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Week 10: Santa Claus run

Week 10 rolled around quickly, and it was drawing very near to Christmas (readers may note that while I am talking about Christmas I am actually writing this blog in April. Yes, I am a little far behind due to some life circumstances that will become clear in the coming weeks on this blog. However, I have still been completing my challenges every week and am doing my utmost to catch up on writing about them. Please stick with me – I have made a commitment to a year of new things, and I intend to keep to that commitment and write about it here. And there are some big new things coming up that I have already achieved or plan to achieve, and I can’t wait to share them here on this blog!).

Back to December….and the perfect time to search for a Christmas-themed challenge. As it happened, this week I came across a fun run. And not just any fun run. A Santa Claus fun run. Yes, this was no ordinary run – in order to participate in this run, one was required to dress as Santa Claus.

Now please allow me to digress for a moment on the topic of Santa Claus. The story of Santa Claus is a lovely one but there is one major flaw in the story for the millions of people living in the southern hemisphere – there is no snow on this side of the world in December. In fact, it is hot; damn hot! Because it is summer. Santa Claus and all of the wintry tales of Christmas work very well when one experiences Christmas in winter time. But the whole idea falls apart when one is sweating it out in 30+ degree Celsius heat.

I have been lucky enough to experience a few winter Christmas’, including one in Lapland – home of Santa Claus. And it made a lot of sense to see a fat man dressed in his winter warmers whilst singing along to Christmas carols that speak of winter wonderlands, sleigh bells ringing and snow glistening in lanes. But here in Australia it is – well let’s be totally honest – ridiculous and illogical to dress as Santa Claus and sing of frosty the snowman when one is dripping with sweat and cranking up the air conditioning to stay cool.

And before you say it – yes I know we have one Australian Christmas carol. One. One whole Christmas carol that speaks of Christmas in summer time – “Six White Boomers” – one of the most annoying Christmas Carols ever. But Christmas as it is traditionally portrayed does not work in Australia; and yes, I have a bit of a bee in my bonnet about it! And while I am having a whinge – what in the heck does a “bee in your bonnet” actually mean? Who comes up with these sayings?! Well actually, I can tell you who comes up with these sayings because I bought a book on where popular sayings come from (I know, I am so cool). Apparently this particular saying is thought to stem from the 16th Century saying “to have a head full of bees” and was paired with the notion of a bonnet by poet Robert Henrrick in 1648 in his poem ‘Mad Maid’s Song’. Bet you didn’t think you would learn anything reading this blog today – but now you have. You’re welcome.

Ok, so back to the story where I find myself agreeing to a 5km fun run dressed as Santa Claus in the heat of summer. The run was in aid of charity, and was definitely meant to be more “fun” than a serious “run”. And for the entry price one not only got to donate to a good cause, one also got a Santa Claus outfit. The organisers were definitely on their game in choosing the outfit to fit with the weather conditions – lightweight shorts, wraparound jacket, hat and beard. An outfit fit for the summer….well as long as one wasn’t planning on running any distance in it that is!

I was not worried about the running part of the day – I had been doing bootcamp now for 4 months and was also a recreational jogger, so a 5km course was going to be relatively easy and didn’t require any intense training. Which was lucky since I only signed up to participate the week of the race! I was, however, a little concerned about how I would survive the heat when dressed as Jolly Old St Nick.

Race day dawned bright and sunny – a good and bad thing (on the one hand it wasn’t raining; on the other, it was hot) and I found myself driving to a park to dress up as Santa Claus at 6:30 on a Sunday morning in summer in Queensland. It did make me consider my sanity for a minute or two.

Upon arrival I was greeted by numerous Santas and provided with my outfit for the morning’s event. Sexy Santa I was not – but then, nor was anyone else. The atmosphere was one of frivolity as the sea of Santas grew. I found a number of people who I knew and we entertained ourselves by climbing on the jungle gym to get a photo or 12.

As a warm up, the race organisers held a mass Zumba class – 150 or so Santas sashaying away to “Gangham Style” – it was a sight to behold. Then before I knew it, the start time had rolled around and I was lining up to run for the first time ever as Santa Claus. I was already sweating before I started – not a great sign of things to come.

I find that the first kilometre of any run is always the hardest, and this one was made all the more difficult by having to constantly adjust my Santa suit while running to ensure my Santa jacket stayed done up and my Santa shorts did not fall down around my knees causing me to fall on my face with my bum in the air (hello front page of the NewMail). Definitely no PB was going to be had in this run then! (Just thought I should point out that I was wearing my usual running gear underneath the suit – there was no fear of a nudey run at any stage! And I also note that I have once again mentioned my bum in my blog. I did say a few posts ago that I would stop doing that, but there it is again. My bum. Bum, bum, bum. Ok, I think it is out of my system now. No more bum references.)

I also quickly learnt that running with a beard strapped to your face is not comfortable; and in fact, is quite irritating. But I wanted to keep to the theme of the run and was determined to keep my Santa suit on throughout the duration of the race despite the discomfort.

However, by around 3.5km into the run I was really feeling the heat and decided that the jacket and beard would have to go. When one is running in 30 degrees Celsius temperatures and 70% humidity, jackets and beards are not really the best idea. So I am a little sad to say that while I finished the race, I was only half the Santa I was at the start of the race.

Apart from the heat and mild discomfort from the outfit, it was quite amusing to be running along with a group of Santas past people who clearly had no idea what was going on – we certainly did cause a bit of a commotion with those who were out and about early enough to be greeted by such a sight. And the organisers had taken the time to write some fun notes in chalk on the pavement which kept the participants entertained for the duration of the 5kms.

So all in all, whilst it was a very hot and sometimes uncomfortable run, it was a really fun morning, and the organisers, runners and general crowd were all fantastic. I had a great time, I raised some money for charity, I got my morning exercise, and I felt great for the rest of the day – a good result all round.

Introspection time out

From my Santa Claus fun run experience (and subsequent writing about it) I have learnt that:

  • Santa costumes and running should not mix.
  • That you can have fun and run at the same time – go figure!
  • That if you make an effort to do something, you will be rewarded in any number of ways. For example, by making an effort to get up at 5:45am on a Sunday to dress as Santa Claus and run for 5km, I managed to raise money for charity, get some exercise, meet some new people, and have a lot of laughs. It is important to make the effort, even when the activity is outside your comfort zone. Good things come to those that make an effort. So many people waste their lives waiting for something to happen to them, when really, they should be putting in a bit of effort to MAKE something happen.
  • I have an issue with Christmas in summer time.

Another week down; 42 more to go. So I say sayonara for this week and leave you with the following thought of the day from the musical Avenue Q:

“There is life outside your apartment.
I know it’s hard to conceive.
But there’s life outside your apartment.
And you’re only gonna see it if you leave.
There is cool shit to do,
But it can’t come to you….
There is life outside your apartment.
But you gotta open the door.”

Introducing running Santa Claus

Introducing running Santa Claus

Santa Claus Jungle Gym

Santa Claus Jungle Gym

On your marks Santas

On your marks Santas

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Week 3: It’s all about the blog

Phew, week 3 already. And an easy task this week (or so I thought). Since I am doing this challenge, and posting status updates on Facebook about it, I thought I would go one step further and create a blog. I have never created or written a blog before, so that would fit in nicely with the challenge. And all you have to do is write some stuff and post it on the internet right? Wrong! Well, not wrong exactly; you do indeed need to write some stuff and post it on the internet.  But there are a lot of steps in between – you know, like setting up the blog.

I was pleased to find out that there are some good sites that allow you to create a blog for free and getting your own site on one of these is very easy. Fabulous. Finding my way around the creation process proved a little tricky and tiresome, but I am pretty good at all things computer, so I managed to work it out eventually.  And the writing part was easy – I pretty much write for a living, so that was done in no time. So what the hell did I spend the next 15 hours or so doing??!!

Yes, it has taken me about 15 hours to get to the point of sharing this blog with the world. Why? Well first I had to choose a template. Did you know there are a lot of templates one can choose from when creating a blog. No? Neither did I. And did you know that while the templates may look good in theory when someone else has spent the time making them look good (someone who might actually know what they are doing), once you start using a template for your own blog for some reason it just doesn’t turn out the same way? No? Neither did I!

I admit freely that some of the time it took to create this blog had to do with my perfectionist tendencies – constantly changing and rearranging little things here and there to make it all look and sound as good as I could make it look and sound with my limited knowledge of creating a blog site.

[Hmm, for some reason I am writing extraordinarily long sentences today which is somewhat unusual for me as I generally like to keep my sentences short and snappy. You don’t care do you? Just get the hell on with whatever it is you want to say so that we – the reader – can get back to doing something more productive than reading about someone’s attempts at blogging.]

So there I was, fiddling with a template and fighting with my inner perfectionist – choosing colours, discarding colours; searching my photos, uploading my photos (note: slow internet connection is not good for photo uploading – I could run around the house 5 times before each photo uploaded. Not that I would. Who would want to run around the house 5 times?); getting distracted by my photos;  working out why the photos would not put themselves where I was telling them to put themselves; forgetting to save my work and losing it all; finding ditty little functions to include on the site and then working out how the heck to use them; deciding I didn’t like the template once I had everything on there and changing it all. Oh yes, it has been fun this blogging business. Just call me the bloggantor. No seriously, don’t call me that. It sounds ridiculous.

I think the blog site is now in a place that I am happy to release it to the world. And when I say world, I mean my Facebook friends. And when I say my Facebook friends, I mean the 5 or so who may take the time to skim over it (thanks if you have – you are lovely).

And now I am off to give my bum a rest because it is sore from sitting on it for so long trying to get this blog happening. You know, this is the second post in which I have blogged about my bum. Methinks I may have an obsession with my bum. I certainly would like it to be smaller. But I am not going to lose sleep over it. Note to self: stop mentioning my bum in this blog. No more bum talk.

So just the one new thing this week. It took so much time I didn’t really have time for anything else. Well, I did have time for other things, but I didn’t want to waste them all in the first few weeks and be struggling around week 16 for things to do.

Introspection time-out

So what did I learn from the challenge this week?

I learnt that my bum has a low pain threshold (there I go with the bum talk again. Last mention. I promise).

I learnt that it is harder to create a blog than I originally thought. The same could be said for other things in life. Like dieting. And surfing (waves not the internet).

I learnt a lot of cool new tricks like how to link things without typing in the entire web link. That will come in handy one day.

I learnt that I really need to stop being such a perfectionist with things. No one else would care or notice if I didn’t have everything perfectly aligned or if I repeated the same word twice. And if they did care, I wouldn’t know about it anyway so it wouldn’t really matter. If a tree falls in the wood and no one hears it, did it really fall (that is not the saying is it? I can’t remember for the life of me how that saying goes right now).

I learnt that blogging can be a good distraction from your woes. In fact, concentrating on something, anything, is a good way to get you through some of  life’s tougher times. It gives you something to focus on instead of worrying about things that you can’t change.

I also remembered how much I like writing for pleasure. I write a lot for work, and I do enjoy that; but there is something special about writing for the joy of it. I learnt that it is important to reconnect with those things that you enjoy but which you don’t do much anymore because you are too busy, or you can’t be bothered, or for any of those other reasons that we all use. Do it, take time today and reconnect with something that you like doing, just because you like doing it, not because you have to. You won’t regret it.

Over and out for this week.

Until next time…’Our life is a stage, a comedy; either learn to play and take it lightly, or bear its troubles patiently’.
 

Week 1: Exercise, singing and lessons

My very first week of the challenge, and I really thought it was going to be hard to find something new to do. I was wrong.  First cab of the rank was a Zumba class. I had always wanted to give Zumba a go – shaking my booty for exercise has always sounded like a great way to get active and shift some weight. The class was conducted outdoors in the botanical gardens, and better yet, it was free! No paying $15 or getting sweaty inside a gym. Happy days. I had a lot of fun shaking my stuff in the botanical gardens, and the class left me feeling fabulous for the rest of the evening. Brilliant. And new item accomplished on day 2 of the challenge. High 5 for me.

The very next day I was asked to take part in a casual 5.8km run with a local running group. I checked my diary (I don’t know why, there isn’t a whole lot in it these days). Turns out I didn’t have plans, and it was a new experience for my list so I thought – why not give it a go?  And give it a go I surely did.  Note to self: always remember to warm up before running. My lordy did my calves hate me after the run. They protested for days afterward. Oh well, no pain no gain they say, and despite the pain I enjoyed the run. Chalk up experience 2 for the week.

The day after the run (etched in my mind as the day of the screaming calves) I was invited to partake in another physical activity – CrossFit. I agreed before looking up what CrossFit actually entailed. Hmmm, note to self: find out what you are signing up for BEFORE signing up for it! Reading the website I found the following quote:

CrossFit is the principal strength and conditioning program for many police academies and tactical operations teams, military special operations units, champion martial artists, and hundreds of other elite and professional athletes worldwide.

Um, ok, great. That sounds fun and easy then. Not at all nervous about participating at all! I was feeling grateful that I had only signed up for the beginners class. And in all honesty, after doing bootcamp for the previous 12 weeks it really wasn’t all that hard. In fact, I (almost) whipped CrossFit’s butt. I did, however, get carpet burn on my bum from the class. Not the outcome I was hoping for really.

By now I was up to 3 new things in the space of 3 days when a fourth was lobbed my way. This time an invite to a singer I had never heard of in a bar I hadn’t been to since I was 18. I was missing going to gigs so I jumped at the opportunity. And I am glad I went. Great music and a fun night out with an old friend (sorry Ems, old as in long time, not old as in age).

All in all this was a great start to the challenge and a really enjoyable week. I did get to thinking, though, “did I just use up 3 weeks worth of new activities in one week?”

Introspection time-out – what did I learn this week from these new experiences?

I learnt that Zumba was a bit of fun and a good way to let out the inner goddess by shaking your (insert body part here) like you just don’t care.

I learnt the importance of warming up. Sometimes we want to skip the boring part and get straight to the main event. However, this can have effects later down the track that are not all that pleasant. Better to take the time at the beginning, than suffer the consequences of your inaction later. Such a deep meaning to get out of a run don’t you think?

I learnt that sometimes it is a good thing to not look at the fine print before signing up for something, or you could psyche yourself out of it and miss out on some thing new and fun. Now, if that something involves a lot of money, or a life-changing situation, then the fine print is something you definitely should read. But for the smaller things in life, we can waste so much time looking things up and hesitating that we don’t end up doing half the things we could do. Yes, I got all of this out of an invitation to, and participation in, a  CrossFit class – you can find meaning in almost anything!

I learnt that saying yes to something, even when you have no idea what that something might be or sound like (in this case Ash Grunwald), can turn out to be a lot of fun. It is all a matter of how you look at things in life. Approach life with a sense of fun, and life will be fun. Approach it with negativity, and negativity you will get.

And with that thought I will sign off for the week.

Until next time… ‘Live life with no regrets’.

Picture of the carpet in the gig venue – it was too good not to share!