Friday, March 9, 2012

How 7-11 Saved My Run

There's a lot of background to this story. Just to be clear, I have edited this post. What you are about to read is the shortened version. I had considered giving you all of the details but that would make for an intensely long post. Whereas I'm not opposed to writing copious amount of content, I don't feel that the specifics actually add to the story. There are a couple of facts that you should know before I delve into the meat...

1. I am a latte drinker. I have a daily latte from my Mr. Coffee Espresso machine  and microwaved milk (I'm kinda high class). I am thoroughly addicted and I do not mind.
2. Lately I've been having 2 of these beverages. Both in the morning. One first thing as I wake up. The second, about an hour later, as I head off to work.
3. I normally draw the limit at 2 per day. I'm not sure why. If I had to guess, it would be guilt. That feels like the correct emotion yet I am not sure where it comes from.
4. Caffeine, when taken in doses that your body has not yet adapted, is a digestive irritant and a bowel relaxer. I am highly adapted to 2-a-day lattes so this is not normally a concern.
5. On the morning of this fateful run, I ran out of coffee grounds.

Not only did I run out of coffee grounds, but I told the Wife about my deficit. Part of me secretly hoped that she would go to Starbucks on her lunch hour, purchase a frothy beverage for herself and me, and have the barista grind up a pound of Cafe Verona beans. This did not happen. On a late Thursday afternoon, I had a choice to make.

Normally, Thursdays are my long run days. On this past Thursday, we were in the middle of a semi-heat wave. The temperatures on Wednesday were in the mid-60s. Thursday was in the lower 50s, which is still plenty warm for this time of year. But, by the time I was released from my employment responsibilities, the temperature was quickly dropping. And, for anyone who paid attention in middle school science class (or high school if you happen to live in New York), warm air masses that are overtaken by cold air masses tend to yield rain. So we had 50s with rain and the mercury was steadily dropping. My decision: long run today or swap a bike ride and postpone my long run until Friday? As you may know, I have recently developed a love-affair with my bike trainer. The swap was looking mighty good.

On the way home from work, the Wife suggested that we detour so that I can replenish my coffee supply. I am not one to say no to a professionally prepared hot beverage. (For those of you who are true coffee drinkers/ Starbucks haters- I am quite naive on this sort of thing. I simply don't know any better.) I was hungry anyway so this sounded like a great idea. The only caveat, this would be latte #3.

As I finished off my cup of joy, I felt an uncomfortable grumble in the nether regions. I admit that I was shocked at the speed in which the last helping of stimulate slammed the digestive tract. Luckily, I was sitting on my sofa. This was not what I would call an emergency situation. After a routine evacuation (again, I'll spare you the details), life was good.

Now, I'm not one to consciously waste a good caffeine high. I know of the ergonomic effects of the world's most widely used drug. Current research believes that caffeine increases fat metabolism, allowing your muscles to use a higher fat-to-carbohydrate energy system. The result is more energy for less oxygen. To add to this awesome achievement, apparently the caffeine also slightly inhibits pain receptors. I decided to stick with the original long run plan.

The run was scheduled for a 1:45, or 12-13 mile run between 8 and 8:30 pace. I planned to run my nice 8 mile loop. This should take a bit more than an hour. I would stop at home, take in a gel, drink some water, pick up the PRP, and head out for 4-5 more miles. This part of the run went exactly as planned.

Around mile 6, my stomach started to make those annoying sloshing sounds. If you have ever experienced them, you know exactly what I mean. It sounds as if you have some thick liquid hanging out in your stomach that enjoys to swish as you run. Step. Slosh. Step. Slosh. Repeat for the next 2 miles.

Experience has taught me that this is the beginning of my body's evacuation sequences. Someone on the inside has pushed the eject button and it is only a matter of time before the floodgates are fully open. When I arrived home, I added 'hit the can' to my list as a precautionary matter. There was not much in terms of actual product but the pressure relief valve was reset. I was good to go.

The rain continued and I didn't mind. I was running and I truly enjoy being out in the elements. The water doesn't bother me. I play games on the sidewalk. Puddle jumping. Puddle dodging. Puddle slalom. Plus, I was feeling great. The caffeine was doing everything that was advertised and I was taking advantage. But, around mile 10, my sloshing had renewed itself. In fact, it was back in full vengeance. There's nothing like a good sloshing to ruin running bliss.

From here, it was a downward spiral. The sloshing grew into pressure. It was the bad kind of pressure. The kind that you fear to open the pressure relief valve by even a little bit lest something more than pressure present itself. In theory, this is the kind of pressure that should make you run faster. Tragically, your system doesn't work that way. There are only 2 ways to feel better. Stop. Or sit. As I glanced around the heavily lighted, highly populated neighborhood, sitting was not going to yield the proper relief. I ran on.

Around mile 11, it was nearing code brown status. I was sweating profusely that had nothing to do with my run. I was starting to panic. I was still about 2 miles from home and had little chance of making it. There were no woods. No private areas. I was out in the open. Lots of houses. Lots of cars. I had never felt so alone.

As it happened, at mile 11.5, there was an intersection. On one side had a church. Across from the church was a house. Across from the house was a used car lot. Across from the used car lot was a 7-11- the hero of this story.

The 7-11 was closed. This was probably the best news of the run thus far. For those of you who frequent this convenience seller of the Super Big Gulp, you'd know that they are 24-7 kind of shops. There is only 1 reason for its closure... It was under construction. Even in my state of helplessness, I know that a construction site is good news to the vagabond with bowel control problems. Construction means a Porta Potty. Inevitably, the people who own businesses do not appreciate it when the hard working blokes that they have paid to renovate their facility use the bathroom. I was saved.

Again, I'll spare you some of the more pertinent details. You know, those that involve water-logged sensitive areas and 80-grit toilet paper. In the end, that sort of discomfort was minor compared to the happiness of the portable, human-waste disposal unit and the fact that this particular unit was unlocked and unoccupied during my time of need.

So there you have it. A construction site at a business that I have never visited saved my run and my dignity. I just might reconsider my lack of patronism to that store. 7-11: I owe you.


  1. This sounds like race day training to me. All the ummmm "business" I've done on race day has been in unlocked porta potties.

    1. Agreed. You just don't have time to lock them during a crisis.