Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Does a Runner Poop in the Woods?

There are running clubs, breakfast clubs, and dance clubs, secret clubs, and poppin' bottles in 'da club. Then there are, um, "other" clubs.

We’re all runners here, right? With that statement alone, you have to know that this blog post is about to head in the direction of a handful of topics: snot rockets, farting, black (or no) toenails…in other words, something gross that you can really only have a serious conversation (or any conversation) about with a few people, as I did on Saturday with my Breakfast Club.

Today, as the title suggests, I’m writing about pooping in the woods.

I suppose it was only a matter of time. Sure, there have been close calls in the past, but I always found some way to cinch those cheeks tight and make it home.

Thanks to Scott Jurek’s new book “Eat and Run,” I spent the majority of Sunday evening doing some preparatory cooking for the week, things like refried beans, hummus wraps, homemade salsa. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not becoming a vegan or even a vegetarian as evidenced by my dinner the night before “the incident.” Needless to say, there was a lot of vegetable intake, which translates to a lot of fiber, and as Mrs. OnthebusRunning can attest to, a lot of gas.

So after one day on this new diet, plus our new roommate’s beef bourguignon for dinner, some might call it a recipe for disaster…that or messy shorts.

I awoke the next morning to squeeze an eight miler in before work because of evening commitments (can't let the mileage suffer). Normally, I can get rolling in 5-10 minutes, but something told me I should take an extra minute or two for a pre-run, err, evacuation. One of my running friends will always declare that “There’s nothing more important than a pre-race (or run) deuce.”

I set off into the pre-dawn darkness, enjoying the steady sounds of my footfalls on the pavement and the rare solitude on the main roads near our home. Two miles into the run, I headed down a ramp to the Big Rocky Run trailhead where I clumsily attempted a 10x1 min @5K pace *ahem* fartlek with nothing but the triangle of light cast ahead of me from my headlamp.

I exited the trail and wound my way through quiet neighborhoods, watching homes come to life behind lighted windows. Again, wrapped in that pre-dawn quiet, the rhythmic inhale/exhale of my breathing, the…gurgling of my stomach.

It came on at the farthest reaches of my loop and jolted me enough to pull back on the pace. I tentatively ramped up for that last interval, turning back again onto the trail. The woods were still dark but I mercifully made it through and took a slow jog to get back to the main road. Then, as George RR Martin (Game of Thrones author) has written on a number of occasions, “my insides turned to water.”

I had just over two miles to home and the woods, along with the darkness, disappearing fast. I trotted over the final bridge and faced one of life’s most important decisions: Is it a fart? Or something more. The answer did not take long to reveal itself: Something more! Something more!

For the first time, I knew I would not make it. I stepped off the trail, clicked off my hand lamp, dropped trow, and, well, you can figure out the rest.

Instant relief. Until I started looking around for something to, you know, clean up. I didn’t want to pick up anything off the ground, unsure of whether or not it would be poison ivy. So I looked up and pulled a leaf off the tree in front of me. I put it in my palm and narrowed my eyes. Then I pulled two more leaves off.

It didn’t do much except make my hand a little funky. So I pulled those shorts back up and completed the two odd miles back home.

When I arrived at my front step, I started to unlace my shoes, realizing that yes, in fact, that smell was coming from me. And no, I was not going to stick around long enough to say good morning to Mrs. Onthebusrunning and our house guest.

I headed for the shower and explained my tale of shame and woe to my wife when she came up to brush her teeth. “Oh, no!” she said, laughing, before her face straightened. “Where are the shorts now?”

Later that morning, I shot an e-mail over to my dad, the eternal runner, knowing that he would understand.

“Welcome to the club!” he wrote back.


Anyone else in this club?

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