Monthly Archives: August 2011

Marathon Woes

I ran my first, and possibly last, marathon on March 21, 2010. Running the LA Marathon had been a dream of mine since high school, but being a competitive athlete, there was no way I could take off the weeks needed for recovery afterwards; the race is always held in the heart of Track season. After a college injury and advice from my trainers, I reluctantly stopped competitive running altogether. Without the motivation to race, I gradually discontinued any sort of training. I still ran here and there, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2009 that I decided to get back into races.

I use the word “races” as a term, not literally. I was not willing to re-injure myself and do any all-out competitions; I just wanted to get out there with other people who shared my passion and run the best that I could. So that October, I got my cousin Marissa, her husband Alex, and my friend Danny to join me in our first half-marathon. With limited time for training, and all of us just getting back into running, it was surprising how easy the 13.1 miles were! When I finished, I felt like I could have easily kept going. This spurred our interest in a full-length marathon, and we quickly began a training program.

Despite numerous long training runs (the last four Saturday runs being 16-22 miles each), I still managed to hit that wall during the actual marathon, and I hit it at mile 16. Basically, the thought of going another 10 miles was messing with my head, and I started to feel discouraged. Luckily, I had my cousin by my side, and with Marissa’s support, I was able to get over that mental block. We were doing this together, dammit, and nothing was going to stop us!

Then something happened that I was completely unprepared for. Somewhere during mile 19, I peed my pants. Yes, you read that right. I straight peed on myself, and I couldn’t stop it! I was so embarrassed, I couldn’t even tell Marissa what was happening to me. It was the most horrible thing I’ve ever had to endure while running. Small squirts of urine would seep out regardless of how hard I tried to keep it in. Those who know me well, know I don’t drink a lot of water, even on runs, and I think that was my saving grace. While my dark blue shorts slowly became saturated, nothing ran down my legs, and for that, I was grateful. But the thought of having a dark spot in the crotch of my shorts gave me further motivation to finish the race.

My new goal was to quickly get to each water station so that I could create a façade of cooling myself by dumping water all over my front in an attempt to hide the ever-growing patch on my shorts. And it worked! When I was emailed my marathon photos, the first thing I looked for was my pee stain. Fortunately, not even a hint of it could be seen! Although I was mortified when it started, and worried that there would be photographic evidence, by the time I hit mile 22, I didn’t care if onlookers could tell. I was the one butchering my body to complete 26.2 miles and they were just standing on the sidelines; judge away!

After 5 hours 4 minutes and 50 seconds, I crossed that finish line (relatively dry) with Marissa and Danny by my side, and it was one of the most intense feelings I have ever experienced. Tears of pride, pain, and relief streamed down my face as I hugged Marissa and Danny. We did it! Will I do it again? “Hell no!” was my immediate response for a long time. However, lately, I’ve been contemplating running another. Each time I think of it though, there’s a big question looming in my head: Is it worth urinating on myself again to get a time under 5 hours?

It just might be.

(My brother, Kevin, put together this awesome video of our marathon. Will you be able to spot the pee?)

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Stop and Inhale the Air Around the Roses

I can’t smell. Never could, never will.

What’s funny about this condition of mine is that I didn’t realize it until middle school, and didn’t really grasp it until high school. It wasn’t until college that I fully understood that I was missing out, and only a year and a half ago was I informed that my disorder had a name: anosmia. (Thanks for your random knowledge, Greg!) It’s not like it’s a sense anyone else can immediately notice is absent, and not being born with it, I never really knew what I was missing. Turns out, this is common for anosmatic people.

My very first recollection of not smelling something was in first grade. As my classmates and I were walking back to class from recess, Angela, my best friend at the time, turned around to hand me a Tinkerbell brand lip gloss that she wanted me to smell. I inhaled deeply through my nose, and caught nothing. Angela was smiling, her eyes gazing at me expectantly.

“It smells good, right?” she asked as she nodded waiting for my approval.

“Mmm, yeah!” I enthusiastically answered, while thinking to myself, “She’s crazy. That stuff doesn’t have a scent at all.”

That was the first of countless times in my life that I’ve lied about smelling something. It’s not because I’m embarrassed about my condition; it’s just easier. As soon as I let someone know I can’t smell, the next 5-10 minutes are spent describing the how’s and why’s:

You can’t smell anything? (Pretty sure that’s what “I can’t smell” means.)

You’ve never smelled anything before in your life? (Nope. Maybe if you ask again, I’ll change my answer.)

Here, try to smell [insert object of choice]. (Seriously? You think the one thing you hand me is going to miraculously cure years of anosmia?)

Is it just allergies? (No, it’s like being blind. I just can’t smell.)

So can you taste food? (Ugh, here we go…)

In all seriousness though, if I’m going to be around that person again, I like fulfilling their curiosity. It gives me something unique to talk about, which I rarely can come up with on my own, and it makes it easier for me in the future. No more faking it all the time.

Don’t feel sorry for me though. I believe that it’s more a blessing than anything. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be constantly blasted with scents all day long! I hear my friends and family gripe about nasty smells more than they chirp about good ones. And no picky eating for me! Food is all about texture and temperature. Pretty much, just don’t give me soggy cereal or a cold dinner with course lima beans, and I’ll be happy. Next time you take a bite of food, pinch your nose while you chew and swallow; that’s what I get out of it.

Maybe it’s sad for you, but for someone who has never known any other way, it’s normal, and it’s shaped who I’ve become. Who else can fart in the car, lock all the windows, and truly enjoy the pain they’re causing to their fellow passengers?

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