after me. Forgot to stop the stopwatch while waiting for the first guy, however, and while I realized it after a while and then tried to compensate by starting it a similar amount of time later once we got going again, that was obviously a very rough estimate. Otherwise, at the refreshment point I got the chocolate protein milk and a strawberry bar, which was awfully sweet, the combination having unpleasant effects on my stomach, the few bagels I also got not seeming to help too much. And I peed again at Opera’s Park, rushing after that guy who had reached that toilet at Izvor ahead of me as well but seeing him going in the bushes, the toilet not working, so I did the same. I was starting to tire at that point, however, on top of the stomach problems, and I meant to reassess the situation after that part, wondering what to do because I wanted to complete the third as well, but I doubted I’ll be able to keep up and couldn’t recall the route, the return one in particular, so I was trying to get myself to suggest splitting into two groups, one taking it easy and just finishing that part and another for those certain they’ll go to the end and can maintain the pace required, Radu already saying we were behind schedule because the breaks had been too long.

There was another refreshment point at the end of part two, and considering how my stomach felt I got a bottle of water instead of the protein milk, and searched for a mint bar, another guy doing the same, but while I thought I had found some in a box and handed him one as well, we then both had a better look and realized those were strawberry bars as well, and we only got mint ones after the girl managing the refreshment points asked what we were searching for and handed us a box of those bars from the car, saying there were none left in the trunk, probably in an attempt to get people to eat some of the others as well, most avoiding them because they were so terribly sweet. Likely got some bagels again as well, if I saw some, but I’m not entirely sure, and either way I can’t say they helped, and the water actually seemed to make things worse, so I really felt like I needed to take a shit, on top of being exhausted. And I wasn’t the only one, at least one girl asking for a working toilet in the area, but nobody seemed to know of any and we kept going as we were… All in one group, because despite having spent the previous few kilometers trying to prepare myself to suggest that split, I couldn’t get myself to say anything, so I just tried to run as efficiently as possible, taking it bit by bit.

What surprised me was that I was managing to hold on to the group. I had to push for it, and it was a loose group and I thought I was among the last in it, but after a while I realized with even greater surprise that I was in fact once again among the last in the leading group, since there had been another split, the others vanishing behind and Radu catching up to us when some were wondering whether to stop and wait and saying we’ll regroup at Victory Square. So we kept going until we got there, and I still managed to avoid falling behind, though the fact that we had to wait for quite a few minutes for the others to catch up at that point was definitely quite a relief. I’m not entirely sure what caused such a large gap, however, one possible reason being that the good runner who had kept rushing ahead before then had fallen, but despite having scraped knees he still reached us well before the others, having ended up between the groups. But at least everyone seemed to be there once we did regroup, so we continued to Arcul de Triumf and I still managed to hold on to the group… Though I’m not sure what I did with my stopwatch, since when I pressed the button to stop it and looked when we got there, it was running, so one option is that I didn’t press that button properly, but another is that I had stopped it earlier, maybe when I saw a red light on the way and assumed we’ll stop but we ended up crossing anyway, since there was no traffic, if not even shortly after starting again, when I thought we might stop one more time before leaving the Victory Square area, and then forgot to start it again, in which case quite a lot of time wasn’t counted and the actual running time is significantly longer than what was listed at the end.
Either way, the need to take care of a certain pressing need was quite desperate by then, and not just for me. I even heard the leader of the team I was in last year tell someone else that her legs weren’t hurting, but her stomach was, and when we stopped for another picture at that point that other girl who had asked for a proper toilet between parts two and three insisted once again, so Radu checked to see how long we had until reaching one with running water and toilet paper and also said we’ll cut through Herastrau Park, reducing the distance by some 200 meters, since the planned route would have taken us around that part of it. The distance was still significant, his initial estimate, before deciding to cut through the park, being 18 minutes, but it was enough to keep everyone going, though a few had seemed inclined to stop at Arcul de Triumf at first. I’ll also make a note of the fact that we had to avoid frogs again while we ran through the park, and since it was also dark I’m not sure everyone managed to avoid stepping on any, but what was stranger was that there seemed to have been even more in a certain area we passed through before the park, right on the sidewalk, though I can’t recall whether that was earlier on part three or somewhere on part two anymore.
After thinking that some lights I saw ahead were that gas station and pushing to be among the first ones there only to realize that I was wrong and had exhausted myself even more too soon, it sure was a relief when we did finally get there and I was among the several who took care of that pressing need. Just partially, but when it usually takes me about half an hour and I had to get it over with in a couple of minutes, getting the worst of it out, at least wiping well enough to not feel itchy and not seeing any blood was way better than expected, and I felt so much better after that… At least from that point of view, since I was still exhausted and, once we got moving again, I realized that my back was hurting, maybe as a result of how I sat on the toilet, the pain seeming different despite being in the usual spot, worse than what that bone spur usually causes when it just gets stuck in a bad position, and I couldn’t just snap it to fix it, so that became another issue to manage from then on. In spite of that, and of the fact that a few others announced while we were still at that gas station that they were going to leave at the far end of that part, doing so after we stopped there for another picture, I decided to do my best to stay with the group all the way back to University Square. I was, however, hoping for another break relatively soon, Radu saying there will be a refreshment point where the girls will find a parking spot, so I was struggling more and more as time passed, that break coming quite late on the way back. But I managed to get there without falling behind, and that quite lengthy break and the vanilla protein milk, mint bar, quite a few bagels and small handful of some other snacks that I got helped me reach the end.

It wasn’t even 3:45 AM when we got back to University Square. I’m not even entirely sure it was 3:40 AM, since I seem to remember someone saying it should be as much as we’ll be able to cover in an hour and 50 minutes when Radu said the last part will be shortened, people obviously being tired, at least with the exception of the guy who met us there and joined just for that last part. Still, after struggling so much to get there, a fact which others had noticed, since I had been asked a few times whether I was all right, I clearly wasn’t going to keep up, so I managed to get myself to ask whether they’ll get back through Unirii Square and when Radu confirmed it I said I needed a break, couldn’t continue, but will jog there after half an hour or so and wait to join them again for that last bit. He asked where I lived and when I said I won’t be going home, but just rest there for a while, he was concerned I’ll be cold, not seeming convinced even when I said I had my jacket and pointed to it, tied around my waist, and suggesting that I should accept when that new guy offered me his hoodie and even to give me his car keys. But he left me alone when I refused and, at 3:50 AM or so, the rest of them left, nobody else stopping at that point.

So I made my way to the underground passage and waited there, with my jacket on, taking it off again and going back out at 4:20 AM. Then I lightly jogged to Unirii Square, making a little detour once I got there to check the hours of that Carrefour before continuing to the intersection, where I initially meant to wait. After a little while I jogged back to also check that Mega Image, saw that it was also closed and didn’t even have the hours displayed outside, jogged back to the intersection, waited there a while longer… But then I thought they could get back on the other side, either going through the park or even staying on its other side, so I jogged back to the other intersection… And then realized I rather needed to pee again, so I jogged through the park and crossed to that toilet from that area… Only to find it closed, the message stating that it’ll open at 5 AM, and while that was only minutes away, I wasn’t sure it really would open at exactly 5 AM and was worried that if I’ll be in there after 5 AM I might just miss them, so I jogged back to the park, found some bushes and peed there, then jogged back to the intersection to wait.
I was getting increasingly uneasy as time passed and they weren’t appearing, however, seeing as the announced plan was to finish at 5:30 AM, which was when the organizers seemed to have seen sunrise was at, though when I checked I saw 5:31 AM. So I was starting to think that I either somehow missed them or they used another route, and at 5:20 AM I started jogging back… Only to find myself at the statue right at 5:31 AM, all alone. So I jogged back to the corner, and after a little while saw one guy, jogging with him back to the statue, I believe seeing 5:34 AM when we got there. Then, after he said he had left a bit before the others after their last stop, I jogged back to the corner once again, returning with the others when they also appeared, I think getting there at 5:37 AM.

I’ll also mention that I didn’t use the bug spray again, so carrying it with me was pointless, and the same goes for the other things, with the exception of the mask, which I also used at that gas station, and the money and bags, which I needed later. But what matters more is that the total running time I saw at the end was 4:41:21, a mere 37 seconds over last year’s, though that’s of course rough and uncertain, even more so considering that possible issue on Kiseleff. And, assuming Google Maps can be trusted for measurements, if the route for those three parts was followed, with the exception of that shortcut through Herastrau Park, and I remembered various details correctly, and adding what I covered on my own while the rest were on part four, the total distance seems to have been about 44 km. That would be the longest yet if true, but all the stops mean it can’t compare to actually running a marathon anyway… And actually needing over 20 minutes less to do so… Back before I ended up so out of shape, and probably only getting worse from now on, seeing as I’m obviously not getting any younger.

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