Friday, May 16, 2014

Suddenly, I Have to Poop; A Runner's Tale

Suddenly having to poop mid-run transforms a normal run into the greatest crisis of your day. When I realized the predicament I was in this morning around mile 2 of a 6 mile run, my brain entered a stage of hysteria usually reserved for Titanic passengers thirty seconds before going under.

And it's not like you can react appropriately to this terrifying new situation. On a track with other runners, bikers, and walkers, everything has to be internalized.

Me, internalizing

First, of course, I had to find out what was responsible for this awfulness. I'm only human, and like everyone else I can only move forward with a problem when I know whose fault it is. That answer wasn't hard to figure out: it was my fault.

So I know how it happened. Now, how to deal with it? Do I cut my run back? No, I thought, I can't do that. I have to be stronger than that.

But this wasn't an obstacle that could be overcome by willpower. This was an inevitability. This was an event that could only be dealt with one way, and I was pretty sure it couldn't be dealt with while running. But I also knew that turning around now and waving the white flag compromised my willpower. If I said I couldn't do it, I still had to run the 2.5 miles back home, and I had to do it as someone who already gave into this biological necessity once. What was to stop me giving into it a second, much more costly time?

As things intensified, I suddenly stopped running. Caught between fight and flight, I had literally no response. I was a deer in the headlights of a truck driven by pizza and beer.

So I made a decision: flight. Literally, flight. I turned and ran back home, cutting my run short and desperately finding the balance between speed and not further jostling my precariously full digestive system. The whole way, of course, alarm bells rang in my head. Meanwhile, my playlist helped out with a little song by Britney Spears called "I Wanna Go." Some of the lyrics are as follows. Not even joking right now.

As the run stretched on and my desperation grew, I began imagining scenarios of how I could live with myself as someone who pooped themselves in a public park. How I would dress, file my taxes, brush my teeth? What would post-poop me be like? I even found comfort in actively planning my new life as someone who was about to actually do this.

I held it together, though. The miles ticked by agonizingly slowly, but I eventually turned onto my street and saw my house. At this point, the phrase "This is happening," began repeating over and over in my mind, quelling the voices that warned someone else might be in the bathroom, you might have forgotten your keys, the water might be out.

I won't go into detail about what happened next. Suffice it to say, the ratio of crisis level to resolution time might be the highest in the history of all things. Two minutes after the pressure in my bowels caused me to question the nature of existence, I had pretty much forgotten about the whole thing in a wave of euphoric relief.

I will, I imagine, also fail to remember the incident the next time I'm presenting with pizza and beer the night before a run.

So it goes.

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