Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sylvia Strikes Again

I am in a public feud with an old lady at my gym. And I just love her.

I started attending a gym a few times a week when I moved to the DC area back in September, and this woman—whom we will call Sylvia—immediately accosted me. She marched up to me in the locker room one morning and said, “I just don’t understand why they let children into this gym. Where are your parents? I want to give them a piece of my mind.”

I stood there, shocked. She was like the 70-year old female version of Kanye West, jumping into my life like that. Other women in the room looked away, nervously.

The next day, she got me again, just as I was hopping off of the elliptical. “Oh, hello, CHILD,” she spat at me in an acerbic tone. I loved this woman. I am 23. So I told her that. Sylvia eyed me up and down and muttered, “Well, there is no way I could have known.” Later, I caught her at the front desk, talking to one of the office managers. “There is a child in here,” she said, glancing toward me. “She’s a child, and she is lying about her age. I’d say she is twelve years old at the most.” I laughed.

The feud has continued. One morning, I was heat training in the sauna when Sylvia came upon me. She jacked up the heat and then ran away, trying to over-heat me out of the gym. There is comedy in that. I appreciate her wit. Sylvia once told me to stop wearing eyeliner because “it’s not really for kids,” and she offers to help me get dressed. Do I need help tying my shoes? No. Thanks, though. I have been advised to “be seen and not heard.” So I cannot answer her indictments. It is settled; I am twelve.

Youth does have its advantages. For example, my bones heal like lightning. That is a wonderful thing because there are 6 weeks between when I broke my foot and my next race. Perfect! Actually, I am already 100% recovered; now I just have to get in shape.

All my life, I’ve been somewhat accident-prone in running, most recently awarding me the Best Blood recognition at Grindstone ‘08. My first athletic injury came at age 3. I was running in a graveyard when I tripped and broke my nose on a parked minivan. A year later, I tried to outrun my next-door neighbor’s mountain goat. In the end, it got me and head-butted me into the bushes. In 4th grade, my friend Glenn told me he was faster than me. We lined up at recess to race. Glenn got caught up in a jump rope, and I sprinted to victory. I turned around to laugh, still moving forward, and ran into a shed. Now I have a chin scar. Glenn was a very graceful 9-year-old and did not tease me as he walked me to the nurse’s office. Pride go-eth before a fall. Pride ran-eth me into a shed.

Yesterday, I picked up my friend, Austin, in the District at 5:40 a.m. and we traveled a few hours away to the Jeremy’s Run area of the Shenandoah Mountains. There, we met up with the VHTRC [Virginia Happy Trails Running Club…so cool] to do a 21-miler up into the mountains. It was amazing. I love the fellowship of running. We saw bears and breathed in the fresh air. Something bit my ankle, and I got worried. Austin said that if my flesh started to decay, he would let me know because he is a good friend.

Actually, I make a point of trying to keep as many middle school friends as possible, and Austin is among them. I think: This person chose to be my friend when I was at my ugliest and most awkward, when I was a brace-faced member of Young Astronaut’s Club, who spent my free time traveling around northern NJ performing yodels in a goat costume. There is freedom in knowing I have that level of acceptance. By comparison, anything I do now is cool.

The views were beautiful, and the people were delightful. I enjoyed making new friends and hearing their stories. Every ultrarunner has ridiculous stories, and it is fun to listen and share.

We reached an overlook and paused to explore the view. “Austin,” I coughed. “Are we at altitude, or am I out of shape?” He told me I was out of shape. Cool. There’s time. My goal is to get fit by Tuesday.

Austin wears those glove-shoes, and he loves them. He always gets a lot of attention for them, and people ask him for shoe advice. This is funny to me. Austin is very clear-eyed, and I would ask him for advice on lots of things, just NEVER issues of shoe preference. For example, see what he chose to wear during the DC Snow-pocalypse. Very fashion-forward. What a guy.

(Austin reads this blog but is on a business trip to Lebanon and will not see this for at least 8 days.)

I got home early from the run and went over to dog-watch a basset hound named Tucker.

Tucker is a diva, and I could not get him inside. After taking him for a walk, I let him roam freely about the fenced in-backyard. But I couldn’t get him to re-enter the house. From 7:45 until almost 10 p.m., I chased him around the backyard, but he has swivel-hips and kept eluding me. I played dead, and he didn’t care. I pretended to cry to elicit sympathy, but he was heartless. I kept asking him, “Is this the way you want to start our friendship?” But Tucker sprinted around and around. It was demoralizing. Finally, I gave up and walked inside. Tucker took the cue and followed me in. Just like that. Tucker, my love for you is not contingent upon your behavior. I will love you just as you are. You are another Sylvia in my life.

Today I ran about 35 miles (plus some lifting and dog-walking), and tomorrow I’ll get more heat training in. My foot is perfect, and I am excited about my upcoming race. I love summer, and I love this sport.


  1. what do I love most about the picture of you and your watch tan? the face of the girl behind you. priceless.
    p.s. I love you. please stop getting hurt. it makes me worry.

  2. I just discovered your blog, Sabrina! It is so great! You are hilarious.
    -Jacqueline Lamb

  3. Haha Carrieeeee! She is my favorite part of the picture because I don't know her, but clearly she is disgusted by me. I love that. :)

    And thanks, Jacqueline. I love to share the ultrarunning part of my life with people. Thanks for reading!

  4. ok-i did the same thing during the snow storm...i didnt have any boots. it's really a sign that you can adapt to your surroundings and be creative. further along in the evolutionary process...

    Lauren Black

  5. Iiiiiii love you. And your blog. So epic.

    Well done out-waiting Tucker! Sounds like baby-sitting, with even less reason and more insanity.

  6. Is the Sylvia thing a true story?!

  7. LB-You are style incarnate, so I wouldn't worry about it. :) Austin, however...

    Marynn-Wheeeeere are you right now, you old lady graduate?

    Lo' Med-Yeah, she's real, but I changed her name. She used to really upset me, but I like that she talks to me! Most people in the gym at 5 a.m. are drones, too tired to talk.

  8. "....when I was a brace-faced member of Young Astronaut’s Club, who spent my free time traveling around northern NJ performing yodels in a goat costume."

    haaahahaha. Your blog is great.

    And don't knock the bag over shoes idea. It worked.