Living in France has taught the Ninja Turtle a most valuable lesson. Growing up in Singapore, and having lived in Australia for many years, she was accustomed to the regularity of daylight hours in the former, and the lack of rain in the latter country. Fitting in a run, then, is a matter of just finding a spare moment in the day. In France however, seasons bite with a vengeance that for someone unaccustomed, it can quickly become the single biggest handicap of getting anything done in the day.
Here, the torrential rains cause flooding. Here, the winds rage, stinging your face and making your eyes water. Here, the daylight in winter lasts a mere several hours – that is, if you are lucky enough to see the sun at all. Some days, the cloud cover blocks out the light, and all one sees is a gloom that blends dawn and dusk, and nightfall is a relief because at least there is something certain about absolute blackness. Here, one looks at the weather forecast multiple times a day, fits the run in when the weather is being reasonable, and plans the rest of the day’s activities around it.
It hardly matters whereabouts in France the Turtle has been, this inclement weather seems to just hang over the entire country (except St Tropez and Corse, perhaps). Last weekend, the idea of escaping Metz for a few days filled the Ninja Turtle with an unreasonable delight, until she got to La Rochelle, and it looked more or less like this.
Having woken early and spent 7 hours on Friday travelling from one side of the country to another, GodzillaPin and the Ninja Turtle were exhausted on Saturday morning. Looking out the window, GodzillaPin gave a groan and started alluding to his shin splints. The Ninja Turtle was also struggling with some lame excuses in her own head about female issues. Really, they needn’t make up excuses like these because what other excuse does one need when it’s blowing 77kph outside, and pouring so hard that running on cobblestones is taking a risk of slipping and cracking one’s head open?
Fortunately, force of habit prevailed. That, and the fact that it was set to rain on and off the entire weekend anyway, and between running in the rain or not running at all, they knew which they preferred. After setting a distance goal and agreeing to cut the run short if necessary, they dressed themselves and laced up. The hotel receptionist wore a look of bemusement but very kindly pointed the way to the park where locals ran, and off they went.
About two hundred yards on, they passed a gentleman who laughed and wished them bonne courage. As they struggled against the headwinds, they began to wonder if it wasn’t madness after all.
The rain came and went. And came back, and went again. The wind blew the Ninja Turtle’s cap off, and made her run faster than usual as she chased after it. When it got tired of tormenting them, it eased off, only to return later as it teased GodzillaPin’s hair until he resembled a mad scientist who’d been experimenting with electricity. The sightseeing run became something of a game of Runners vs The Elements, and speed, distance, duration and splits were all forgotten as the dastardly situation fully absorbed and slightly amused them.
GodzillaPin even took the opportunity to buy a pastry for breakfast as he sought shelter when the rain got too hard towards the end of the run. If you find it hard to imagine the Rabbit nibbling on pastry as he jogged in the abating rain, come watch him the next time he runs past a water and food station in a race. He has this amazing ability to be completely focused on the food on hand.
On her part, the Ninja Turtle continued ploughing ahead through the rain and wind (they parted ways to let the Turtle sprint as hard as she wanted while GodzillaPin walked/jogged off his douleur). Drenched and freezing, she experienced a sensation of immense freedom, as she splashed straight into giant puddles – for there was little point in avoiding them by that stage – and got herself covered in both rain and mud. Her shoes and socks were completely soaked, her hair hung limp, and she felt a million bucks.
Although not religious, the Ninja Turtle recalls Ecclesiastes 11:4 from the Bible, which goes: If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.
Carpe Diem, my friends. If you don’t do what you want to do right now, you may not get to do it at all.