Santa came a little early for me this year and instead of what I’d asked for, he brought me a cold. Jerk. Anyway, he redeemed himself on Christmas Day, the first day in a week when I woke up without a sore throat and a nose full of snot (descriptive enough for you?) so now we’re back on speaking terms. (Love you, Santa! xoxo)
Since I had been laying low for a few days and was spending Christmas in one of the prettiest places in New Zealand, I thought a run would be the best way to work off the 439374 (approximate figure) Cadbury Favourites I’d eaten at about 2AM the night before (I take Christmas very seriously).
I failed to pick an appropriate time for a run and ended up starting at lunchtime, sweating bucket loads (you got over the snot part, you can get over the sweat too) in the short 6k around Turangi, from near the town centre to just past this bridge over the Tongariro River and back.
I managed to make some friends along the way like the stunning fellow you see above. Now, for some unknown reason, I’m nursing a sore knee so it looks like my only workout this Boxing Day will be unwrapping some more of these chocolates and getting up for second servings of Christmas desserts.
This Christmas will be my third one in the Southern Hemisphere and, therefore, my third Summer Christmas. You’d think I’d be used to it by now but… nope. Nice warm weather in December will never make sense to me and a Summer Christmas still sounds like a big paradox.
Christmas has always been my absolute favourite holiday, even though it always used to take place in my least favourite season. I initially thought that perhaps combining Christmas and Summer would make my head explode with happiness but that hasn’t happened.
It’s not that I have a bad time over Christmas in Summer. It’s just that it doesn’t feel like Christmas, at all. Words always have a variety of feelings associated with them and, to me, Christmas means warm coats, short days, the smell of pumpkin and cinnamon and all the other ingredients of the traditional Christmas food we have back home.
Instead, for the last three years, I’ve been wearing shorts and going for walks on the beach. I know it sounds like a massive first world problem – poor wee Vera has to go to the beach over Christmas, boo hoo, yadda yadda yadda. I know. But, as nice as it is, it doesn’t feel the way it should.
Some things, however, make it all a bit better. I intend to fill the house with the smell of anything pumpkin-related, decorate the hell out of it (and spend December vacuuming pine needles off the rug or chasing the cat to make sure she doesn’t swallow the tiny ornaments she grabs from the tree), eat as many pieces of french toast as my body can handle (in Portugal we call them “rabanadas” and they’re a traditional Christmas dish), crank out the Mariah Carey (don’t be hater, nothing says Christmas like All I Want for Christmas is You) and take part in as many Christmas-related activities as I can.
Like yesterday. For the first time, I was happy to be going out for a run in the rain. It was time for another Auckland Santa Run. Last year, we’d had good weather for it but, this time, even though the temperature was warm, I had the rain to make it feel a little bit Christmassier (yes, that’s totally a word).
About 1400 people dressed up as Santa and ran the ~3k course in Auckland central in the rain (at the same time as other thousands of Santa runners did the same in different cities and towns across the country), all for a good cause. It was a short run but you should never underestimate the added difficulty of running in a santa suit (there was nothing breathable about that material, I tell you) – so, by the end of it, I definitely felt like I had worked enough for some french toast. I mean, rabanada.
Back in the day, I started running because I thought it’d be the cheapest possible way to exercise. All I needed was any pair of old shorts and an old tshirt, some sneakers (and, with the size of my shoe collection, I had a few to choose from already) and the willingness to get my butt out of the door. No membership fees, no monthly payments, no big expenses.
*pause so we can all stop laughing at how wrong I was*
Like anything else, if you get really into it (and one can say writing a blog almost solely dedicated to running qualifies as being “really into it”), it gets really expensive really quickly. At first, I think, came the dri-fit shirts. I got posh and decided running in cotton shirts was too gross. Then, with the first knee pain, came the doctor’s appointment (another $40) and the medical advice to buy proper running shoes. Hello, $300 receipt. Then, since I had the fancy shoes, I got a little more excited about taking them out. And so came the receipt for the first ever running event (Wharf to Wharf on Waiheke Island), which got me completely hooked onto crossing finish lines. Since then, I’ve been averaging about one official event per month. Some are fairly cheap, others do make me think I’ll have to resort to instant noodles for the rest of the month (mostly because some of these events are out of town and involve travel expenses). Fast forward a few months and I got hooked on trail running. This means mandatory equipment for races, in some cases. Hi, expensive hydration pack with all sorts of stuff inside.
Anyway, you get the point. This stuff’s not cheap. So I’m always on the look out for good deals on running-related stuff. I’ve got a list. I’m pretty sure it’s filled with stuff all runners want to have. So, if you have a runner in your Christmas gift list (or some extra money floating around that you might want to use to start the Super Generic Girl Running Fund), this is a good time to take notes.
1. Gu energy gels are the perfect stocking fillers a runner can ask for. At about $3 a pop, these little things don’t come cheap.
2. Garmin Forerunner 10. Or any Forerunner. Or, whatever, any GPS watch. I’ve been using the Nike+ watch (powered by TomTom) and we have sort of become best buddies.
3. Running shorts. Or any running apparel, as long as it’s cute. Oh and the right material. I suppose that’s important too.
4. Camelbak hydration pack. Especially useful for trail runs or long road runs, especially if you enter events and like avoiding the water stations.
6. My Cep compression socks are simultaneously my most expensive and my most amazing pair of socks. Don’t think a runner can have too many of these but, for the price, I think one pair is pretty much enough. Has to be.
7. Spi belt. I bought a hydration belt a couple of months ago and it sucked because there was no ideal way of adjusting it to my waist without it ending up jumping up and down while I ran. I heard these are quite good in that aspect. All I want is a way of not carrying my phone in my hand the whole time.
8. Running necklaces. Down here in Kiwiland, they aren’t too keen on giving out medals at running events. You’ll probably get a medal for a full marathon (and, even then, not all full marathons), but you are very unlikely to get one for anything below that. Some achievements, though, deserve to be celebrated with something long lasting. When we ran our 35k trail run, I headed to The Run Home on Etsy and got S. a customised necklace with her name and the distance and location of that race. Beats a medal, I think… but I still wish we’d gotten medals.
9. These running nutters sometimes decide that darkness isn’t a good enough excuse to stay home. I pack my head torch every time we head out for the trails, just in case. Also good for after work runs in Winter, when it’s pitch black by 6pm.
10. Tech gloves. Because surely I’m not the only one who checks Facebook while waiting for the pedestrian lights to turn green, amirite?
11. Road ID bracelet. If I happen to run my way to afterlife, there are a few things people need to know like: my name, my emergency contact details and that under no circumstances should my obituary refer to me as a “jogger”. Just the basic important stuff.
12. Running-related literature. I’ve got an Amazon wishlist the length of an ultramarathon. Lisa Tamati‘s Running to Extremes is just one of them, among a long list of practical marathon training guides. Basically, anything that’ll make a runner want to keep reading while, at the same time, put the book down and head out for a run.
What to do on a wednesday afternoon after a day of work? Join over 900 people all dressed in santa outfits and go for a 3km run along the Auckland waterfront to support KidsCan, of course! The atmosphere was awesome and even though the run itself was very, very short, it was still very much worth registering and making our ways down there for it. Christmas and running together… what’s not to love?
I sort of wished it had been a longer run but was also thankful I didn’t have to run in that costume any longer. It’s summer in Auckland and even real santa (yes, REAL santa!) would swap that suit for a singlet if he was here. Yay, running! Yay, Christmas! I would like more running events to dress up for now, please, thank you.