Monday, January 03, 2005

Adventures in Bowel Discomfort

You may not believe it, CBK-ers, but something a bit crazy and funny has actually happened to me. Finally!! I swear every word of this account is true and actually happened to me, not anyone else. Warning: there will be some graphic language used, body functions described, and fast food chains maligned. Proceed at your own risk.

As you know, I've been pretty lazy about my running schedule lately. I had worked out a good schedule of doing my weekday runs right after I got home from work so as not to disrupt dinner and whatever chores/ child care that needed to be done. The weeks leading up to and right after Christmas, however, brought shopping errands and family events that required attention. Plus I was sick for about two weeks with lots of phlegm and snot cramping my running style. So with adequate excuses in the bank, I slacked off of running. I had a good long run on a Sunday about three weeks ago, but hadn't done any weekday running for over a month, probably. I started up again last week, only doing two nights, and it made me tired. I decided this weekend that I NEEDED to get going again if I'm going to match my marathon time from last year, let alone beat my time by 15 minutes (which is what I'd like to do). Since my last long run was 10 miles, I figured I'd try to do 9, so I'd feel good about myself but not over do it. I had eaten a lot of holiday crap food over the previous few days, and on New Years Eve I drank 5 margaritas and incalculable amounts of appetizers and sweets. Then my wife made Belgian waffles on Saturday morning and I pigged out then, too. So I felt a bit bloated, but I had plenty of fuel to get me through a long-ish run.

The run was feeling good, and when I got to about the 3 mile mark, near a park I run half way around, I decided to add on an extra lap around the park and make it a 10 mile run. Everything was going well. Around mile 7 I started getting gas, which is nothing unusual. When I run long distances, gas inevitably comes up. I let it out liberally, hoping no pedestrians are around, and keep on trucking, feeling better for the relief. Approaching mile 8, I felt some more making its way out. But as I let down my guard to release it, I could tell that there was much more trying to make it's way out of me. I clenched tight to prevent a disaster and kept going, hoping that I could make it home on sheer will power. Then the stomach pains started. I was in trouble. I knew I wasn't going to make it home, so I started walking and planned on making a pit stop at a public bathroom along the course. The gurgling pains came occasionally, causing me to walk on my toes, holding back the torrent and trying to look like I wasn't about to explode.

And then I made it to Burger King. The ideal place to use the rest room, because I wouldn't have to get past any employees to get to the facilities. The parking lot was also pretty empty, so I figured the chances were good that the men's room wasn't occupied. It wasn't. I got in to the bathroom just as another attack was coming on. I locked the door, dropped trou and got to work. It was a bad one. How to describe it? Upside down volcano? Malibu mud slides? Jeff Daniels in Dumb and Dumber? Yeah, those capture it pretty well. As I sat there, in between grimaces and white-knuckle fist clenches, I glanced down at the toilet paper holder. It looked empty. I looked closer, and there was a bare tube inside. So I slid the bottom over to access the other roll. There wasn't another roll. No problem, someone probably got lazy and put it behind the toilet. Not there either. I remained calm. There wasn't much I could do in my current state, and panicking wasn't going to help. I decided to get through the immediate intestinal crisis and assess my options afterward.

When the storm finally passed, I peeked out the stall door. It was a dryer bathroom. No paper towels. Very environmentally responsible, but pretty damn inconvenient for me. I sat and thought for a moment. I quickly decided against pulling up my pants and going to ask an employee for a role, hoping for minimal stainage along the way. Too many negatives with that one. So I went into MacGyver mode! I took my house key from the secret little pocket in my running pants and used it to open the toilet paper dispenser. I took out the cardboard tube and started peeling layers off. I tried to use small pieces to reduce the risk of clogging the pipes, but it was a challenge to get pieces big enough for the job. A receipt left on the floor, apparently by my guardian angel, supplemented the cardboard. As I left the stall, the toilet appeared clog-free, so my conscience was clear. I washed up and walked out. I couldn't bring myself to tell the workers that the men's room needed TP. It was just too embarrassing. What would they assume I had done, especially seeing that the tube was gone? I feel sorry for the person after me who I may have doomed with even less options than I had. Hopefully the staff rectified the problem before any more unfortunate souls went in there.

I actually ran the rest of the way home, finishing my 10 miler strong, and ran straight to the bathroom for some more relief and a thorough shower. So there you have it. An uncomfortable, unlikely, blog-worthy event in my otherwise unexciting life. There's a lesson to be learned: No matter how bad you need to go, ALWAYS check the toilet paper dispenser before you dispense. Especially at Burger King! Those fucking lazy bastards!