Arts and Culture, Running

Ode to Running

Feet and metres, laps and miles
A weary shuffle but a happy smile
It matters not how fast or slow
So long as I just GO! GO! GO!
The others may be bullet trains
Shooting past me at speeds insane
Yet some others, cargo freights
Who may be envying my own gait
Cheetahs, gazelles, sloths or snails
Small as mites or big as whales
If you run, you can relate
A mile’s a mile, there’s no debate
Each step we take’s a victory
Of the mind over the body
For nothing in this world shall last
Not even the pain of going fast
So each day brings another chance
To execute our peculiar dance
My friends, today, let us go farther
Just put one foot in front of the other.

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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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Travel

Scenes from the Chinese Garden

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8.30am on a Sunday morning, when half the city is still asleep…

The Ninja Turtle was out plodding before the sun even came up.

The Ninja Turtle was out plodding before the sun even came up.

It's just too damn hot and humid in Singapore to run after 9am, and before 8pm.

Even with plenty of shade, i’s just too damn hot and humid in Singapore to run after 9am, and before 8pm.

Finishing her run at the Chinese Garden in Jurong is such a pleasure...

Finishing her run at the Chinese Garden in Jurong is such a pleasure…

Sculpted plants...

Sculpted plants…

Beautiful landscaping...

Beautiful landscaping…

The glassy and still lake...

The glassy lake…

A hero to look up to (the real Hua Mulan, not that bastardised nonsense by Disney.)

A kickass femme fatale to look up to…

Relatives to visit...

Relatives to visit…

And of course, an important pillar of Chinese culture, gazing upon you benevolently to ensure you start the day with the right thoughts in your head.

And of course, an important pillar of the Chinese culture, gazing upon you benevolently to ensure you start the day with the right thoughts and attitude in your head.

Crossing the bridge and homeward bound (to a breakfast of exotic tropical fruits).

Crossing the bridge and homeward bound (to a breakfast of exotic tropical fruits).

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Running, Travel

Navigating the Health Perils this Festive Season

For this edition of Motivation Monday, the focus is on FUN in living a healthy lifestyle. It’s Monday, and it’s the first of December, which means it’s a great time to set oneself up mentally for the festive month ahead. With no game plan, it’s so easy to succumb to a mince pie here or an eggnog there, the office/club/family/old friends reunions, parties, gatherings and meet-ups start to fill the calendar and fitness takes a backseat, and before we know it, we’re waking up on 1st Jan with yet another hangover, wondering where the month has gone. Things get out of hand when we let go of the steering wheel, but really, all it takes is a little forward planning to ensure December doesn’t have to be an orgy of sloth and gluttony.

1. Some runners will be in various points of their post-marathon recovery period. Others may have already started another training cycle. Wherever you are in your season, it’s a good thing to review your previous month’s performance, and determine if the training plan you’re following is still suitable, or requires a minor tweak/major overhaul. Nothing psyches a runner up for a training run as much as visualising an upcoming race.

2. Fit in a training run (or whatever sport you do). Even if you don’t feel like it, tell yourself “just one mile”. Tell yourself “I’ll run/walk if I have to.” Tell yourself anything to just lace up and get out the door. You’ll feel better after that one mile, and who knows, you may go the proverbial extra mile in the end.

The Ninja Turtle woke up this morning feeling sluggish after yesterday's 14-miler, but decided that 1st of the month falling on a Monday is too precious a chance to not start correctly. Her one mile became four.

The Ninja Turtle woke up this morning feeling sluggish after yesterday’s 14-miler, but decided that 1st of the month falling on a Monday is too precious a chance to not start correctly. Her one mile became four.

3. Create a reward system to keep yourself motivated. This one is a very old trick, but what better time to do it than leading up to Christmas? If you want new compression socks, your 17th pair of shoes for the year, a cute set of earphones, or anything frivolous and slightly unjustifiable in the eyes of your loved ones, buy it for yourself. But work for it!

Create a point system and use stickers as point counters (yes, like in primary school).

Create a point system and use stickers as point counters (yes, like in primary school).

Reward yourself for each training run, and once you get to x points, buy whatever running apparel you desire. It's the best ever present to receive from your biggest fan: YOU.

Reward yourself for each training run, and once you get to x points, buy whatever running apparel you desire. It’s the best ever present to receive from your biggest fan: YOU.

By the way, for runners who have yet to commence a training log, and wish to do so, the above photo is one example of how to design one. There is no need to drop $30 on a pre-designed training journal; the Ninja Turtle paid 0,45€ on that cheap exercise book and jots down what she thinks are relevant details. As you progress as a runner, the things you choose to take note of will evolve over time, but a good place to start is always: distance and time.

4. Feed your body right. No, the Ninja Turtle is not going to start preaching/nagging here. Most of us know what to do, we just need to choose to do it.

Breakfast: starfruit! One of the best things about travelling is eating all this crazy, weird things that you won't normally find back home.

Breakfast: Starfruit! One of the best things about travelling is eating all this crazy, weird things that you won’t normally find back home.

Lunch: A giant alfalfa sprout salad with red rice, cherry tomatoes and yellow capsicum.

Lunch: A giant alfalfa sprout salad with red rice, cherry tomatoes and yellow capsicum.

5. Find a role model. It could be Usain Bolt. It could be your high school literature teacher. It could be Daffy Duck. Whatever. As long as you can draw your inspiration from that person, hold him/her/it as a shining beacon of light through this annual test of your willpower and resolve.

This is the Ninja Turtle's beacon of light: Zheng He. Explorer, nagivator, commander of various fleets, a man with many names, sometimes known as "the dude who brought a giraffe back from his travels".

This is the Ninja Turtle’s beacon of light: Zheng He. Explorer, nagivator, commander of various fleets, a man with many names, sometimes known as “the dude who brought a giraffe back from his travels”. To travel far, to see the incredible, and to do the impossible.

Don’t lose sight of your dreams and goals this festive season. Stay fit, healthy and strong, everyone!

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Arts and Culture, Running, Travel

Scenes from the Torrens River

It’s been a while since this blog featured a Motivation Monday post. It’s not because the Ninja Turtle hasn’t been running, but because it’s so much more fun to talk about other aspects of travelling. That said, she’s had several amazing runs during this trip so far, and today – this morning – after finding herself awake once more before 6am, she’s decided to go on a slightly longer run, and to explore a popular route that she never got the chance to run because she wasn’t really a runner back then, just to see what all the fuss was about.

Adelaide, the city that lives in the Ninja Turtle's heart.

Adelaide, the city that lives in the Ninja Turtle’s heart.

The Torrens is a river that runs through Adelaide; in the city, it sits north of the commercial zone, just behind the University. Back in the day, she used to sit under a tree by the river, eating a sandwich while revising her notes. The first time GodzillaPin and the Ninja Turtle hung out together, they came down to this river, and GodzillaPin proceeded to horrify the Turtle by wondering aloud if he was quick enough to jump on a duck and catch it (he wanted to cook and eat it, apparently).

Anyway… the Kaurna people – that is, the indigenous Australians who lived in South Australia – call it Karrawirra Parri. This means Red Gum Forest River in their language. This morning, the Ninja Turtle ran along the River Torrens Linear Park Trail, and here are some photos taken along the way.

Karrawirra Parri - the red gum forest river.

Karrawirra Parri – the red gum forest river.

Starting point: Adelaide Entertainment Centre.

Starting point: Adelaide Entertainment Centre.

It's a very popular spot for leisure activities like cruising, kayaking, and of course, the paddle boats are a real favourite among children.

It’s a very popular spot for leisure activities like cruising, kayaking, and of course, the paddle boats are a real favourite among children.

She started heading westwards for one simple reason – it was early morning, and on the side of the river she stood, there was no shade, and did not wish to run with the sun in her eyes. So west it was.

Running on a soft dirt path with sunny blue skies and a crispness in the air at 7am = best holiday moment ever.

Running on a soft dirt path with sunny blue skies and a crispness in the air at 7am = best holiday moment ever. Too bad this photo cannot capture the smell of eucalyptus.

Westwards, the trail runs past the local brewery.

Westwards, the trail runs past the local brewery in Hindmarsh.

Getting the annual Brewery Christmas Lights display up and going.

Getting the annual Brewery Christmas Lights display up and going.

Keep heading west and you eventually reach Henley Beach and the waters!

Keep heading west and you eventually reach Henley Beach and the waters!

The Ninja Turtle didn’t particularly want to go to the beach, so she turned around and headed back to the city on the other side of the river.

Would someone care to explain what a horse float is?

Would someone care to explain what a horse float is?

At this early hour of the morning, while the city is still slowly waking up, it was already bustling with life down by the river.

Rule #1 of running in Australia: apply the same quantity of sunscreen on your skin as the amount of water you drink before your workout. Yes. Really. That much.

Rule #1 of running in Australia: apply the same quantity of sunscreen on your skin as the amount of water you drink before your workout. Yes. Really. That much.

East of the city, the richer suburbs can afford to beautify the river trail with art

East of the city, the richer suburbs can afford to beautify the river trail with art

Although very often, they tend to simply blend in to the surroundings rather than stand out.

Although very often, they tend to simply blend in to the surroundings rather than stand out.

At one point the trail dips downwards so runners are at eye-level with the train tracks.

At one point the trail dips downwards so runners are at eye-level with the train tracks.

A rickety footbridge that wobbles so much, the Ninja Turtle was forced to slow to a walk in case she broke it by running across.

A rickety footbridge that wobbles so much, the Ninja Turtle was forced to slow to a walk in case she broke it by running across.

Here are some landscape photos taken during the run. The Ninja Turtle claims copyrights to the following images and may not be used for commercial purposes without her knowledge.

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Look at this world we live in.

Now go out and RUN, and see it, and feel it, and breathe it, and absorb it, and become one with it.

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Running

A New Season Brings New Reasons

As the days get shorter, and the weather becomes cooler, the landscape changes once more. For the Ninja Turtle, this is the perfect time of year – the nippy air is not yet frosty, only pregnant with scents of fresh pine, woodfire, and roast. There are less allergens in the air compared to spring, which makes breathing a whole lot easier.

Even the distinctly autumn smell of fallen leaves is agreeable.

Even the distinctly autumn smell of fallen leaves is agreeable.

It is also when running becomes comfortable once more, as the blazing summer heat subsides to a gentler caress of sunlight; with less heat and humidity, it takes longer to fatigue. Can one run comfortably? Absolutely.

No sun? No problem.

No sun? No problem.

The scenery is beautifully distracting, and long runs become an absolute pleasure, because frankly, you just want to go on and on and on when there is just so much to see.

What's not to love about your same old running route looking very different, as the leaves treat you to a spectacular fireworks of colours?

What’s not to love about your same old running route looking very different, as the leaves treat you to a spectacular fireworks of colours?

Coming home post-run to a mug of hot chocolate is the best thing in the world.

What is your favourite season for running?

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