Sunday, June 18, 2017

Every runner has a crap story ...

The night before this year's half-marathon, I maxed out the dosage on my magnesium drink at bedtime. I was a bit clogged, it had been two days, and I imagined a scenario in which the concoction would act like Liquid Plumr. While I slept, the mineral would throw some muscle at the stoppage, flushing out my pipes in the hour before race time.


I have a distinct memory of being introduced to The Drink a few months ago. The Magnesium Pusher had told me that the only side-effect of ODing was loose stool. I'd snickered. The phrase "loose stool" is so visual that I cannot be expected to remain stoic in the face of it. Anyway, that's the effect I was going for when I downed the drink in consecutive rapid swigs on Friday night.

Unfortunately, on race day morning, there was nothing. And instead of considering the Worst Case Scenarios of high mileage and loose stoolage, I delighted in imagining myself as a medical anomaly. Able to withstand two teaspoons of The Drink in a single day. They'd coo about me in folk songs someday.

Anyway, for a series of boring reasons, this is just another way in which I was ill-prepared for this year's half-marathon. Basically, since turning 40, my body has turned into a collection of rusted hinges and frayed ball joints. Then, in the days before the race, our cat died suddenly and I caught a wicked cold.

Whereas last year I'd set a personal world record after thorough training, this year my longest run was 7 miles at the last minute while watching a couple episodes of the TV Land series "Younger," my new favorite of The Mediocre Television Genre.

So, goal-wise, I had big plans to dip back into digits previously seen in my opposite-of-training years.

Speaking of opposite of training: While waiting in line to take a bus up the short, I saw a man stretching his calves and smoking a cigarette. "Just charging my batteries!" he yelled to his partner. I cackled. As the line moved, she responded "Okay, Smokey."

Anyway, the race was fine. I'd forgotten to launch Map My Run while I was still in civilization and instead had to guesstimate my splits -- which were consistently in my Don't-Go-Any-Slower Zone. After I passed the 2:15 pace-setter, I blinked a couple of times and thought "Oh. This might be okay." At Mile 8 I lost track of how far I'd gone and was pleasantly surprised to pass the 10-mile marker.

At some point I heard The Most Annoying Sound In The World, a real brain-clanger, and realized a runner up ahead of me was wearing bells -- which is the kind of thing you do when you actively do not give a rip about the 7,332 other people who might get trapped in your radius. (I spend much of my time on a half-marathon course finding new ways to be annoyed: people who play Katy Perry on their iPhones without headphones, groups of runners in a line, intimate conversations.)

The magnesium hit on the home stretch. I wasn't in danger of that proverbial freeing whoosh, but I did have to lock the doors and make sure nothing, nothing escaped my body. I finished in 2:09ish -- which means that the difference between heavy training and light training is merely 10 minutes -- and got my bag of clothes in record time. Found my family, took a photo, headed about half a mile to the car -- and doubled over.

I actually know an otherwise civilized adult human who had to crap in an alley mid-run once.
For about 2 minutes I wondered if that story wasn't so funny anymore.

I scanned the horizon for public restrooms on a street void of public restrooms as Pa Pista snapped Chach into her seat, Ma Pista shouted encouragements and I gnawed on the back windshield wiper. Long story short, we found a bathroom Just. In. Time, once again saving me from becoming the Urban Legend about The Runner Who Craps Herself.

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