Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Triumph Through the Run

Something that keeps me going as I run up those hills -- physical and otherwise

Keep pushing,                                      

Thursday, January 2, 2014

At Last, a Holiday Season at Home

Christmas day with my nieces -- 2013.

  Over the years, my family's Christmas Day tradition has become hopping in the car late Christmas morning, driving a couple hours to my brother's house, and spending the rest of the day enjoying each other's company.

  It was always a great way to see everyone before I had to get on a plane back to Europe.

  Even though I had no flight to rush back to this time around, this year was no different.

  As I sat in the back seat of my dad's squeaky truck on the road to my brother's, my knees jammed into the back of my mom's seat, my toes cold, I suddenly flashed to being in the back of an airplane instead.

  And here, I had just been thinking, that it hadn't really felt like Christmas yet, because I hadn't been on an airplane.

  For the first time since I was a senior in high school, I wasn't traveling to get home for Christmas. And the first time in just as many years, that I didn't have to hurry off immediately following the holiday.

Portland during the holiday season.
  I was already home.

  As I sat in the truck, I flashed back to a few of my more-memorable holiday travel experiences over the past 15 years.
  • My freshman year in college, saying goodbye to my family Christmas morning at the Portland airport; to head back to Boulder -- for practice Christmas evening. Ever try to find a place to eat Christmas dinner in a college town during Winter Break? Good thing for my teammates, as we were all in the same boat.

  • Flying home to Portland from Florida after a horrific loss to the Gators my junior year. My teammates and I raced to the airport, and through security just in time to make our respective flights home to our families. Then, returning to Boulder several days later to a not-so welcoming practice back will always be in my memory bank. There are a handful of college practices that vividly stick out in my mind, and forever will. And that is one of them. We ran off our holiday turkey, pies, and other goodies in that practice alone.

  • As a pro, the anxious feeling as the holiday break approached, mostly to learn when we'd be going home (and how many days we'd be able to spend in the States). You never wanted to ask too soon (as to not appear too anxious to leave), and it was always to helpful to inquire after a game won. Somehow, I never got quite enough days Stateside. I was always wanting a few more -- even the year I got three weeks home.

  • Having to scramble the year I played in Poland (2006) to get my visa, while at home, to return for the second half of the season. Mis-communications, holiday madness, and poor planning, didn't allow me to return to Jelenia Gora in time to play in my team's opener after the break. An unforeseen extended holiday break. But as I remember, my team lost the game I missed. 

  • 2010 in Sweden, I thought I wasn't going to be able to make it home -- because the break in between games was so short. Thankfully, my team and management were incredibly understanding, and went out of their way to work with me. Five days at home was a quick turn around, but it was well worth it. I got back to Luleå the day before our game. I was jet-legged, to say the least. My coach wouldn't let me play because I looked so bad during pre-game. Good thing my team was plenty-capable that season -- they took care of our opponent with ease as I cheered from the bench.

  • And finally, 2008, I thought I'd be spending Christmas in Amsterdam, and then maybe Vancouver BC (then possibly Seattle). That year, it seemed the whole northern hemisphere had been slammed with snow storms. Lucky for me, the Portland airport was closed down -- no flights in or out. With my flight cancelled, and hundreds of people trying to get to the northwest, I thought I'd be stuck in Amsterdam til after the holiday. I must have been living right, because I somehow made it home. I ended up on a flight (as a standby traveler) to Vancouver BC (after failing to get on the flight to Seattle from Amsterdam earlier that day). But still, with the Pacific Northwest covered in ice and snow, the airline was unsure if flights would be continuing on to Seattle (where my parents were loyally driving from Portland to pick me up). I made the connection to Seattle, and there my parents were, waiting for me, as I exited the terminal. 
Snow storm I returned home to in 2008.
  While it may not have felt like Christmas for me leading up to it this year, it certainly felt like Christmas on the 25th. With family and wonderful food, lights and decoration, and of course presents; I can definitely say the holiday was just as great as ever.

  And I didn't even have to get on an airplane to get that feeling. But I sure was happy to be sitting the cold, uncomfortable seat in my Dad's truck.

  Hope you had a wonderful holiday, and happy 2014!