I 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.