**warning – the following post contains graphic images and descriptions of bodily functions. If you are easily grossed-out, you may want to skip this post.
I’m going to let all my non-running readers in on a little secret: there are sometimes “unpleasant” effects of running. The casual runner may not experience them, but anyone who has pushed their body to its limits knows that it can cause potentially embarrassing gastric symptoms. From what I understand, when a runner (or any athlete for that matter) is really pushing their body, their heart is pumping hard carrying the blood to the extremities. This naturally causes the blood to be taken away from internal organs, such as the digestive tract. And when the body pulls blood away from the digestive tract, it stops digesting. The body’s response is elimination. Yep – that’s right. I’m talking about puking and pooping. (aren't you glad that you're still reading?)
When I first started running a couple of years ago, the puking part didn’t come as a surprise. I suppose I still had memories of running the mile in elementary school, and how sick it made me feel. I’ve actually only thrown up twice from running: once at the end of my very first 5k and once just last week after I failed to property keep my electrolytes balanced during a 14 miler.
But the whole pooping thing was a surprise to me – I had no idea that running could affect the bowels. Luckily, I’m a pretty regular person so it rarely is an issue for me. I also frequent a running board, and there are topics about the bowels often enough that I was aware of the potential before the situation presented itself. I do have to admit though, that there have been a couple of occasions where I’ve been blessed to find an appropriately placed restroom – but only one where I wasn't so lucky.
I’ve heard stories and I’ve even seen pictures though, so I know that I’m not alone. Ironically, the morning after the lovely and talented Tiburon forwarded me an email with this picture,
I set off for my early morning run. I only had 3 miles on the schedule for that day, and I planned to run before work – which meant getting up at 4:30 am. It was still pitch-black outside, and there was nary a soul to be seen. My run started out well, and I was running a fast pace (which I try to do at least once a week). About a mile into my run, I started feeling some rumblings from the depths of my bowels. But, I wasn’t too worried – I had less than 2 miles until home and I’d never had issues before.
As I kept running though, the situation became more urgent and I began to wonder what I could do. I was on a residential street, with only dark homes and sleeping occupants. There weren’t any available places to relieve myself until I reached home - and home was still about a mile away. I started running faster so that I would get home more quickly, which only made the situation worse. I kept thinking about the picture from the email only the day before, and perhaps it was psychosomatic, but I started to worry what would happen IF? Real people don't crap themselves do they? Isn't that something reserved for the ultra-tough, elite runners who don't want to risk their first-place finish?
So, I did the only thing I could think of at the moment: I ran behind a large pine tree in an open space area, dropped my pants, and took care of business. After I was finished, I stepped a few feet to my left, and drug my bum over the grass. Then, I pulled up my pants and finished my run. It’s not something that I’m proud of, and I can only hope that the sprinklers washed things away before the poor landscape guys had to mow. But I did what I had to.
So there you have it: my most embarrassing running-related moment. It actually took me almost a month to get the courage to post it, so please be kind. And if you feel so obliged to share something with me that would make me feel better, I’d much appreciate it.