3) Bloody Bits
I have almost never had a long run that did not include some degree of chafing. Whether it's blisters on my ankles, or cuts on my back and boobs from the sports bra, "there will be blood" is a good general theme for marathon training. In fact, one of the things I repeat to myself on long runs is, "Blood, Sweat and Tears." Once I have all three, I know I've had a good run.
I have never pooped my pants on a racecourse. But some have. I remember one particularly awful Boston Marathon; there was a runner with excrement running down her leg, crying, but still running. That is dedication I'm not sure I have.
As for me, there have been a couple pee incidents--especially when I was pregnant. Second babies are notorious for making their mamas incontinent and I was living the dream with Alan. Almost every time I ran, it happened. It has taken quite a bit of kegeling and stress to get everything back to normal. I cannot even begin to fathom the havoc a third pregnancy would wreak should we choose to pursue one.
But for now, I will avoid that thought and thank G-d--and kegel muscles--that my problem is mostly solved.
As a women runner, there is one issue no one ever discusses but has been an ongoing issue for me in every race: my period.
For some reason, no matter what my cycle, I end up on day three of my period for every race. And while Uta Pippig famously won the Boston Marathon in 1996 with menstrual blood running down her legs, most women would rather not be in that position. It is, however, a fact of life.
I will do my best to keep it where it belongs, but there is no way I am going to drop out of a race because Aunt Flo paid a surprise visit. If a man is grossed out by it, well he is probably not someone I want to know all that well anyway (because grow up, dude) and if a woman is, well, that's just sad.
Ah, my favorite. My husband, Rob, had a coach once that told him if you do not vomit at the end of a run, you have not worked hard enough. Needless to say, he lost 30 pounds running track his first year in college.
As for me, it has happened a couple times: Once when I swallowed a bug during last fall's half, and once at mile 20 of my big marathon. I was able to stop myself from a full-on vomit fest, but definitely gave a few heaves in that direction.
It's a part of running hard. And while I disagree with Rob's coach, I do think you ought to have had at least a couple bouts of running-induced nausea before you can officially call yourself a runner.
All of this goes to my theory that we women are natural born distance runners. Any of us who have gone through labor can attest to the fact that dignity kind of flies out the door. To which I say: all the better to run with, my dear! It's hard to be girly and also run long distances at a decent clip. And sweat is the least of it.
So, if you want to run long distances fast, you should probably suspend your fear of bodily functions because, next to childbirth, there is nothing that makes a person more base than running a fast (or semi-fast) marathon. And believe me, if I can suspend my gag reflex--one of my favorite sayings as a child, after all, was "gag me with a spoon"--anyone can.
Sasha Brown-Worsham is a writer, a mother and an unabashed, unashamed runaholic. Check her progress each week as she trains to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
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