A common question I get asked is, Did you know anyone before you moved here (to New Zealand)? Answer: not one person. I mean, I moved here with my husband, and I know him fairly well, but otherwise nobody. All strangers here. Que the Oh you must get lonely, You are so brave, You must be an old soul (???), You must miss your family montage. Yes, to most of those things. I don’t know how old my soul is though. I’ve never asked her and besides, a lady never tells.
After being here about 3 months, we had made about 5 friends. Or rather, my charming and talented husband had made about 5 friends, and I was shamelessly claiming them as my own. Anyways, it was time for me to venture off and find my own friends. But where? How?
Most of my closest girlfriends back home share some common interest of mine. Specifically, bikes or nursing. And while I haven’t written off those avenues at all, I also realized I wanted to meet anybody and everybody, preferably ASAP. No need to be so specific. And thus, I found myself venturing out. I found myself running.
I’ve had a love/hate relationship with running for a few years, but it’s never really gone anywhere because a) I married a cyclist and b) I apparently have a low tolerance for self inflicted pain. In any case, I decided to start attending the Speight’s Weekly 5K Run/Walk that happens in the summer months. Speight’s is an ale house in our neighborhood where the run starts and ends, followed by beer and sausages. I figured this was as good a place as any to meet other enthusiastic and athletic people in our area. But lets be serious. I probably never would have showed up if there weren’t beer and sausages at the end.
|The Charlesworth Reserve, where Speight’s 5K is held
Below: Residents of the Reserve
Now let’s backtrack a week. After I decided that Scott and I would be doing this 5K thing (he gets dragged into all my schemes these days because I don’t have enough friends to spread the crazy around), I realized I haven’t ran 5K in years. So we laced up our completely inadequate shoes and went for a jog. It was pathetic, painful, and slow. If you think you’re in shape… try running. Unless you already run. Then try Cross Fit. That never gets easy.
So we showed up to the 5K, paid our $5 each (paying for pain… crazy) and observed the other runners chatting and stretching and looking calm about this whole thing. The rules were explained. Yes, this little weekly event has a rather lengthy speech you have to listen to, which in the end just sums up to: new guys follow the people who’ve done it before, don’t get hit by a car, and remember your number for the raffle. (Not gonna lie, the raffle motivated me almost as much as the beer.)
|Who you starin’ at?|
And then we were off. It was just as awful, painful, and slow as our practice runs. Except it felt like 10K. Every muscle in my body complained, and my weak little subconscious just nodded along with them. But I did it (ok, we did it). And on the first week I made a friend and won a 6-pack of beer in the raffle. Then the second week I went by myself! I didn’t win anything but a made another friend.
I also made friends with my petite lung capacity, constant pain in my calves, and loads of new stretching techniques. I joined Cross Fit (now you actually believe I’ve lost it) to get stronger, in hopes of building muscle to help with my running, mountain and road biking. I haven’t actually made any real friends in Cross Fit yet, but I have exchanged some mutual This is f***ing horrible glances with people, which is sure to lead to lifelong camaraderie with somebody, right?
|This is a pukeko, which is my favorite NZ bird…
more on that later
If nothing else, moving to New Zealand has been good for my body. I eat better because better is available, and I drink less.. because I’d have to be a millionaire to keep up with my Chico self here. I sleep amazingly (when 100km/hr winds aren’t blowing), and I think I’m the fittest I’ve ever been (probably due to the Cross Fit, road bike, mountain bike, and running… but quite possibly could be the 43 stairs it takes to get to my front door). As far as the friendships, I’ve made a couple of good ones through some unconventional tactics. But I also got the chance to rekindle that old tattered love/hate relationship with my running shoes.