I still have some posts pending from last week, but I can’t wait another minute to tell you about the run we did on Saturday morning. Seriously, I can’t. I’ve been nudging KMN all afternoon saying, “We found some new running friends! We went on a trail run today! This morning was awesome!!!” He’d probably like to be left alone for 10 seconds.
So you all are my temporary substitute (I love having a blog). You know what? We found some new running friends! We went on a trail run today!!! *ahem* But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s take a step back, because this story actually started a few weeks ago, when I decided that 4 months was long enough (too long, actually) to be without a running community. Being a typical Type A personality, I established and embarked upon mission Find Running Community with vigor and determination.
My trail sneakers want to make some friends!!!
But as anyone who has ever done this knows, finding a new sporting group of any kind can be a tricky and intimidating task. Runners are generally pretty friendly, but no amount of research will tell you what a group’s dynamic will be when you actually show up for the first time: What if they go too fast? What if I get lost? What if no one talks to me? What if they’re actually aliens??? [Spoiler Alert: We did not get abducted. I offer up this post as proof. I doubt there’s WiFi in outer space. Probably not even any dial-up connection…]
One of the groups I found was the Trail Running Singapore Facebook group. This looked like it had good potential. First of all, I love trail running (in case there was any doubt about that). Second, I’m a little biased towards trail runners (no offense to road runners, you all are generally awesome as well) – I think their group dynamic tends to be slightly more flexible and relaxed than (some) road running groups. I also think trail running helps fill the awkward “getting to know you” silence – you can pretend to concentrate on a really rocky section, or a pretty birdsong, or the glory of nature – when, in truth, you have just temporarily run out of things to say. (Yes, this actually happens to me. Believe it or not, I’m really an introvert.) To me, these silences seem less uncomfortable on the trails than on the roads.
The Trail Running Singapore group seemed pretty straight-forward and no-strings-attached: no shirt to buy, no fee to pay, no nothing. Just show up, have a brief route meeting, then get out there and have fun on the trails. So a week ago, when they announced that February’s group trail run would be starting at MacRitchie Reservoir (right next to our apartment) on Feb. 2, it was a no-brainer. Of course I was going!!!
I jabbered to KMN about it all week long. Frankly, after the awesome Green Corridor Run, and with my IT bands behaving themselves, and with the prospect of a new group to run with on Saturday – I was pumped. I must have gotten him excited about it, too, because when the alarm rang at 6 AM on Saturday, he was the first one out of bed. We gathered our water bottles, public transport cards, and a few dollars, and headed out.
We walked about a mile to the meeting point and easily found the group. After a short briefing and head count (~26 trail runners!), we got started. The first part of the run was through MacRitchie Reservoir, on the trails KMN and I run every week. We settled in to an easy pace, and chatted briefly with one of the run leaders.
An “ooops!” photo actually ends up being a cool play on perspective and lighting…
Although the run was casually organized, the leaders were careful to keep track of all group members. There was a lead runner and a SAG (caboose), and they managed to span quite a wide range of paces. We also stopped approximately every 3 miles to regroup and refill water bottles. Major kudos to Leader Kelly for keeping tabs on everyone!!!
This was a false alarm. We actually didn’t take this trail. But what fun would a trail run be without some uncertainty/negotiation over the route?
Shortly after our first stop, we veered out of MacRitchie and onto the “new to us” portion of the run. We ran through some awesome rolling, rocky sections and a strong stream crossing (although we took the bridge 🙁 ), and popped out on Rifle Range Road. After a mile or so, it was back onto the trails in Bukit Timah.
We wound through Durian Loop (no durians, though) and to the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve Visitor’s Center. I chatted on and off with some other runners, getting to know a few people and just soaking in the nature. Again, kudos to the organizers and runners, who all watched out for each other and ensured that no one missed any of the turns. At a smidge over 6 miles, we took our second break to regroup.
I must confess, all the sweat out here is nuts. Overall, I’m adjusting pretty well to the weather, and never once really thought “Man! It’s HOT!” (although temps were in the low 80s + humidity). But the high humidity really retards evaporation, so as soon as I stop (and lose the breeze my running generates), I am absolutely soaked. Excuse me for being gross, but sweat was running into my CWX capris, and back out the bottom, streaming down my calves and into my socks. By the bucket load. My hands get so sweaty that it makes my fingers turn prune-y. Crazy. But the human body is amazing – this kind of weather would have wilted me in Rochester, but after 4 months out here, I’m quite accustomed to it.
KMN & I at the 6 mile mark.
We were feeling too good to quit just yet, so we continued with the group onto the old railroad trail (a continuation of where the Green Corridor Run was held last weekend) and off to the old Dairy Farm (not a dairy farm any more, unfortunately). At the 9 mile mark, we had a planned meet-up with some other members of the group, who’d started earlier and added some distance to hit 51 km for their 51st birthdays. Another friend (of theirs, not ours, but heck, that’s how trail running works) had brought cake, so there was a mid-run photo and refueling stop.
I really, really adore how trail runners just adopt newcomers into their fold without question or hesitation. I never actually met Francis (Frank? Ferdinand? Philip? Heck, I’m not even sure of his name!), but I sang him Happy Birthday and wasn’t even allowed to refuse a few bites of his cake. There was a lone runner we met up with during our run, who adopted us (or vice verse), and just joined in the group. The more the merrier!
Another awesome thing about Singapore: The abundant public transportation options mean that you can run as long/far as you want, then head out to the nearest main road and hop on a bus. And that’s exactly what we did. The group was continuing for another 6 miles or so, but that was a bit far for us at this point. So we reluctantly turned back, but were able to enjoy a short walk/jog out to a convenient bus stop. Now that we were on our own, I forced KMN to make several “nature observation stops”:
A lot of the leaves in Singapore are MASSIVE. And I’m not sure why they’re changing color. There’s no such thing as “Fall” here…
Looks like an insect of some sort found this leaf to be a good spot for their eggs. Holy cow!
After ~20 minute bus ride, we were home. 10 minutes after that, we were enjoying this:
Roti prata, “carrot cake”, and iced Milos.
Total run distance: 10 miles
Total time: ~1:45
Total New Trail Running Friendships Seeded: Hopefully, a lot!
Will We Be Back: Abso-stinkin’-lutely!!!
Thanks, Trail Running Singapore, we’ll see you all again soon! [Hopefully, we’ll be able to cover the full distance, and join you for post-run chicken rice, too!]
Ever had an “oops” picture turn out to be awesome?
How have you gone about finding running friends in a new city?