Disclaimer: Today’s blog is full of TMI – Too much information. It’s about some of the things runners do not discuss with just anyone. Some of you may find it crude and unladylike. Some may be offended by it. If you are one of those individuals, please avoid this post. If you e-mail me and tell me how disgusted you are by it, I am just going to respond with “you were warned and you could have stopped reading any time.”
Last week, a friend asked me to run a half-marathon with her in the future. She suggested that we limit our bathroom breaks or better yet, try not to take one at all. I told her I usually do not have to take one until about mile 18-20. She was surprised, but I told her that’s what I have gotten used to. Of course now that I said that, I needed to empty my bladder by mile 14 on last Sunday’s 18 mile run. Why did I not have to go when I was running through Lambertville or New Hope where there were plenty of places to duck into? No big deal, I’m on the tow path, there should be somewhere I can go. Except, on the PA side the canal is lined with giant beautiful homes with ceiling to floor windows overlooking the Delaware River. I imagine dropping my running tights just to hear some 5 year old boy scream, “Moooooooooommmmmy! There’s a woman peeing in the canaaaaaaaaaaal!” I envy how men can just whip it out and go nearly anywhere without exposing everything they have. I look to the left at the river. It’s a steep drop down to the water, so there’s nowhere to go there either. I mean, I COULD just hang off one of the thinner tree trunks jutting out, but then I picture losing my grip and falling to my death with an exposed bottom; or worse, a fishing boat down below with some old man looking up and getting a view of my undercarriage. So I keep running.
The problem with having a full bladder when running is that emptying it is all you think about. You’re no longer focused on your run or enjoying the beauty around you. All you think about is where you’re going to go. Every thick tree, brick wall, or giant rock has potential. The tow path goes beneath a few streets, so there are bridges to run under. PERFECT! But on the other side of EVERY bridge there is someone running or biking towards it. So I keep on running. Eventually, I jump off the path and find a convenient store. Of course this one does not have a public restroom. For a moment I imagine lifting my leg at the back corner of the building to mark my territory, but I don’t. I continue on back to the park where I started, I know there are restrooms there. The toilets are disgusting and require “the hover.” Do you know how difficult it is to execute the hover after running 18 miles? My legs are shaky and because I held the urine in for too long, it trickles out s-l-o-w-l-y. (Men don’t seem to experience this slow trickle problem. Good for them.) Each second feels like a 10 minutes and my legs feel like they are about to give out. I picture myself falling into this dirty toilet and think, maybe I should have just squatted when I first needed to. Then I picture the newspaper headlines, “NJ Woman Exposes Self to Toddler” and think no, this is the better option. This is just strength training for the thighs. I can do it, I can do it, I can do it.
That leads me to restroom activity number two. I once read about a marathon woman who was racing to the finish line. She either wanted to PR or she was trying to place in the top three. When she crossed the finish line, there were streaks of brown running down her leg. I have nothing terrible to say about that because I would be mortified and would not want anyone else talking about my “accident.” But I will say I am terrified of that happening to me, which is why I always carry tissues with me so that I can stop and do what I must. I have read a lot about this in several publications. When I first began to run, it seemed that I had to go within the first two miles. I eat better now and am more in tune with my intestines, so thankfully, it has not been too much of a problem since. I have run all the way home and just make it in time to the restroom; but there have been moments when I am holding in gas because I am not sure what is going to happen. I ask friends what they do. One friend replied with, “My daughter always asks if I pooped in the woods today.” Okay, woods it is! But you know what? I live in New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the U.S. According to Wikipedia, we have 1,189 inhabitants per square mile based on the 2011 Census. I usually run through neighborhoods. Do you think I am going to defile someone’s nice green lawn? And I can’t imagine anyone one letting a sweaty stranger in to USE their nice clean bathroom. Would you? The trails I run on are through parks, which are always filled with families or bikers. I could push my way through the woods but with my luck I will drop my pants and there will be some hunter hidden up in the tree with a bird’s eye view of my crack. This may be okay or some, but I am not about showing my goods to just anyone! (I know some of my readers are going to say otherwise, but giving birth and breastfeeding don’t count. Plus, I know you guys enough and don’t care what you have seen! Get over it. ) Thank goodness they are finally building restrooms along the trail.
Then there’s today’s “problem” that occurs every 28 days or so for women. The Universe likes to have a good laugh at my expense. For some unknown reason, Aunt Flo decided to pay me a visit one week earlier last month. I thought, on no, is this going to affect the marathon? Please say its not so. Sure enough, she followed suit this month, which means she will be running Boston with me. (She’s like a jealous woman who needs to steal everyone’s glory. I think she needs to work on that.) It’s not like I haven’t run with this before. However, I have never run long distances during the first two days of it. It’s not a complaint. It’s part of being a woman. It’s just slightly annoying, like the Facebook “Poke” feature. Okay, so maybe the universe is just trying to prepare me. Fine, I’ll work with it. I know everything happens for a reason. Apparently, running Boston as my first marathon is not enough of a challenge for me.
I need to have a conversation with Playtex. Their “Sport” Tampon box has a silhouette of woman running on the front of the box. I am thinking that green silhouette with the flowing hair must not run anything more than a 10k. I was only out there for two and a half hours, which is not a lot of time. Can I just say that I am so glad I was wearing my back tights and underwear? Do I even have to mention underwear? Yes, because one of my friends says she does not wear them on her runs. At first I thought, WHY NOT?! But then I thought maybe it’s a good thing. Nice and airy. After today, HELL NO! If you ever see me running, I will be wearing underwear under those shorts or tights. Anyway, I need to find a better product or I am going to have to plan on TWO pit stops. TWO! I have no problems with one. But TWO?! I am in the LAST wave, LAST corral. The last wave starts at 10:40 A.M. Which means the last corral will head out around 11 A.M. We have to be done by 4:45 P.M. to get a finishers medal. That’s 5 hours and 45 minutes to finish. I am sure I can do it in that time with one stop. I am not so sure I can do it with two stops. If I don’t get a finisher’s medal, then someone better be at that finish line with pie or I am going to be one upset woman. Mmmmmmm, pie………..
I am sorry if I grossed you out in anyway, but these are just a few problems people don’t really talk about when you’re new to running. It’s kind of like when someone gets pregnant and people tell the new mom about how wonderful it's going to be. They tell you the big things to expect being pregnant or while in labor, but they never actually mention the gritty things that occur throughout or while in labor that would mortify most people if they knew. All you mommy’s know what I am talking about. I don’t want to discourage anyone from running because I love it and I think most people would as well. Just be prepared for running long distances people (and labor if you're pregnant). BE PREPARED!
Thanks for sticking this one out. Please support my cause: Massage Therapy Foundation “Running for Research” on http://www.crowdrise.com/kathyborsuk. 29 days until Boston and I am so close but not quite there yet on my goal of raising $5,000. Every dollar counts and is appreciated.