It started when the Ulu Pandan Park Connector (PCN) opened its extension. Regular joggers are now given a choice to extend their runs beyond the one-way 2.4km route. We can either turned left to International Business Park (IBP) and run an extra 600m, or use the double helix bridge to cross AYE to West Coast for another 300m. Mr Lee, a regular there, told me most runners have extended their U-turn to either sides and encouraged me to go the distance.
So last Monday, I decided to try the new route. As I exited Faberhills, I turned right, went beyond the old end point, turned left to IBP. I didn’t know the river splits here and follows the PCN path. One the other side were rows of deserted factories (it was after working hours). It was rather deserted and I didn’t feel safe. Cyclists zoomed past dangerously. I u-turned at the 600m mark and ran back, up the double-helix (panting) on one side, crossed over AYE and down another double helix. Runners share the bridge with bikers and we had to ensure we kept to our lane while the bikes maneuver the curves at dangerous speed.
West Coast PCN was short and breezy and soon I was back at Ulu Pandan PCN. I had only run 2km and was contemplating either to end at Faberhills or run the full 4.8km distance. As I passed Faberhills, I told myself there was no turning back. I kept my focus on the path ahead, and tried very hard not to be side-tracked by the litters. At about 5km mark, my knees protested but I trudged on and managed to complete it.
When I next jogged on Wednesday, I wasted no time in boasting my achievements to the gang, which to them was nothing great. After all, they run long distance of 25km twice a week. I told the group I shall attempt to crossover to Ghim Moh next, the total distance to and fro is about 9km.
This solemn thought occupied my mind the whole weekend. Do I or do I not?
Yesterday. The sun was mercilessly hot at 5pm. The body was ready. The mind was unwilling. The knees were anxious. I was hoping for some family members to accompany me but Bro was horizontal in bed and son was out. I decided to play by ear, giving myself the option to turn back so as not to stress myself.
I started slow to build momentum. I passed Uncle 加油 and he shouted 加油! I shouted back that I am ‘crossing over’ and hope I can make it back, effectively signing my own Ulysses Contract. The knees were not cooperating. It was barely 2 km and they were complaining. I ignored the discomfort and ran to the end. Mrs Lee was just returning from her Monday Sunset run, and thumbed the other way. ‘Crossover? Go!’ I went.
Over the other side, the river looks more like a large canal with concrete banks instead of the grassy backs I was used to at the other side. I maintained eye contact with the bitumen, looking up once in a while to check my surrounding. I spotted a familiar face in his recent SBR vest and flashed him a smile. The 2km seemed endless but soon I see Dover MRT on my right. The gigantic Star Vista soon appeared, signaling my U-turn point.
Knowing I had another 4.4km run back was daunting. I imagined stopping at Dover and borrowing a phone to call Mike. Dover passed. Perhaps I’ll call at Clementi Road then. I felt surprisingly strong at Clementi and continued. The four elderly uncles sitting under the flyover waved as I ran past. I met the SBR runner again and he gave me two thumbs up. I made it back to my finish point – no finisher Tee, medal, drinks or cheers, just relief and proud I could motivate myself without any free gimmicks.
As I made my way home, Grandpa Peter cycled past and shouted, Hi Vic. I asked why he was cycling so slowly (more awkward than slow actually). He replied he just had knee surgery and was recuperating. My knees were sympathetic to his reply. They demanded a rest then but I still had some way to walk home.