The best way to shake off a yellow funk is to flush it out by flooding the system with endorphin and dopamine.
Intent on doing just this yesterday (Saturday), I broke in my new minimus lightweight trail shoes by bashing through the dirt trails and park connectors across the two central reservoirs and nature reserves. Great weather yesterday too, with a spot of dry spell in this current early monsoon season leaving the ground mostly mud-free, sparing my new lime-green togs from getting too worsted on their first day out. Took me most of the afternoon and got pretty dehydrated; but at the end, was as flushed and mellow as can be.
Today (Sunday) started with some early rain but soon cleared up by mid-afternoon. Was feeling none the worst for wear after yesterday’s trail session, so didn’t want to give up this little window of opportunity for another run; after all, the torrential all-day rain of the monsoon season is just about upon us, and dry spells will soon be few and far between.
[Looks like the grueling Smolov squat routine I forced myself to go through over the better part of this year is paying off — even at this age, I feel stronger and faster than when I was a 17 year old canoeist/dragon-boater bounding along the cross-country trail at Macritchie like Brer Rabbit.]
I decided to go ahead and hit the hills with a vengeance. Proceeded to what has been my new favourite running route ever since NParks created a few years back what is known as the Southern Ridges park trail/route by linking Mount Faber Park, Telok Blangah Hill Park and Kent Ridge Park, with a series of interesting connectors and funkily-designed bridges (but a terror to maintain! just look at their condition now).
The route is supposedly about 9 km long, but feels even shorter than that. What I usually do is to repeat any uphill climbing section 3 times (at the Vivocity/Marang Trail uphill start-point, at the slopes behind Mt. Faber lookout point with first the lilliputian steep steps then the giant boulder steps, at the nice switchback slope at the other end of Henderson Waves bridge). Then after climbing the steps to reach the top of the Telok Blangah Hill lookout point with its single pavilion and colonial balustrades, and great view of cable cars and Sentosa island to the south and the dense cityscape to the north, take a quick breather to enjoy the view before heading down the hill’s backward slope and turning around at the foot to do one cycle of Tabata/HIIT maximum effort sprints back up the hill (one cycle will be 8 sprints, each sprint take me about 12 seconds or so, then quickly walk back down the slope and rest until the end of the 30 second block before sprinting up again, so that one cycle of 8 sprints should take no more than 4 minutes to complete; but sometimes I chicken out after 6 sprints, especially when I think about what’s in store ahead at the Kent Ridge Park slopes :P). From here on till Kent Ridge Park is an easy but interesting stretch (from the slightly vertigo-inducing bare-metal Forest Walk, to the Alexandra Arch bridge, to the pretty flowers and nurseries of HortPark, and the peaceful Canopy Walk with its central-west view), mostly flat and good for a very slow jog or brisk walk to recover from the earlier exertions and save my lower back from overloading with too much repetitive strain, and to prep for the final stretch ahead.
Kent Ridge Park is where it really gets fun; there are many slopes and steps here but I usually use just 3 of them: one winding slope laid with brick steps which winds around the south-east perimeter of the park (do 3 runs); one straight slope with large and long concrete steps on the upper terrace leading from the public bathroom and rest area (do 3 runs, this one is the easiest, ramp up the difficulty by doing high-knee bounds like a triple jumper); and the final killer slope, the infamous back-to-back double L slope with 50-degree(?) gradients at its worst parts and about 400-500m in length, from the start of the slope at the park entrance at South Buona Vista Rd all the way up the L-shaped service road to the main car-park; even vehicles require 1st gear and howling engines to climb this slope. I do one run of this final slope and then limp my way over to the final event(s): the exercise stations in the middle of the park stretched out over two terraced levels. These exercise stations are pretty old but probably one of the most extensive of all the public parks in Spore, with about 12 or so different stations from climbing ropes to gymnastic rings to all sorts of logs and bars exercise stations. I have been doing bodyweight calisthenics for a long time now but the parks in my east coast area do not have climbing ropes and rings, so no matter how exhausted I am, will never miss a chance to do my rope climbs and ring levers when I get to KR park.
After finishing the exercises on the ropes, rings, various high bars, and parallel bars, I am done…with the first half of the run! Heh, nah, I am really done, what’s left is just the slow jog/walk back to the car at the start-point, but will still try to sprint up all the slopes/steps I encounter on the return trip. The first few times, I did do repeat runs from Vivocity/Marang to Kent Ridge and back, then repeat; but that was without all the intermittent HIIT slope sprints and I was a few years younger then…
And that’s the workout I did today, though because of the earlier rain I started late and the slopes and steps were rather wet and slippery, so took especial care and was pretty far off my usual pace; almost made me miss the 8pm cutoff on the return trip, when the park warden at the HortPark will shut and lock the gate at the path leading to Canopy Walk/KR park.
Heh, don’t really know why I detailed out today’s run; probably still jazzed from the leftover dope and dopamine still coursing through my veins, even after a good refreshing sleep when I got back. I haven’t done back to back long runs in a while, so quite surprised my legs still feel reasonably fresh but I expect the hurting and aching will set in the next few days.
And the song in the head for the day:
[sigh, in the end, you cannot outrun your own memories…]
旋轉門 Revolving Door:
不說話 以為 沉默能讓時光走的緩慢
不想念 以為 感傷是生活中的小習慣
一個個 心結 忽然間自己解出了答案
一個個 舊友 疏於聯絡也許已有新的伴
快樂或 孤單 一天的時光用另一天填滿
凌晨或 傍晚 一樣的天色掠過晚歸的站
夢裡 那個人 遁入另一個夢為誰輾轉
我們的 故事 也落入俗套一去不返