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Bucharest Half Marathon 2024 and the Following Run

Since I really had to find a way to force myself to write about this year’s half marathon and the attempt to put it all in one post resulted in one that left out the actual run, I’m now making use of the fact that all of the posts that include runs are in order, so I first posted the part about the following run, to have something here by midnight and make it absolutely mandatory to somehow make myself edit this post in order to add the part about the half marathon, as in the actual run, before it. And I finally managed to make that edit Sunday evening, so a week later.

Even though my position, at least in relation to the pacemakers, was better on previous occasions, this time around I had a great start time, 47 seconds, the only better one having been in 2021. Then I tried to keep advancing as much as possible without pushing too hard or weaving too much, so I won’t tire myself more than I had to so soon, and covering the first kilometer in 4:49 was better than expected under those circumstances. And the second kilometer included that climb, so I was once again pleased when I saw that I covered it in 4:55. That made the fact that I covered the third kilometer in 4:52 a little bit concerning, since it should have normally been faster than the first one, but I’m pretty sure that I overtook the 1:45 pacemakers on that kilometer, which also meant getting through the pack of runners that were staying around them and therefore losing a little time because of that. So it was the fourth kilometer that was the first one when I could see what my pace really was at that point, and I covered it in 4:42… Which was also the time for the fifth kilometer, which included the point where the route turns and ended just before the first refreshment point.
Speaking of the regular refreshment points, I had decided to take one cup of that other drink at each one, ignoring the water, and that was what I did every time, and I also took a piece of banana each time, eating it right away the first two times and still soon after I resumed running after the last one, but I kept the one taken at the third regular refreshment point in my hand for some time before finally eating it, since I was worried about it worsening the problem that I was already dealing with at that point. On the other hand, the nutrition sponsor also had a refreshment point, on the 13th kilometer, and if I’d have known that I really wouldn’t have taken that gel with me, but they hadn’t actually announced it, so I was somewhat surprised when I saw it and just quickly grabbed a jelly bar and a salt bar, only having an actual look at them after I resumed running, at which point I saw that I had taken the jelly bar that I actually wanted, with the fast absorbtion carbs, so I kept that in my hand for a while, putting the salt bar in the pocket of my tights. I might have preferred a different salt bar, but so be it, and I’m keeping it for the marathon anyway. But what I feel bad about is that I didn’t take a better look at what was available, so I only saw when the pictures were posted that they also had liquid magnesium, which would have been the first thing to take and keep for the marathon…
To get back to the actual run, I don’t know what my fastest kilometer actually was. According to the signs, it was the sixth one, since I passed that sign 4:35 after passing the one for five kilometers, but that was in an area where a street food festival was taking place those days, so the sign was placed in an available spot, and it’s not just that the corresponding mark on the road wasn’t right next to it, but I didn’t see it anywhere in that area, and a time that was seven seconds faster than the previous best despite having had a refreshment point on that kilometer makes it absolutely clear that the sign was placed quite some distance earlier than it should have been and I have no way of knowing what my actual time was, since I didn’t spot that mark at all. And that also means that the 4:50 that passed until I reached the sign for seven kilometers wasn’t correct either, and when the sixth kilometer was almost certainly not my best, it means that I should deduct more than seven seconds from that time for the seventh kilometer, which would make this one my best, so it’s even more frustrating that I don’t have the actual time for it. On the other hand, I covered the eighth kilometer in 4:41, which makes it my fastest kilometer that I know the actual time for, and that makes sense, seeing as it also includes the start of that detour that avoids Revolution Square, so the part where the road goes down.
With the ninth kilometer including that short but particularly steep climb, when the route returns to Victoriei, and seeing as I also made use of the fact that I slowed down to eat that gel at that point, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I still managed to stay under five minutes, covering that kilometer in 4:58. And covering the tenth kilometer in 4:49 was once again surprising, since the second regular refreshment point was on it, and there’s absolutely no doubt about the exact spot marking ten kilometers, since an official timing spot also exists there, and it’s right next to the finish line, when the route passes by that spot the first time. And what this means is that I covered those first ten kilometers, from the start line to that point, in 47:53, which is a time that I’d be content with while running that distance through the park.
That pace wasn’t one that I could maintain, however, especially since the route turned towards the wind, so the 11th kilometer, covered in 5:03, was the first one where I went over five minutes. But what was far more concerning was that the pressing need that’s so often my problem during such runs was starting to become noticeable, though the first faint signs of it had actually appeared shortly after eating that gel, so I really, really shouldn’t have taken it. So, under those circumstances, I started to calculate what I needed in order to at least stay under 1:50, seeing that an official time of 1:49 required the average time per kilometer to stay a little under 5:30 from then on and thinking that the longer I’ll stay below that time, the more I’ll afford to lose towards the end. And the wind, which was quite a problem, and which was going to remain one until the route turned, at about 15.5 km, was going to be behind me after that point, making that last part of the route a fair bit easier from that point of view.
Speaking of that headwind, I wanted to stay behind others, but at that point I was in an area where the other runners were relatively few and scattered, being a fair distance ahead of the 1:45 pacemakers, and obviously far behind the 1:40 ones… And the guy who was just ahead of me for a good part of Unirii Boulevard kept spitting to the side, so I didn’t want to be right behind him, and getting ahead was difficult as well, since his pace was similar and ending up more or less alongside him for quite some time while I slowly edged ahead was something that I wanted to avoid even more… And once I did finally get ahead, after a brief push, I ended up in completely clear air at a point when I definitely didn’t want that, since the next runners were quite some distance ahead and I was really feeling that headwind.
Either way, I covered the 12th kilometer in 5:04, but my time on the 13th is once again uncertain, since what I saw when I reached the sign was 4:59, but the corresponding mark wasn’t there, I didn’t spot it elsewhere in that area either, and the real spot was once again probably farther ahead, since I really doubt that I was faster on that kilometer that included that “special” refreshment point and, even if I just grabbed those two bars so quickly and put only one of them in the pocket of my tights, I still lost at least a little time. Yes, I’m quite certain that I was ahead of that guy who kept spitting by then, and in case that brief push had been on that kilometer, it might have made a difference, but even so, I doubt that it was enough.
Speaking of being behind others, I did end up behind a pretty large guy just as I reached Decebal, which means a light but long climb, but any hopes of staying behind him for a while were immediately dashed because he just about stopped as soon as he felt the first signs of the slope. So I was in clear air again, and I made use of the fact that I was going to be a little slower anyway to eat that jelly bar… But I’m not sure of my time on that 14th kilometer. By the time I finished, I seemed to recall thinking that it had been 5:07, but I was only absolutely certain of the fact that the total time was between 1:08:51 and 1:08:59 at that point, so the time for that kilometer was between 5:05 and 5:13, and likely in the lower part of that range. And, of course, considering the fact that the sign for 13 km had probably been placed earlier than it should have been, the real time for the 14th kilometer was probably a little lower than that. Either way, the third regular refreshment point was at the start of the 15th kilometer, and I believe that the total time was 1:14:12 when I reached the 15 km sign, which would make the time for that kilometer 5:19 if I assume that 5:07 as correct, and therefore that I reached the 14 km sign in 1:08:53.
The time definitely was 1:19:46 when I reached the 16 km sign, so the time for that kilometer should have been 5:34, and that was the only time when I went over 5:30… And that was because I walked for a little while, probably around 30 seconds, since after the route turned I really thought that I was going to shit myself, the sensation coming with such force that I just couldn’t see myself managing to fight it for much longer. The 1:45 pacemakers also overtook me just then, while I was walking, which I guess felt somewhat less bad than being overtaken and falling behind while I was actually running. But I really wasn’t thinking about that at the time, being completely focused on holding it in a little while longer and desperately looking around for a toilet, other than the one from that restaurant that I used for this purpose during last year’s marathon, since I was just in that area again. And, while the immediate crisis soon passed, the feeling lessening significantly moments after I was almost certain that I won’t even manage to get off the road before shitting myself, I didn’t think that the relief was going to last, especially if I was going to resume pushing, so I was wondering about dashing in the park and hoping that the better toilet from there would be free. That’d have meant adding about a minute of running each way on top of the time actually spent on the toilet, but if I went and it would have been free, I was calculating that I was still going to at least finish in less than two hours, while if I decided against it and the feeling returned, I was going to lose even more time and then still need to go anyway, somewhere else, and as a result end up even going over two hours… And possibly soil myself as well. But, in spite of that, I decided to risk it and just keep going.
I covered the 17th kilometer in 5:14 and the 18th in 5:13, even though I think that it was on that 18th kilometer when I spotted a coin and grabbed it, falling on my hands as I did so but getting back up right away… And then noticing that the coin was a foreign one, so it ended up in dad’s little collection. Either way, since I had been very concerned about consuming anything else, I only finally dared to risk drinking a vial of liquid magnesium at the start of the 19th kilometer, which was way too late, since the effects were only going to kick in right at the end, most of the duration ending up wasted. But at least it did provide that boost at the end, and knowing that pretty soon I was going to feel far less tired probably had an effect on my confidence and overall state of mind before that moment as well… As did the fact that I could still see the 1:45 pacemakers ahead of me after the last refreshment point, and even just after reaching 20 kilometers, albeit only barely in this latter case.
I’m pretty sure that, unlike the previous “regular” ones, which started right after such a sign, that last refreshment point ended just before the sign marking 19 kilometers, and I seem to recall hitting the button on my stopwatch while still walking, before I finished drinking and resumed running. However, I don’t remember the time for that kilometer, nor for the next one, and I didn’t see any sign or mark indicating 21 kilometers. There was a spot that I thought might mark that distance, but I covered the distance between it and the finish line in 21 seconds, and even though I did give everything that I had left and put in quite a burst of speed at that point, that seems too fast, so the real spot was probably a little earlier and therefore the only thing I actually know for sure is that I covered the distance between 18 kilometers and the finish line in 16:15. And, seeing as I’m absolutely certain that I only went over 5:30 on that 16th kilometer and the average time for those three kilometers approaches 5:20, it means that the times didn’t vary too much, and the 19th, which must have easily been the slowest of the three, was definitely over 5:20, if not even closer to 5:30.
The time on my stopwatch was 1:46:28 when I crossed the finish line, so I must have pressed the button just at the right time, both at the start and at the finish, since the official time was 1:46:29 and those times tend to be rounded up while my stopwatch rounds down. As for the real time, considering that start time of 47 seconds, that was obviously 1:45:42, so not even this one was below 1:45… So it was disappointing, far from good enough, but at the same time not as bad as I was expecting and maybe not quite close enough to the target to be frustrating. Yet it was definitely bad enough to make me struggle to even write about it for a month and a half…

As for the part about the following run, I’ll start from the early hours of May 18, when I once again found time slipping away and ended up eating dinner between 3:45 AM and 4:20 AM. And, while I had set the alarm to ring at 2 PM, that’d have meant recording the qualifying for the race, and when I couldn’t get back to sleep after waking up just before 9:15 AM to pee, I considered getting up around noon, when dad was supposed to leave. I eventually fell asleep again, but it took a long time, and between that, still waking up as Liza kept going to the litter box, also while dad was getting ready to leave, and when he actually left, I don’t know how much sleep I actually got, but I did unexpectedly get a little more after that, since I meant to get up but obviously drifted off again for a little while, seeing 12:49 PM when I woke up yet again and checked the time. But, after taking a couple more minutes to really make up my mind, I did decide to get up at that point, though I took it slowly and it was 1:10 PM when I actually walked out of my room. Then I had the usual stuff, with the sweet thing being two somewhat nicer, albeit recently expired, biscuits, with added honey. I left just before 3:20 PM, wearing the full running gear, which from then on meant returning to the old running shoes, though I otherwise decided to stick to the t-shirt from this year’s half marathon. The reported temperature was about 19°C, increasing to 21°C when I finished.
The time was 1:18:38, with sector times of 4:34, 5:14, 6:02, 4:33, 5:09, 6:01, 4:33, 5:10, 6:02, 4:36, 5:09, 5:58, 4:33, 5:15 and 5:49, making for lap times of 15:50, 15:43, 15:45, 15:43 and 15:37. I just aimed to stay under 1:20 and that already seemed pretty much impossible after the first sector, so I also saw no point in trying to memorize the exact times, and after the second sector the target was just to cover that first lap in less than 16 minutes and then hope to stay under 1:22, worrying that I won’t even manage that. However, sector one of lap two made me wonder whether I’ll manage to stay under 16 minutes on that lap as well, and after sector two it seemed that lap two might even be faster than lap one, which it was. But I was still quite certain that I’ll go over 16 minutes per lap after that, though I was starting to hope to stay under 1:21, so I pushed more on lap three, and while having the same sector one time on lap three as on lap two wasn’t enough to change my mind about those targets, being just a second slower on sector two was, and at the end of lap three I actually started wondering about staying under 1:20 after all, and even about staying under 16 minutes on each lap. Sector one of lap four was slightly concerning from this second point of view, but sector two put me at ease, and even made me start wondering about staying under 1:19, which became the clear target after the end of the lap. So I pushed even more on lap five and gained those two seconds that I needed from the first sector, so being exactly on pace on sector two was fine, but I still gave everything on sector three, ending up with the best sector three and lap of the day, even if it was still over the pace required for 1:18. So it was still a poor time, but at least my pace improved slightly after the first lap.
There was an Asian food festival in the park, so the area behind the stage, which is a part of the long straight of sector one, was quite crowded, but once I was aware of it, I adapted and, while it meant that I couldn’t try to really sprint on that part of that straight, I wouldn’t say that there were notable problems there. However, there was one on sector two of what I believe was lap two, when I had to slow in order to squeeze through a roadblock, and one of the worst was on sector one of what I believe was lap three, after that straight, when I probably stopped for just an instant in order to find a way through another roadblock. There is a chance that those two problems were a lap earlier than what I stated above, however. Either way, slowing in order to squeeze through roadblocks was a rule after that, once or twice per sector, and on sector three of the lap with the bigger problem mentioned above I also had to go on the grass and around a bench and a drinking fountain, cutting a turn but slowing a fair bit. Sector three of lap four was quite clear, but on sector two of lap five I might have stopped for just an instant again in order to find a way through a multiple roadblock, and just before reaching what I consider to be the finish I again had to stop when I was completely blocked, so after squeezing through I more or less walked across that line.
Otherwise, it was early in the run when I started feeling that I hadn’t left everything in the toilet, but the feeling was more notable on laps three and five, when I pushed harder. And I believe that it was on sector three of lap three when I felt some warnings from the right knee and left thigh, and that knee was joined by the right ankle in giving more warnings on lap five. And some parts of the lane were obviously damaged, including some that created a risk of tripping, and some parts were wet, so I avoided what I could.

On the way back, I had a quick look in a store and picked up two more plastic bottles with the deposit symbol, then I did the day’s squats, ate some peanuts, changed, and left again a little after 6:50 PM, taking the plastic and metal, which I dropped off in a recycling bin, the recyclables with the deposit symbol, and the cozonac that dad had brought from his mother and that I wanted to give away. Since I was going to do that, I had also meant to give away a chocolate figurine that dad had brought long ago and neither of us wanted, and which was also quite crushed, but when I took it from the fridge I realized that it was a Santa, not a bunny from last year’s Easter, and the date that’s listed on it is from 2025, so we could wait to give it away at a more appropriate time.
Either way, I went straight to Kaufland, used the recycling machine, and entered the store with what was left, since those recyclables which hadn’t been accepted before weren’t accepted then either. But the main reason for going there was to get deodorant for dad, since he had told me to look for cheap ones and a 30% discount for deodorant and soap applied those days, so I was looking for a particular kind of those of one of their store brands and managed to find an unopened box that was behind the others of that brand, all of which were of the other kinds, so I took all of it, and also two cheap soaps, plus a deeply discounted drink as a “reward”. However, I forgot to add the deposit for that drink when I calculated the total, so at the self-checkout I thought that the discount for the soap hadn’t applied and called over an employee, but she said that I should pay and then check the receipt, since there’s no way to check what that discount applies to before paying, and if there’s a problem they’ll give me the money at the information desk, so I did that, also using the voucher received for the recyclables, and then saw that the mistake had been mine.
Since I had dad’s metro card, after putting the purchases in the backpack I went to the metro station, taking the metro for one stop, to cut the time needed to get to Supeco. I also grabbed two more recyclables with the deposit symbol on the way, but when I got to that recycling machine I only tried those which hadn’t been accepted at Kaufland, and when they didn’t work there either I didn’t bother to use it for those two, entering with everything and seeing that the cabbage that was discounted, which was listed in the catalog as Romanian and which did have “RO” on the label, nevertheless had Egypt listed in the country of origin field, and while that might have been the result of somebody making a mistake, I gave up on the idea of getting any and just walked out, not finding anything else to get either.
After returning to the metro, I took it for two stops, to get close to Kaufland Basarabia, though at the first stop I dashed out when I saw Penny catalogs, ending up grabbing two and then leaving them in their place at the stop where I got off, after seeing that they were the current ones, not those for the next period. Then, after getting a little confused at first, I reached that Kaufland and used the recycling machine, having also found another recyclable with the deposit symbol on the way and one more after having a quick glance in those crates that were next to the machine. And, after several attempts, that machine actually accepted those two glass bottles with an odd shape which hadn’t been accepted before, though I was still left with that can and that plastic bottle.
After washing my hands, I entered the store, with everything, at 9:20 PM. Then I got one bread that was discounted and, after finding a price checker that worked, scanned the label for two others, seeing that they weren’t. I also used that price checker to check the ingredients of two other bakery products, deciding against getting them and just adding some more buns. I was also considering two kinds of sweet pastries, but someone else grabbed all of them of both kinds by the time I made up my mind. Either way, I then grabbed some vegetables that had great evening discounts and made my way to the self-checkout after the closing announcement, though I still took a moment to glance at the non-refrigerated expiring products on the way. And the machine didn’t recognize the bread and buns as the correct product, so I had to call an employee to override that error, and since I wanted to reduce the risk of needing to do that again, I then decided to separate the vegetables instead of entering them all at once, which took longer but did avoid any other problems. Then I also used the voucher received for the recyclables, arranged the purchases and walked out, needing to use the emergency exit.
On the way back I picked up one more can with the deposit symbol and eventually gave that cozonac to a homeless man that I’m pretty sure I gave something to at some point before as well. He was also eating something else at the time and had four bags full of things around him, so he might have needed it somewhat less than others, but after having decided against giving it to any of the others that I had seen until then because they were drinking or smoking, I just went for it when I saw one who wasn’t doing either. I later saw another one sleeping on a bench and then a man that I’m not even entirely certain was homeless, but he did seem to be, just had one bag with him, and sat on the bench in what struck me as quite a dignified manner, so he’d have probably been the most appropriate recipient, but even if I’d have passed that first man as well, I’d have definitely left the cozonac with the sleeping one, so I wouldn’t have gotten to this last one anyway.
I got back a little after 10:50 PM, but after cleaning the litter box I went to drop a bag of trash down the chute. Then I put just the buns and the peppers which I had bought for dad in the fridge and spread out the other purchases, drank that drink, ate an apple and lunch, and went to the bathroom, to use the toilet and wash, at 12:45 AM, being done exactly an hour later. Then I put the other purchases in their place as well, dealt with my bread, and ate dinner between 3:50 AM and 4:30 AM. I got in bed at 5:35 AM. And I’ll also mention here that on May 20 I timed the squats again, doing them in 2:06.


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