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Three Good Runs, Before the Last Ones Before This Year’s Dream Trek

In the early hours of May 23, I ate dinner between 3:15 AM and 4:10 AM, and then I also shaved, getting in bed at 5:20 AM. But I wanted to run in the evening, so there was no reason to set the alarm, and while I woke up when dad left, which was probably only a few minutes after 2 PM, since after a little while I checked the time and saw 2:14 PM, I decided to try to sleep a little longer, only getting up when it was almost 3:25 PM, though I probably only caught a short nap during that time. Then I had the usual stuff, the yogurt being a bio (organic) “Greek” one with 10% fat and 5.5% protein, and the sweet thing consisted of some nice biscuits, with added honey. And then dad got back and brought some things and we talked a little, so I left at 6:25 PM, wearing the full running gear. The reported temperature was 22°C, and about 21°C when I finished.
The time was 47:22.26, with sector times of 4:26.54, 5:01 (5:00.84), 5:49 (5:48.85), 4:33.03, 4:57.41, 5:47.31, 4:31 (4:30.06), 4:50.87, 5:42 (5:41.47) and 1:46 (1:45.88), making for lap times of 15:16.23, 15:17.75 and 15:03 (15:02.40). I aimed to stay under 48 minutes, but when I found that work was being done at the start of the long straight of sector one and I had to make a detour, I pretty much gave up on that thought. However, the first sector’s time wasn’t as bad as I feared, so I then meant to at least stay under 15:20 on that first lap, pushed harder and made it. And then I kept pushing, just giving everything despite being sure that I was going to get slower, doing my best to make up for the loss of time caused by that detour and actually managing it, so after lap two I knew that I had a chance to stay under 48 minutes after all. It was far from certain, however, so from sector two of lap three I pushed even harder, and those great times definitely showed it, so after the end of the lap the target became to get under 47:30 as well, which I managed by quite a margin. I have no idea exactly how much time I lost because of that detour, but I’d have quite clearly beaten the time from the morning run without it, and even squeezing under 47 minutes wouldn’t have been out of the question. Then again, I wouldn’t have pushed that hard if I wouldn’t have been trying to make up for that loss of time, so it’s all purely theoretical.
Obviously, the big problem was just what I feared after the previous run, which was that work was being done right at the start of the long straight of sector one, so that area was completely closed off and I had to go well off the path, behind that small building that’s there, which also means a bit of a climb, and a part of that area was also muddy, making it even more of a problem. On the other hand, while some event was once again taking place at the stage, it seemed to have to do with some ethnic minority and not many people attended, so it hardly affected me at all, and in fact I wouldn’t say that there were any other notable problems at all, except perhaps on sector one of lap three, when I hesitated once or twice, the first time being because of a misunderstanding with some kids who were on bicycles. And, of course, there were the damaged parts of the lane, plus a few areas that were rather wet, and a pretty normal amount of weaving and going the long way around because of other people, but that was it, and physically I felt just fine, the only issue being that I felt the need to snap my back at some point, but I just pushed through it and after a little while I no longer noticed it. And the weather didn’t cause any problems either.

I got back just after 7:35 PM, ate something to count as lunch, did the day’s squats, changed, albeit leaving the running t-shirt on, and left again at 8:45 PM, but I first went to pay the previous month’s maintenance bill, after also giving dad the money to pay for the internet and his phone, since he had apparently suddenly realized that those were due… And he came back with some food that he had just felt like getting, once again saying that he won’t just eat what’s on sale and that it’d be crazy to not eat what he wants in order to pay “who knows what”, referring to the bills… But at least one of us has to be a responsible adult when it comes to such matters… Either way, after paying that bill, I came back to drop off the receipt and grab the recyclables with the deposit symbol, except those two that I knew weren’t going to be accepted, and actually left a little after 8:50 PM.
After grabbing two more recyclables with the deposit symbol on the way to Kaufland, I used the recycling machine, then washed my hands and entered the store a little after 9:20 PM, going straight to the bakery area and just grabbing two regular buns, since no other cheap ones were left. Then, when the employee asked whether she could help me with anything while I was looking, I asked about the sweet pastries and she pointed me to what was left, which didn’t include anything that I was interested in, and then I also asked about the bread that didn’t have a discount label, and she said that it wasn’t discounted. However, after going to a price checker to check the ingredients of some other buns, I took that price label and scanned it, seeing that the 50% discount applied to that bread as well, so I took one, letting the employee know as well, and then I decided to also take one bun of another kind. Then I took quite a lot of oranges, which had a good evening discount, and at the self-checkout the paper roll finished as my receipt was being printed, so I had to call an employee to put in a new one, but the closing announcement still came just after I had walked out of the checkout area.
After putting the oranges in the backpack and grabbing another plastic bottle with the deposit symbol from the parking lot, I went to the Mega Image that closes at 11 PM and meant to put that bottle and the bag that hangs from my neck in a cabinet, but it wouldn’t lock, and all the others seemed to be in use, so I eventually entered with everything, put on a glove and took the two apple pastries that were left. I meant to use the recycling machine for that bottle before getting in line, but it was out of order, so I just bought the pastries, confirming that the 50% discount applied, then picked up a few more recyclables with the deposit symbol on the way back.
I got back a little after 10:50 PM, ate the remaining banana, cleaned the litter box and went to drop a bag of trash down the chute, washed what was in the kitchen, put the oranges and one of the apple pastries in the fridge, ate the other apple pastry and a bag of peanut snacks, and it was 12:25 AM when I went to wash. I was done at 1:15 AM, but then I arranged a few things in my room, washed a few more things which had appeared in the kitchen, got the grease out of the grill that dad had used and cleaned it to some extent, which took a while, put the buns in the fridge as well, and finally ate dinner between 4:30 AM and 5:30 AM, getting in bed at 6:20 AM. And the following two nights I ended up eating dinner between 3:25 AM and 4:05 AM and getting in bed at 5:20 AM, the first time after also dealing with my bread and the second after finally washing the second part of the glass baking tray, which had been sitting in the sink for an awfully long time.

On the morning of May 27, I got in bed at 5:30 AM, after waiting for dad to get back. And after getting up I kept wondering whether to run the following day or not, since the plan was to cover a half marathon distance, the weather forecast wasn’t looking good and I really didn’t want to find that area still fenced off, but there didn’t seem to be any day with good conditions that week, and there were other reasons to not want to leave it for later as well. So, after checking the forecast one more time in the early moments of May 28, I decided to go for it, so I put peanut butter on all of the slices of bread when I ate dinner, between 3:25 AM and 4 AM. I got in bed at 5:25 AM… And, after somehow sleeping through dad leaving in the morning, at 10:40 AM I was woken up by a call, for a poll about the local elections. But I did manage to get back to sleep, and got up when the alarm rang, at 2:30 PM. Then I had the usual stuff, the yogurt being another bio (organic) “Greek” one with 10% fat and 5.5% protein, which still seemed fine even if it had expired six days earlier, but I also mixed raisins in milk chocolate in it, along with the cereals and baked almonds with Himalayan salt, and another sweet thing consisted of two nice biscuits, with added honey. It had rained, but the clouds were clearing when I left, a little after 5:15 PM, wearing the full running gear and one armband, and the reported temperature was about 21°C, more or less holding steady, since it was 21-22°C at 7 PM, though it might have been a little warmer at some point, since it had been pretty sunny for a while before getting cloudy again towards the end of the run.
The time was 1:43:49, with sector times of 4:25, 5:04, 5:56, 4:30, 5:04, 5:51, 4:32, 5:04, 5:57, 4:35, 5:11, 6:00, 4:35, 5:13, 6:10, 4:39, 5:15, 6:08, 1:51, 5:55 and 1:54, making for lap times of 15:25, 15:25, 15:33, 15:46, 15:58 and 16:02, plus 9:40 for that final portion. I didn’t even think about getting under 1:45 at first, but I ended up doing so for the first time in almost exactly one year, and obtaining the best time over this distance since a month and a half before that. But I just went for it, and I thought that my pace had been more controlled on the first sector, so the time seemed better than expected, which was also the case for sector two, and after the end of the lap I wondered how long I’ll manage to keep that up. And I did keep it up on lap two as well, and lap three wasn’t that far either. But over the course of those laps I kept thinking that they didn’t matter, what was important being having a sustainable pace on the next two and then pushing through the sixth and that final portion, so I only started calculating after lap four, at which point I realized that I had a good chance to stay under 1:45 after all, and even wondered whether I’ll stay under 16 minutes on each lap. When I managed that on lap five as well, even if by such a slim margin, I realized that also managing it on lap six even gave me a chance to stay under 1:44, though losing a little time because of people on sector one of lap six made me think that I might just miss that target by those few seconds. But those seconds only caused me to miss staying under 16 minutes on that lap as well, and while getting under 1:44 required an outstanding final portion, I really gave everything on it, being surprised by each sector time, obtaining a new personal best on it, and managing to stay under 1:44 by a safe margin.
There was some wind to fight against on sector three of lap six and on sector two of the final portion, and when it was sunny it was feeling too hot already, so I was relieved when it got cloudy again, which happened no later than on lap six, possibly even starting at some point on lap five. But what was probably even more of a relief was that the work from that small area was over, though it was still scraped, so I had to step carefully, and there were of course other damaged parts of the lane, and much of it was rather wet, albeit not badly, the rain having been light. And bugs kept getting in my eyes… In my ears as well, but that wasn’t that much of a problem, while the first time I really noticed them getting in my eyes, on sector two of lap three, I struggled for a while to get them out, though the few other times it happened after that I tried to more or less just deal with it. And I also just dealt with the signs of a pressing need that appeared on sector one of lap two and sectors one and three of lap three. I guess that it returned later as well, but I didn’t really pay attention anymore and it wasn’t bad enough to force me to. On the other hand, my right knee gave some warnings at some point on lap three, which faded for a while before returning on lap five, when the ankle joined the knee, and what I felt on lap six went past what I consider to be mere warnings, and I definitely also felt a little pain in the spot where I hurt myself when I tripped on that escalator, back in November. So my right leg wasn’t doing well, but it held. And I knew before the run that I was likely to have a problem with that toenail that tends to jab the toe that’s next to it, and I did feel it as I ran, and after I got back I saw the blood.
As for the problems caused by people, for quite some time it was just a matter of sometimes weaving or going the long way around, but then it did get somewhat more crowded, starting when I hesitated and slowed quite a lot in order to squeeze through a roadblock, on sector three of lap four. Or at least I think that it was on lap four, but it might have been on lap five, in which case the time when I briefly stopped because of another roadblock was definitely on sector three of lap six, since I’m certain that one of those problems was on sector three of lap five. Either way, it was certainly on sector one of lap six when I briefly stopped twice because of kids that got in my way, the first one riding a tricycle and with his father holding on to him, but right on the lane and when all of the space around the lane was blocked by other people, and the second being a little girl who just wandered off right in front of me.

After getting back, I ate an apple pastry, changed, albeit leaving the running t-shirt on, and left again at 8:30 PM, with the recyclables with the deposit symbol. My initial plan was different, but dad insisted that I must not buy anything else for him because we had so little money, since he had received only about half of his normal salary in May, even if the day to day purchases make up only a small part of the expenses and when I make them we both gain, because I can also feel justified to get some “rewards” for myself and the total amount is still less than what he’d spend if he’d buy those or similar products himself from other stores, and it also means that he’s less likely to make more unplanned purchases, so doing things his way means that we both lose and only the stores gain. But that was that, so I gave up on the idea of going to Auchan or Penny and therefore ended up going in the other direction.
I first checked Carrefour, but I didn’t want to use the recycling machine from there, so I put the recyclables in a cabinet and then just retrieved them, grabbed two more as I left that mall, and used the recycling machine from Kaufland… Which stopped after the first six, and no employee was around, so I then washed my hands, dashing to the women’s for soap, and entered the store with the remaining recyclables, not bothering to look for a cabinet to put them in once again. It was almost 9:10 PM at that point, and what was strange was that I couldn’t see any paper bags in the bakery area, but at least plastic bags were available and I put a few buns and a sweet pastry in one. Then I grabbed a pack of deeply discounted, spoiling, bio (organic) tomatoes, deciding that most of them were usable, but there was plenty of foul liquid in that pack and it was leaking, so after sort of letting it drip on the floor for a while I opened the pack and poured as much of it as I could into a flowerpot that had some sapling in it, then grabbed another one of those plastic bags from the bakery area, which are sturdier and which they don’t charge for, and put the pack in it… At which point I also noticed a few paper bags, placed on top of some boxes that were in front of that area. Either way, the green onions were deeply discounted and I spotted one last bundle behind the crates, taking that as well, and near the self-checkouts I found some deeply discounted germinated wheat that I guess someone had discarded, so I took one box and returned the rest to their proper place. Then I had to call an employee to override the error when the self-checkout machine didn’t accept those tomatoes as the correct product, but the fact that I couldn’t put in all of the recyclables meant that I could use that voucher when I paid, and I was arranging everything in the backpack when the closing announcement came.
That still left me with that bag of recyclables, which I meant to put in the machine from that Mega Image, but when I got there I saw that it wasn’t working either, and a note posted on it stated that, in order to respect the regulations regarding the quiet hours, the recycling machines are turned off between 10 PM and 8 AM. So I entered the store with everything and then just left again, not finding anything to get… Or more exactly deciding against getting anything, since two of those apple pastries were left and the evening discount should have applied, but I wasn’t going to count something like that as being purchased with “my” money, had already gotten a sweet pastry from Kaufland, and didn’t feel that I had any right to “reward” myself in that manner if I hadn’t gotten anything for dad. So I just made my way back, picking up two more recyclables with the deposit symbol and passing on a third, since it seemed to have some napkins or tissues in it and there were also some guys nearby and looking in that direction. And I ended up coming back with all of those recyclables, despite also checking the nearby Mega Image, since the recycling machine was off there as well, with the same note posted on it, even though this store doesn’t have apartments around it, unlike that other one, which is at the ground floor of what’s otherwise an apartment building.
I got back around 10:50 PM, though I didn’t check the time just then. Either way, after selecting the good tomatoes from that pack and cleaning the litter box, I went to drop a bag of trash down the chute… And found a bag with other bags and plenty of plastic bottles in it, and after looking through them I found five that did have the deposit symbol, so I took them. Then I ate an orange and lunch, with an entire large bag of corn puffs instead of bread, put the few other purchases, except the tomatoes, in their place, washed some of what was in the kitchen, and went to the bathroom, to use the toilet, even do the day’s squats, and then wash, when it was almost 1:10 AM. I got back in the kitchen at 2:20 AM, washed the remaining things and cleaned a little, and finally ate dinner between 4:10 AM and 5:15 AM, taking it easy. I got in bed at 6:10 AM. And there were no visits recorded that day.

Actually, there were no visits recorded on June 5 either, so if I’m to start with the early hours of June 6, I could start with the fact that I saw that. Then I watered the flowers and dealt with the last bread which I had purchased a few days earlier, which took quite a while because of its shape and size, and then I took all of my bread out of the freezer in order to find a way to fit all three of them in there, since I had dealt with the other two the night before and had placed them in bags but had left them out. So I only ate dinner between 3:35 AM and 4:20 AM… And I noticed that I once again had a blister under my tongue, still on the left side, though it went away by the time I got up. Either way, I got in bed at 5:20 AM and got up when the alarm rang, at 2 PM. Then I had the usual stuff, the yogurt being exactly like the one eaten before the previous run, a bio (organic) “Greek” one with 10% fat and 5.5% protein which still seemed good despite having expired six days earlier, and for the sweet thing I added honey on two somewhat nicer biscuits which had also expired, so I decided to finish those before the ones which I had been using the previous two times. And I left a little after 4:40 PM, wearing the full running gear and one armband. The reported temperature varied between 29°C and 33°C, depending on the source, so let’s say that it was about 31°C, pretty much settling at that value by the time I finished, so let’s say that it held steady.
The time was 47:27.92, with sector times of 4:20.51, 4:53.28, 5:41 (5:40.32), 4:24 (4:23.94), 4:57.31, 5:50 (5:49.81), 4:32.19, 5:03.50, 5:57 (5:56.96) and 1:50.10, making for lap times of 14:54.11, 15:11.06 and 15:32.65. Considering the heat, I was thinking that I was just aiming to stay under 50 minutes and didn’t want to push too hard from the beginning, so I was thinking that if I won’t go over 4:30 on the first sector it will be a good sign and that 4:20 was a nice surprise, making me wonder whether I might just manage to squeeze under that 15:20 that’s the target lap time for staying under 48 minutes on the first lap. So, yes, I pushed more on sector two, but that time was so shocking that I checked multiple times, to make sure that I had seen it properly… And then I obviously maintained that pace even though I wasn’t feeling like I was giving everything, so I was once again very pleasantly surprised at the end of the lap, which ended up being the fastest one since November, and in fact it was also in November, on the next run after that one with the faster lap, when I last covered a lap in less than 15 minutes. So it looked like I might stay under 48 minutes after all, but the heat made it far from certain, so I took it sector by sector, continuing to be pleased with the times and, after lap two, thinking that I might squeeze under 47:30 as well. It wasn’t going to be easy and after sector one of lap three I was starting to doubt it, and beating that 47:22 from the previous run over this distance was quite clearly out of the question, but I pushed and made it, despite losing time right at the end of lap three, that crowd also causing me to accidentally press the button earlier, so I pressed it again some two seconds later, possibly just after stepping over that line that I consider to be the end of a lap, but the seconds are definitely correct.
It was hot, but it wasn’t as much of a problem as I feared, though the larger cloud that offered shade while I covered a part of sector three of lap three was pretty nice. Then again, I guess I felt particularly well that day, and the only physical problem was that the fact that I hadn’t left everything in the toilet made itself known from sector two of lap three, and that was late enough to be pretty much all right. Otherwise, there were the damaged parts of the lane to avoid, some of them creating quite a risk of tripping, and that small scraped area, which was still like that. And, other than having to occasionally weave and go the long way around, the only notable problems caused by people were a roadblock on sector one of lap two, causing me to slow and take a step on the grass, and that more serious one that was right at the end of lap three, created by a pretty large group of people wearing a party’s t-shirts. Picking my way through them cost me at least a couple of seconds, and I already mentioned that it also caused me to initially press the button on the stopwatch too soon, though I then pressed it again, more or less at the right time, the time that I listed for sector three of lap three obviously taking into account what was displayed this second time.

I took off my t-shirt after entering the building, before getting to the door, trying to shake those little bugs off it… And a woman came down the stairs. When I heard her getting out of the apartment and taking the stairs, I wondered whether I had enough time to put the t-shirt back on or get in, deciding to try to get in, but there was no way I could unlock the door before she got here, so I just ignored her and that was that. Then I ate a banana and lunch, drank the tea and made another, changed, and left again a little after 7:40 PM, with the recyclables with the deposit symbol, except those two that weren’t accepted by the machines. And I found one more recyclable with the deposit symbol on the way to Carrefour and two more next to the recycling machine from there, and while one of them wasn’t accepted, the other eventually was, even if it was one of those with the small bar code that the recycling machines from Carrefour don’t usually accept. However, I couldn’t get it to accept the identical bottle that I already had, and it also firmly refused a can. So I entered the store with the remaining recyclables and got some garlic and potatoes, Romanian vegetables being among the product categories that they were offering vouchers with 30% of the value for those days. And at the self-checkout I used the voucher received for the previous purchases and the one received for the recyclables, then I arranged the purchases in the backpack.
Since I was going to pass by the farmers’ market on the way to Kaufland anyway, the closing time is listed as 9 PM and I got there about ten minutes earlier, I once again wanted to see whether I could get more cheap apples from that woman… But the gate was closed, so I just continued to Kaufland, grabbing a few more recyclables with the deposit symbol on the way, including a crushed one that I picked up from Kaufland’s parking lot and then tried to straighten a little before getting to the recycling machines. But two of the four machines were off and a third seemed to be having problems accepting the recyclables, and a guy who had many decided against using it when it was freed, waiting behind the person who was using the other one instead and telling me why when I asked whether he was going to it. So I tried to use it… And just ended up confirming what he had said, since it only accepted one of my recyclables. So I then waited to use the other one, after that guy was done, and it accepted most of the rest, the only ones left being the can which hadn’t been accepted at Carrefour either and, unsurprisingly, that crushed one.
After putting those remaining recyclables in a cabinet, I washed my hands, once again dashing to the women’s for soap, and entered the store at 9:15 PM. And the bakery discounts were, interestingly, 51%, but there were just a few buns that I could get, plus two regular breads for dad, after which I grabbed some deeply discounted, spoiling, mushrooms, made use of the evening discounts for radishes, carrots, and a few peppers for dad, and on the way to the self-checkouts I also grabbed a pack of cornmeal. The machine didn’t accept the radishes as the correct product, but an employee was there and immediately logged on to override the error, yet when it also didn’t accept the buns I had to hold my hand up for quite a while before another employee came to override that error as well. And then, while the voucher printed by the second recycling machine was scanned, I had to enter the one from that first one manually. Then I arranged the purchases, checking the time when I started and seeing 10:01 PM, but the closing announcement only came when I was just about done. However, I forgot about those recyclables from the cabinet, only realizing it when I walked out of the parking lot, so I ran back and retrieved them, fortunately finding that other customers were still walking out, so I could use the doors that opened for them in order to get back in, since after closing time they normally only open for those who want to exit. Either way, it was almost 10:10 PM when I walked out the second time.
I got back at 10:35 PM, with 11 kg. Then I tried to straighten that plastic bottle a little better, put most of the purchases in their place, and went to the toilet and to wash, only eating a slice of the already quite old cozonac from my mother after getting back to the kitchen, putting the remaining purchases in their place and starting to work on dinner, which I ate between 4 AM and 4:55 AM. And I got in bed at 5:45 AM.

I’ll also mention here that the following evening I meant to time my squats during the national team’s embarrassing friendly match, but there was a replay just when I was done, so the timer was not on the screen and I therefore may be a second off when I say that I probably did them in 2:04. And then I made mamaliga and ate in the kitchen, to manage to stick to the dinner schedule. And the following day, which was another one with no recorded visits, I pushed to read 300 pages and finish the book which I had purchased from Bookfest, also posting the quick review, though after eating at night I made a few changes and also translated it, posting the versions on Goodreads and The StoryGraph at that point, in both languages.

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