Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Christmas Redux

I spent the Christmas holiday in Phoenix this year, at my mother-in-law's house. The weather was unusually warm, even for Phoenix, with highs near 80. We drove to Phoenix on Friday morning (the 23rd) and drove back yesterday (the 27th).

It was a nice break. I ran, a lot. I did runs of 10, 20, 5, and 8 miles, all at around marathon pace (about 7.20 miles). It felt really good, although i have to factor in that it was on very flat terrain compared to what i'm used to. I was especially happy with getting in 20 miles at race pace, especially the day after a moderately hard 10 miles. I also managed to knock off another couple-hundred pages of Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, from which i'd taken a break after the invasion of Poland. Also went to see King Kong, which i found slightly disappointing. It's too long, and despite vastly better effects and environments it lacks some of the mystery of the original (the Jeff Bridges version, as Bill Simmons would say, never happened).

On Monday i drove the marathon route. It's definitely flat, though not especially attractive. It's a point-to-point route that starts near downtown and ends up at Sun Devil stadium in Tempe. I think there must be some sort of marathon route planning guide that dictates miles 22-24 must go through an industrial park. Never fails.

This was probably the most unusual Christmas i've had since 1996, when i was in the Philippines. We got up and opened presents as usual, but then i went out and ran 20 miles. For Christmas dinner we went to my sister-in-law's house, and though we had traditional Christmas fare, we also sat in her yard drinking sangria in the 70+ degree weather. It was lovely, but not exactly Irving Berlin. My boys are understandably (i think) a bit puzzled by Christmas, since the standard Christmas imagery (snow, sleigh-rides, caroling, chestnuts roating on open fires, jack frost, etc.) is mostly foreign to them. Though they've been sufficiently indoctrinated in the religious significance of the season, it's mostly about the loot for them. I hope that they have some special memories of Christmas when they grow up, but it's hard to imagine that it'll have the same resonance for them that it had for me.

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