Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sophie's Death March


When my boss asked me what I was doing this weekend, I hesitated to say “Death March” because it sounds so final, and I have several outstanding office assignments to complete. Nobody else can do them except for me. It takes a special girl to enter data. I’m going to go ahead and say that I am the only one capable of data entry. Some people say chimps, too, yes. But that’s likely because they’ve never met a chimp. Or me. No chimp, even the most skilled chimp on the planet, could perform data entry with comparable enthusiasm and vigor.
So I told her I was doing a Death March but that I am not actively seeking a premature demise or anything; it’s just a cute little nickname. If I were to name a run, I would call it something like “Runnity Run Lalala Mountain Bippity Bop,” which is why they never ask me to name things.

Dear Diary,
It seems I’ve embarrassed myself at the office again. My boss thinks I may be dying, proactively and pre-meditatively, over Fourth of July weekend and that I’m not going to finish inputting my data. This is probably less embarrassing than the day she found me dancing at the fax machine.
Love and Fondness,

I left the DC area at 4:30 in the morning because I figured I’d get lost, and I did. Anticipate and account for my flaws—Check. GPS units are pernicious to society because they give you an order like “turn left,” but you have to wait two miles to obey. “Turn left in two miles.” Obedience should be immediate, like it was in the old days. So I ended up on the far side of the mountain at a gas station, and an affable older gentleman in a jean jacket sent me in the correct direction. I made it.

The group Sophie assembled was huge, 40 or more. It was exciting to see a lot of familiar faces and catch up briefly before we were off. I trotted up front with Neil Gorman and Ragan Petrie (both of WUS!) and a few others. It is important to, at all times, be fit enough to run up front because there is the highest likelihood of encountering a bear. We did get lost for a bit, though, and got in some extra credit miles. It felt good, as extra credit often does. When we re-passed a group, they sassed us and called us lazy. I love the VHTRC.

As we ascended the first set of inclines, Neil scolded me for running with my head down and reminded me to look around. His reminder changed the rest of the run for me. The higher we climbed, the more magnificent the waterfalls. We scurried over boulders, across creeks, and through single-track footpaths of verdant profusion. Some might call certain areas of the trails bucolic or pastoral, Bobby Gill. We climbed mountains and overlooked the entire world, it seemed. I felt adequately re-contextualized within my environs. Living in DC, you start to think that you are big and important, but you're NOT. Just kidding. But on the mountains, you feel small and lose track of your personal affinities and agendas. You are just wholly present, taking it all in.

The day was clear and temperate; it never grew too hot. The trees provided us with shade and respite, but every time we reached a clearing, we were flooded with a resplendence of white light.

Resplendence is on the list of words I am not allowed to use in my blog. My blog editor/little brother wrote down several words I have used too much—i.e. resplendence, obfuscation, salubrious—and banned me from using them because he says they are my comfort words. But in this case, it’s the only word that fits. Deal with it, Teddy Moran!

*Upon editing, Teddy just notified me that I forgot “unadulterated” on my list of banned words. “But maybe that's because you wanted to continue using it in your blog, pretending it's not a comfort word,” he said. So restrictive. I am now accepting applications for a new blog editor with a greater allowance for repetitive diction.
You're fired, Teddy. You and your bear can leave. What do you know?

In the quiet moments, I rewrote the lyrics to BeyoncĂ©’s “Halo” song. “Baby, I can see your Hegel.” Because sometimes you’re on the dance floor up in the club, and you want a more substantive lyric, something with richer content. So you’re dancing and ask, “What is that feeling pulsing through my body? It is the stereo?” NO. It’s edification. And it is altogether the best feeling in the world.

So I was thinking pretty hard about the BeyoncĂ© song, and in my inattention, I wiped out on a root. I cut both of my knees, really only superficial abrasions, but there was a lot of blood. As I ran by people, they clasped their hands over their mouths and gasped. Ragan told me to clean it off in the river, but I decided it wasn’t worth stopping. There were only 6 miles left. Furthermore, every trail run includes falling. Recall the middle-finger-to-the-world hand blood incident on New Year's Day and the how-did-those-rocks-get-into-my-sports-bra? misadventure in May.

Also of note: I ate a Gu! It was the first of my life. Gross. Gu’s are basically sugary, caffeinated gelatinous amalgams that dehumanize you upon consumption because they’re not real food. That being said, I will eat them every run for the rest of my life now because they are portable and have a high assimilation efficiency. Right away, you feel better.

Okay, go! I have to get some faster miles in today. Tomorrow, I may do Gary's Browntown Loop. "Chances of a bear sighting are 58% - if blackberries are ripe along Mt. Marshall Trail the odds bump up to 84%." Okay, awesome. And then my BOMF taper starts! Ahhh!!! It's my first A-race of the year. Thanks again, Sophie Speidel for organizing yesterday's trail run. It was a ton of fun.

(Two weeks away from BOMF 24-Hour run. I could not be more excited. I feel strong and healthy, and I've put in more high-quality distance sessions this year. It will be fun to see my Philly running family again!)

Whatever you do, GO BIG. Happy trails.


  1. I already had named a race Runnity Run Lalala Mountain Bippity Bop. People complained there was no mountain. And the aid stations only had cigarettes and Gu and no one wanted Gu.

  2. You bit it AGAIN and drew more blood AGAIN and this time I wasn't there. Dang. Betcha you said "Don't worry I'm OK" before you even hit the ground AGAIN, didn't you? :) You are gonna crush BOMF!!!

  3. Love the Gu review. You've such a way with words.
    And I'm going to host a run just so you can name it.

  4. I laughed at your data entry thing :)

    I always fall on trail runs too, it's what the cool kids do!

  5. Sabrina, this paragraph speaks volumes to our conversations about cooking. I've been thinking a lot about what I'm going to eat for my next meal and how sad I am for you that you eat things like "gu". So we'll work on that.

    "Also of note: I ate a Gu! It was the first of my life. Gross. Gu’s are basically sugary, caffeinated gelatinous amalgams that dehumanize you upon consumption because they’re not real food. That being said, I will eat them every run for the rest of my life now because they are portable and have a high assimilation efficiency. Right away, you feel better."