The Turkey Trots

Nov 16 2011

There aren’t a lot of things grosser or more physically painful than being a mother, but running a marathon might be one of them.

Jen: “People who run marathons sometimes poop themselves.”

Me:  “Nuh. Uh.

I didn’t know. I hadn’t heard. But that kind of makes my point. I mean, other than that one time when I was pregnant with twins and an auspuff deceived me by being a little more solid than “puff,” motherhood hasn’t ever involved pooping myself.

Now, there are some girlfriends with whom you can discuss poop. And there are others who will produce buckets of dry heaves if you mention it. If you’re the latter type of girlfriend, now is a really, really, ridiculously good time to stop reading. Here’s a pretty post about cookies you can read instead, and I’ll catch ya on the flipside.

Jen is the girlfriend / cousin who, along with girlfriend Abbie, pulled me along on my reluctant leash during that half-marathon last month. Just for the record, half-marathoners do not poop themselves half as much as marathon runners do. We, in fact, did not poop ourselves at all. Next time, I want a medal for that.

We were midway through our half marathon when Jen started using distraction techniques because I was slow, winded, out of shape, and I like quitting. Runners’ trots? Distraction topic perfection.

Jen: “People who run marathons sometimes poop themselves.”

Me:  “Nuh. Uh.

Jen: “Seriously. They crap themselves. There are marathon runners who finish marathons with liquid poo running down their legs.”

Me:  “Nuh. Uh.

I was about that coherent and eloquent the entire race. But, you guys, that poop thing? THAT is dedication. I mean, sure; it’s also crazy, but I think we can all agree that it’s crazy dedication. I’m telling you right now, I would shake hands with a marathon pooper. Not right after the marathon, of course. But eventually, after she had time to clean herself up, I would shake her hand. Because that kind of single-minded determination impresses the poo out of me.

This is the time of year when runners get lots of e-mail ads for Thanksgiving races. As a matter of fact, my favorite running shirt of all time came from last year’s Thanksgiving Day 5K, a benefit for our local food bank; it reads, Will Run For Food. You guys! Will Run For Food. That’s my entire running motivation, wrapped up in a t-shirt slogan. Yippee! I love Thanksgiving races. They’re inspirational; whole families are out there, moving together for a good cause.

If only all the races weren’t called Turkey Trots, I would be able to maintain the kind of straight, serious face befitting a 38-year-old woman.  Instead, people say “Turkey Trots,” and I get the giggles, ’cause ever since Jen told me about runners’ trots, all I can see in my head is that poor turkey, crossing the marathon finish line with the turkey trots running down his skinny wittle wegs.

“Beth, did you see the list of Turkey Trots this year? … … … … … Why are you laughing?”

“Beth, are you going to do a Turkey Trot? … … … … … Why do you hope not?”

Running is a mental game. It’s a lot like parenting that way. Sometimes, I finish the day race because there’s no alternative. I started this race; I’m out in the middle of wild country; no one’s coming to save me; I must finish. But, as runners outpace and outdistance me, I start to question myself. Do I have what it takes? Why am I not as strong, as fit, as tireless, or as well-prepared as she is? She’s obviously a way better mom runner than me.

But I often forget that the strongest and fastest of us, the most well-prepared and fit, might be pooping all over herself to get there. And – sssshhhhh! don’t tell – that makes me like her WAY more.  See, the older I get, the less interested I am in covering up the poo or pretending it smells pretty, and the more I love authentic, messy life.

And I especially like running through the muck alongside my friends and my family.

Tomorrow is my cousin Jen’s 40th birthday and this week was Abbie’s birthday, too. You know what? They kicked last year’s (or the last decade’s) messy, messy butt by going out and living authentic, messy lives. And I cannot WAIT to see what they do next.

Hey, Jen and Abbie! Remember that half-marathon we completed WHEN NO POO RAN DOWN OUR LEGS? That was awesome. And so are you.

Happy Birthday.