Picking up from where I left off, it was close to 1:20 AM when we reached the second refreshment stop, also on Victoriei, in another store, which we could actually enter. There was some Coca Cola, which finished quickly, and water, but instead of the small bottles that could be taken by each participant, there were large bottles and cups to pour into, so a whole lot of cups were used, which bothered me. Either way, I had one cup of Coca Cola and three of water, trying to use a single cup but ending up using two since I threw away the first one after a while but then decided to have some more water before leaving. And I also had three large pieces of banana, so about a banana and a half, this being the only stop where any fruit was offered, and five squares of each of the three kinds of chocolate, milk, white and dark, since it was broken up so each little square could be taken separately. If I’d have known that it’ll end up being the only sweet thing I’ll eat during that run, maybe I’d have taken even more, at least when someone brought what was left outside and offered it to us as we were getting ready to leave, but at that point those 15 pieces really seemed way too much. Plus that, after having used some of the disinfectant gel that was available and wiping my hands with napkins before taking those pieces, after stepping out I jotted down some quick notes, trying a few spots until I found one, on a wall, where I could place the slip of paper, so I considered my hands dirty and didn’t want to grab anything else that I was going to put straight into my mouth. I did wonder whether a bathroom was available, and some did seem to go to the back of the store, but I couldn’t get myself to either check or ask before we took another group picture and got moving again.
The eastern part of the route actually started a little later, when we turned on Elisabeta, and drinking so much meant that I really had to pee, so when Radu mentioned the toilet when we reached Cismigiu Park, I broke off to use it, apparently being the only one to do so… Not knowing that it was closed at night, so I just went behind the first thicker tree and peed there, then pushed once again, to catch up to the others. What came after that was more tiring, however, since we went east on Cotroceni, meaning that we had to climb that long and steep slope that had previously been a joy, since we were going in the opposite direction. But the pace was so slow that at times I didn’t even jog anymore, switching to something like a forced walk, and others were only slowly overtaking me. Then again, while I’m only certain that I did that in that area, since I’m writing this after so long and there’s also a clear memory of wanting to try to see what would happen if I’d do that when I noticed how slow the pace was, it’s actually possible that I also did it, albeit briefly, at some much earlier point, possibly on the way to the park that I usually run in.
With no more stops for pictures, that third refreshment point was reached at 2:45 AM and I took and drank a protein milk, then went to stand in line at one of the two toilets that were there. However, those toilets have that cleaning program after every use, so it takes quite a long time before the next person can go in, yet I chose to stay there even though two gas stations were just across the road, and some did go there instead, and when my turn did come I ended up just peeing, not wanting to keep the others waiting even longer and thinking, so very wrongly, that I’ll have other opportunities before the other problem will become serious. And it was while I was still waiting that Radu said that those who want to do so can run a lap around that park while the others rest or go to the toilet, so I didn’t join that group and then didn’t go on my own either. I’d have wanted to and would have had plenty of time to do so, but I couldn’t have known that we were going to just stand around so long, plus that running through an unknown place on my own didn’t seem like the best idea. So, after peeing, I also drank a 500 ml bottle of water, munched on some more of those bagels and pretzels and otherwise just stood around until we took another group picture and eventually continued on our way. However, since Radu insisted that we should take what was left, because they didn’t bring those products to take them back home, adding when I said that we can do so at the end that they’re separated into different vehicles, so they may not still be available at the end, and those from that stop are in his car and he really doesn’t want to have carry things back after the run, I ended up taking another protein milk, which I just carried in my hand from then on.
The photographer seems to have left again at that point, or at least that large pile of pictures skips straight from that park to Timpuri Noi Square and the end, but there was another group picture in front of a metro station that was actually the one coming after the one marking the easternmost point of the route, since when we reached that one Radu said that the area looked really sad. And at that point we were wishing for that rain which had been mentioned in the forecast for that night, considering the heat, but there had been no sign of that after the thunder we heard while running through that first park.
And now I wonder if my memory is playing tricks now or it did so four weeks ago, because I was thinking that this happened even before that third refreshment stop, but an e-mail I sent a week after the run, when my memory should have been fresher than it is now, says that it was while we were running past Drumul Taberei park, so at the start or, highly unlikely, the end of that loop, when the fact that we were so far behind schedule prompted discussions about changing the route and I said that the southern part will need to be cut, mentioning its length, which was pretty much exactly what it seemed that we’ll need to cut in order to reach the finish by sunrise. But Radu said that we can’t do that, we need to at least reach the refreshment stop from Timpuri Noi Square, so we’ll see what else could be done.
I’m not sure if any pause and possible picture in Drumul Taberei Park had initially been planned as well, but there was none, neither at the start nor at the end of that loop. The real problem for me, however, was that the pause which had definitely been planned at the gas station from that area was cut. At the end of that loop, Radu pointed in its direction and asked if anyone urgently needed a bathroom, because otherwise we really had to keep going if we were to have a chance to at least reach Timpuri Noi Square, the plan becoming to go to Constitution Square, then there, and then straight to the finish, at University Square, and at that point my need wasn’t that urgent, so I didn’t go, and as far as I know nobody else did either, and the group certainly kept going… At least for a little while, since minutes later we ended up stopping anyway, just after crossing to reach a street that connected the 1 Mai and Ghencea boulevards. But that stop was unplanned and in a spot where all we could do was stand around and wait, the reason being that a few of the participants had noticed a man who was collapsed and feared the worst, calling an ambulance before realizing that he wasn’t dead, but just dead drunk. Still, they stayed with him for a while and we waited until one decided to stay behind in order to be there when the ambulance will arrive and the others rejoined us, which obviously put us even more behind schedule, so the idea to reach Constitution Square was also dropped and the plan became to just go straight to Timpuri Noi Square.
I hadn’t been worried until then, since I knew the route and thought that, if I’ll end up desperately needing a bathroom, I could use one, or even some bushes if the situation became that desperate, since I had some napkins for that purpose, and then catch up once again, considering the group’s slow speed. However, once Constitution Square was removed from the picture, I was at a loss. I had a good enough idea about where we were and knew where Timpuri Noi is, but I couldn’t figure out a route on my mental map, and I believe it was when he announced that change that I asked Radu how were we going to get there, but he told me to wait until he’ll figure it out… And when we eventually took a turn, I was even more at a loss, still knowing where we were but really having no idea how to get to either Timpuri Noi or the finish from there, and the fact that my need for a toilet had become urgent by then made it even harder to think and I was starting to panic, which was probably also why I never used the Smecta Go I had taken with me. We did pass by gas stations, but I couldn’t break off when I had no idea which way the group was going to go, and I really couldn’t get myself to ask or say anything anymore, plus that I was starting to fall back, slowing and occasionally stopping because of abdominal cramps and the need to hold it in. I could still overtake several people once I got moving again, but moments later I needed to stop once more.
My fears that I was actually falling behind were unfounded, however, since even the leading group was stretched out and, despite my problems, I managed to stay with it while others didn’t, so Radu eventually called for a stop in order to decide what to do next… In a spot where I could see yet another gas station from. But I had no idea how long that stop was going to be and obviously couldn’t know where they were going to decide to go from there. And I also couldn’t get myself to ask if someone would be willing to wait for me, if they’ll leave again before I’ll get back. So I pretty much just stood around, clenching my butt and weathering the abdominal cramps, for what turned out to be quite a while, possibly even enough to have done my business and returned. Radu seemed to initially mean to just wait for a few who had ended up on their own, sort of between groups, and then continue with this group to Timpuri Noi Square, talking on the phone with someone who was in the rear and seeming to come to an agreement that those who had fallen behind by hundreds of meters and were absolutely exhausted should turn around and go straight to the finish, but people kept trickling in on their own, saying that nobody else should be left between them and the trailing group only to be proven wrong moments later, so we kept waiting to regroup. As for the decision, while others pointed out that the time simply didn’t add up, Radu insisted for at least some of us to reach Timpuri Noi Square, possibly because the sponsor wanted those pictures, so he said that those who can stick to 5:30 per kilometer should go there with him and asked for someone responsible to lead the rest straight to the finish. I found myself saying that 5:30 per kilometer was impossible at that point, but another guy said that it’ll have to be possible for those who wanted to go, and that group finally continued on its way.
I had obviously decided to stay with the second group, but while others suggested to use a different route, the guy who volunteered and was accepted as the leader said that we should follow the others at first, breaking away at a later point. And that changed everything for me, because I immediately found myself not only pulling away from this group despite trying to hold back, but falling behind the first group far more slowly than I thought I would. If a different route would have been picked, I’d have had to stick with my initial choice, and I don’t even know if I’d have found a bathroom after the point where I’d have no longer been worried about not knowing which way to go after taking care of the problem, but when that other group was right there, I suddenly decided to go for it, needing mere seconds to catch up and then hoping to somehow hold on until we’ll reach the river, because from then on I just had to follow it to Timpuri Noi, so stopping for a while and losing contact with the others shouldn’t be a problem anymore.
Whether because I had rested a little or because I was so determined to keep up or both, that pressing need seemed somewhat less pressing for a while and I could keep up, and once we passed by the entrance to Carol Park I had a better idea about which way to go if I’ll lose contact with the others. I still wasn’t certain, however, and the situation worsened before I was. I could still manage things when we made a brief and rather confused stop after a part of the group broke off, apparently without even announcing it, to use another route, which I now see was in fact slightly shorter, and one of those who was left quickly figured out what it was, but Radu said that it had never been used by the group and didn’t want to follow them, so we kept going straight until he said that we’ll shorten the route just a little and led us towards Bucur Square, saying when we got there that what happened there must never be allowed to happen again, which I’m sure everyone can agree on. The turn confused me, however, and until I could actually see that place I felt lost once again, which made me worry and probably broke my concentration, so that pressing need returned with a vengeance.
Fortunately, we soon reached the river and I could allow myself to fall back. Unfortunately, I really needed to, since the abdominal cramps were worsening and it really didn’t seem like I could hold it in much longer, no matter how hard I struggled. And one of the others noticed that I had stopped and was holding on to the railing soon after we crossed and were running along the river, rushing back and asking what was wrong, so I said that I had abdominal cramps and really hoped to find a gas station when we’ll reach Timpuri Noi, trying to laugh it off. He seemed satisfied with that at first, and I struggled to get going again, but when I had to stop once more moments later, he returned and asked what could he do to help, so I bluntly said that I was about to shit myself, so there’s nothing for him to do. He gestured towards some nearby bushes and said that he’d have understood if his girlfriend would have held it like that, but I’m not a woman and should just get it over with and then catch up, offering napkins if I didn’t have any. But I told him that I had some as well and will manage, probably sounding quite confident when I said it, because I had just noticed a gas station ahead, so he reluctantly got moving again and I crossed back to the other side of the road and ran to that gas station as fast as I possibly could, under those circumstances. And that and the fact that they crossed to the other side of the river also meant that I was pretty much alongside them by that point, so I could see where they actually went, the location of that last refreshment point being behind a building, so I couldn’t have known where to go otherwise.
After doing my business, or at least getting the worst of it out as quickly as possible, the toilet fortunately being open and unoccupied when I ran in, I also crossed to the other side of the river, but the others had only made a very brief stop, since we were already running late, so they were already leaving again by the time I reached that place, which is why I don’t show up in that group picture. But they told me to go and grab something as they passed by me, so I rushed there and asked the girls whether anything was left and they said there certainly was, taking some of the products that they were just gathering back out, so I grabbed a bottle of lemonade and one of the other things, neither of which I opened, and some things to much on, I think bagels, eating those while walking out of that area, before I actually started running again. I see in the pictures that some nice bars had also been available, but I didn’t spot any at the time and it seems that they weren’t brought to the finish either, so I didn’t get any of those.
The others were far enough ahead by then that I wasn’t sure that I could still see them. I saw some people ahead, but I wasn’t sure that it was them, and it also took me a little while to figure out the route to the finish, so at first I thought that those people weren’t going in the right direction and I ended up falling back a little more by initially choosing another way, then realizing my mistake and getting back along the river, though I could at least use a side street to do that, not needing to go back. But they were pushing, since it was almost sunrise and the finish was still more than two kilometers away, and I was also carrying what I had grabbed, along with the protein milk grabbed earlier, and despite feeling much better after the toilet break, I was obviously also tired, so I was closing the distance all too slowly despite pushing as hard as I still could and kept wishing for them to have to stop at a stoplight… Which only happened at Unirii Square, so that was where I finally caught them. But staying with them from then on was no problem and we reached the finish, in University Square, at the statues, a little after 5:45 AM, though it took a little while before everyone was there, since some had fallen behind towards the end.
Sunrise was at 5:35 AM and, while I don’t actually know whether those who had gone straight to the finish made it there in time, they were waiting for us when we arrived and we had covered over three kilometers more and had also made that stop, however brief it was, so they should have made it, despite their much slower pace. And almost as soon as I sat down, exhausted but quite pleased, and pleasantly surprised, to have made it all the way, one of them asked me about that stop, but I said that I had made a “pit stop” and didn’t know much, other than the fact that it had been very brief, since it had taken me about five minutes and the others were already leaving by the time I got there. And I also learned that someone else, an older man, had fallen at some point, ending up with some scrapes and bruises on his legs but not feeling any other problems at the moment, so I hope that he really was all right.
Either way, after we all gathered and regained our breath to some extent, Radu spoke a little and led the stretching exercises. One of the participants was from Suceava and had come by train, just to take part in this run, and she had been asked during the night and had said that the return train was going to leave at 6:30 AM, which meant that she really had to get going, but when I mentioned her at the start of the stretching exercises, I seemed to be ignored, so after the stretching I asked her how long it’ll take to get to the train station, since it didn’t seem possible to get there by 6:30 AM anymore, but she said that there was another train later, explaining that she hadn’t actually bought the ticket when I said that I thought she had. And Radu did eventually mention her again, asking whether anyone offered to take her for a coffee and maybe even let her shower at their place, so she won’t go on that long train ride smelling as we all were at that point, quickly adding that it should most likely be a girl, so it won’t get weird.
The fact that sunrise had passed was actually something of an advantage when it came to the final group picture, considering the tall buildings that surround that area. And the distance covered was also mentioned at that point, Radu asking if we’ll agree that we covered 45 km, possibly because he had less than that on his GPS. However, that had been the case throughout the night, and I believe we were roughly around 35 km, give or take, when I heard a discussion between him and a few others during which he was saying that he had some two kilometers less than some of them. However, my best attempt to use Google Maps to get the distance I personally covered results in 45.9 km, so I’ll go with 46 km, and that’s despite not doing that lap through that new park, though on the other hand I did my best to include the detours made for the toilet breaks and the short distance covered while jogging back and forth in that park, while waiting. And what I had as actual running time at the end was 5:16:47, and while that’s obviously not exact, it may be a closer approximation than in previous years, since there were only a few times when I forgot to press the button just when I started or stopped running and each time I realized it after a matter of seconds and made up for it fairly accurately, or at least so I think.
Looking at it like that, it’s the longest distance I ever ran, and also the longest time I spent running, albeit not continuously. However, as the very fact that I could keep up should prove, that time and that distance make for the slowest average speed of any Dream Trek that I took part in, 8.7 km/h, counting just what happened when we actually ran, not any breaks. Admittedly, the result I get for 2020 is only 0.05 km/h higher, and when the error margins are significant, especially when it comes to the distance, that may actually go either way. But there were special circumstances that year, and otherwise the speed is clearly dropping, with 10.1 km/h the first time I took part, in 2019, 9.4 km/h in 2021 and 9.0 km/h last year. But the number of participants keeps increasing, about 100 being present at the start this time around, out of what were apparently close to 200 who registered, a few more joined over the course of the night, and about 70 were there at the end, so that’s only normal. However, the organizers should probably keep it in mind when they plan the route, so it won’t need to be changed so much over the course of the night, on the spot.
But I should get back to that morning and add that, after the picture, we were given some little towels and then there was the draw for the smartwatch. After that, we went to the cars, many of the remaining supplies were taken out and we were also handed the bags of Nivea products, the women also being given flowers. Not all of the remaining supplies were taken out, but a good part of them were, seeming to mainly consist of what was left from the third and fourth refreshment points, though Radu had made it seem that it won’t happen. And we were firmly encouraged to be bold and take things, so I pulled out a bag and took two more protein milks, one of each kind, a bottle of water and one of each of those bio (organic) products except the lemonade, which I already had, so a tea, a bag of snacks and one of each, so three, of the other things, so including one more of the kind that I had already grabbed at Timpuri Noi Square. I now see in the pictures that more kinds of snacks had been available there, plus those bars, but I didn’t notice anything else among what was available at that point. Either way, I also ate several more bagels, being edgy at first, since my hands had been on the pavement, but then just going for it.
I walked away at 6:35 AM, though I had been sort of edging away for a few minutes at that point. I didn’t have a mask with me, but the plan was to walk to Obor if I won’t feel too exhausted for it, so that was what I did, though when I saw a non-stop Mega Image on the way I made a little detour and had a look, putting my things in a cabinet and then retrieving and rearranging them a little before walking out. And then I stopped again, sitting down on a nearby bench, rearranging a little more and also writing a few more details on that slip of paper. However, I ended up placing too much weight into one small bag, which led to its handle tearing, so I later had to stop and rearrange yet again.
When I reached the Obor area, I entered that Mega Image before crossing the road, putting my things in a cabinet and meaning to leave them there when I walked out, since I was also thinking to get back and check whether that confectionery actually opened, since the schedule listed 8 AM as opening time but I remember it staying closed the previous times when I had a look on a Sunday. Either way, while the fact that I didn’t need to get back there for my things proved to be a really good thing in the end, at the time it was annoying when two employees came out and shouted after me that I had left my products there, one also muttering that I was also walking away with their key, as if that was worth more than everything I had placed in that cabinet. So I awkwardly muttered that I’d have realized it when I’d have found a key in my pocket, not saying that I had actually meant to leave my things there, and struggled to get everything out, not letting the other employee help when she tried to do so. And as soon as I walked away, the employee who had muttered about the key rather sternly asked the other one whether I had returned it, as if it’d have even been possible to take it back out of the lock without putting a coin back in.
I then decided to go around that area and to Penny, though when I passed by that Mega Image that has separate entrance and exit doors, I decided to have a look in there as well, putting my things in a cabinet even though it didn’t lock, but then having to pass through the store with them anyway, after retrieving them. Then I once again put everything in a cabinet when I got to Penny and bought a lot of those treats for Liza, since they were on sale. Then I retrieved everything and went to Kaufland, once again putting my things in a cabinet, going to pee and wash my hands, and getting a few expiring products, yogurt and mozzarella. I wanted their “light” mozzarella, which also has more protein, at least according to the label, and I couldn’t find any, but I eventually decided to just get the regular kind, giving up on the idea of checking another location later. Then I again retrieved my things and rearranged, adding the new purchases, before continuing to Carrefour, once again putting everything in a cabinet… And almost losing my money while checking the weight of some expiring products! I had the money in that bag which had torn on the way, which was fortunately not transparent, and I set it down among the bananas and forgot it there, only realizing that I no longer had it after probably at least ten minutes, if not more like 15 minutes. But it was the only place where I could have left it, and it was still there when I rushed back, so I guess that nobody had paid enough attention to a torn bag thrown among bananas to check what was inside. Either way, I grabbed a number of expiring and spoiling products, had no problems with the self-checkout, retrieved what I had in the cabinet and tried to find a better way to arrange everything.
Then I also had a look through the farmers’ market, but when I went to the place where on June 19 I had seen that small round cutting board that I wanted to get for dad, I couldn’t see any anymore. However, the Hall was open that day, so I decided to have a look through it as well, ending up buying some cheese, before returning outside and first asking in another place where I saw sets of similar cutting boards. But I was told that they’re not sold separately, so I went back to that first place, had a better look and did finally spot one, and when I asked the person who was there whether she had more, other than the one on display, she handed me another. When I paid, I tried to also give her a bill with a torn corner which the machine from Kaufland had given me as change, but she noticed and handed it back… And then she also said that I hadn’t given her enough, so I added the difference, being both embarrassed and confused that I had made such a mistake, but counting what I had left after moving a few steps away and confirming that she had been correct. And I once again rearranged what I was carrying at that point, after which I decided to pass through the far side of the indoor farmers’ market instead of just walking past it as I started on my way back, and while I didn’t actually hope to find cabbage at a good enough price, since I hadn’t seen any until then and the prices tend to be higher inside, I actually did see just the price that I was looking for at the very last stall that I was passing by before walking out again, and it looked good enough as well, so I bought one. It was a real struggle to carry everything in the bags I had, however, and I rearranged a couple more times on the way back, trying to make sure that no more bags will tear.
I got back a little after 12:05 PM, with 14.5 kg, though I then cleaned the litter box and went to drop a bag of trash down the chute. And I also still had a fair amount of crap to get rid of, since I weighed myself one more time after going to the toilet and saw 400 grams less… And just under 46 kg, which was concerning… Either way, I then put most of the purchases in their place, went to the toilet one more time, washed, and then ate a snack which I had picked up from Kaufland, some koliva that dad had just brought, since he got back while I was eating that snack, the rest of the raisins and nuts mix that I still had, and also the orange that was visibly starting to spoil out of those purchased from Carrefour. In the evening, after I finished writing what I posted that day, I took a little nap, sleeping for what I guess was just over an hour. And at night I made pizza, with all of the spoiling mushrooms purchased from Carrefour, eating between 3:55 AM and 5 AM and getting in bed at 5:35 AM.
I’ll also add here that I was once again worried about the fridge after the Dream Trek, but that time it was because it seemed to be constantly running, so the next day I turned it down a little, until it stopped. I immediately turned it back to the normal setting, but it did “rest” a little before starting again, and I’ve been using that method to give it a couple more brief periods of rest since then, during these particularly hot days. But, to return to those days, when I checked the freezer in the early moments of June 27, I noticed that one of the breads which I had purchased for dad after the Dream Trek wasn’t properly frozen and some mold had appeared on it. There was also the possibility that it had been like that when I purchased it, since it had been among the expiring products, and I hadn’t noticed, but the fact that it had been pressed right against the freezer door made me wonder whether that was also the reason why the fridge was constantly running, in case that bread kept the freezer door from fully closing, possibly leaving some space at the top which I couldn’t otherwise notice. Either way, I split that bread and struggled to make it fit better, and the next day it was properly frozen, but struggling with that bread and acting inefficiently in general after dad had really infuriated me resulted in eating dinner between 3:25 AM and 4 AM that night.
As for dad infuriating me that night, he did so by calling me over to the living room when I went to the kitchen, to tell me something “interesting” said by someone on a TV show that he keeps watching but which I see as “enemy propaganda”… And that “interesting” thing was a comment about a conspiracy theory about lowering population! So I asked whether he really wanted to start that talk with me, and he said that he had just started and ended it right away, which obviously infuriated me even more and I lashed out at him for just saying his part and then wanting to end the talk. I have no idea what sense he thought it made when he then called that stupid and said that we need to be able to talk about everything, but I just walked away in anger. Just… Wow… Calling me over to tell me about conspiracy theories, and on that topic above all, and then ending the talk, but saying that we need to be able to talk about everything…