I haven't stomped my hooves in The Lake Garden for ages. AGES.
I miss the fresh morning air, the calling of birds and gibbons from afar, nodding 'good mornings' to our usual running acquaintances. I miss the echo of aerobic instructors and their loud music booming throughout the park, I miss the slow swaying of ancient people to their Tai-Chi routines, I miss that old Caucasian man on the red bike who would acknowledge us every time we pass, even if it's five or six times, I even miss the foul smell of animal dung while passing the zoo.
So it was high time we came back. Left the kids at my Mom's to happily pester their aunts who were home for the holidays.
I had a bad night before, waking up 6 times because of mild food poisoning.
But I was determined. Last week's Lake Garden run was postponed due to my daughter having a fever.
By Subuh I felt better. No more stomach cramps.
So we started at about 7 am. It was still dark. I feel good running on flat grounds. This seemed much easier than the raised inclination of my treadmill. I know I was starting fast, but I didn't care. It felt good passing people even though they were oblivious and walking. I haven't done this in a while.
WW decided to wear his boating shoes. Yes, he's quirky, this one. Claimed that his feet felt rough after running straight this week on different surfaces, barefoot. I have no idea how this makes sense. I thought it was already rough after all this time but I shut up.
5 minutes into the run I heard the shuffling patter of feet behind me. It was damn right annoying. I semi-turned to WW, about to tell him to stop dragging his feet when I suddenly noticed it wasn't him. It was another guy running in a white shirt, a tad bit too close to us.
I tried to turn and give him an encouraging smile as a token of camaraderie but he just looked straight ahead with what I thought to be a game-face.
You guys know how I hate game-faces.
So I did what I don't normally do. I decided to take him for a challenge. Normal me would ease up and let the guy pass. Normal me would have shrugged and say, " This is stupid. It's not like anyone's winning,"
But that day, stupid manic pseudo-evil me emerged out of no where. I suspect it was because of I haven't raced for the longest of time.
So I cranked it up. WW just followed. I know he noticed I'm going faster than usual but he didn't utter a single word. In the mean time, White Shirt guy is still right behind breathing our backs.
The faster we'd go, the heavier his shuffling and breathing. By the sound of it, it didn't seem to be his normal pace. Hell, it wasn't even my normal pace.
Sometimes, I deliberately went around a flock of walking people to slow him down but a few moments later, he'd be back pattering noisily behind us.
This guy was something determined.
I decided to take evil to the next step. I casually got WW engaged in a conversation, cracked a few jokes and pretend to take in the whole entire scene like it was literally a walk in the park. Like it was so easy at this pace and like emphasizing, " You better watch it, boy. We're in this for a loooong time."
And with adrenalin pumping, it did felt easy, it felt exciting, it felt like a real race.
Right around the corner of the Zoo, we followed the designated running path while White Shirt guy ran in a tangent leading him to think that he has dropped us. I wanted to chase after him but WW nudged to our 4 mile detour to the road leading to Bukit Larut and MRSM. It was no use chasing him when we were clearly going separate ways.
When we glanced back, White Shirt guy noticed we left him and made a sudden slow down. He looked out of breath and at that instant I felt suddenly sorry to take him on like that. I could have melted his game face with a simple hello and asking him nicely to join us. I regretted not being friendly. I wondered who he was. A usual runner? A newbie? An army boy? ( Not so much because them army boys would go at 90km/hr and leave me in a cloud of dust.)
I realized that speeding so early on a so-called easy run would get me back in the next loop.
And sure enough it did.
At the end of our loops, I spotted White Shirt Guy at the nearby playground. I gave him an apologetic smile for my pseudo idiotic-ness .
The guy looked at me blankly. And I suddenly realized stupidly that I wasn't sure if it was really him.
Ok, so this is a stretch, but if you're a reader White Shirt guy, I'm truly sorry. Sometimes when I don't hit the tarmac for a long time, I get to be such a dweeb.
And I'm a believer of what goes around comes around.
True enough, I'm now back with the fever I shook off four days ago.
I'm having chills to the bone while everyone else is sweating.
And I'm popping paracetamols like candy.