There comes a time in each runner's life when hard decisions have to be made to save what is left of one’s dignity. Unfortunately, the idea of self-worth means nothing to the call of nature. When one has to go, one has to go; and so the accident happened.
Early in my days as a triathlete running was cumbersome, difficult and painful. Long runs ended at 45 minutes, and my leg’s felt on fire. Committed to the process, I tackled each run, believing that I too could be a runner. I had once heard that one is not a runner until THAT happens. Well if THAT is the criteria then I gladly will forever be a non-runner.
It was a Friday; I remember it well; cooler air filled my lungs and fall was finally here. It was time for my long run. The Stanford campus showed little signs of the seasons changing. The peeling Eucalyptus trees continued to spread their scent, and the parched ground yearned for rain.
The workout that day was a 10 minute warm up followed by building speeds. “I got this!” 20 minutes into my run an unsettling gurgling feeling emerged in my abdomen. I didn’t know what this was. “Do I stop or continue?” I chose to continue, albeit at a slower pace. Panic struck when I realized this feeling was not temporary and pressure was quickly developing. “What was I going to do?” I frantically looked around for a solution while squeezing as tight as I could.
There it was: A bathroom! I stumbled across sheaths of dried Eucalyptus bark towards the door and yanked on it with all my body weight bracing myself for the door to swing open. Except all my force came to a sudden stop. Locked! “No…..NO!!!” There was no time to check the men’s stall. With tunnel vision, I aimed for my car. There was a strip mall with open bathrooms on the other side of the five lanes which separated us.
I drove off only to stop again. I didn’t realize the traffic on the road. I sat nervously. I focused to un-focus but had no luck. We were not going anywhere, and the gurgling feeling intensified. In the privacy of my car, my muscles failed. The pressing feeling overpowered me. I sat there, warmly embraced by my shit, a mash made up of oatmeal, coffee, eggs, berries and surely some of last night's dinner. Obviously overwhelmed and disgusted, I chose to smile and think “This too shall pass. Now I am a runner.”
It was a long way home. With the windows rolled down, I carefully planned out the journey from my car in the garage up the elevator, down the corridor to my carpeted apartment. I was wearing running shorts but fortunately had a pair of jeans in the back seat. My creativity is what I can depend on when all else fails. I pull the jeans over my shorts. “Tie it up! Just hope no one will be in the elevator with you!”