June 10th I ran In the Utah Valley Marathon. I did not run the full, just the half, (I am not quite there yet). This race was a gift for my birthday so I have been looking forward to it for a few months now. To be honest, It kind of snuck up on me. I was going about life not fully accepting that it was almost May and then it was like I blinked and not only was it May, it was the middle of may and my race was just around the corner! This race was especially fun because my cute little cousin came up too to run the kids 1K after I finished so I also got to have my parents at the finish line with Morgan.
If there is one thing I've learned its that each race tells a different story, you learn something more about yourself, your race game, your strategy, you name it. This race in particular had a story of its own... one ill never forget.
It all started Friday afternoon. I had my pre-race lunch, (high in carbohydrate, so-so in protein for fuel so your body can capitalize on your nutrition and low in fat and fiber to prevent the kind of runs you don't want during your run. ( things that I have learned during previous races ) I was good with lunch, had all my race gear ready, my clothes laid out, my after race nutrition and all was set up on the dresser ready to go. When Morgan got home, we headed out to a great evening with his family to eat dinner and hang out. Everything was great. I ordered a pasta meal (again with the carbs) and then we waited. we got there at 6:00 and didn't get our food until 7:00 and got done eating around 8:30. Typically, that isn't a big deal but when you have to get up at 3:00 am the next morning, that's pretty late.
We got home, did a final gear check and went to bed.
****BEEP*BEEEP*BEEEEP*BEEEEEP!!!**** Every time my alarm goes off at 3:00 or 4:00 am for these races I question everything. Why do I do this to myself?! Luckily, It doesn't take long for the race day adrenaline to kick in and I am wide awake.
- Brush teeth :CHECK
- Get dressed :CHECK
- Go to the bathroom :CHECK
- Get pre race fuel :CHECK
- Double check bags :CHECK
In no longer than 20 min we are out the door driving to the loading zone. ** Shout out to Morgan for coming along with me to these horrifically early events. ** At this point I am 2.5 hours out from start time so I am able to eat my breakfast and get my electrolytes in with plenty of time. We arrive to the loading zone and I am off on the bus driving up the mountain to our starting line while Morgan finds a good parking spot and gets in the back of the car for a less than comfortable nap. At this race luckily, they have set up fire pits for heat. They are lined up along the dark road filling the air with smoke illuminated by two or three industrial spot lights. The kind you see construction workers using late at night on the freeway. As I step out of the bus we all file out looking for our spot where we will wait for the next hour. I can't help but think that this is exactly how it will be if there is ever a zombie apocalypse.
Luckily when you participate in races like these where it is expected to be very chilly at the start, you all have "drop bags" that you can put all your sweats and jackets into and somewhere like a luggage tag, you are expected to attach your race number. You throw these bags into a big box truck. These trucks leave about 5 min before the race to take all the bags down to the finish line so you can go pick them up after the race. ANYWAYS, I guess that little bit is for those who didn't know that was a thing... now ya do :)
Back to the story. I found a prime spot right next to a fire pit and sat down. I was actually able to stay pretty warm and with my hand supporting my head I felt myself actually get a little bit of a power nap. As we got closer to the start I forced myself to get up and walk around. If you are a big people watcher, the starting line of a big race is a great place to go. Eventually we got the final call for drop bags to be thrown into the trucks and to line up.
5... 4.... 3... 2... 1
And we are off! Mile 1 felt great, mile 2 was just the same, knocked mile 3 outta the park and boom we have only got 10 more to go! Mile 4 was smooth sailing and Mile 5 got a little rocky... all of a sudden there was a little uneasiness in my stomach... and that is when you have to start evaluating your situation. Aid stations (accompanied by port-a-potties ) were every even mile. I was about a mile out of the next one so I had tome to see if this was a real issue or if it would pass. The tricky thing about this race was that it was a big race. It sells out every year so there are no stretches where there is what you'd say "a gap in the line". So I did my best to get out of the way and try to make it as inconspicuous as possible and slowly tried to "relieve the pressure". I honestly did try my best to not crop dust anyone I swear. After a few ...episodes... I kept running and it seemed that the pressure was simply gas that was now passed and I was in the clear.
I was able to pick up my pace back to where I was before and it all was good. I ran up to mile 6, saw a giant line for the bathrooms and thought "no way I am stopping for that long" (I think there tends to be a bigger party at mile 6 because it is just about half way and people like to use that as a check point) But its not a big deal because I had masterfully avoided a disaster and I was good to go..... HA! not this time sucka!
Mile 6.5 hit and it hit me hard my stomach cramped up, the chills came in and I knew this was no "pressure" this was much more tangible and much more threatening than before...
I am going to poop my pants
No, no, no this can't be happening. I am literally in a canyon surrounded by runners and as I look to my left I see a hill... Well in this situation getting to higher ground isn't going to help. especially since there are just weeds and tiny bushes unwilling to offer any kind coverage. I am not running 1/2 a mile backwards and Im not going to make 1.5 miles forwards.... CRAP! literally I am about to crap. So I just think well lets just keep pushing forwards. If I run I am just about 15 min away from the next aid station... start running *cue molten lava in stomach...* Nope that's not going to work... So I just try brisk walking again. At this point, pace and time is not a concern, the only thing I am thinking about is decency and dignity and how in the world I could possibly keep both with the situation at hand.
Meanwhile this troubled sista is briskly walking at a pace that gets me moving but also doesn't cause an eruption.... thinking up solutions and saying prayers. Possibly one of the strangest ones I've ever said. "please help me not poop my pants". haha one thought was considering the bushes. "what if I can time it just right and actually find a gap in the line. I have tissues in my pack for every run because my nose always gets runny and for the first time I hadn't used them yet... Well, I could use that for toilet paper.... at this point I had rounded a bend in the canyon and out of the corner of my eye I see two boys who had just finished cheering their runner on, dart across the canyon road with posters in hand into this park area... I see a pavilion, a grassy area and the back of a cinder block structure... "oh my gosh could that be... " "what if its just a storage unit" "I don't know.. it would be strange to not have a bathroom at a park up here right?" and just like that my feet had forced me off the course across the road and into a ditch as if they had a mind of their own, It didn't take more than a few steps for my brain, heart and stomach to be all in with their plan. I ran up the ditch and over the weeds like I was in a war zone running from enemy fire. I ran around the corner and ill tell you what, I have never been so happy to see a stick figure in a dress before. I threw open the door and went inside ... ladies and gentlemen I am proud to say ... I did not poop my pants.
I think it goes without saying ... the rest of the race was a breeze. I spent the rest of the race catching up to the "pack" I was originally pacing with at the beginning of the race and around mile 11 felt confident that I had done just that. On this course, you spend the last leg of the race running past sidewalks littered with families and friends there to cheer on their runners with posters like "my wife is hot and sweaty" or "go dad go" but one in particular stood out to me. A woman confidently standing on the sidewalk in a demeanor that suggested this was not her first time cheering on a runner, was looking on as if she was anticipating her runner approaching soon. Ignoring all those passing by, doing quick scans of each bib number as though she were making sure she wasn't missing her anticipated runner, she proudly held a giant white poster, the ones you use for school projects, scribbled on it in thin black sharpie it read....
1 out of 100 runners poop their pants, it that YOU?!
Oh lady, you don't even know! hahah NOT TODAY, NOT TODAY....
I finished my race with the same times I have finished with before even with the potty break. I was slightly annoyed that I had to stop, grateful for the bathroom I would be repulsed by but now consider a miracle and glad that I was able to finish free of my own feces. When it all comes down to it, It is pretty hilarious, It is a lesson learned and a story to tell. I should have thought about eating so late the night before but it never crossed my mind. But as the saying goes, what's done is done and now I know.... No dinner after 7 pm before race day.
We had a few hours after my race but I spared no time telling my family the whole story. My parents were there to bring my cousin up for the kids run so I was so pumped to have an audience to hear about the last two hours of my existence. I was especially excited to tell my dad this horrid story since he used to run races with me AND has a peculiar fascination for funny stories like these... maybe that is where I get it from.. Laughing at myself (after the fact of course ;) ) is one of my favorite things to do. After my story telling, We had some time to pick up my bag, hang out in the shade with my cute cousin, dance around and chat until her run.
It is so fun to take her around. This is the third one I have been able to take her on and each time I try to teach her about running. How you need to pace yourself and keep going even if it is hard. I wish I could say it makes a difference but she is 4 and it will probably take time so for her, the highlight of the race is the medal, Popsicle and learning about a "potty box" (port - a- potty) But hey, we have fun and it is my evil plan to mold another runner in the family for selfish reasons ;) It is all a work in progress.