October came in Bucharest again and all marathoners know it's the month of the most important race of Romania, part of the AIMS Calendar: the Bucharest International Marathon on the 7th of October. I was present at all the contemporary editions organized by the Bucharest Running Club Association, since 2008.
I said to myself I couldn't miss this year's edition and will try to finish the Half Marathon in 1h30'. I had to prefer this event to the "Piatra Craiului" Mountain Marathon which was held the previous day. I used a 4 week training program, but wasn't able to complete more than half of it because of personal reasons.
Sunday, the 7th of October was a wonderful day. The sun was shining and the weather was at around 20 degrees C at the race time (9:30 AM). If you ask a marathoner, it was too warm because a temperature above 16 C usually causes more water loss and thus requires more hydration during the race.
I've started with a little warm up training, including stretching and slow running. Like each year, I've missed the Ro Club Maraton group picture and even I have stopped thinking it's just an unfortunate coincidence! :) As usual, when I came back to the square for the photos, they were already made and my colleagues were dispersed. Ok, time to go to the toilet to pee because I drunk some water and warm tea earlier. Oh my God, there are around 15 toilets and around 10 persons waiting at each of them! I have no time to wait, because the start is in around 15 minutes. Maybe there are toilets a little farther from the start.. no chance. I see other competitors with the same problem as me, they seem to resolve it in a more or less civilized manner. :) (Ok, I've tried that too, but wasn't allowed so I gave up). Why am I telling this on my blog where it can be read by the entire world? Who runs long races knows that this is an important issue which needs to be solved somehow. It's a really bad feeling to run with the need to go to the toilet and not be able to.
Anyway, I tried to ignore the problem and took my position at the start. I forgot to turn on my Garmin GPS watch, so for the first 2 kilometers the GPS didn't find me and I ran too fast, at less than 4 min/km. My ideal pace for finishing the Half Marathon in 1h30' was 4'15"/km. Starting too fast was a huge problem for me, because I had to slow down to a medium pace of 4'30"/km. And the toilet problem was not gone, but I tried to ignore it and to think about something else. Sometimes it worked. The route was fine, some friends and my mother came to support me on different points, like Bd. Unirii, Piata Alba Iulia, Piata Muncii, Pod Izvor and Piata Constitutiei, at the finish.
When we passed through Piata Constitutiei the second time (not for the finish), I decided I couldn't take it anymore and stopped at the toilets. Bad luck! The most of them were busy and I had not patience to wait, so I wasted time and started running again. I saw other toilets in the park of Piata Unirii, but they were a little far from the route in my opinion, so I continued running. Sadly, my pace was slowing down to 5 min/km, which was very bad. I already knew that my purpose of 1h30' wasn't reachable anymore. Then we ran on Calea Victoriei and turned back on the Dâmboviţa River Embankment towards Pod Izvor. I finally found 3 toilets, two of them were occupied by two runners in front of me, so I was left with the third one. I couldn't open the door! I knocked, maybe someone was in there. No answer. I knocked again, tried to open the door: nothing! Then I saw I had to rotate the handle to get in. Finally I entered and resolved my problem which followed me for about 18 km! But I lost around 2 minutes with the 2 toilet stops..
Restarting the race was harder than I thought, I was relieved but tired. My club colleagues who were running for a 3h15' marathon surpassed me trying to cheer me up. I started to regain energy and increased my pace to about 4'30"/km in the last 2 kilometers and more when I reached the finish. I surpassed the 3h15' group and wished my colleagues good luck for achieving their target.
My results: 1h38'31" total time, but the real time recorded by the time chip was 1h38'19". I ranked 77th of more than 1100 Half Marathon finishers. I should be proud to enter the first 10%, but it would have been better for me to make at least a PB (currently of 1h35'56"), if not the 1h30' target. You can see my rankings and past results on the Results page.
About the organization of this event I can say I am not happy with it. The Marathon Expo was small, the race kit was poor (only the Adidas running T-shirt and the Alerg running magazine are worth mentioning), the Pasta Party was also poor and bad organized and the toilets were also too few. The participation fee was around 40 E if you registered in September.
Thanks to all the people who encouraged me during the race and I hope to improve my results in the upcoming ones!