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Race Report: Reindeer Run

I have a new respect for people who run with a gimmick.

I also have a new idea how to make money at holiday time -- create a wicking Santa hat. Granted, it wouldn't be a large market and I haven't googled "wicking Santa hat" to see if someone else already has the idea, but my experience on Sunday tells me there might be a market for athletic-minded costume wear.

Because I am here to tell you that running in a Santa hat is kinda hard.

Why you may ask? First, it got rather hot. And I already was having issues with how to dress for Saturday morning's Reindeer Run at Medaille College. The temperature would be in the 20s. The roads would be a bit slippery from the pile of snow dumped on Buffalo the night before. How many layers to wear?

After much public consternation, the decision was to wear my long-sleeved underarmor cold gear top and a heavy, lined running jacket, removing my lighter running windbreaker shell.

I still ended up being hot. And the Santa hat? Well, it trapped the heat and retained moisture.

There was one other problem with the Santa hat -- it can be a tad heavy on the head. In shopping, I merely went to the closest drug store without really thinking. The length of the stocking part of the hat, along with the heft of the white fuzz ball, pulled the hat toward the back of my head, leaving my ears exposed to the cold wind and forcing me to smile and pull the hat back down. Perhaps if I had trained with the Santa hat I would have had an easier time running as Santa's helper.

But the point was not to train. Or have an easy time.

The point was to have fun.

My coach had mandated that I wear a Santa hat for the race. (For the record, she also requested bells on my sneakers, but the drugstore didn't have them.) Why? Good question. My theory is that she wanted me to have fun. To enjoy the run. To enjoy the holiday season. To not get all wrapped up in times and paces.

There will be plenty of opportunity for me to concern myself with speed work and getting faster and pacing and in-race nutrition as I prepare for my first marathon.

But if you can't have fun while doing all that work, what's the point?

Yeah, running with the Santa hat was hard work.

But I caught myself smiling a lot more during this race than in past races. Even on the incline through Forest Lawn cemetery I could smile. The words to a song I once heard in a spin class came to mind:

I'm alive and I'm free and who wouldn't want to be me.

Well, at least I know the alive and free part is true.

It was a slow race for me, not just because of the Santa hat. It was cold and while the course in the cemetery was attended to by the Medaille race staff, there were some slick spots. Watching your footing isn't going to help you set any PRs.

It was an enjoyable run and in the end, it was a respectable finish.

And once again I learned that having fun is one of the keys to long-term success.

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