Its amazing how my weekends always end up with me getting less sleep than on weekdays! :) But its all for a good cause and I love the feeling of getting up at 5.30am on Sundays to run at MR. I was feeling just a touch tired from yesterday's badminton session but was not unduly worried about it for the start of the run always seems more "tiresome" (not tiring) that it actually is.
I started my run at around 6.45am with the intention of running 2 loops of the 10.5km trail, armed with my 2L Camelbak, 4 packets of PowerGel and a good range of hiphop songs to listen to while running. I figured I was feeling good in the "hunger" department, and so didnt have anything to eat before the run. At 6.45, the MR trails are quite dimly lit as daybreak is still a good 15-20 minutes away and so one needs to be a little more aware of the trail run than usual. One of the best things about running in the trail early morning is that you see very few people, and for most of the time, its just you and the trail, the trees and the ambient buzz, the stones adorning the path ahead and the kingfisher searching for breakfast. I ran a gentle 8kph in the first 2-3 kms to warm up and then increased my pace.
The one thing that I did today was not look at my watch at all during the entire run to know what speed I was doing. The couple of times I looked at it was to just check the time I had been running. As I labored through until the 5km mark, I was beginning to wonder if I was up for doing another 16kms, and just like that my legs seemed to get into their groove and I began to run at a very enjoyable pace (i later found out this was around 9.3-9.5kph). Interestingly, until the 10km mark, I didnt feel the need to have even a sip of water or open a powergel packet. I completed the first loop in about 68 minutes and then took a planned walk break, where I satiated my thirsty throat and also had a power gel packet. After walking for about 3-4 minutes, I came back up on the start of the trail and by this time, the sun was cheerfully bright and the number of runners on the trail seemed to have quadrupled. I thought my legs were feeling heavy but as I started on the 2nd loop, i once again got into my comfort zone quickly and ran at a steady pace for longer than I have before.
When I completed the 2nd loop, and had crossed the 21.1km mark, I saw on my Garmin that I had timed 2:27 for the run. Safe to say, I was more than kicked with this for this had been my fastest half marathon distance yet, and I know that my HM speed on the road can only get better (the MR trail is fairly undulating and keeps your heart nervously anticipating the next uphill run). Its amazing how if you dont arbitrarily decide some pace to run at, and just let your body do its own thing, you usually end up with better results than you planned.