Arts and Culture, Food, Running, Stories, Travel

The ALESIA Trail

A long time ago, when the Roman civilization was flourishing and France was still known as Celtic Gallia (Gaul), there lived a chap who dared defy Julius Caesar. He was known as Vercingetorix, and you may have come across his name, which is strewn liberally all through pop culture, most notably in the Asterix comic book series or film. Wikipedia says his name meant Great Warrior King, and  as a chieftain of the Arverni tribe, he attempted to unite the Gauls to rebel against the Roman legions. When Caesar built not one, but two fortifications to cut off both the city, as well as the Gallic allies who came as relief, the Gauls lost the Battle of Alesia and the Roman Empire was created. Vercingetorix was held captive, brought back to Rome, marched the streets and finally executed.

A statue of Vercingetorix in Alise-Sainte-Reine, commissioned by Napoleon III.

A statue of Vercingetorix in Alise-Sainte-Reine, commissioned by Napoleon III.

It’s a sorry end, but the man went down as a hero. So widely celebrated is this part of Gallo-Roman/French history, that the running community has decided to celebrate it with the Alesia Trail, a trail race that takes runners through the forests and villages of Burgundy, in the ancient battle site of the Battle of Alesia (52BC). It offered four distances – 16km, 25km, 34km and 51km. The Ninja Turtle won her bib on RunningHeroes, which included the post-race meal, and she was absolutely stoked.

After fourteen races since the end of February 2015, this was to be the Ninja Turtle’s fifteenth and last race of the year, and as luck would have it, a final hurrah to summer.

The duo rolled into town a day in advance and took a moment to enjoy the landscape of the Burgundy countryside during the bib collection. Alise-Sainte-Reine sits atop a huge hill, and the view was magnificent, but it did mean that the race will finish with a climb back uphill, and what a mother of a hill it was.

The race commences and finishes at the statue of Vercingetorix, which sits atop a huge hill.

The race commences and finishes at the statue of Vercingetorix, which sits atop a huge hill.

GodzillaPin decided to calm the Turtle’s anxiety by taking her sightseeing, so they drove to Flavigny-sur-Ozerain, where their B&B accommodation was, and popped by the lolly factory and the medieval crypt. By the time they checked into their B&B, the Ninja Turtle was tired enough to sleep. They were greeted by their host, who was very friendly, but when she inquired who was running the race and what distance, the Ninja Turtle was met with a rather impressed and skeptical look.

But first, a pre-race meal at the Cheval Blanc.

The next morning, the duo woke up bright and early, and their host served up a lovely breakfast of fresh fruit salad, yogurt, breads and spreads. The Ninja Turtle also got a whole flask of coffee to herself, which came to 4 cups! They were joined by the other two guests in the B&B, a couple from Paris who were also in town for the race. The husband was running the 16km, and the same look of disbelief crossed their faces when GodzillaPin announced proudly that the Turtle was doing the 34km.

Some fun facts from the organisers:

1600 runners across the four distances. 26% of all runners were women, and 74% men. 15% (240 runners) were doing the 34km distance, and the average age of all runners was 41. There were to be 160 volunteers, which meant 1 volunteer to 10 runners. The runners will run a combined distance of 41138km in 8 hours!

A map of the 34.2km route.

A map of the 34.2km route, with a climb of 1200m (3937ft) and a total elevation profile of 2393m (7851ft).

While driving to the starting line, the Ninja Turtle decided to err on the side of over-dressing, with the option to remove layers, than to risk freezing through the race. Although the forecast was a nice sunny day, it was 9°C (48°F) at the starting line with cold winds. She made it to the starting line with barely a few minutes to spare. The duo hadn’t counted on a traffic jam to happen, but with the road closures on narrow streets, it was inevitable. GodzillaPin dropped the Turtle off, and she hiked uphill to the starting line. The queue for the toilets were too long, so she found a bush close by. GodzillaPin joined her a few short minutes later for a good luck kiss, and off the runners went.

Ready... steady... GO! (The Ninja Turtle in white cap, lagging close to the back of the pack once more.)

9am flag-off for the 34km race. Ready… steady… GO! (The Ninja Turtle in white cap, lagging close to the back of the pack once more.)

After a long and hard season that culmulated in a half marathon PR just two weeks ago, the Ninja Turtle had just one simple objective: to simply finish the race and enjoy herself while at it. There are some runners out there who snub this absolute lack of competitive spirit; perhaps you believe that if one ain’t pushing hard, there’s no difference from doing just a training run, so why pay the money to join a race? Well, that may be the case for road races, but as far as the Turtle is concerned, there is no way her training would take her through the forests and hills of ancient battlefields, and she runs her trail races as experiences to be lived. Besides the faster one runs, the sooner the experience is over, which makes it terrible value for money. That’s not to say the Turtle doesn’t make an effort, she still runs in these events, because everyone else is doing it and it’s a great sensation to be flying through the landscape. Also, this race had 2 time limit checkpoints.

Landscape like this.

Landscapes like this. Lovely Charolais cows soaking in the sun, staring at the nutters running by.

The race had four water stations,three of which offered up food, and one of them with a time-check. The first of which these was in Flavigny-sur-Ozerain, where GodzillaPin waited to capture some photos of the Turtle.

The villages offered up a picturesque change from the countryside and the forest landscapes.

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It was truly a fantastic experience, as most of the race took the runners along soft forest soil, which was an absolute pleasure compared to some of her previous races. That said, the Ninja Turtle does not wish to downplay the difficulty of the race, as there were moments where runners still had to deal with sharp rocks, and at two points, the course became very technical, and runners were obliged to use cords to descend and to climb up the impossibly steep trail. To get an idea of what the Ninja Turtle lived, one of the participants from the previous edition made a video of the race.

The Ninja Turtle passed the mid-point time check and clocked in at 2h 13m 29s, ranking 164 overall. By the time she’d crossed the finish line, she’d finished the race in 4h 11m 3s, and moved up to 134 of 211 finishers. It was a pleasant surprise too, to discover that she ranked 10th among the women (29 finished), and 4th in her age group category (11 finished). Perhaps they’re not terribly impressive results to some, given the size of the competition, and frankly, the Turtle didn’t care. She was simply glad to receive some post-race TLC from a couple of amazing volunteer physiotherapists. She also enjoyed the chance to socialise with some of the other runners (they saw Asterix, a Roman soldier, and here the Turtle poses with Getafix), and quite possibly the reincarnation of Vercingetorix himself! Guilhem had run the race twice before, and this hardcore young man is the face of Alesia Trail. That’s him on the poster! He also did spectacularly well, coming in 10th overall in the 51km. And he’s only 22…

Overall, it’s been a great race season, filled with extreme experiences, new PRs, personal growth and above all, the chance to celebrate the love of running.

The Turtle has no doubt that 2016 will bring more racing fun and adventure, but for the moment, she is ready to hang up her running shoes for a few weeks, for she has earned a much deserved rest.

The happy end to a chapter.

The happy end to a chapter.

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Running, Travel

40th Edition of Les Crêtes Vosgiennes

Hi all, apologies for the spell of silence since the last update, the Ninja Turtle hasn’t fall off the side of a cliff (yet) so she’s really got no excuse for not updating, but the weather here has been swinging between extremes – hot and sunny days punctuated with periods of overcast and cold, so the Ninja Turtle has been trying to make the most of the warm weather while it lasts. Unlike most people, she prefers the heat to the cold, and while she may look foolish in shorts, at least she’s not battling to open her mid-run fuel with frozen fingers despite 2 pairs of gloves.

Last weekend, the duo took another road trip, this time for a race in the Vosges. Thankfully, it was much closer to home than the Alps; there is little worse than being cramped in a car for hours after, or for that matter, even before a trail race. Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, Les Crêtes Vosgiennes is a well-established trail race in Alsace that offered up 2 distances, 13km and 33km. The longer race commenced at Markstein, taking runners over 13 peaks (or crests), sharing the last 13km with the shorter race, and finishing at Lac Blanc. There were water stops every 5km, and except the first one, all the others also offered up fresh and dried fruits, cheese and sausages, biscuits and gingerbread. Just like at the Trail des Passerelles, the weather promised to be fine – only if you finished by a certain time.

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The duo stayed in a cute little bed and breakfast, where the owner kindly prepared the Turtle a super-early breakfast of coffee, pastries, cheese and jam, which the Turtle demolished because #1. nothing like coffee to get pre-race bowels moving, and #2.from previous experience, racing above 1000m above sea level makes the Turtle quite ill so there is no guarantee she’d be able to stomach any mid-race fuel. GodzillaPin drove the Turtle to Lac Blanc, where shuttle buses waited to take runners to the starting lines at Markstein or Schlucht.

Now, it could have been the three cups of coffee, or it could have been the winding mountain roads, but the ride felt interminable, and the Ninja Turtle was feeling rather anxious. In the back of her mind, she couldn’t help asking herself “Are we there yet? How much farther till we arrive? I have to run this whole way back? It’s very far… can I really run this far? It feels very far. Oh my God please don’t let me DNF again…”

To calm herself down, she turned to the runner next to her and started blabbing.

NT: Do you know how many runners are doing the 33km?
Fellow runner: No idea, but quite a lot. It’s the 40th edition so it’s pretty big.
NT: Have you done this race before?
Fellow runner: Yes, in 2010, and it was rainy but we’ve got good weather today. It’s going to be lovely, you’ll enjoy it.
NT: But I think they say it’s going to rain at some stage this afternoon?
Fellow runner: Well, if you run fast enough, it won’t be a problem now, will it?
NT: How technical is the trail?
Fellow runner: It’s pretty tough, but doable. You know, back in the day, it started at Lac Blanc and finished in Markstein.
NT: Why did they reverse the direction of the race?
Fellow runner: To make it harder.

Not exactly reassuring, but at least it killed time and soon enough, they arrived in Markstein.

The competition was, for want of a better word, competitive, at this race. Laugh all you want but the Ninja Turtle found herself swept along in the enormous crowd and after the first kilometre, found herself panting despite a descent. She had to swallow her pride and let dozens of other runners overtake her as she found her rightful place in the line.

First thing the Ninja Turtle noticed was the difference in landscape. A few short months ago, she was in the area skiing at La Bresse; gone was the snow and in its place, tall grass and rocky, pebble-strewn paths. And mountain ranges are all magnificent in their own special way – the views while running on the Alps were truly spectacular, but the pine forests of the Vosges are no less impressive.

The other thing was the crowds – volunteers at the water stations and supporters en route. While us runners may be grimacing in pain, don’t for a minute believe that you are invisible to us. We may not respond to your words of encouragement, but every one of them is very much appreciated. Being one of the few (or sometimes only) Asian runner in a mostly homogenous competing field, she finds herself in the rather awkward position of drawing more attention than she’s comfortable with.

There are mutually embarrassing moments when she runs with a group and supporters would be shouting encouragements to each individual but as soon as they see her and they just clam up – the Ninja Turtle is just going to assume that they assume she doesn’t understand French, because the alternative explanation is unthinkably racist and if it truly is the case, she’d rather not know. But then there are also some lovely moments when supporters see her, and cheer her on as they would any other runner. At this race, the Ninja Turtle got a lot more encouragement than usual, which only leads to the conclusion that Alsaciens/Alsaciennes are incredibly friendly. Also, they have the cutest accent (c’est bien comes out sounding like “say bee-an” rather than “say bee-uhn”).

A few quick lessons the Ninja Turtle’s learnt from this race:

  1. A mile is a mile is a mile, but racing from point-to-point feels psychologically harder for the Ninja Turtle rather than doing a round-trip.
  2. She doesn’t like mounting several small peaks, preferring do a couple of big climbs and a couple of big descends. This race had an elevation gain and loss of about 2000m (compared to 3500m at her previous race) and yet the constant uphills and downhills felt tougher.
  3. An uphill climb on soft forest soil is ten times easier than flat ground studded with irregularly-shaped rocks where runners have to leap over said rocks or try to balance precariously on them while maintaining a “running” pace.
  4. An uphill climb on any terrain is a million times more preferable to a cliff descent that involves rolling pebbles over sandy and unstable ground.
  5. Don’t put Ventolin or mobile phone in left chest pocket of hydration bag, it’s got a giant hole in it.
  6. If said hydration bag weighs 1.6kg after crossing the finish line, it’s got too much crap in it. (Most of the weight is water, and some just-in-case-I-get-lost-or-fall-down-a-cliff-and-need-to-wait-for-help food which NEVER gets around to being eaten.)
  7. Don’t get cocky. Three 30+km trail races in 5 weekends is naturally going to take a physical toll, and just because the last trail race yielded a better-than-expected result doesn’t mean we’re now in pro territory. Since when did timing mean anything in a trail race for this stop-to-take-some-photos runner?

Results:

Time: 4 hours 12 mins 08 secs
Ranking: 653/940 (Overall), 59/129 (Women) 33/63 (Senior Femmes)

She also beat the rain clouds to Lac Blanc by about an hour, although by the time GodzillaPin arrived (he got lost biking in the mountains, which was bound to happen sooner or later since he never has a map) the thermometer dropped to 14 degrees Celsius and fat droplets of cold rain pelted upon a shivering Ninja Turtle. GodzillaPin bought her a giant sausage sandwich and French fries with mayo and ketchup, so all was forgiven.

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Running, Travel

Lessons from a DNF Race

On 2 May 2015, the Ninja Turtle attempted her first ultramarathon trail. The following video tells the story.

After a week of grieving and moping, the Ninja Turtle exhausted her emotional response to the disappointing outcome, pulled herself together, and made that video.

Six months of preparation, discipline and sacrifice; hundreds of euros spent on the trip, and her race was truncated by bad weather. She has cried, she has sulked, she has mulled over it. She has cursed the gods, her fate, and the ill-aligned stars. She has rehashed the event in her mind over and over, trying to draw some lesson from it – something, anything, to pinpoint her errors, her faults, her weaknesses. Something to blame, and to avoid repeating the next time.

The thing is, there’s probably none. She has followed her training plan to the T (save for a week after her accident of falling onto concrete from a loft 2.5m high), fighting against incredible pain on several occasions. She’d run in the heat of the Australian summer, the humidity of Singapore and the frigid winter in Europe.

She’d cut back on alcohol, modified her diet to become fat-adapted, sorely missing out on beef hor fun, curry puffs, Hokkien mee, sushi rolls… (it’s a list too heartbreakingly long to continue so she’ll stop there).

She’d trained in the prescribed heart rate zones. She’d done the mileage she had to do, and for a while, she celebrated PRs for her 10K, 10 miles and marathon distances all in the same racing season. It seemed as if all the fatigue, sleeplessness and ravenous hunger were worth it, promising a celebratory finish to an amazing race season.

The DNF was thus an incredibly bitter pill to swallow. The Ninja Turtle’s boss, an ultramarathoner himself, told her there are many reasons for DNFs, and indeed, the weather is one that’s truly beyond the scope of runners’ control. She’d trained well, toed the line in peak condition (no injuries, having tapered brilliantly), and stuck to all racing conventions: nothing new on race day, stay hydrated, poop before running, smile for the cameras, enjoy the experience and make friends with fellow trail runners.

She did all that and still she DNFed.

After 7 hours in the relentless rain, having covered 49.4km and about 1000m+ elevation according to her GPS, her clothes and shoes were soaked through, and she’d lost her gloves. Despite all the noodle soup, sandwiches, coffee, cake, tea, chocolate and bananas she’d eaten, her temperature dropped. With the winds picking up in the darkness of the night, the rain still pouring and the temperatures dropping even further, she suffered her worst defeat ever when a gust of wind blew just as she turned around a corner, making her feel so ill, like she’d been violently punched in the guts, and her knees buckled.

Thankfully, GodzillaPin was there to witness it all. He’d come to St Julien du Sault to meet the Turtle for a moral boost, and was in fact, holding her hand and walk/jogging alongside her the very moment she’d caved, remarking only 2 seconds before that how icy cold her hand was.

The volunteers arrived, and shortly after, the medics whisked her into a heated ambulance where her pulse and breathing were measured. She hadn’t stopped shivering, and was begin to feel slightly drowsy and a little confused. Her bib was removed and she was declared out of the race, and brought back to Sens in the vehicle, with GodzillaPin following behind in his car.

The heartbreak came slowly, in waves. That night itself, the Ninja Turtle was simply numb with cold and the only thought she had in mind was: DNF. Sitting in the hot bath back at the hotel, having washed away the mud, she could only console herself with the thought that at least she was not passed out in the forest between St Julien du Sault and Villeneuve-sur-Yonne, in the rain, in the middle of the night.

Over the following two days, the physical ache of running almost 50km of muddy trails was frequently matched by the emotional devastation of failing to finish. The Ninja Turtle felt betrayed by both the inclement weather, and a constitution too weak to handle the rough elements. Mentally, she was certain she would have made the 85km, but physically, despite the 1000 miles she’d logged on the hills of Moselle, in the valleys of Meuse, along the coasts of Sydney and on the sandy beaches, in gorges and ravines of South Australia, along the highways of Frankfurt and Marseille, through the villages on the outskirts of Paris and on the country roads of Lorraine, the canal networks of Singapore and Metz, morning, noon and night, she was still unable to support the cold rain in wet clothes and shoes. She had found her limit.

So that’s it. Life isn’t fair; if it had been sunny like last year, no doubt she wouldn’t have cracked, but there is no point speculating. She couldn’t possibly have trained for these conditions, so she’s not sure she can regret anything. That’s the lesson out of this race – she’s given her 100% and she has failed through no real fault of her own. Sometimes, we cannot seek to blame anything or anyone, but rather, we must simply accept how things are, learn to let go, and move on.

Above all, her spirit has not been beaten by this experience, and she shall rise from the ashes to try and try again. One day, the stars will align in her favour and she shall be ready to claim the victory of daring to chase a dream.

In the meantime, all that’s left to do is to turn away from her grief, and properly thank every single person who has supported her on this remarkable journey with their faith, confidence, and words of encouragement when the Ninja Turtle needed them most. Rod Lowe, Baby Turtle, Sonic the Hedgehog, Krazy Cow, Yellow Jersey, and above all, GodzillaPin.

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Running

Race #1 of the season: Course des 3 côtes, Nouilly

Before they proceed to the main part of this post, the Ninja Turtle and GodzillaPin would like to wish their readers Happy Chinese New Year! May the year of the Goat/Sheep bring you all happiness, prosperity, success, abundance, wealth, joy, good grades at school, great progress at work, etc etc etc. ~fin preamble~ (The Ninja Turtle really missed home this year for CNY – it was freezing cold, foggy and there are so little Chinese people in Metz, the only celebrations were discounts for exotic food in her supermarket, and after a particularly cold morning run, she came home to no water in the mains so she couldn’t shower for hours; the year can only get better from there, right? Right?)

After months of terribly unsexy training (i.e. too many miles, not enough fast), the Ninja Turtle found herself at the starting line of her first race. Granted, 22 February is a bit early for spring race, since spring for the French is still another month away, but she figured it wouldn’t hurt to start tuning up for the big one. It’s her cut-back week so her LSD for today was only 10 miles, which was exactly the distance of the race, hooray!

As the name says, the Course des 3 côtes is a race featuring three hills in a little village called Nouilly. Total elevation: 360m (1188 feet).

Warming up (under the sun and on the treadmill!)

Warming up (under the sun and on the treadmill!)

As is evident in the photo, the runners were blessed with fabulous weather for the race. At 3 degrees Celsius, it was coldish, but the wind speed was a reasonable 15kph, and under the sun, with 3 layers of clothes, it was almost tropical!

Toeing the starting line with a single digit bib number! This is the closest the Ninja Turtle will ever get to pretending she is a pro.

Toeing the starting line with a single digit bib number! This is the closest the Ninja Turtle will ever get to pretending she is an elite runner. (In small village races, the numbers are assigned at point of registration, so it simply meant she was fast to put her name on the list.)

There were 2 categories: 9.5km and 16km. With 400+ runners, the organisers didn't bother with corrals; the runners in the two categories were all mixed up too. The Ninja Turtle was still daydreaming when the MC said "GO!", and was swept off in a sea of eager runners.

There were 2 categories: 9.5km and 16km. With 400+ runners, the organisers didn’t bother with corrals; the runners in the two categories were all mixed up too. The Ninja Turtle was still daydreaming when the MC said “GO!”, and was swept off in a sea of eager runners.

It’s been months since the Ninja Turtle last raced, and she’s forgotten what it felt like to run with a pack. Despite the many solitary months and miles of shuffling to her own pace, the urge to keep up is still strong, and she made the cardinal mistake of going off faster than planned. Yet, she’s also become very in tune with her own rhythm, so after the first 2km, she fell back to a comfortable pace. If there was one single observation she’s made throughout the whole race, it is this: not only is she no longer afraid of hills, she’s actually quite good at tackling them!

Recall, this was a race of 3 hills, and it was at each and every one of these buggers where she overtook at least 10 runners each time. While others were wheezing hard, she cruised by, upwards and onwards, very comfortably. After all, her goal was not to win, nor even to place a position in this race – she’s still recovering from last Sunday’s 38.5km, and she’s got 8 miles lined up for tomorrow. So, it was a cruise-y, breezy run.

And yet, look at her splits!

And yet, look at her splits! (Speed is in kph.)

After months of training at a maximum speed of ~6mph (9.6kph), she’s pretty darn pleased with this outcome! She’s really getting the hang of saving up for the final kick. Nothing like the look of shock on the faces of the men who’d passed her before, being “chicked” in the final couple of kilometres. Her official time was 1h 28m 02s for the 10 miles (16K), which is definitely a new PB for her.

Racing to the finish line. The Turtle came across this gentleman, who was walking 800m from the finish line! She slowed down to chat and to give him some encouragement. When he got his second wind, he picked up his pace, and gave her a good run for her money.

Racing to the finish line. The Turtle came across this gentleman, who was walking 800m from the finish line! She slowed down to chat and to give him some encouragement. When he got his second wind, he picked up his pace, and gave her a good run for her money.

All in all, it was a happy start to the season. The Ninja Turtle keeps saying to herself that this is but a small race, and step number one leading up to her big race later in spring. But she’d be lying if she didn’t admit she really enjoyed the run, and she’s enjoying the results even more!

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Running, Travel

Running with a Pro

The Ninja Turtle is still basking in the afterglow of yesterday’s amazing run at Singapore’s MacRitchie Reservoir.

For the Ninja Turtle, MacRitchie used to be synonymous with the torturous "cross-country run" back in high school. Believe it or not, she used to hate it.

For the Ninja Turtle, MacRitchie used to be synonymous with the torturous “cross-country run” back in high school. Believe it or not, she used to hate it.

Since then, it appears that the place has undergone some upgrades, and is now a full-facilities running destination.

Since then, it appears that the place has undergone some upgrades, and is now a full-facilities running destination.

It's even got a sheltered cafeteria area for post-run meals!

It’s even got a sheltered cafeteria area for post-run meals!

Once she was done snooping around, it was time to hit the road.

Thankfully, MacRitchie is full of shade, because running in Singapore at 2pm without trees could possibly kill you.

Thankfully, MacRitchie is full of shade, because running in Singapore at 2pm without trees could possibly kill you.

And oh, how she has missed running on the trails!

And oh, how she has missed running on the trails!

A little rustling in the undergrowth revealed... a dinosaur! No but seriously,how often do you get to see a dragon mid-run?

A little rustling in the undergrowth revealed… a dinosaur! No but seriously,how often do you get to see a dragon mid-run?

Every once in a while, life throws you a spectacular opportunity that seems too good to be true. This was the case for the Ninja Turtle, who got to run with The Road Runner. The Road Runner is officially the Ninja Turtle’s new hero. Not only is the Road Runner an ultramarathon runner, he has also placed 12th in an IronMan triathlon! Swimmer, cyclist and runner, rolled in one!

What is it like to run with a multi-talented sportsperson? Well, it’s just as well that the Ninja Turtle didn’t know what she was signing up for before she actually showed up, otherwise she might have just crapped her pants. Yet, at no point did the Road Runner make the Ninja Turtle feel uncomfortable, and he would check in every few kilometres just to make sure she was feeling OK. Of course, since they were talking nonstop during the run, the Road Runner was clearly not cracking the whip on the Ninja Turtle. When she started getting winded, they simply slowed the pace and of course, walked a couple of the steeper stretches of the uphills. Before they both knew it, they were back to the starting point, and the run was over.

The Ninja Turtle ran this circuit with a pro.

The Ninja Turtle ran this circuit with a pro. Clearly, they were going at her pace, not his.

It was as much a humbling experience as it was an inspiring one. While others may be weekend warriors with a penchant for collecting race medals as Facebook bragging rights, this guy actually truly loves his sport. Through the course of their conversation, the Ninja Turtle learnt that the Road Runner is in fact, a proud father of two young children, who had recently quit a well-paying job the corporate world to pursue his dream of developing the running scene in Singapore. To truly appreciate the significance of this move, one must understand that Singapore is a country in which cash is king, and money talks the loudest. It is, after all, a country where 17.1% of the population are millionaires.

And yet, the Road Runner has very courageously decided to turn his attention to developing not one, but two websites for runners. He’s only made the move back in June, so the websites are still in their infancy, but they are slowly and surely growing.

Just Run Lah! is the one-stop running website specifically for Singaporeans, with blogs, articles, competitions, a forum, and race listings that include races from around the region.

Ministry of Run is global, with articles and highlights from all around the world, and an international race database. Membership is free, and as the website continues to grow, users can access some pretty cool features:

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To read the Ninja Turtle’s contributions to Just Run Lah! simply click here.

Thank you, Road Runner, for being an amazing role model to this aspiring athlete!

Thank you, Road Runner, for being an amazing role model to this aspiring athlete!

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Arts and Culture, Running

This Week In Photos

Since Baby Turtle’s return from Hua Hin, Thailand a week ago, the Ninja Turtle has been spending a fair amount of time playing catch-up-over-Skype with her little sister. This makes for brilliant personal bonding, but lousy blogging material. As such, the following photos shall do some of the talking…

8 Mai a.k.a Victory Day celebrations in France, where American GIs (despite lack of actual proof, we highly suspect they are not really Americans, which kind of spoils the fun) in trucks roll through little French villages declaring liberation.

8 Mai a.k.a Victory Day celebrations in France, where American GIs (despite lack of actual proof, we highly suspect they are not really Americans, which kind of spoils the fun) in trucks roll through little French villages declaring liberation.

Meal of the week - an orange and fennel salad topped with sesame and walnut oil

Meal of the week – an orange and fennel salad topped with sesame and walnut oil

GodzillaPin's surprise gift to the Ninja Turtle, who has a serious tin box habit

GodzillaPin’s surprise gift to the Ninja Turtle, who has a serious tin box habit

Yet another producers' market the duo have been visiting; can one ever have enough of artisanal bread, cheese, honey, biscuits and wine?

Yet another producers’ market the duo have been visiting; can one ever have enough of artisanal bread, cheese, honey, biscuits and wine? (There is only one correct answer to this question.)

The Ninja Turtle was VERY bummed with the Rock 'N' Roll Edinburgh Half Marathon was cancelled, especially AFTER she had booked her flights and accommodation, which came to an obscene amount of tourism $$ for naught. However, the organisers have sent this through the mail, which brought very little consolation but at least it's pretty to look at.

The Ninja Turtle was VERY bummed when the Rock ‘N’ Roll Edinburgh Half Marathon was cancelled, especially AFTER she had booked her flights and accommodation, which came to an obscene amount of tourism $$ for naught. However, the organisers have sent this through the mail, which brought very little consolation because what’s a medal without a race? At least it’s pretty to look at.

Since it's almost impossible to find English books in Metz, mail order books = happiness. The Ninja Turtle bought one for each race of the season as rewards.

Since it’s almost impossible to find English books in Metz, mail order books = happiness. The Ninja Turtle bought one for each race of the season as rewards.

The best for last: a new running route discovered! Can't wait to explore this area on the next scheduled long run.

The best for last: a new running route discovered! Can’t wait to explore this beautiful area on the next scheduled long run.

To wrap up, here’s a wonderful link the Ninja Turtle’s discovered: http://www.runsmartproject.com/calculator/. It works out what your pace is “in an ideal world with perfect conditions”. Of course, training doesn’t occur in a vacuum (or else you would unquestionably die), but it’s nice to hypothetically isolate certain variables and see how your performance is consequently affected. When one has been running against headwinds of 25mph (40kph) like the Ninja Turtle, those watering eyes are less the result of the wind and more because the resulting average splits look unbearably awful…

Have a fabulous weekend!

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Arts and Culture, Food, Running, Travel

Nice photos

Here is a summary of the weekend’s highlights in photos.

An unplanned visit to the Palais Lascaris, which houses a beautiful collection of string and keyboard instruments.

An unplanned visit to the Palais Lascaris, which houses a beautiful collection of string and keyboard instruments.

Another unplanned visit to the Villa Masséna, designed by Tersling and built in 1898 when Victor Masséna saw the Villa Rothschild in Cannes and decided he wanted something similar for himself.

Another unplanned visit to the Villa Masséna, designed by Tersling and built in 1898 when Victor Masséna saw the Villa Rothschild in Cannes and decided he wanted something similar for himself.

The villa was sold to the city by his son and converted into a museum. It houses a collection of the history of Nice, including old posters for Carnaval, which celebrates it's 130th anniversary this year.

The villa was sold to the city by his son and converted into a museum. It houses a collection of the history of Nice, including old posters for Carnaval, which celebrates it’s 130th anniversary this year.

The 2014 Carnaval King float.

And without further ado, presenting the 2014 Carnaval King float.

The 2014 Carnaval Queen float.

The 2014 Carnaval Queen float.

The theme for 2014 is Roi de la Gastronomie.

The theme for 2014 is Roi de la Gastronomie.

Celebrating the local cuisine.

Celebrating the local Nissarde cuisine.

As well as international gastronomy.

As well as international gastronomy.

Run run run as fast as you can...

Run run run as fast as you can… it’s revenge of the giant Gingerbread Man

GodzillaPin and the Ninja Turtle scored free entry into the parade by dressing up, and had lots of requests from other revelers to have photos taken together.

GodzillaPin and the Ninja Turtle scored free entry into the parade by dressing up, and had lots of requests from other revelers to have photos taken together.

The photos do little justice to capture the intense energy of the parade. It was a huge party.

The photos do little justice to capture the intense energy of the parade. It was a huge party.

Then as usual, GodzillaPin got distracted by food...

Then as usual, GodzillaPin got distracted by food…

Speaking of food... the Niçoise salad.

Speaking of food… the Niçoise salad.

And the Daube, which is not so different to a Boeuf Bourguignon.

Want vegetables in your dessert? Try a Tourte de Blette!

Want vegetables in your dessert? Try a Tourte de Blette!

Despite a big party on Saturday night, the Turtle was up bright and early on Sunday morning.

Despite a big party on Saturday night, the Ninja Turtle was up bright and early on Sunday morning. She had a wardrobe identity crisis and decided she’d be Tigger for the day.

It was the 10 miles Rock and Roll Nice Carnaval 2014. Elvis Presley was there. The Beatles were there. And a man dressed in a coat actually played the trumpet while running the 16km. Yes, at the same time.

It was the 10 miles Rock and Roll Nice Carnaval 2014. Elvis Presley was there. The Beatles were there. Pink Panther, Bugs Bunny, Superman and Tweety Bird were there. And a man dressed in a coat actually played the trumpet while running the 16km. Yes, at the same time.

All's well that ends well. GodzillaPin (who didn't run) was waiting for her at the end with cold beer and a plate of crispy, hot, oily, salty, delicious socca. Made of chickpea flour, thin as a crêpe and cooked in a woodfire oven, socca is the ultimate Nissarde dish.

All’s well that ends well. GodzillaPin (who didn’t run) was waiting for her at the end with cold beer and a plate of crispy, hot, oily, salty, delicious socca. Made of chickpea flour, thin as a crêpe and cooked in a woodfire oven, socca is the ultimate Nissarde dish.

They came, they partied, they ate, and the medal’s in the bag. The duo return to Metz tomorrow, most unwillingly. It’s been a fantastic adventure in Nice!

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