Going to the Flamenco Festival in Rome

For about three months now, I’ve been going for Flamenco classes and have been enjoying every moment. It’s such a beautiful form of art – the passion, the grace and the sensuality. I can’t believe that I’ve discovered this love at such a late stage in life, but better later than never, right?

rinaz.net Flamenco

Coincidentally this month, Parco della Musica has organised the Flamenco Festival and I’ve managed to catch 3 of the 4 acts.

rinaz.net Festival di danza spagnola e flamenco Roma

The first one was Nova Galega de Danza which I got due to a mix up – mistakenly thinking that the tickets that I bought online was for that evening, last Friday, but it turned out to be for Monday instead. I was stunned, but not wanting to waste the trip, I another pair of tickets anyway and had a look.

“Son” was an interesting interpretation of the Spanish dance with a fusion of Galician and Contemporary dance. Because it was a last minute thing, I didn’t managed to do any research and when it started, for the first 15 minutes or so, I was confused because it appeared to be completely modern dance … I didn’t see any Flamenco dancing at all. But at length, the high energy appeared and it was fascinating to watch as the men poised and did their footwork.

It wasn’t what I expected, but I enjoyed myself in the end.

On Monday, we watched a musical group, lead by Alfonso Aroca – who instead of playing the guitar, uses the piano for his rendition of the Flamenco.  So there was the pianist, a guitarist, two percussionists, a singer and a dancer. It was unique. In the end, the ensemble sounded more like jazz – even the flamenco dancer, I feel did his own interpretation of a flamenco dance with a jazz feel.

Here is a segment of what I watched.

Yesterday, we managed to catch the final act with Manuel Linan, which in my opinion was the magnum opus of the entire festival. Which explained why it was completely sold out by the time we arrived at the auditorium and we were lucky to get our seats because of some last minute cancellations.

Manuel Linan does traditional flamenco but the act that we watched yesterday had a twist as the title of the act was “Reversible”. Which explains why he wore a bata de cola and a shawl  and danced the female roles while the female player did vice versa.

The entire performance was a feast for the eyes and I was enthralled from the beginning to the end. It wasn’t hard to understand why it was a full house last evening. It was completely mesmerising and the entire ensemble was perfect. I loved the music, I loved the dance, I loved the singing.

I don’t believe that Manuel Linan wanted to be a female while dancing, the way he moves, even in the skirt and the shawl was still very masculine. But his intention was probably to show that even men (and women) can do each other’s roles even in something as traditional as Flamenco.

I had an amazing time these past days and I feel very cultured. Flamenco is probably going to drain me out of my funds, nevertheless, I feel very rich inside. :p


Hi everyone!

It’s been a while since I’ve done an update post so here’s one. We’re almost close to June, which means that in about a week’s time, public schools will be closed in Italy and I’ll be freer for some mischief 😀

Unfortunately temperatures has been quite high these days, and the Roman sun is really harsh and brutal on the skin that I have to moisturise every few hours just to relieve that horrible itchy feeling.

rinaz.net Toons

Sometimes it feels like I’m in an Outer Limits series – remember the one where a young student listens to a tape and eventually gets skin deformities.

(I just realised that the younger sister is Kirsten Dunst)

In any case, we’ve now reached Ramadan, the fasting month. I guess it’s starting to get easier now compared to some years back. Although waking up at 3 am and then abstaining from any consumption of food and water till about 8.35 pm is still challenging nevertheless.

rinaz.net sunrise

As I don’t want to overly exert myself, last Thursday was my last day of cross training. And can you believe it? It has been 8 months that I’ve been training. At the end of every session I feel half dead, but amazingly I do enjoy them and it’s nice to have such a friendly group of mates.

rinaz.net Iron Dragon

While I don’t see any noticeable weight coming off, there are some things that I am able to do now that I wasn’t able to do 8 months ago – most noticeably, I can now jump up to the bar and kip myself up a little bit. I still can’t do a full pull up, but it’s a start.

rinaz.net Iron Dragon

Now that Ramadan is here, it’s best for me to stop because I guzzle a lot of water when I exercise. As much as I’d like to continue, I’d risk dehydration. But it’s a shame though, to have 8 months of work to probably be gone in a month.


(Yeah, you wish Marina!)

I haven’t been running much since doing the marathon. Nevertheless, I’m considering to participate in a running event when I’m in Singapore.

Have you heard of the Durian run? You run with a whole durian and at the end of the race you get to eat that AND drink a whole coconut. It sounds amusing to me but of course, one has to be careful as this fruit is thorny. But while I’m interested, I’m not in Singapore at that date unfortunately.

rinaz.net Toon

In any case, there are quite a number of activities that I’m looking forward to  –  like seeing the Yayoi Kusama’s display at the art museum, and then going to an Ingress anomaly in Malaysia with my brother. Reconnecting with friends and family. So that’ll be fun. If there are anyone who wants to go with me, just let me know 🙂

And of course eat all the food in Singapore! I’ll warrant you that I’m going to fill my luggage with all the packed food I can fit in!

Should I join the Spartan Race?

I’ve been trying to psyche myself up to sign up for the Spartan race for a while now. It’s basically a type of race where you complete various circuits. The length varies from roughly 6 km, 13 km and 21 km.

It’s not the distance which scares me, but the obstacles in between. You have to climb things, carry things, jump over things and all sorts of … things.

rinaz.net Toons

The good thing is that I’ve been training a little bit, but the bad thing is that, after each session, I’d usually feel like the weakest person in the neighbourhood.

In my training group, I see a number of people finishing challenges faster than me, lifting heavier weights than me … it looks like it’s such breeze for them. But I shouldn’t be too hard on myself. Maybe they’ve been training for years, while I just started last October. That’s just 3 months.

rinaz.net Crossfit Cross Training Iron Dragons Roma

Anyway, one of the thing that I’m weak at is, monkey bars. It happens that there is a monkey bar which is near my home and I’d always stare at it whenever I pass by. I climbed these often as a kid. Not so often as an adult.

Every now and then, I’d feel courageous and attempt to traverse it, but as soon as I climb up and get to the first rung, I’d look down and see how high it was from the top and lose my nerve.

It’s really high! It feels like I’m using a climbing station for giants. Or do you think that I’m exaggerating?

rinaz.net A too high Monkey Bars

Nevertheless, it’s something that I’d like to get better at because it’s a common challenge in a spartan race as what I’ve seen in videos such as this one.

It looks kind of fun but I still haven’t signed up yet, because of two factors. Firstly, because I keep thinking that I’m not in a good enough shape. And secondly, at 79 euro, it’s quite a lot of money.

Maybe I’ll see how I feel at the end of February? My goal right now is to try to lose a little bit of weight because I read that it’s easier traversing monkey bars when you’re lighter.

Not easy when one likes to eat. Yes, my favourite workout of the day 😛

Participating in my first Goruck Urban Ops challenge

Obstacle races  has always interested me, but I never got about to it because they are extremely challenging and I never felt like I was ready for it. Also the fact that it costs so much to participate was a deterrent.

Nevertheless, when I found that the price for the Goruck was discounted for the Aegis Nova anomaly in Padua, I decided to grab the opportunity and sign up for it. I still didn’t know if I was strong enough for it but the requirements on the sign up page says ‘Moderate to Low’ on the website, so it should be fine … right?

DeusExMachina, who participated in the Urban Ops for Vienna kindly lent me his backpack and I felt blissfully unaware. It was only on the day itself when I started packing, I realised that my luggage was extremely heavy! What on earth did I got myself into? And I’d have to carry it for at least 4 hours!

rinaz.net Goruck Urban Ops Padua

Among the required things to carry  for the Urban Ops challenge was :

  • 9 kg of weights (I used my hand weights)
  • 2 litres of water (I used 4 1/2 litre bottles)

Which will easily make my backpack over 10 kg. Oh my.

On Friday afternoon, we took a quick look at the Vegan Festival in Eur and had a delicious lunch there and then we took the train to Padua.

rinaz.net Vegan Festival in Eur

It took us about 4 hours to reach there. We managed to snag a promotion from Italo and paid only 50 euro for the both of us travelling first class.

rinaz.net Goruck Urban Ops Padua

rinaz.net Goruck Urban Ops Padua

rinaz.net Goruck Urban Ops Padua

Our BnB happened to be a few minutes away from Piazza Capitaniato, where we picked up our supporter kits in the evening.

I happened to see the Stealth Ops participants doing their warm ups and met and said hello to Maurizio who was already perspiring after he’s finished with his warm up. I marvelled in the fact that he’d be doing 12 hours of challenges. I don’t know if I’d be able to do it myself.

Saturday morning, I started getting ready and here is the outfit of the day!

rinaz.net Goruck Urban Ops Padua

  • Blue t shirt from Decathlon (5 euro)
  • Blue buff found in Decathlon (5 euro)
  • Sports bra from Only Play (10 euro)
  • 3/4 sports pants from Only Play (10 euro)
  • Resistance Cap by Doriscreations (Priceless)
  • Aegis Nova bracelet (Which is my favourite design so far)
  • Newton Fate Running shoes

I stuffed the backpack with the weights, the bottles of water, a piece of towel and some bananas to snack on. So heavy! I had to walk really slowly with the backpack on – I felt like an elephant. Seriously, what have I gotten myself into?

rinaz.net Goruck Urban Ops Padua

After having breakfast, my entourage and I walked over to the meetup point before the anomaly. There were so many people there and you’ll meet people from all across Italy and the world. Every anomaly always feels so festive and it was such a beautiful day.

rinaz.net Goruck Urban Ops Padua

rinaz.net Goruck Urban Ops Padua

rinaz.net Goruck Urban Ops Padua

Eventually, I said goodbye to Cart as he went off with his team and I started to search for mine … I headed towards Piazza Dei Signori and that’s where I met Marco (Errequadropi) and I found out that we were the only two Resistance players for Urban Ops. Oh my. But that’s okay.

rinaz.net Goruck Urban Ops Padua

There was Cadre Mickey whose role was sort of like a guide and judge of the competition. Our first task was to choose the leader for the team. Marco quickly arrowed me as the Team Leader and Roberto (HeartTremor) was TL for the Enlightenend.

Together we walked to our first location, Piazzale Porta San Giovanni with our backpacks. It wasn’t necessary for us to have our Ingress scanners open, but I wanted to do some unique visits along the way. Not easy while juggling all that weight behind you though!

When we reached our point, our first challenge was to choose someone to hold their backpack over their head while the rest of the team do lunges or elephant walks around him.

rinaz.net Goruck Urban Ops Padua

rinaz.net Goruck Urban Ops Padua

It was quite amusing to see the elephant walk but it looked easier than it was, especially with the weights, every step was precarious and I had to step hard to make sure that I didn’t topple over.

Both of our teams tried to last for as long as possible but we lost this challenge but according to Daniele who was holding up his backpack in the picture above, it was a very close match.

Then we walked to our second location – Via San Pio X. Here, the Team Leaders had to start a distance from their team. The cadre will say out a name of a glyph and Team Leaders will run to their team and write the glyph together on a piece of paper and then run back to the cadre. The first team which gets 5 glyphs correct will be the winner.

rinaz.net Goruck Urban Ops Padua

rinaz.net Goruck Urban Ops Padua

This challenge was interesting as some of the glyphs, I’ve never heard of before. I just winged whichever I could and hope for the best and you know what, Resistance won this challenge!

Cadre Mickey took me aside and gave me a code which contains pertinent information to help my faction during the anomaly. I quickly forwarded it to my dispatchers on Hangout and updated them on Zello.

After the challenge, we walked to Prato Della Valle. It was such a lovely day for a picnic here. There were loads of people sitting on the grass and just relaxing themselves. But I’m not sure if it was the heat or the fatigue from carrying all those weights but I was already starting to feel a little dizzy by this point.

For our third challenge, we had to take everything out of our backpacks and lay them on the ground next to it. All of us had to walk a distance away, and get ready in a line. When the cadre yells start, we run to our respective backpacks, put our things in and hold it over our head and yell Resistance or Enlightened.

I thought for sure we would lose this one as my zip didn’t close smoothly but to my surprise we both seemed to have finished first.

rinaz.net Goruck Urban Ops Padua

Another win for us! I breathlessly and quickly updated our dispatchers. We took a quick break and I lied down to ease my dizzy feeling.

For our final challenge, we walked to Piazza Eremitani. By this time, while I tried my best to catch up, I find myself constantly being the back of the pack. Each step was so heavy …

rinaz.net Goruck Urban Ops Padua

Nevertheless, it was such a beautiful park inside and felt so peaceful with all the flowers and greenery.

For our final challenge, while it sounds simple, trust me, it’s not. Everyone in the team will have to plank and the last man (or woman) standing will win for their faction.

rinaz.net Goruck Urban Ops Padua

I could only hold to the position for about 10 minutes. After that my arms were all wobbly and I could only crawl like a baby to move towards one of the agents who was showing me his scanner.

It was such a close match between Marco and Daniele. My goodness. They planked for close to 30 minutes. How on earth did they do that?

rinaz.net Goruck Urban Ops Padua

It seemed to go on forever. Unfortunately the Enlightened team couldn’t hold out longer possibly because he was tired from participating from the 12 hours Stealth Ops challenge earlier on. So we got this round and another code for us!

We headed back to Piazza dei Signori where each of us received our hard earned patches.

rinaz.net Goruck Urban Ops Padua

So beautiful!

rinaz.net Goruck Urban Ops Padua

After a shower and a brief rest, back at the apartment (so nice to finally plunk away the backpack!) I headed back to join Cart and the rest of my faction members to celebrate our anomaly win. It was heartening to see so many people coming up to me curious about my experience and congratulating me.

rinaz.net Goruck Urban Ops Padua

Like Matteo and Gimmy from Stealth Ops and Matteo, Luisa and Aalyah my former team members from Vienna.

rinaz.net Goruck Urban Ops Padua

My shoulders hurt and my thighs were sore and my feet were complaining (doing the mission day on Sunday was a miserable day for me) but all in all, it has been a very interesting experience for me, and dare I say it, actually fun?

Thank you so much Roberto and the rest of the Enlightened members for being so friendly and a very sporting team and thank you Marco for being a wonderful team member and thank you Cadre Mickey!

The past six months has been amazing for me so far. With Ingress, I got to do a lot of things, I got to try at being a Team Radio in Milan, then a Team Leader in Vienna and now participated in a Goruck in Padova. Wow.

rinaz.net Goruck Urban Ops Padua

Now I GoRest.

P.s. For those of you thinking of participating for Goruck Urban Ops, while the fitness requirement is low – moderate, my advice to you is to train in some circuit training anyway. Carry a towel so that it will soften the barrier between your back and the weights and just enjoy the experience the best you can.

My new running shoes!

I’ve been using my New Balance shoes so much that they were in very bad shape.

rinaz.net Newtons Running Shoes Pop

I was forced to wear my old runnies which was a bad mistake. It was the most uncomfortable run – it felt clunky and heavy. And during my weekend long run, I had a bad blister and one of my nails turned black. This has never happened to me even when I was doing my marathon last year.

So Cart and I went to the nearest New Balance shop to get a replacement pair. Unfortunately for us, there were no Minimus shoes for sale. We were informed that the range is not sold in Italy any more. I wasn’t surprised though, as minimalist shoes aren’t popular here. They are still being sold in North America though.

The closest thing to a minimalist shoes that I remember are still being sold in Italy are Newtons. We went to a shop nearest to us and after a long deliberation, here are my new Newton Fate shoes!

rinaz.net Newtons Running Shoes Pop

One try and I like how light they feel. The toe-box is roomy which is important to me so that I can move my toes and not feel cramped. The middle of the toes are raised up, which is the unique point for Newtons. They can feel strange at first wear.

rinaz.net Newtons Running Shoes Pop

While I’m a size 37, I had to get these one size up as they are more comfortable for me. They cost 120 euro. Which I guess is cheaper than the distance elite which was what I was looking for, but not sold here. Can’t be too choosy I guess.

rinaz.net Newtons Running Shoes Pop

These pair has a 4.5 heel cushion which is just slightly higher than my Minimus. But I’m pretty sure that wearing these will be much more comfortable than my old runnies.

rinaz.net Newtons Running Shoes Pop

Anyway, I haven’t given them a real test run as I’ve been horribly sick this week. Training this time round has been quite tough on me. and I really don’t know if I will be in a good form for my run in late December. Kind of scared.

Ran 20km and I’m feeling half dead

As you’ve probably read in my earlier post, I’m currently training for the Singapore City Race. There are various categories in there – 8 km, 15 km, 25 km and 40 km.

I signed up for the 25 km one but I was training as if I was going for the 40 km one.  After all, I’ve already completed a marathon, I should be able to ace it for this one too right?

rinaz.net Running in the CSS Run

Of course, the first few weeks it went smooth … but one month into my training, I’m just not feeling it. Maybe previously I haven’t been jogging for a while? Or maybe I’ve been over-training? Nevertheless, after my long run, my whole body aches all over and instead of being in a euphoric state, I’m in a bad mood and don’t feel motivated. At all.

rinaz.net Training Plan 2015

So I guess it’s  much better for me to take a step back, take a break and let my body recover. In the meanwhile, I guess I’ll have to re-plan a new  training schedule. In any case, the worse is over, I’ve already done 20 km in my long run. I should be fine for the actual event 😛

rinaz.net Training Plan Endomondo 2015

Half dead after this particular run -_-

By the way, my New Balance Minimus is so worn out now. To the point that the sole is smoothed out.  I’ve been forced to run in my old runners and I hated the feeling. It feels so heavy and clunky. But what to do? I don’t have anything else.

I’ve been trying to find new ones to replace them. But it seems that in Italy, New Balance doesn’t stock them any more. I wasn’t too surprised though, as Minimalist shoes aren’t that popular in Italy.

I could check out if there are some for sale left in Singapore. I guess in the meanwhile, I’d have to continue running in my old clunkers.