Back in 1988, I was in Secondary 2. I took part in the annual school cross-country run and every participant was required to turn up for regular practice at the reservoir on an afternoon after school was over.
Usually, I was punctual but on this particular practice day, I was late. By the time I reached the reservoir, I saw the teacher-in-charge standing alone. I knew that the group of runners had started their run in the forest.
I was a gung-ho girl and was determined not to let my time travelling to the reservoir wasted. Since I was already there, I stubbornly wanted to run on the trail in the forest to practice. The teacher was stunned and concerned with my decision as I was a girl. So, the teacher gave me permission to run.
I started running on the trail. Daylight slowly diminished as I began to enter the forest. Then, the sky was replaced by the thick canopy and I then realized I was running alone in a forest.
I tried to catch up with the group of runner who ran earlier than me but I could not even hear their footsteps. I just continued running at a comfortable pace as I ran deeper into the forest. For no reason, I suddenly felt that I was being watched as I was running. The forest was quite dark and all I heard was the sounds of the cicadas and the occasional rustling of dead leaves on the trail as my shoes trampled these. But I was very certain I was being watched.
I tried not to let that confuse or scare me too much. Honestly, I began to feel scared but I knew no one could help me as I was in the middle of nowhere. No screaming for help would help. So, the only way out for me was to continue running as fast as I could forward and get out of the forest.
I chose to focus on the pacing of my breathing and pacing to take my mind off the scary emotion I was feeling. With great determination, I finally saw the gentle slope that I was supposed to run up to exit the forest and reach the main road. When I stood on the pavement of Lornie Road, I felt enormously relieved!
Bear in mind I am not trained as a seasoned long-distance runner. It took me a long time to ran the trail in the forest. I was just glad that I made it alive and reminded myself never to pull such a gung-ho stunt in the future.