Krakow half-marathon 2022

For people interested in running, the Krakow half marathon offers great city center views and an excellent organization. The city hall organizes the event. During this race, you will run next to the world’s oldest mall, from the XIII century that is still open, churches 1000 years old, the Wawel castle, and finish inside the biggest arena in Poland, the Tauron Arena.

I like that they offer the best pictures for runners, the race course is very well-guarded, and the pedestrians don’t get in front of runners like in other races. The transport in the city is free for runners that day. You also get an SMS with your time once you finish the race.

The race course is not flat as Copenhagen, and this can be seen in finishing times. One useful metric is the time of the runners at the middle of the ranking. For example, that average was 1:55 in Copenhagen and 1:58 in Krakow. The number of runners is also lower, with a limit of 7000 runners this year. Last year the maximum allowed number of participants was 5000. They could increase this limit to at least 10000 runners. There are pacemakers for all types of people from 1:25 to 2:30. Although only a few runners can keep up with 1:25 or even 1:30; for example, in Bucharest this year, precisely one person was running with the 1:30 pacemakers. As I mentioned in Bucharest, the week before this race was MIB with 1700 runners in the half marathon race with an average time of 2:04. MIB’s average time was slow as the route is flatter than in Krakow.

Usually, I don’t run with the official T-Shirt, but this one I liked

The weather was perfect on October 16, in the range of 15-19 Celsius. Many people encouraged the runners along the way, which was a positive attitude during the race. However, what surprised me was the considerable number of people injured that needed medical assistance during the running. In every half marathon I have run until now, I saw 2-3 people fall injured during the race. I saw maybe seven people lying down on the last kilometers of this run, and I don’t know why.

After 8 km, everything was ok.

Another thing that impressed me was a blind runner tied up to another runner. The other runner was also guiding him. Blind runners for long distances are rare (or I haven’t seen them). I am used to blind chess players, which is quite common in tournaments. Blind chess players can rely on their opponents to make the moves, and it’s easy. Blind runners need someone to be able or willing to run a half marathon at their speed. Training for a long-distance race might be difficult, too.

Smile though your back is aching

The October half marathon has a special meaning for me. In October 2015, I ran my first half-marathon race in Bucharest. Since then, I ran every year a half marathon distance in October. Even when injured (like this year) and even in 2020 when there was no official race because of Covid. Since 2015 I have run more than 8500 km and around 20 half marathons. It is never too late to make a change in life.

Smile even though it’s breaking

I was under an injury after Copenhagen when I started preparing for the Krakow half marathon. When you run only 12 km long runs and then you participate in a half marathon, there is a risk that you will get injured during or after the race. The reason is that the difference between 12 to 21 km run is hard to be absorbed by the body. That is why when increasing the running volume, you should do that by 10-20% every week, but not more. You run 12 km, then 14, 16, and 18, and only then are you ready for the half marathon. I knew that, but I hoped that I would be fine. It wasn’t the case. I got a muscle injury in the back area of the left kidney. After three half marathons in 1:54 this year, I wanted to finish one at a better time and pushed the limits. I made a mistake and learned from it. On a positive note, since Copenhagen, I have lost three kilograms by reducing sweets. They say that if you drop five kilograms, you could improve the half-marathon result by 10 minutes. That works until you reach the ideal weight, then the time to finish increases if you continue to lose weight.

When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by.

On the morning of the race, I took Nurofen, used Voltaren, and hoped for the best. Things were ok until the 16th kilometer. At that time, the race predictor estimated I would finish in 1:56. Unfortunately, the pain in my back started to grow. I decreased the pace directly proportional to the increasing pain. Around 18km, I thought to walk instead of running. From a speed of 5’20” -5’30” per km up to that point, I had to drop to 6’30″/km. At km 20, somehow, the pain was gone, but I chose not to push my luck. There was not much to do anyway. The official time was 2:00:16. Ranked 3377 from 6605 people who finished the race.

Fun section. My running club is called in Romanian “Trupa lui Fane”. In English, that translates to Fane’s group or Fane’s team. But in Polish, this reads as “Lui Fane’s corpse”. In Romanian, “trup” means body, but in Polish means dead body. The word has Slavic origin in both languages, but the meaning evolved differently. The word “trupa” is a genitive form of “trup”. All the other runners could see my club on the registrations page. In Polish, “Trupa lui Fane” sounds more like a club for pirates than for runners.

I want to thank Stefan Oprina for training me remotely this year!

Notes on Romanian language history

This is a different post from the ones I wrote until now. If you are interested in the history of languages, please continue reading.
I will try to explain how the Romanian language and culture could survive for centuries. Although it wasn’t the official language in any country that is now part of Romania, no schools or documents were written in this language before the XVI century.

My country, Romania, has a historical particularity that makes it different from other countries in the region. Two thousand years ago, that land was inhabited by the Dacians. We don’t know their language because no written texts are left from them except the short “Decebalus per Scorilo” (Decebalus the son of Scorilo). We know that Ovid, the famous roman poet exiled by the emperor Augustus at Tomis (Constanta in present days), wrote poems in the local language. Unfortunately, those poems are lost. Later the Dacians were conquered by Romans in 106 AD, who stayed in the country until 271 AD. Then, many nomadic populations went through that space, and the Romanian language appeared in time. It is a Latin language with minor Slavonic and other external influences. More precisely, 70% of the language has Latin origins, and about 15% is of Slavic roots. Even if this language was formed around the X century, as most historians accept nowadays, the first written document in Romanian that we know about dates from mid-1521 (Neacsu’s letter). Now let’s compare the first documents in neighbors’ languages (from the same geographical area). The first manuscripts in Bulgarian are from the X century, in Serbian from the XI century, in Hungarian from 1192, in Russian XIth century, in Polish from 1270, and in Czech since the early XIII century. In my opinion, this is evidence that writing was not much valued within the Romanian population for a long time.

For some context, the official language used by the rulers and the Orthodox Church was old Slavonian Bulgarian in both Walachia and Moldova from the X century. But that was not the language spoken by the people. It was similar to the situation in the central and West of Europe. The church used Latin as an official language there, but the people did not understand it.

The corpus of official and religious documents in the old Slavonian language left from Moldova and Valachia is much less than those in Serbia or Bulgaria. The main reason is that in those regions, people spoke a Slavic language, while in Moldova and Valachia, that was not the case. Besides, as mentioned before, writing was not a priority among Romanians.

What has changed and made people start writing in Romanian? There are different theories on this topic among historians. The one that seems more accurate is that the Lutheran influence in Transylvania from the XVI century made people start writing in their native language. In support of that, we have the first documents printed in the Romanian language in Brasov from 1550s. The deacon Coresi moved from Targoviste to Brasov (at the time in a different country, Transylvania) and started publishing religious books translated into Romanian. In “Psaltirea romaneasca” printed in 1570 Coresi explains his reasons to publish in Romanian language: “Eu, diaconul Coresi, daca vazui ca mai toate limbile au cuvintul lu dumnezeu in limba lor, numai noi, rumanii, n-avam…” (I, Coresi the deacon, if I saw that all the languages have the word of god in their language, only us, romanians, don’t…)

The first school in Romanian was also founded in Brasov in the same century. Lutherans were strong supporters of using people’s language in the church. For example, Martin Luther translated the Bible into German in 1534.

We know how writing in Romanian began. Now let’s see how this language was still alive after centuries in which it was not used in official documents, church, or school.

Things written next are my personal opinion. My grandfather was a child in the 1930s in the countryside of the Dobrogea region. He told me that during that time (and probably many years before), people from the village gathered on Saturday nights at some inhabitants’ houses, where older people told stories, legends, myths, and poems from the past. There were things from ancient times and more recent times that those people experienced: for example, working on the bridge built over the Danube river in 1895 by Anghel Saligny or memories from the First World War. This form of transmitting information to the next generations made this population’s traditions, language, and culture survive over centuries despite no written documents. Children would listen to those stories, and some would transmit them later to the next generations. That is why there were many poems and songs because those are easy to remember. Also, those people developed their memory to keep those stories, poetry, and themes in their minds for a long time and transmit them to the next generations.

This is how people transmitted their culture from past generations over thousands of years. Of course, it was a living culture: some poems, stories, and songs were changed in time or space. There were different variants of the lyrics or the stories, and some stories changed or disappeared in time. There were actual historical facts and fictional stories transmitted to young generations.

Interestingly, those people in the 1930s lived the same way humans lived for thousands of years. They did not use any modern technologies available at the time, like electricity, cars, radio, etc. It is incredible how the world has changed in the last hundred years. We lost that connection with the past, and there is no way back. 

In the 1920s, Dimitrie Gusti, a sociology professor, and his team went to many places in Romanian villages and wrote down or recorded the folklore and traditions of those places. He conducted ethnographic research on the country’s regions. I don’t know the state of those books and recordings, but someone should digitalize them before being lost forever.

Although the things mentioned here are not as exciting as battles and politics in Romanian history, this is an integral part of the country’s development.

Note: For information in this article I used a book written in Romanian by Petre P. Panaitescu “Inceputurile si biruinta scrisului in limba romana“. Panaitescu was a great Romanian historian. Yet this book was published in 1965 during communist times in Romania and had some theories aligned with the political views of the communist regime on history (nationalism, fight between poor and rich, no external influences in our country, etc.), so it needs to be read carefully. Nevertheless, the facts described here are accurate, but he could not publish the book without achieving compromises with the rulers in those times.