Wednesday, January 13, 2010

It’s a simple rule-don’t poo your chamois

Runners have a fear. We are obsessed with poop. In fact, if you are above the realms of reading about bodily functions, then you may want to choose another blog to read because , in case you cannot tell now, this one is about number two. If you are a runner and you are preparing for a large race….a full or half marathon, you are as concerned with your bowels as you are about getting a black toenail, or passing the guy with sweaty back hair (trust me, you want around him as quickly as possible, it smells). As you train your body to endure long distances, you also train your bowels to contain themselves because when sheer exhaustion sets in, you are in trouble and your ability to control ANY bodily function becomes non-existent. It is not unusual to hear flatulence, see urine stained socks, or be hit with dribbling snot slinging from someone's chin. This is why there is such a looong line at the port-o-potties at races. We HAVE to make sure that everything is OUT. All systems are cleared for take off. This is why we do not consume a massive fiber filled breakfast…it will cause destruction of great magnitude later-- possibly out in the middle of nowhere. I presumed this was just a concern of my fellow runners and I prided myself that I have never “crapped” my pants while running (this doesn’t mean I have not thought about it or prayed not to….). I thought this fear, this reality, was reserved for this one sport until I heard a story about a bike race.

If you have ever been to a bike race; mountain, cross, road, or crit, you know that the riders on the course are serious. There is teeth grinding, gut grunting, scab scratching, leg churning action at the finish line. If there is no gap between the leader and the pack, then action is guaranteed to erupt in the last few pedal strokes before the finish line. It is very similar and as exhilarating as a horse race minus the tiny men and whips (oh, and the horses). The battle to cross the line is often marred by bumping shoulders, cursing, and the true exertion of all that is human. Such was the case of the story that I heard about a racer who in his last few robust pedal strokes dug deep….so deep that he found all of his energy being forced into his legs and then, there, while many onlookers gazed at the line, he found his chamois full (poo). Luckily this was ONLY noticeable to him and while the riders were making there may to the podium, cracking open celebratory beers, he found himself undressing hastily in a port-o-let (ahh, nice). I was even shown the singlet, now many years old, cleaned of course, and while I do not shy away from many things, I found myself taking a step back from the aforementioned garment, realizing that I did not need an up close and personal inspection. I trust the story to be true. Who would make that kind of thing up? (and you are thinking, "who would share that story?"...what can I say, I know colorful people).

All of this being said, I have a NEW fear now. I felt the bike was a safe place to displace my marathon fears. I do not worry about black toe nails on the bike. I feel I have ensured minimal chafing through the continued use of skin soothing emollients. Not once, did I fret on the century ride that I might have explosive entrails. Somehow I found comfort in the acres of cow pastures that if nature called, I would find a secure hay bale or nicely placed ditch to “unload” my fear. But, racing is different…it brings out another personality, something inside…and quite literally, “something inside.” As I am outlining what my year is going to look like on the bike, contemplating racing, I thought my greatest concern would be the “right” training, improving my bike handling skills, or building endurance. Obviously, I now have to worry that in all this preparation, I once again have to endure long lines at the port-o-lets and make sure that all of my shorts are black. I have to worry that I may need to rely on my extreme flexibility to change out of my clothes in a coffin sized metal cantankerous fumed box. Note to self: BRING EXTRA CLOTHES. Second note to self: GET CAR WINDOWS TINTED.

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