Sunday, January 31, 2010

When you gotta go...

...You just gotta go. Period.

Even if you find yourself - to your horror - running on a desolate Humvee trail, in the middle of an OPEN PLAIN between GIANT CLIFFS with nothing to squat behind (save one inhospitable-looking cacti) somewhere on US Marine Corps base Camp Pendleton.

Yes, I believe that my body is (mostly) amazing. (At a very basic level, think about it. The ability to breath, to think, to evolve...absolutely incredible how the pieces came together for human beings. And the world in general. Sorry - a bit off topic, I suppose.) But alas, as much as I tried to ignore the need-bathroom-NOW signals emanating from my person, I could not.

In my effort to try new things and run in different places this year (yes, I'll admit that my traditional coastal route is bad. Not because I'm bored by it - but because the slanting pavement does little for my healing Peroneus muscles, the likely culprit to my early-season run discomfort.) - I'm exploring the vast network of trails aboard Camp Pendleton. And though the threat of the occasional Mountain Lion makes me look above and over my shoulder with more frequency, I really DO love the terrain and peaceful serenity (ironically) that the base provides.

Especially on a Sunday morning, when I figured my chances of coming across a random patrol of Marines or people wearing the creepy Ghillie suits are significantly decreased.

After parking near the flight line, I doubled back down the road towards one of the many Humvee or dirt trails that wind their way through the canyons, running at a comfortable clip. Not too fast, and not too fast. Did I just repeat myself? I said I wasn't running fast. My warm-up consisted of an easy 20 minute run, enough to get my legs and mind ready for the tough 3-minute intervals that lay ahead.

Aside from slightly tight calves (welcome to my world. They are always tight!), my legs felt surprisingly great. A tad heavy from the previous day's bike efforts; but overall nothing that would suggest my injury from a few weeks ago.

Eight or nine minutes into my run, I spotted the trail that I was aiming for, and I turned inland away from the road, cars, and any form of visible civilization.

In the past few weeks, I've noticed an increased presence of Marines - particularly in this area. And I wondered - while I ran along the hard-packed dirt Humvee trail - if I would see any today. Many Marines are getting prepared for upcoming deployments, and I know that field exercises (regardless of the day-of-the-week) are ongoing.

The trail was beautiful. It sloped ever-so-slightly upwards through the canyon, but not enough to be discernible until the return trip down. 300-foot cliffs, covered in green grass from the recent rains, rose up majestically on both sides. I could see a random cacti mixed in among the grasses, and a wide, muddy flat dotted with burnt shrubs from a previous-year's wildfire stretch between the cliffs. My path ran along the left side of the canyon, hugging the base of the cliff, and I could hear the wind whipping past boulders, making the long grass rustle and sway.

It was one of those times when I wish that I had been carrying a camera - but I knew that a photograph just wouldn't do it justice.

I kept my head up, looking every few minutes around - to make sure that I wasn't being stalked by a random Mountain Lion.

As I side note: I don't know what it is with me. I'm afraid of sharks...while hiking in Alaska I was very aware of bears...and now in Southern California, I'm terrified of Mountain Lions. I guess I just don't want to be eaten by something else. But it goes deeper that that, and I can't figure out why. Oh well. According to Nathaniel, the only known Mountain Lions on Camp Pendleton live up near Case Springs - a spring-fed lake nearly 3000 feet above sea level, and a good 10 or 20 miles away from where I was running.

Noticed that I said known. There's always that random one that escapes the radar. But that's just my imagination talking...I hope. And before you roll your eyes...statistically I KNOW that you are MORE likely to get struck by lightning while riding a lawnmower...than get eaten by a shark. I just KNOW that. there's lightning outside, I head indoors. And I most certainly don't ride a lawnmower. So, I'm just saying. I try not to invite disaster into my life - it already rears its ugly head enough, thank you very much. So yes - I AM aware of the statistics...

But the green valley really was beautiful, and I decided to enjoy it to the best of my ability.

Then - exactly 16:28 into my run, I could feel it. I swear to you - my intestinal tract moved, developed a mind of its own - and without a doubt I knew that before this run was over, I would have to avail myself of the facilities.

I looked hopefully around for a bright blue port-o-potty. Seriously - with all the Marines training in the local area, I figured they had to go somewhere.



Zip, zero, zilch.

Cue: bale of hay rolling across the Humvee tracks.

Shit! I thought to myself. And then the irony dawned on me - that's exactly what I needed to do.

There was just an empty expanse of canyon bordered by two very high cliffs. And a growing certainty that 1) I was not alone and 2) I had to go NOW.

But desperate times call for desperate measures - it has never stopped me before. I looked around, desperate for anything to squat - errr hide - behind. And just as I had resigned myself to squatting over the edge of the road into the muddy terrain 6-inches below, I spotted a lone figure running towards me.

Thank goodness for small miracles I gamely thought as I turned my watch back on and started easily running along. I had been less than ten seconds from dropping my drawers - I was grateful this guy was running at the speed he was running. Any slower and we would have had an embarrassing situation on hand.

Very embarrassing.

We exchanged brief hellos, and in spite of stomach upset - I WAS happy to see another person. It's just nice knowing that - in spite of how uncomfortable you may feel - you are not alone.

Before I knew it, my 20-minute warm-up had passed and I had to start my first 3-minute interval. Without a doubt, this piece would be the one that would break the proverbial camel's back. I knew, especially after running MAX EFFORT for 180-seconds, that my body would be unable to hold anything in or back. If its one thing I could safely predict, was that within the next 4-minutes I would have availed myself.

I won't go into detail about the interval. It was hard, my breathing sounded like something from an x-rated film, my strides felt quick (but not light like I prefer - Ironman killed my fast twitch fibers!), and with each passing second I scanned the horizon for something - anything - to squat behind.

And then it was over, my first 3-minute interval of my 2010 Triathlon Season in the bank. I could have slowed down - but instead I found myself running in desperation. I knew what my body was about to do, and I had less than 45 seconds to prepare myself - come hell or high water. an oasis in the desert....there it was. A spot where the trail I was running on converged with a second trail. Even better still...there was an 18-inch high dilapidated electrical circuit box and a large, prickly-looking shrub. The circuits had long-since been frayed and while the shrub looked completely inhospitable and the prime hiding spot for one of the many poisonous California snakes - I didn't care.

It would have to do.

And just as I was about to do my business...I got a very weird sensation. Like someone was there...that I wasn't alone.

Scratch what I said earlier about being happy that other people were around. In this instance, I wanted my privacy...and I wasn't entirely confident about that fact.

Additionally - as I looked upon my circuit box of choice - I noticed the "Government Property" stamp. Heck, I don't even like to speed on base because I don't want to get pulled over and in trouble. Somehow, I think taking a giant dump on Uncle Sam's equipment - no matter its current state - was far far worse.

I briefly pondered the penalties... could they jail me? Public nudity?? Destruction of Government Property... Gross felony charges (literally and figuratively). Wasn't there something in the Uniform Code of Military Justice...? Could I be committing a felony offense? I wondered briefly about the fine. I'm sure it would be huge. Ugh...

But I could feel my intestines, whining in protest. I tried to send positive vibes to my body - reassuring it that everything would be okay. But I really really really really really really really had to go.

I couldn't shake the feeling that I wasn't alone, though. There were no visible people within range. I had been scanning the cliffs on both sides of the valley for any signs of life or movement. There simply were none. But the valley floor...I just didn't know. I thought about the creepy sniper people who can blend seamlessly into their surroundings. And the last thing I wanted was some guy with a scope and way too much time on his hands staring at my pasty-white behind as I did my business.

Because no matter how much I wanted to convince myself that my little electrical circuit breaker and prickly brush were providing cover - sadly, they were not.

And I've only (to my knowledge) seen the creepy sniper people wearing their Ghillie suits once. It was during a bike ride on Camp Lejeune a few year's back... I was biking next to an open grassy field and suddenly - to my horror - there were six or seven figures rising from what should have been just a field, and walking out of the bordering woods. I nearly shat myself right there on the spot, and my riding partner just about fell off her bike.

At one moment nothing was there - the next... A cross between a Wookie and Swamp Figures were walking towards the road.

I knew if they were on Camp Lejeune, then they would most certainly be on Camp Pendleton. I just didn't know where.

But I also know that I really REALLY REALLY needed to go. In a very bad way. And that this spot - my broken-down circuit breaker and prickly bush - were my best possible option.

So I did the only thing I could think of. I started talking out-loud - just in case I wasn't alone.

I looked around, took a deep breath, and plead my case.

"Um...hello? My name is Marit, and there anyone there?"



Now if they were there, they were going to think I was crazy in addition to whatever else they were thinking. But I continued.

"You see... I'm doing this run, and um...there's no bathroom. And I really have to go. I know that if you people are out there in your funny suits, you're just doing your job...."

More silence. Super!

I kept talking, "But I really have to go. So - if you could please not look I would be grateful. If its worth anything, my husband is a Marine. And, um - okay, I don't know really if that makes a difference. I'm just, um, completely out of options. Well. Okay. Um - thanks."

I took another deep breath, while scanning the horizon for any signs of movement, life, or laughter in the bush. I concluded, "But if you ARE out here, you really shouldn't be out on a Sunday morning. Seriously. Okay - I'm going..."


With the record-breaking turd out of my system, I could finish my run in peace. My stomach felt better, my stride felt lighter, and I swear the grass was greener. And although I was mortified at what had happened - it was over and done with.

Next time, I'll need to plan accordingly. Or at least know that approximately 23 minutes into my run...there's a spot perfect for squatting. Other than that, all bets are off. Ghillie people or not.


Beth said...

Totally cracking up Marit!! I have been there myself HOWEVER I've never worried about Marines hiding in crazy swamp suits!! I agree, that would make it much worse!! Ahhh...what runners will do... ;)

Angela and David Kidd said...

Okay, that puts my 7-11 story to shame. I loved that you announced yourself and what you were doing to any possible hiding snipers. Awesome.

Molly said...

OMG! LOL :) Glad you were able to find relief! I kept waiting for the part of the story where the snipers walked out... :)

GoBigGreen said...

OMG you are hilarious. At least you KNEW there were no sharks out there, right:)) right???!!!
But trust me, I have been there and desperate times call for desperate measures!

Heidi Austin said...

it happens to all of us...way more than we would like! i'm just glad i don't have to worry about scary marines :) hahhahah

ADC said...

You are a criminal, government property and all :))) Ha ha ha./ Don't worry I am too considering I got pulled by the MPs at West Point.

TriGirl Kate O said...

They so do look like swamp monsters! Sounds like a great run. I always try to make sure business is taken care of before I head out on a run--sometimes unsuccessfully. That element of surprise is a little nerve wracking.

Lisa T said...

Holy crap (haha) that was funny. Next time you get a massage we're going to talk about something other than large scary animals! We both clearly think about them too much!

Kim said...

hilarious marit! although i do know your pain (literally) of the need to go RIGHT THIS MINUTE! so glad you were able to finally get it all out and resume your run :)

Kellye Mills said...

HA! This kind of goes along with my story of how athletes and mom's encounter disgusting scenarios all the time! :) The good news is you'll laugh everytime you pass that box from now on! :)

BTW: Thanks for your recent comments on my blog and the congratulations! It means a lot! :)

Nicole @ Geek Turned Athlete said...

Okay, I'm embarrassed to admit that I have way too many of those stories myself!! I had a friend once who actually squatted on the flightline behind nothing! It was amazing, and she certainly got my respect after that!

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