Here I am in Palmer, Christmas Eve, 250 miles from my bike and 3,000 miles from home. I went for a 90-minute run along the Matanuska River this morning that felt amazing. The last time I was here - Thanksgiving - I was definitly not in the kind of shape to run for 90 minutes straight. And now I am. How quickly my body has responded to relatively casual conditioning really surprised me. I felt strong, in charge. I was tearing off layers like it wasen't 18 degrees out; feeling the crisp air on actual skin; sprinting, sweating, gliding across the windswept ice.
I eventually came home because it was 11 a.m. and the sun hadn't yet crawled above the mountains. It felt like a good idea at the time, but now it's high noon and the sun still hasn't made it up (my friend Craig informed me that this time of year, in never does); I've eaten a bowl of Special K and two salmon-shaped Christmas cookies; and all I want to do is head back out. All I can think about it taking off down the river, running harder, faster, colder, until I don't have to think anymore about how homesick I'm feeling today; about how much I miss wearing my Christmas jammies; about what I would give right now to eat an ice cream sundae while watching "Christmas Story" and playing Scrabble with my sisters. This year is my first year as an Orphan. I thought I was prepared for it, but it's hard. It's harder than I thought it would be. In comparison, running is effortless.