Tuesday, February 8, 2011

guest blog: when you've gotta go..

I have a tiny bladder. And since I get drunk a lot, this has (unfortunately) led to some embarrassing situations. So when Deb sent me this guest blog I was sadly able to relate to just about everything - well, except the bit about having children. Although I'm wondering if perhaps I should consider keeping a potty in my trunk..

It seems like the most embarrassing things happen to me. I haven't decided yet whether it's because I'm not all there or because God has decided that I have a sense of humor he wants me to share with others. I prefer to think it's the latter. And really, if it's the former, I'm gonna go on thinking it's the latter because, if I'm crazy, it doesn't REALLY matter what I think, now does it?

This weekend, I took my daughters to Seattle to meet up with their father, my husband, who was working there. The plan had been to drive up on Saturday night, spend Sunday with my husband, then drive home Sunday night. Piece of cake, right? With three kids five and under, nothing is EVER a piece of cake.

First of all, you should know that, our lives are complicated enough that we keep a potty in the car. Yup. You read that right. We keep a potty and toilet paper in the car. That way, if one child ever has to go #1, we can just pull over, rather than undo all the car seat buckles... However, I do beg that the #2s go inside somewhere where I don't have to clean it.

Anyway, we got to Seattle, and the kids were all a mess. They didn't want to sleep. Also, my husband's meeting went very late, and, due to construction, he couldn't get back to our room until well, beyond very late, almost early. So, the next day was shot. No one had enough sleep. We all stumbled crabbily through the day. Finally, I looked at my husband and said, "Can we just stay another night? What if we get up really early and drive back to Portland?"

So it was decided. The next morning, we would get up at 3:30, drive back to Portland, stop by grocery for the kids' lunch, and get them to school by nine.

But I overslept. I found myself crawling out of bed at 4:15. Had it been race day, oversleeping would have brought on a full panic attack, but it was only getting the kids to school. I sucked down a couple of cups of coffee, loaded the kids in the car, and hit the road.

The kids fell quickly back to sleep.

This is a drill I am somewhat used to. The kids fall asleep in the car, and anything I have to do must be done from the driver's seat. So I hit a Starbucks. I pulled over to stretch when I needed. I even used the little potty in the back of the car. But it was dark out, and I pulled over into a remote area.

This is the normal routine when someone has to go potty while we are driving. We live kind of far out from town, and we drive on a lot of country roads where no one could ever see us, even if we dropped trou in the back of a minivan to do our business in broad daylight.

However, I was driving home from Seattle to Portland, and suddenly, the sun was up, but the kids were not. I had mis-timed my potty breaks so that I had to go JUST as we were pulling into town.

I'm an ultrarunner, I thought. I can hold it.

And so I tried. I tried so hard to act like I didn't have to pee worse than I ever had in my life.

But I couldn't get out of the car. I had children asleep and another twenty minutes to Trader Joe's.

But I was also in heavy traffic. And the sun was up. It's not like I could pull over and hide it.

If I'd been running on a trail, I would have just dropped my pants and squatted by this point. Honestly, I would have done that whether or not another runner was in plain sight. I figure, the other runner would understand. Surely, he'd have been in that situation before.

But I wasn't on a trail. I was in heavy traffic in the busiest part of town during morning rush hour.

And crap. The kids were awake, too.

I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do at this point. I was stuck on an exit ramp, three or four lights back, with several to go through before Trader Joe's. Plus, I'd have to get the kids all out of the car before I could go. And I was starting to get REALLY bad abdominal pains. I didn't think I could hold it.

Then a thought occurred to me: real runners pee their pants. During a race, the fast ones just let it fly so they don't lose time stopping to be sanitary. This is what dri-fit is for, right? This was certainly not something I had ever done before intentionally. I'm a tortoise, not a hare. Tortoises don't mind stopping to pee, or to take a picture, or to tell a joke, or... But I have peed my pants running. I'm a woman in her mid-30s with three kids. There has been a time or two that I didn't make it. I can verify that that's what dri-fit actually is for.

I MIGHT have been okay with that had I been wearing dri-fit on the drive. But instead, I was wearing good old rotton cotton, in the worst possible color for showing pee stains: grey.

I looked up at the exit ramp. I was in one of two left turn lanes, far back. I was at least five minutes back.

And I hurt.

The right turn lane, however, was totally empty. I wasn't sure where it went, but it was empty! TIME TO FIND A BATHROOM!

Only the right turn laneled squarely into residential neighborhoods. Lots of them. Endless neighborhoods. Without businesses. Or empty construction areas. Or house-less dead end road. Nothing. Just endless houses. And decent, God-fearing people out walking their dogs and taking their kids to the bus.


Finally, given the gravity of the situation, I pulled the car over, grabbed one of my kids' blankets, wrapped it around me, and used the potty in the back of the minivan, onlookers onlooking, my own children staring. But I didn't care. It really felt good.

Eventually, I did get my kids to grocery and to school (albeit 30 minutes late).

But it occurred to me that perhaps this isn't what a "normal" parent would have done. Perhaps a "normal" parent would have taken care of the need to pee long before we hit town.

But I'm not normal. I'm an endurance athlete.

As an endurance athlete, it's my job to go that extra mile that others wouldn't go. What can I say? Sometimes that bleeds over into other parts of my life besides running.

One day, my kids will be proud of my athletic endeavours. But for now, they'll always have the memory of Mom trying to be a superhero, holding it too long then trying to save face while letting it out in the back of the van. Ahhhhh, good times...

1 comment:

Christian said...

The only thing i did was Pee in from of the Canadian Supreme Court building in the middle of my half-marathon. It's not glamorous, but I'm a left-wing liberal that way :)