Monday, May 30, 2011

The Sophenator et al

(pictures from Sophie and Jenny)

The Sophenator is an all-star, and she assembled a large group to go run around Sugar Hollow, near Charlottesville, Virginia on Saturday. I loved the people who showed up: Sophie, my bros (Marlin and Q), big-time smilers (Gary and Jenny), the VHTRGs (Gentry and Griffin), WUS’s Corris duo, and others. Harry Landers was the namesake of the run, which was dubbed the Harry Landers Special Memorial Run in honor of his intrepid feat of manliness last year—when he broke his collarbone but continued to run.

To arrive on time, I woke up at 3 a.m., which is about as yesterday as today can be without having to reference today as tomorrow. It felt early. The weird thing about this was that a bunch of people were still out and about, continuing their yesterdays, and I was starting my today. It was as though we were living in different time zones while occupying the same sphere. This only magnified the surreality of the occasion.

I picked up Austin from D.C., and we drove south. Austin has joined other runs before—crewing/pacing me through Old Dominion last year and driving down for one of these group runs last summer. We’ve been friends for half of my life, the better half. Not because of his presence in it but because nothing important happens in the first twelve years of life. You just learn how to walk and talk and practice using silverware correctly so that you will not embarrass your parents when you eat in public. The greatest preoccupation of my younger life—ages 0 to 12—was whether or not my teeth could get sunburned if I smiled outdoors. I was certain they would. Then I’d have a mouthful of tan teeth, and that’s a horror. I told my second grade class this, and everyone stopped smiling during recess. Our teacher had to intervene and tell us that we do not, in fact, have melanin in our teeth. Then I turned thirteen and was instantly mature and understood teeth and silverware. That’s when I met Austin in gym class.

We arrived and talked. Sophie gave us maps, but if I could read a map or do other practical things, I wouldn’t be working on a degree in Philosophy. My family reminds me of this every time I use the words "Chicago" and "Boston" as synonyms. Then she warned us about bears. She said it was a high bear-density area and used some synonym for “vicious” to describe them. To my left, Jenny was talking about a snake of anaconda proportions that had approached her in a swimming hole in the forest. I wasn’t nervous or anything, though.

The run was ugly and lame because of the sunshine and excessive floral and faunal comeliness. Sickening. Every time we saw a scenic vista, I gagged and squinted so I wouldn’t have to look at any of it. I held my breath when I smelled flowers. There were just way too many flowers. I was so over it.
But just kidding. It was the best day ever. We ran through streams and up the mountains. I was thankful for my sneaker choice—Inov-8 F-lite 230s. They dried almost instantly, performed well on the rocky trails, and were light and comfortable. I ran up front in a pack with Austin, Steve, Christian, Joey, and Mike. It was actually comical how academically-motivated that little crew was. Law, Immunology, Medicine, Public Policy, and Neuroscience. As we each embodied our respective disciplines, we engaged in intellectual synthesis all morning on those trails. It felt like the Enlightenment. But in the quieter moments, I reflected on how I would fight off a bear.

We got to the swimming hole and tarried until more of the group caught up. The boys and Sophie were fearless and jumped right in. Jenny and I did a countdown and submerged ourselves together. It was freezing but functionally alleviative. Our joints benefited from the ice water. Off we ran, passing hikers and wanderers. It was a beautiful day.
(Jenny, Marlin, and me. Wet t-shirt contest. Marlin won.)

I am in the midst of a Runaissance, a rebirth of running in my life. Virginia is my favorite place in the world. I am loving this sport all over again, as though I am only just beginning this journey. Well, I am, kind of. I'm not an old lady. For now, I am focusing my attention on timed races, specifically 24-hour runs, but it is in my 2-year plan to run a couple more 48-hours because I'd like to see how far I can push myself there. I've moved a lot of my training over to pavement to equip my legs, and I'm doing more pace work and strength training. Running in the mountains felt excellent, however. I miss that.
(Mountain Marlin...Marlin the Sherpa)

When I finished the run, my shirt had blood all over it from a fall. The boys said it was awesome and wanted to see the gash. I couldn’t show them because the source of blood was from rocks that got into my sports bra. Igneous rocks. Note to all girls: It’s your prerogative if you want to stuff your bra, but if you do, don’t use gravel.

Austin and I drove off, back up to DC. Then I went to my friend’s wedding and danced with the mechanized exuberance of a Type A kindergartener. If you dance with a huge smile, nobody will question the quality of your moves.
I wish I could go back to the forest and train there everyday. Doing these runs is about as satiating as eating a lot of Pixy Stix. You’re satisfied for a few minutes, but in their wake, your hunger is even greater. I think in the future, I’m going to have to live in the mountains.


  1. Your most brilliant masterpiece to date, Miss Moran.

  2. Vintage writing, as always. One correction, howev ... please change "going to have to live in THE mountains" to "going to have to live in THESE mountains." We need you to live HERE! :)

  3. amen, bill! so wonderful to see you again, sabrina! you are such a sweet soul! :o) kinda sad you missed all the snakes and bears this year ( there was a bear last year on the AT and I have pictures on my FB I'll post on your wall:oP) I was lamenting to marlin and marc while we were running if there were any bears out you guys would see them and they would run away.. and we'd never run across one:o( seeing a bear is always so exciting.. on the other hand, snakes: AAH!! I can TOTALLY do with out snakes.. and we did see a snake on the trail about 1/4 before the swimming hole! take care! happy training! glad you are in VA for the summer:o)

  4. Your phrasing! Your phrasing! Oh, it makes my soul spin. "...danced with the mechanized exuberance of a Type A kindergartener." Tears! Joy! Roll out the carpet, award the statue of a little gold man! :)

    No, but seriously. Your blog is my favorite ever, and you should never put sharp poky things in your bra. It is just ill advised. Thank you for learning that through experience for this experiential learner! So, uh.... you coming to W'burg to train sometime soon?

  5. And here I am, getting all excited about "faunal comeliness". Gentlemen, I can assure you that it's perfectly safe to stuff your shorts with gravel. But it does slow you down.

    Lots of fun on the trails and I enjoyed reading your take on the day, Sabrina.

  6. Oh, what a day it was. NEVER tell anyone which trails we were on - pinky swear! Sorry I didn't get to join the Ivory Tower conversation at the front of the pack. Were Tom and I the ONLY ones who swung out on the terrifying rope swing with the 15 foot drop? It was thrilling.

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