Monday, April 19, 2010


Saturday morning I set out to run 12 miles.

Over the next two hours several noteworthy and not-so-noteworthy events took place. This is a detailed account of them which took place on a lovely Saturday morning in mid-April...

I set off from home with a well mapped-out route in mind. I was feeling confident and took off fast. A little too fast. But I was enjoying the run, the weather, the scenery. I wasn't thinking about how the back 6 miles were going to feel.

I jogged past the National Zoo only to find that the bike path around the tunnel was closed. Grrrr. Had to run THROUGH the tunnel, which is loud, stinky, and narrow. It was around the tunnel that I noticed that what was a small hole in the lining of my shorts when I left home was now a larger hole. My favorite and oldest pair of running shorts were beginning a slow death. And the chaffing was starting. I could feel it on the inside of my right thigh. Wanting to prevent as much chaffing as possible, I pulled my shorts up a teeny-tiny little bit, tided them a little snugger, and kept running. Details of my chaffing to come...

I got to the halfway point and turned around. It was apparent from the time on my watch that going out too fast was beginning to catch up with me. I was running at a not-so-fast pace any more. My goal became simple: finish the whole run. ALL. 12. MILES.

So I hunkered down, found a little inner strength and pushed on.

I took a tumbled at mile 9(ish). My right ankle gave out as I made the transition from pavement to trail. Surprisingly the trip hurt my left knee more than my right ankle. Icing said knee has become a way of life post-run.

As I approached the 11 mile mark, I decided I was going to try to pick up the pace on the last mile. I looked up ahead and saw two other runners ahead of me. My goal was to pass both of them.

Ready. set. go...

About 3/4 of the way through my final mile I was on the heels of the first women. Yeah me. I passed her and looked ahead to see if it was possible to catch the second women before the end of my run. She was no longer in sight. Seriously, where did she go? I looked to the left and then to the right. And there she was --- heading into the woods of Rock Creek Park, clutching her stomach. She was nearly bent over in half.

Immediately I knew exactly what was going on. And my heart went out to her.

(Warning: below is a description of one of my most embarrassing and least proud moments of my life. This story involves bodily fluids and is not for the faint of heart. Feel free to stop reading now.)

Last summer, that was me. Clutching my stomach, barely able to stand erect, walking into the woods in Rock Creek Park.

Last summer on my second 20+ mile run while training for the NYC Marathon I suffered from some stomach issues. I knew my tummy was a little unsettled as I turned the corner on the last five miles or so of my run. I passed the National Zoo with 2.5 miles to go and thought to myself maybe I should take the time and run up the hill to the bathroom. Somehow I talked myself out of this - only 2.5 miles to go. With about 3/4 of a mile remaining I was no longer able to run. The stomach cramps were practically unbearable. With 1/2 mile to go (for the run and another mile of cool down/walking before arriving home), I called D. He didn't answer. I left a pitiful message asking him if there was any way he could come and pick me up. I waited two LONG minutes for him to call me back. No such luck. The cramping was getting worse. I wanted to lay down in the fetal position on the path and moan. Instead I assessed the situation. The conclusion was simple: my entire GI system was a wreck; I needed to go to the bathroom; this was an emergency; I was at least 20 minutes from home; I couldn't hold it much longer; my husband was not answering the home; no one was coming to rescue me; Rock Creek Park is a beautifully wooded and densely packed with trees.

I had some protection/cover.

Like the woman I saw on Saturday, I veered off the path and into the woods to end my suffering.

I'm the girl who has trouble using public bathrooms.

And here I was just relieving myself behind a fallen tree in Rock Creek Park.

Although I felt unbelievably better after this event, I was slightly traumatized by the this event (still am).

After it was over, I called D and left him a message saying that the situation had resolved itself and I was headed home; no ride necessary. I did share the details of this event with two VERY close friends who had a good laugh at my expense. I hoped to never have to tell or relive the story again.

That changed this past weekend when I saw a stranger walking into the woods of Rock Creek Park. Although she'll never know me, I feel we share a bond, a commonality. I understand.

Watching this woman enter the woods I finished my 12 mile run.

It was an overall slow pace, but it was a good learning experience. I'm excited for and confident about my 1/2 marathon coming up.

I came home and took a shower. As the salt washed off of me, I felt the burn.

If you've ever experienced chaffing, you know what I'm talking about. Salt washing over raw skin.

In a word, it sucks.

I have extensive chaffing of my right inner thigh from where my ripped shorts rubbed. I also have chaffing below my belly-button where my hiked up shorts rubbed.

These wounds, as well as the memories of this weekend's run, will stay with me for a little while longer.


Rebecca said...

Something that will help the salt burn after a long run is before you turn on the shower, lather up the soap on top of the chafe area then turn on the shower. The soap protects the wound from the salt washing over it. Then washing the area doesn't hurt as bad, although it still might hurt a little. Hope this helps.

WASPy Girl said...

I sustained a foot injury while teaching. I've been meaning to post about it, but no time. I'm very sad!

Enjoyed your post!

Sarah said...

Wowsers. That is certainly a reason for me to never train for a marathon. :) Just kidding.