All I want for Christmas is a break…

A very blessed Christmas to all – it’s hard to believe there’s only one week of 2014 to go!

We’ve only been back six days, and it’s been a hectic week of catching up with friends and family. Coming back to home is always a bit of a bittersweet experience. On the one hand, it’s wonderful to see all the people who played such an important part in the early chapters of our lives, and to find out how everyone is coming along. People have new jobs, new kids and new tales to tell, and some people are just the same old same old, but meeting up with all of everyone is always a bundle of fun.

On the other hand, it is thoroughly exhausting. There is a constant pressure to squeeze in as much quality time with quality people day after day – meeting different people for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and sometimes supper as well. Thrown in with this chaotic mix is our traditional family reunion dinner on Christmas eve, a massive gathering of between 75-100 people in to which requires days of preparation and hours of cooking. In past year’s gatherings I have had the dubious honour of being the chef. I can tell you now that cooking a meal for 80 people with a four burner stovetop and one oven is about as far from fun and games as it gets. Thankfully this year, thanks to my daddy responsibilities, I was only tasked with whipping up a rather large serve of mac and cheese. Throughout all the constant socialising, there is very little “me” time, This is a critical part of the day and week for any introvert such as myself, and just about half-way through these visits, I will find myself just desperately craving that space.

This is why I’ve been trying my best to stay on Melbourne time, which is around 3 hours ahead of Singapore. When we have no supper appointments, I try to wind down by 9pm so that I’ll be up by 0530 which enables me to, weather permitting, hit the trails near home early, where the dense rainforest foliage can shield me from the smells, sights, stresses and the smothering crowds of Singapore life.

On Christmas eve, I went for my second trail run this week, and the third run since coming back to Singapore. The MR Loop is a roughly 10km circuit around MacRitche Reservoir Nature Reserve which is a short 10 minute walk from my parent’s home. The trail itself isn’t anything too spectacular. There are some nice views across the reservoir near the start and end of the trail, but for the most part, it runs through dense tropical rainforest, and so the view for most of the way is pretty much trees and dirt up close. It does have its interesting points in terms of historical and natural importance, but in terms of blow-your-mind-mouth-open-lost-for-words landscapes, well, don’t hold your breath. That said, despite the lack of breathtaking scenery, I was still glad to be in the quiet of the jungle.

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Surprisingly, conditions were actually pretty good. It was still rather humid, as can be expected around t his time of the year, but it was a cloudy morning, so temperatures remained bearably cool at around 26C. Despite the yucky, humid air, it was just great to be scampering up and down the undulating and sometimes mildly technical trails. While running on the road has its own benefits, such as convenience, trail running has always been my preferred choice over roads. There is so much more it has to offer. Natural beauty, technical terrain, different textures underfoot, fresh air and even the occasional encounter with local wildlife. The stark contrast from urban environments also greatly helps me unwind from a hectic week in a concrete jungle, be it slaving away at work or even just being on holiday back in Singapore.

On that morning, I finished the loop in a little over an hour – taking it easy in line with the physio’s instructions. Despite finishing around 2 minutes faster than on Monday, my legs felt strong throughout. My cardio vascular system did struggle to keep up, obviously hampered by the humidity and lack of training over the past few weeks, but what was more important (and delightful!) to me was that all three runs so far were 100% pain free – even post cooldown. I’m starting to feel now that I am back int he game, and things are looking good – the tricky part now will be to hold back from overtraining and re-aggravating the injury. That, and somehow avoiding too much festive weight gain over the next two weeks!

Workout summary this week so far:

Saturday: Road run, 5km

Monday: Trail run, 10km

Christmas eve: Trail run, 10km

Some snippets from the Christmas Eve party:


J and my in-laws


My generation, the generation after, and my grandfather in the middle.

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