Certain things happen before a race. It doesn’t matter if it’s a 5K or marathon, the pre-race rituals are always present. They begin with an announcer pumping up the runners with a passionate speech about the race. Everyone stretches, jumps, and bends. The faster runners crowd the front of the pack. An air horn or gun sounds the official start. All of these moments are important and have their places before a race. However, there is one ritual that takes precedence above all others: gathering at the porta-potty line.
I stood in one of those lines prior to a race last winter. It didn’t matter that the plastic seat would be cold. It was a necessary evil of race morning. It was almost my turn with the hole-in-the-ground when a friend exited, wiping his hands on a cleansing wipe that he was smart enough to pack. “There’s no sanitizer in there.” Handing the wipe to me, he said, “I only peed.” I grabbed it, grateful to have a reasonably clean wipe for my hands. That’s just the way it goes, so to speak, when you’re a runner. Here are five reasons not to hate on race porta-potties:
1. GERMS, WHAT GERMS?
You wouldn’t catch me in a porta-potty on any other day. I’m the person who will drive to a Starbucks or a gas station to avoid one. I keep a packet of wipes in my car and sanitizer in my purse. All of my usual precautions are forgiven on race days. When I join that line, I know the protocol of the stalls. I’m ready to fly in the face of germs. Race day cleanliness is a relative term.
2. EVER LEFT YOUR PR IN THE PORTA-POTTY?
There are those races where nothing can slow you down, except that unavoidable stop to the blue plastic hole on the side of the course. Don’t you wish you could stop your timing chip while you made that pit stop like you can pause your Garmin?
3. IT’S SWEAT – REALLY!
I don’t expect you to admit it, but I know that some of you are chuckling at this one because you have been there. Leaks happen. It’s a good thing we sweat. It gives us a believable place to put the blame.
4. STRATEGIC PLANNING
Just like we make sure to visit the potty before a race, training runs take a little advance strategizing. Thinking about the locations of convenience stores as you plan out a long run are part of the job. Don’t get caught with your pants down!
5. OH, THE PLACES YOU WILL GO
For trail runners, nature is your partner in crime. Step away from the path to hide your deed. Remember that warning phrase: “leaves of three, let it be.”
There are lots of things to consider that will make your runs more enjoyable. Not feeling the, uh, pressure is one of them. You’re going to shower when you finish anyway. GO ahead!