There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays (and a nod to Tea)

Running with altitude. That's today's theme. I have to give a nod to Tea (and to TriTurl too, of course, since she's my other high-altitude blogger, but mostly to Tea since "altitude" is in her blog title.) This morning I ran over 5 miles of hill repeats at 10 times my usual elevation.

It all started when I cooked up a big Christmas surprise for my parents.

But first, let me get this out of the way: I am SO glad triathlon season is starting next week and by December 31 I will be training too hard to drink AT ALL, because I am tired of blogging about my day-after-drinking embarrassments and feeling like this giant paradox: the athlete who parties. (I mean, really. Have you ever?) I don't know whether I'm celebrating or trying to forget - I really don't - but I either seriously celebrated or REALLY tried to forget (or both) Friday night. It will go down in the books as Another One of Meggan Ann's Wild Times, especially after my key broke off in my front door as I was letting myself in. And this isn't the "OMG You Silly Drunk Bitch" moment you might think it was - it was a Guaranteed Occurence That Just So Happened to Hit Me at a Very Bad Time. These keys have been giving us a hard time since we moved in, and we already had to hold mine juuuust so, say some magic words, do a dance, and wiggle it around just to get it to work. So it broke off on me as I was trying to let my (still slightly tipsy) behind in the door. Trying to get my brother in to feed the cats and packing the next morning with a hangover were also delightful. (New rule: NO going out drinking the night before a flight, even if the flight isn't until 1pm.)

But the good news, my Christmas surprise, and the reason I wasn't at my track workout Saturday morning: I got a chance to go home for Christmas for almost free. I say "home" because, even though I'm a Florida Cracker, mom and dad retired in Alabama, and I have never spent a Christmas away from my parents in my 28 years. I was starting to get really bummed about it, and I even had to keep myself from getting depressed when I got my parents' beautiful and sentimental Christmas card. (Yeah I know . . . . waaaaaaah.) I'll be spending the entire week of Christmas break here, Detoxing and Getting the Hell Away, which is what I think I've already been trying to do (although partying is more like Toxing than Detoxing, and I never actually went anywhere but Crazy, which is a much shorter trip for me than Alabama.)

So, yes, I'm finally in the Christmas spirit, because I'm with my parents, in the mountains, maybe with some snow, for the entire week. When I return on the 29th, I'll still have 4 vacation days to wind down. The best part? Mom didn't know, and Dad only knew because they had to come pick me up in Birmingham (a little bit of a hike from their house or I'd have taken a taxi. Hey, what do you want for free?)

Being here is almost like being at a spa, but with better conversation. I call it "Rehab Lite." I have a beautiful bedroom with my own computer, tons of pillows and a bunch of cozy comforters. They live pretty much on top of a mountain, so driving anywhere is amazingly beautiful, especially during the winter, when you can see almost everything through the slightly barren trees. And my parents, in most ways, live the perfect example of a healthy lifestyle. Although now in their 60s', they drink very little alcohol or caffeine and eat a flexitarian diet (we're former vegans who made the transition from vegan to lacto-ovo to flexitarian several years ago). They walk or hike 3-4 miles a day, 7 days a week with these really cool hiking sticks, kind of a version of Nordic walking. Their only unhealthy habit? They smoke. (And there's nothing I can do to get them to stop.)

Today they took me around their neighborhood on their 3-mile route, and I did hill repeats while they walked, adding 2 miles and change during the hour and 15 minutes. It was a nice, easy pace, and I felt so strong; the clean air and cold weather really agree with me. It further strengthens my resolve to Get the Hell Out of Florida. The first mile or so was a little tough because my lungs weren't used to the elevation - even though it's nothing compared to Colorado, where mom is from originally. Fort Payne is over 1000 feet above sea level, and the part of the mountain where they live is over 1400. Florida's highest point, by comparison, is about 375 ft above sea level. Once I got over that, I felt like a million bucks.

I'm looking forward to a Christmas morning run, where I can celebrate the biggest gifts I've ever been given: the health and ability to train and actively chase my goals and dreams, and a family who, despite the distance between us the rest of the year, is behind me all the way.

Merry Christmas . . . . Happy New Year. Here's to 2008 being even better than 2007.

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