The Way to Go

Posted by Filed Under: Running is Funny

reliefwallI promise not to be graphic in discussing this topic, but I will be candid. I’ll also ease into it gradually, so you’ll have multiple opportunities to click on this handy modesty link, which will take you to the Complete Running home page with no harm done.

Back in April 2004 I was an avid runner, but strictly a 5K-10K guy. I thought a marathon was sheer insanity and to this day, I remember reading an article in the Boston Globe that convinced me I was right.

It was a story about the poor residents of Hopkinton and how every year the runners of the Boston Marathon were using their property as outdoor toilets. That was bad enough, but that wasn’t the part that startled me. The Globe reporter interviewed a veteran marathoner about this problem, and he admitted he needed to urinate at least four times in the last hour or so before the race.

Modesty Link

I honestly could not believe that was possible. How could you need to pee that much and that often? It was about as likely as Deena Kastor eating 5,000 calories a day.

Of course, my attitude about marathons gradually changed, and eventually I was consuming copious amounts of water and electrolyte drink, and peeing my brains out.

Modesty Link

Now I’m experiencing karmic revenge for all those years I made fun of my wife, who knows the location and condition of every public restroom within a 50-mile radius, and has a Garmin-like ability to find the nearest bathroom from any spot in Disneyland. Her powers have saved me so many times I’m convinced she’s really one of the X-Men.

I reminisce fondly of days gone by when I could make decisions about my day’s activities without concern about the presence or absence of urinals. It’s small consolation knowing that, should an unforeseen circumstance arise, I can pee on command. So far, this has not been a useful talent, but technological advances could make me a millionaire.

Modesty Link

These days the most natural of acts (urinating) and the most unnatural of acts (running a marathon) are intrinsically linked. Not only do we have the aforementioned Hopkinton whizzers, but also the time-honored, disgusting tradition of peeing off (men) or on (women) the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge at the start of the New York City Marathon. And, lest we forget, there is the image of Paula Radcliffe making a side-of-the-road pit stop before going on to win the 2005 London Marathon.

Modesty Link

But there is one more very important thing to know about distance running and frequent urination, which is—sorry, I’ve got to take a break.

About Mike Antonucci

I ran 6-minute miles when I was in the military, then tapered for 20 years. Two-time marathoner (3:43 PR), my next goal is to stay healthy enough to run another. There are literally thousands of people handing out running advice and serious tips. I prefer to focus on the humorous or odd facets of our shared obsession. Let's face it, running is funny.

  1. Nora on February 15th at 1:49 am

    I don’t think I’ll ever forget the BBC tv coverage of Paula’s pit stop. The announcers obviously weren’t familiar with the possibility of having to pee. When she crouched down they were like “oh my god! What’s happened?!” like she was injured. And then the picture kind of scrambled a bit as, I suppose, they did their best to give her some dignity.

  2. Dawn - Pink Chick on February 16th at 9:45 am

    I run trail races and well some of them are not all that treed. They are also double loops for those doing the longer distance. Many of them do not have any facilities at the start. One race in particular I had to go real bad so I ran the first 1.5k along the hilly top piece. Once down in the valley and sort of out of site I checked my watch. I had about 5 minutes before the fast guys would lap me so I stepped off the path and did my thing. I was no sooner back on the path when the lead runners came by. Perfect timing!

    It’s not always easy finding a good place to go. In larger marathons (& halfs) the port-a-pottis in the first 10k or so can be lined up so much as to cost you 10-20 minutes if you stop. Sometimes however one is lucky enough to find a restaurant that is willing to let you make a pitstop there. I once saw three ladies duck behind a semi truck that was parked along the race course. Funny everyone saw them head there, we all knew what they were up to a few wished they had joined

    Dawn – Pink Chick’s last blog post..Nose Hill XC 4k- Race Report – A Cold One

  3. Rahn on February 16th at 4:43 pm

    Thanks Mike, this made me laugh…so much so I almost peed myself. (Okay, not really, but someone had to make a bad pun.) However, I followed your lead and wrote about <a href=’′<peeing stories myself.

  4. Duff on February 18th at 10:08 am

    One of my goals in a marathon is to not have to make a pit stop in the middle. So far I have held that goal along with finishing. If given the choice of goals, finishing or pit stop. I will take a pit stop drain the lizard or drop a deuce before I drop out of a race. One other thing is Marathoning is not unnatural.

    Duff’s last blog post..An Awesome Encounter on 16 Miles of Dehydration

  5. Sandra @ Charity Mile on February 18th at 8:30 pm

    During my first marathon I was shocked at the number of runners making such improptu pit stops. At least that was in Anchorage where there was plenty of trees. I can’t imagine being so rude in the middle of a city.

    I suppose one of the morals of this story is to research the race beforehand to find out if portable toilets will be in plenty supply. And secondly to plan for the optimum food and fluid intake – enough to supply your needs but not too much to have to stop 10 times.

    Sandra @ Charity Mile’s last blog post..AIDS Walk, Athens Georgia

  6. Marci Glotzer on February 19th at 2:12 pm

    Hilarious! I thought I was the only potty-obsessed person out there! After a record-breaking 7 trips to the bathroom before the 2006 NYC Marathon starting gun (and then having to go again the moment I crossed the start line!) I spent most of 2007 finding the magic balance between the amount I can drink and at what point I needed to stop drinking to be, er, “race-ready.” I’ve never met a bathroom I didn’t like, but I’d rather not make pit stops during big races.
    PS: I did tie the restroom record –7 pre-race trips — for NYC 2007, but no pit stops! Successful training!

    Marci Glotzer’s last blog post..Home Again, Home Again

  7. Mom On The Run on February 19th at 7:42 pm

    Been there done that – I’ve often wished I was a man, then I wouldn’t waste time looking for a good bush to squat behind.

    Mom On The Run’s last blog post..The Walking Zombie

  8. The wee adventure of running « Gone Somewhere on March 9th at 5:52 am

    […] reststop, run I recently ran across this article on that made me laugh. Its about the need to pee during long (and not so long) […]