Disclaimer: the following story is not for the faint of heart. Stop reading if you’re grossed out easily. You have been warned.
It was bitterly cold when my friend Ryan and I started a 10 mile run this morning. But the cold was invigorating, and the morning was beautiful.
We met at the head of the the Soos Creek Trail and began a steady pace. As we did so, my body started to adjust to the cold pretty well, and the run felt great. We crunched through a few patches of snow and I remember saying “Whoa. That just happened. I’m so bad-A. I just ran through snow.”
He was like “Let me guess, you’re going to write a blog post about that aren’t you?” We both laughed at the absurdity! Yeah, like I’d really be able to make a post out of something so bland. Haha! (Shrugs shoulders).
Yet, here I am, writing a post about our morning run.
You see, things didn’t end well.
About halfway through the run, my bowels decided that they wanted to have a movement. This is not uncommon during a long run. As Ryan observed, running “loosens everything up down there,” and so often the body decides that in the middle of a huge long run is the perfect time to excrete. The trail we were running (and where I do most of my runs) is about four miles long and it ends right near a park, and then you turn around and run back. I’ve run this trail many times, so I knew that we were almost at the half-way point, and that at the half-way point there is a bathroom.
My bowels were pretty insistent, but it was no emergency. I let Ryan know “Hey, when we get to the park, I’m gonna have to drop a deuce.”
Ryan remarked that oftentimes, parks don’t open their bathrooms during the winter.
And that’s when I started to panic.
BUT, to my great relief, we got to the park and I had the great pleasure of trying the bathroom door, finding it unlocked, and going number two. Perfect! I was totally set for the second half of the run!
One thing I didn’t count on though? Stopping in the middle of a long run gives your body time to cool down and sweat. Normally this isn’t a problem. On a day where you’re running through snow patches and you don’t have fancy gear to keep you warm (because who on earth decides to run through snow patches anyway?)? This is a problem.
As we started our second leg, I could tell I was in trouble. It was like my cooled sweat encased me in a suit of… very cooled sweat (man, I’m SUCH a good writer at times–just so able to convey thoughts so precisely) which did not allow the act of running to increase my body temperature as it had on the first half of the run. At one point I reached under my shirt to try to warm up my stomach. I thought I was touching cloth for a moment, when I realized I was touching my actual skin, which was so numbed by cold I couldn’t even feel my hand. This was ominous. I started to feel a little panicked again, but as we got closer to home, I was like “This is totally fine. I’ll be in a hot shower in no time.”
But then, something really bad happened. Really, really, really, really bad.
You know how the body does weird things in response to varied stimuli (holy crap, why am I not a scientist! That was the most profound scientific observation this decade!)? Apparently, when I run in really cold temperatures, my body thinks it’s time to put my digestive tract into overdrive. Because at about the point we had two miles left my bowels had a message for me.
That message was “You better find a place to sit the freak down because this cold weather is the scariest thing we, your bowels, have ever experienced and we are going to respond by GOING INTO OVERDRIVE AND EMPTYING EVERYWHERE RIGHT THIS MINUTE.”
It was highly uncomfortable, but I tried to reason with my back side for a few moments. “No bowels,” I said in my brain. “We JUST WENT. If you had wanted to empty yourselves completely, you shoulda done it 10 minutes ago when we were sitting on a crapper.“
They remained unconvinced. Our conversation went a little something like this:
Bowels: Okay, so we’re gonna blow now…
Me: STOP! I’m not ready yet. Just a mile and a half and you can do whatever you want.
Bowels: (Lets up for about thirty seconds, then) Yeah, so the excrement is knocking at your door now, and we’re gonna start pushing. (Pushes)
Me: (Tightening my sphincter with all my might) BACK YE FIEND. I am in the middle of a trail and I refuse to crap my pants.
Bowels: Fine. We’ll wait. For about 20 seconds. Are you ready now? How about now? And now?
Me: (Tightens sphincter with herculean strength) For the love of all that’s good in the world, stop this insanity and let me get home so I don’t explode in public!!!!
Bowels: …. How about now?
This kind of interchange continued for another half a mile.
Now, I’m not sure if you’ve ever experienced the discomfort of needing to go number two while running. I don’t think there are words to describe how uncomfortable it is. It’s as if the primitive human thinks it is fleeing from a predator and must excrete or be eaten alive by herd of lions and T-rexes. There is an urgency behind it that is so primal it takes your breath away. I imagine it feels somewhat akin to an early stage contraction. Whatever the case, the discomfort is unbearable.
This is what I was feeling when I turned to Ryan and said “Hey, I think I’m going to walk the last mile. I’m freezing!”
I don’t know why I didn’t just explain what was happening. My mind was taxed. I wasn’t thinking straight. He insisted on giving me a sweatshirt he had been wearing around his waist, and by the time I put it on, the urgent need to crap my pants had subsided somewhat, to the point that I thought “okay, maybe I can make it this last mile.”
We started off again, me now feeling a bit warmer thanks to Ryan’s sweatshirt (which he’d removed early in the run because his fancy shmancy running gear made him too warm) and a bit more hopeful as we neared the street that would take us up to our respective neighborhoods. I was really starting to believe I could get home!
And then my bowels stopped playing nice. They got fed up, and out of nowhere, while my defenses were down, they got a squirt of liquid through my anus. They were not messing around.
I stopped immediately, looked at Ryan, shooed him ahead saying “I’m just gonna walk.” I was pretty sure he wanted no part in what was about to happen there on the Soos Creek Trail.
Then, I frantically started climbing in the woods so I could get far enough away from the trail that some poor unsuspecting dog-walker didn’t get an eyeful of actual feces pouring out of my exposed buttocks. My bowels were not relenting. They were no longer asking. They were demanding “Now. Now. NOW. NOW. NOW! NOW!!! THIS WILL HAPPEN WHETHER YOU ARE CLOTHED OR NOT SO YOU BETTER PULL YOUR PANTS DOWN AND SQUAT THIS INSTANT!!!”
And so, in a panic, I did. I barely got my back side out in time and heard the sound of my poop hit the ground. The relief was instantaneous. I sighed more contentedly than I had in a long time. And then, I kind of came back to my senses. And realized that I really wasn’t that far from the trail, and that the people walking by could probably see me.
And that’s when the shame set it.
I tried to act all cool as I looked for something to “clean up” with. My options were pine leaves and snow. I opted for snow. The process was messy but efficacious. As I was pulling my pants back up, my heart dropped.
It became apparent that, while I thought I had been rather speedy, I hadn’t gotten my back-side exposed quite fast enough.
So basically what I’m saying is that I crapped my pants.
The shame was unrelenting. I tried to look serene as people passed and I was literally hand shoveling excrement out of my pants. I’m pretty sure it looked convincing.
“Why on earth is that young man off the trail in the woods fixating on his backside and wiping his hands off in the snow? I know! He must be a birdwatcher!”
Finally, I was able to get things into enough order that I braved the run home, hoping that nobody could tell what had happened. But seriously? Every person I passed could figure it out by the smell alone. I basically smelled like a latrine.
Finally, I made it home, feeling like a little boy who had an accident.
Me: Something bad happened…
Wife: What?! What’s wrong!?
Me: Um, I… I had an accident. (Lifts up shirt to show Wife)
Wife: Oh, sweetie. I’m sorry. Wow… that smells bad.
Me: (bows head in shame)
Wife: Don’t feel bad. Like we’ve learned on Elmo’s Potty Time, “Accidents happen, and that’s okay!” Now go take off the yucky clothes and get in the shower.
Me: You don’t mind helping me clean up?
Wife: Not at all. Yours is the third blow-out I’ve had to deal with this morning alone.
At least I could take comfort in the fact that I wasn’t the only Weed to have an accident today.
I can’t tell you how much better that makes me feel.