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Four More Runs in Peak Form, Including Another Personal Best… Or Two?

I’ll start this post with the early hours of April 14, so with the night before the run I only mentioned before, when I was feeling rather off, getting weaker and at one point, while making dinner, even shaking noticeably, despite having had lunch in the evening. And despite boiling the carrots while making that lunch, I still only ended up starting to eat dinner at 3:15 AM, and finished a little before 3:55 AM. Interestingly, however, I started feeling better even before starting to eat said dinner.
Moving on to the day of April 14, I got up when the alarm rang, at 2 PM, had the usual stuff plus almonds, with the sweet thing being two of those wheat things, expired for who knows how long, with added jam, since I was out of honey, also took the pill I had started taking, with magnesium and potassium and some other things, and left just before 4:25 PM, wearing the full running gear. The reported temperature was about 20°C, supposed to hold steady.
The time was 46:18.19, with sector times of 4:15.70, 4:56 (4:55.31), 5:37.85, 4:18 (4:17.59), 4:57 (4:56.87), 5:36 (5:35.69), 4:17.21, 4:56.23, 5:39.28 and 1:47 (1:46.46), making for lap times of 14:48.86, 14:51 (14:50.15) and 14:52.72. I controlled my pace to some extent on the first sector, but had what I thought was an ambitious initial target, the 47:27 resulting from the first three laps and last sector of the previous week’s half marathon run, so from sector two I started pushing, and after it I wondered about staying under 15 minutes on the first lap, giving it a mighty push on sector three and managing that by quite a margin. Pushing so hard from the beginning made me fear that I had tired myself too much to still be able to sustain the pace required for that initial target time, but when I saw how good the first two sectors of lap two were I thought I’ll at least keep the average lap time under 15 minutes at the end of it… Only to be surprised to see that I had actually stayed under 15 minutes on that lap as well, managing a sector three that was actually faster than the first lap’s. And I kept pushing, realizing that I had a fair chance of staying under 47 minutes. Needing to pick my way through at the end of sector two of lap three made me worry that I’ll fail just because of that, but when I saw that sector’s time I realized that it’d have been the fastest sector two without that loss, and at the end of the lap I knew I’ll safely finish in less than 46:30. And at the end I was actually somewhat frustrated, seeing that time that’s a second best over this distance, only nine seconds slower than the record, and knowing that a new record would have been possible on a clear track and without that headwind… And maybe also if I’d have pushed a little harder in the early part of the run… Though that might have caused me to lose more than I’d have gained, overall.
A roadblock caused me to briefly stop towards the end of the first sector, while on sector two of lap two another made me take to the grass, going around a tree and a bench, albeit cutting the turn in the process, and I already mentioned the end of sector two of lap three, when I had to slow to a walk for a few seconds, under the bridge, a woman walking on one side and her dog being on the other, the leash blocking the lane and others coming from the opposite direction and squeezing through the small space left around the dog. And there were plenty of people in general, so there were plenty of moments when I had to weave or go the long way around, and it was also windy, this being another pretty serious problem at times, including on long straights, mainly that one on sector two, while towards the end of a sector two, not sure if of lap two or three, I felt that I was barely advancing against the wind as I approached the bridge. Otherwise, my thigh muscles started complaining a little from the start of the long straight of sector two of lap two, but it wasn’t bad, and otherwise I could just push. As for the route, another tiny patch of the lane had probably been repaired and was fenced off, but it was just that tiny patch.

Though I didn’t take a mask with me, on the way back I had a quick glance in this nearby Mega Image, then got here, had a banana, changed and left again at 7:10 PM. I went to Obor again, but was first looking for something from Mega Image, finding those things in the second one I checked on the way, and also seeing Food Bank on the donation box in that location and, after thinking about it for a moment after walking out, stepping back in to drop that 1 RON I wanted to donate in it.
Then I went to that Carrefour, put those purchases in a cabinet and got a few things, including an expiring cake and two bio (organic) eggs that I found among those sold by piece and decided to buy even though they weren’t discounted. Also happened to see Remus Cernea in the store and greeted him in passing, quickly walking away just as he looked up, so possibly even before he really saw me. And when I paid I gave 12 RON when the total was 11.51 RON, yet received only 0.40 RON as change, so I asked the cashier whether I could give him 0.01 RON and get a 0.50 RON coin, explaining that they’re useful, which was a part of the reason, but I obviously mainly wanted the correct change, and he said that he’ll just give me that coin, taking the smaller ones and doing so after checking out the next customer, without me giving him the 0.01 RON.
Then I retrieved my things from the cabinet, put everything in one at Kaufland after getting there, washed my hands, went in and got some buns, evening discounts just being placed in the bakery area. Other discounted products didn’t include anything else that could interest me, but I got a cabbage and a few other things and made my way to the self-checkout, the machine not causing any problems in itself but one of the 1 RON bills it gave me as change having a torn corner. Either way, I then used the scales that are next to the bathroom in order to get a label that I used to keep the bag with the buns closed, retrieved my things from the cabinet and, even though the store closed at that point, took my time to arrange the purchases before walking out.
After getting back just before 10:55 PM, I ate that expiring cake and put some of the purchases in their place, but left the two eggs on the kitchen table, for the mamaliga I planned to make. They were between several other things, so I thought they were safe and went to shower, and after I finished I first searched for the bag of bagels from Kaufland that I thought I still had, wanting to eat that older one and put the one purchased that evening in its place. After realizing that I must have eaten it at some earlier point, I got back to the kitchen at 12:35 AM… And saw just one egg on the table, and the coins knocked over. The other things placed around the eggs were much harder to knock over, but there are some other things on that part of the table, so I didn’t pay that much attention to blocking it, yet some space was available and it was obviously enough for Micky, since I’m sure she was the culprit. As for the egg, it was on the floor, cracked and with much of the white spilled out. But she had probably rolled it first onto the seat and then from there to the floor, since it’d have probably looked worse if it’d have fallen straight from the table. And the yolk was still inside and I didn’t want to waste it, so I took the egg and dropped the yolk in a cup, just throwing away the remaining white, then cleaned the floor in that spot, and after checking the yolk as well I could for dirt and not noticing anything, I threw it in the pot from the beginning, so it boiled for over an hour and a half. And yes, I yelled at Micky for that and closed her out of the kitchen for a while, though I eventually let her back in and gave her food… Otherwise, I ate that entire large bag of bagels before doing much else… And stopped eating the mamaliga at 3:40 AM, before stuffing myself too much. Got in bed at 5:20 AM.

That series of three runs in five days came next, the first needing to be on April 21 or April 22, even though both of those days were going to be windy, since I schedule these runs so the middle one falls either on Saturday or Sunday. But Easter was on April 24, and Good Friday is also legally a free day, so even though the forecast listed much better weather on April 24 than on April 23, and possibly also on April 26 than on April 25, I decided to start on April 21, this seeming to be the far better option from the point of view of the number of people I’ll have to deal with. And I stuck to that plan despite having multiple reasons for concern the day before, starting with the pain in my lower left leg when I went to bed in the morning, which continued for a while after I got up, and continuing with the odd taste I felt at one point while eating the macaroni and cheese I made that day, which remained in my mouth until I went to bed, something also not seeming quite right in my abdomen.
Fortunately, the problems seemed to have fixed themselves by the time the alarm rang on April 21, at 2 PM, and I got up. Then I had the usual stuff plus almonds, with the sweet thing being a slice of cozonac, with added jam, also took that supplement, and left at 4:15 PM, wearing the full running gear plus an undershirt underneath, and with a 10 RON bill in a flimsy bag in the pocket of my tights. The reported temperature was about 16°C, supposed to hold steady, but the problem was the wind.
The time was 1:14:53, with sector times of 4:16, 4:57, 5:47, 4:20, 4:53, 5:38, 4:21, 4:55, 5:48, 4:20, 4:53, 5:41, 4:29, 4:54 and 5:41, making for lap times of 15:00, 14:51, 15:04, 14:54 and 15:04. So I have a new personal best over 16 km as well, and also a new fastest lap four, that being the only time I completed a fourth lap in less than 15 minutes. And at first I was just hoping to stay under 1:18, aiming to gain compared to those target times on the first two laps and see what happens after that, actually being ready to accept to just stay under 1:20 if the wind would be bad, while the best case scenario was beating the 1:16:53 managed on the first five laps of the half marathon run from two weeks earlier. And, speaking of that half marathon run, I wonder what I’d have managed if I’d have continued to that distance, after being exactly two minutes faster over the five laps. Despite having pushed so hard until then, I’m thinking that I’d have still completed lap six in less than the 15:45 managed then, so even if I was very likely to then lose some time on the final portion, I’d have still been looking at about 1:40:30. But I guess we’ll never know, and I highly doubt I’ll ever be so fast again.
While I obviously didn’t give it everything, I did push to some extent from the start and the first sector’s time was fine. When the second sector was faster than expected, however, I wondered about completing the lap in less than 15 minutes and went for it, despite thinking that I was tiring myself too early by doing so. And I just missed that target by fractions of a second, so I’d have made it without the roadblocks I had to deal with on the first sector. Either way, I then hoped to just stay under 15:30 on lap two and, if possible, still not lose compared to the pace for 1:18 on lap three. But lap two was unexpectedly fast, actually under 15 minutes, so I kept pushing and when lap three was also fast I was thinking of that best case scenario, since I only needed to stay marginally under 16 minutes per lap. But when the sector times continued to be surprisingly fast, the target became 1:16, and I also pushed to try to finish four laps in less than one hour, which I also managed. I then assumed that I was going to slow significantly on lap five, the target becoming 1:15:30, but also realized that I had been faster than ever at that point and could challenge my personal best. That seemed unlikely after sector one of lap five, but I just pushed like crazy and after sector two it was clear that, if there won’t be problems, I was going to have a new personal best. Perhaps strangely, I found myself wondering whether I wanted to try to get under 1:15, what made me uncertain being that I was going to have to modify the graph if I’ll manage it, as silly as that sounds. But it was likely my last and only chance to do that, so I kept pushing and made it, maybe also helped by a guy who ended up in front of me on the last part of the last sector and was too fast for me to catch by the end but provided me with a target.
The second toe from my left foot started hurting on the way, but it no longer did while running, and there were no physical issues until the end of sector one of lap four, when I started feeling a need to crap. That seemed to go away by the end of the next sector, but my right knee was more persistent, the warnings it started giving me around that time going away after a while but then returning. And there were some slight warnings from the other knee as well, towards the end of the last lap, when I was pushing like crazy, and that was also when I felt like I couldn’t quite get enough air in. And my hands also started going numb from sector two of lap five. On the other hand, if the two roadblocks I had to deal with on the very first sector made me think that people were going to be a big problem, the first causing me to briefly stop and the second to take to the grass, going behind a bench and a pole, those were the only such situations, so I of course had to weave or go the long way around, and a few times also to squeeze through or avoid, but there were no other notable problems caused by people. It was windy, however, and while this aspect also wasn’t as bad as I feared, it did cause problems in a number of places, perhaps most notably in the area between the start of the long sector two straight and at least the end of that sector, or possibly until a little after the start of sector three. As for the lane, while no more work was being done, a few small moist patches confirmed that it’s unusable when wet, since it felt like stepping on a wet sponge.

The reason for that 10 RON bill I had taken with me was that I wanted to see whether I could get cat litter from a little store on the way back, but I made that small detour, and quickly entered the store without a mask, for nothing, since they don’t seem to have that kind anymore. And I couldn’t afford to waste the time either, so I jogged most of the way back. Then I had a banana and what was left of the sweet thing bought after that half marathon run from two weeks earlier, changed and went back out at 7:45 PM.
After first just getting a few more yogurts from the Carrefour from the park, I went to the newer Kaufland, put the yogurts in cabinet, washed my hands and walked in right at 9 PM. It closed at 11 PM those days, however, so I found no evening discounts for anything I’d care to get with the exception of wild garlic, and didn’t get any of that either, what was left looking too bad. But I did need green onions, so after digging through the crates I managed to find a bundle that didn’t look that bad and bought it, at what was either a regular discount or a small evening one, adding a few torn pieces I had found scattered in the crates to it, since it was otherwise smaller than the others I had considered. Then I looked for some snacks, but instead of getting another bag of bagels I found an expiring bio (organic) bag of peanuts and got that, then also got some bread for dad and, since there were still no bakery discounts, also grabbed some regular buns with sesame, which had a regular discount. Maybe the evening discounts would have appeared at 10 PM, but for once I didn’t wait, since I was planning to make another mamaliga and it was therefore getting late already. So I went to the self-checkout, had no problems with the machine, retrieved the yogurts, stepped outside to use one of those tables to arrange my purchases a little, and was walking away at 9:55 PM.
I got back at 10:30 PM, put some of the purchases away and washed what dad had left and another thing he wanted to use, went in the bathroom at 11:15 PM, got out at 12:10 AM, washed the other dishes which had appeared, and started making that mamaliga, also eating maybe a little more than half, so maybe a little more than 100 grams, of those peanuts, before the water started boiling… And after adding the last things I wanted to mix in it, as I was stirring them in the quite hard mamaliga, the whisk suddenly felt strange, and when I pulled it out I saw that the wire that makes a loop in the middle, the others passing through it, had snapped. So I had to hope that no bits of metal ended up in the pot, and also that the mamaliga won’t burn as I just left it to boil on its own while I finished making the salad, since I couldn’t exactly stir it with that whisk anymore. Then I stuffed myself until 3:40 AM, when I stopped, leaving what was left for another day. Got in bed at 5:20 AM.

The forecast for April 23 made me set the alarm to ring at 9 AM, but I actually managed to go to bed at 3:30 AM, after dad left earlier and I could also eat earlier, finishing around 2:20 AM even if I took it easy. That early alarm didn’t even get to ring, however, since I got up a little after 8:50 AM and turned it off, after waking up again at 8:40 AM, initially getting back in bed after checking the time and thinking that I could still catch one more brief nap, but eventually realizing that there was little chance of falling asleep again so quickly. So I had the usual stuff plus almonds, with the sweet thing being a slice of cozonac, with added jam, just wasted time on the toilet, which is entirely expected at such an early hour, despite feeling the need to go, also took that supplement, and left at 11:10 AM, wearing the full running gear. The reported temperature was about 15°C, supposed to increase by 2-3°C by the time I’ll finish.
The time was 47:47.95, with sector times of 4:19.80, 5:08 (5:07.68), 5:49.13, 4:30.19, 5:04 (5:03.21), 5:53.50, 4:29.25, 5:05 (5:04.54), 5:39.03 and 1:51.62, making for lap times of 15:16.61, 15:27 (15:26.90) and 15:13 (15:12.82). At first I was aiming to stay under 48 minutes, just so it won’t be too bad, but after all the effort made two days earlier and since I was also running at an early hour and on little sleep, I had doubts about that, and after the first two sectors I was thinking of just staying under 50 minutes, assuming that I was only going to get slower. But a good sector three of lap one made me hope to stay under 49 minutes, and after lap two I was wondering whether I’ll have a chance to stay under 48:30. Then, after sector two of lap three, I realized that if I could give it a mighty push from then on I might just have a shot at staying under 48 minutes after all, being surprised when I saw that I was already safe at the end of the lap, after what was the fastest sector three and the fastest lap of the day.
It was windy, but at first I was thinking that it wasn’t as bad as I feared… Until the end of the long straight of sector two of lap two, when it did become that bad and I felt like I was pushing against jelly or something of that sort. And it was mostly like that all the way to the end, so it was such a relief when I was taking a turn and no longer had to push against it so much for a little while. On the other hand, there weren’t many people, and a fair number of those who were there were runners, so there was obviously some weaving and going the long way around, but no notable issues except needing to slow a little because of a kid who was unsteadily riding a bicycle, weaving on and off the lane, on sector three of lap two. But I was so exhausted, felt like I was approaching the end of a half marathon from the beginning, it was hard to even lift my legs, and I pushed from the start and the first sector’s time was poor when you take that into account. But from sector three of lap one I just gave it everything, thinking that I’ll keep going until I won’t be able to anymore… And apparently that moment didn’t come… Or at least not quite, since at one point, early on sector two of lap three, I rather blacked out. My feet obviously kept moving the right way, but it’s a good thing I didn’t have to avoid anyone or anything, because for a moment I lost track of what was going on and when I recovered I didn’t know where I was, having to take a good look around and figure out my position on the lap. Otherwise, a certain pressing need appeared early on, but it came and went after that and it was never too bad.
After getting back, I ate a banana, something sweet and the rest of those bio (organic) peanuts. Then, later in the afternoon, dad first grilled some bread with zacusca for himself, saying that the zacusca was too watery otherwise, and then bought two small baguettes to make more, saying that he got one for himself and repeatedly asking whether I wanted the other, so I eventually did grill it, but with the old eggplant spread I had left, which had seemed rather spoiled the night before, eating half of it then and keeping the other half for dinner. And that dinner consisted of that other half and the mamaliga I had left from two nights earlier, and I actually started working on that dinner in the evening and started eating at 12:15 AM, finishing just after 1 AM.

With that eggplant spread finished then, I was relying on dad bringing drob on Easter evening in order to have something to put on the bread at dinner, but he instead had to go straight to work, not coming back here first, and after considering trying the new peanut butter I had purchased but deciding against it, I ended up just boiling a small potato along with the carrots for the salad, then mashing it and putting that on the bread, and also some jam. And I had dinner between 2:05 AM and 2:55 AM, and managed to get to bed just after 4 AM, the forecast again making me set the alarm to ring at 9 AM.
That time around, the alarm did get to ring, so I got up then, only left a little in the toilet, which was at least better than nothing, had the usual stuff plus almonds, with a slice of the new cozonac dad brought when he got back in the morning, with added jam, as the sweet thing, even though it struck me as being too oily, also took both supplements, having also started to take the one for joints the day before, and left a little after 11:15 AM, wearing the full running gear. The reported temperature was 19°C, supposed to increase by a couple of degrees by the time I’ll finish.
The time was 1:17:43, with sector times of 4:23, 5:11, 5:52, 4:27, 4:59, 5:49, 4:30, 5:08, 6:00, 4:33, 5:09, 5:52, 4:34, 5:11 and 6:05, making for lap times of 15:26, 15:15, 15:38, 15:34 and 15:50. I aimed to stay under 1:18, but again feeling tired from the beginning made me ready to accept to just stay under 1:20 if I’ll have to, and the first two sectors made it look like that might be the case. But then I pushed more and sector three was good enough for the first lap’s time to not be bad. And, surprisingly, lap two was faster, so I started to actually believe that I was aiming to stay under 1:18 and was hoping to not lose compared to that target time on lap three either. But I did lose two seconds, which again made me doubt that target. However, I unexpectedly gained just those two seconds on lap four, which meant that I could even afford to go a little over 16 minutes on lap five and I therefore probably didn’t push quite that hard on it, just wanting to complete the series without any poor times. And the total time for the three runs was by far the best yet, 3:20:23, beating the previous best, from 2018, by 3:57! Maybe I should have pushed a little harder on that last lap, to get that difference to four minutes, but I wasn’t thinking about that then, and it’s great either way.
It was crowded, requiring a lot of weaving and going the long way around and squeezing through, but on lap one I just managed to avoid actual roadblocks. On lap two, however, each sector had one roadblock that likely cost me a couple of seconds and another that caused a smaller loss, so it’s even more surprising that it was the fastest lap. And on sector one of lap two I also started to feel some pain in my right knee, as well as a certain pressing need, neither going away after that, though the knee pain lessened much of the time, so the latter problem was more notable. And my arms started to go numb from sector two of lap two. Then, on sector two of lap three, I had to take to the grass three times and, right at the end, slam on the brakes and just manage to avoid a cyclist riding at some speed and with a large dog on a leash running alongside him, since he came out from under the bridge and appeared a small distance in front of me, on the lane, as other people got out of the way. Then I can’t quite recall how sector three of that lap went, but the time suggests that there were some problems then as well. On the other hand, while I’m again not certain, I think that on lap four I managed to avoid or at least minimize roadblocks, which would explain the better time. But there were a couple of brief stops on sector one of lap five, and on sector three of lap five, when I was exhausted anyway, I clearly recall being stuck behind a slow jogger with a dog, probably losing up to a few seconds because there was no way around on the lane and other people meant that I couldn’t get off it just then. And I was so tired on lap five, especially as I was approaching the end of sector two. Even my legs were starting to go numb, there was pain in my abdomen and I was thinking that sector three will be so hard…

After getting back, I had lunch, changed, and left again at 3:20 PM, after first walking out the door and then getting back in to grab the Kaufland card, just in case, since I had forgotten it. Then, after having a quick look in a kitchenware store that I just happened to notice in that mall, I went to Carrefour and saw that in that location they had finally added self-checkouts that also accept cash, so I used one, without problems, to buy some expiring roes and three lemons, after also checking their whisks and finding none that I’d consider usable. Then I checked the kitchenware store I had actually meant to check, looking for the whisk I had seen on their site, and when I didn’t spot it I asked the cashier, but she pointed me to some tiny ones and after I repeated the size she said that they had none like that in that location.
Then I continued to the nearby Kaufland, put those first purchases in a cabinet, washed my hands and looked around, waiting for 5 PM, which was when I expected what would normally be evening discounts to appear, since closing time was 6 PM that day. And they did appear, so I got some buns for myself and beeped dad to ask whether he wanted some of those baguettes as well, eventually gathering that he wanted two and getting them, though it was again very hard to hear him when he called. Oddly, if you don’t count the doughnuts, which don’t usually get evening discounts, that bread seemed to be the only bakery product without a discount label, and I asked the employee who had placed the labels and she confirmed that it wasn’t discounted, so I moved on and made use of discounts to get a bundle of green garlic, a cabbage and some red onions. And yes, I checked their whisks as well, confirming that I couldn’t get what seems to be the regular kind, not even a particularly good one in that style, since they can’t be used like I use one. So I also grabbed two bags of bagels and went to the self-checkouts… The problem being that only one of those accepting cash worked, so there was a line, and waiting offered no benefits, the discounts not increasing. But at least there were no problems with the machine. It took me a moment to realize that, however, since I had somehow forgotten to add the onions when I had calculated the total, so after I finished scanning I ended up staring in surprise for a moment, before realizing that, and the guy behind me asked if I was going to pay, then complained when I picked up a coin and again when I took money out of both pockets, saying that the store was closing, even if closing time was still some 20 minutes away, and I had scanned my purchases quickly. But he said nothing else after I asked whether that bothered him.
After also retrieving the first purchases from the cabinet and arranging everything in the bags, I got back here a little before 6:15 PM, and during the evening ate some walnuts, a bag of bagels and some pasca, and made and drank another tea… And when I told dad that I was thinking of ordering the whisk I had seen on-line despite having to add a quarter of its price to even pick it up myself, he asked how much it was and then said that he disagreed with paying that much for a whisk… Which made things simpler for me, as I decided to count it as being paid out of what I have set aside, which also meant that I no longer had any reason to discuss it with him or take his opinion into account. So I spent some time searching for stores selling whisks, got back to the kitchen at 1:10 AM, just failed to start eating dinner at 3 AM… And in the rush to take that first bite dropped the knife on the floor in my room, so I ended up starting to eat at 3:05 AM, and since I kept checking things on-line while eating, I only finished at 4:05 AM. And it was 5:25 AM when I got in bed.

This was another post I couldn’t finish before midnight, only just managing to finish the part about April 23 and posting it like that at first, then editing to add the part about the April 25 run the following night, so in the early hours of Tuesday, and then editing one more time one more night later, so in the early hours of Wednesday, in order to also add the part about the rest of that day. By that point, I also had another run to write about, but that’s a matter for another post.


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