We prepare for months for what will likely be “the race of a lifetime” and, in doing so, we often transform our otherwise mundane lives into something pretty darn special. Nurse, salesperson, or accountant by day; super insane athlete every other second of the day.
Of course, we love to chronicle these moments of glory for all of our social media followers to see. Photos are posted of new race kits and six-pack abs. Facebook streams fill to the brim with stories about our long bike rides, Garmin efforts and a new PR at another mysterious CrossFit workout that only CrossFitters understand. Yes, by all accounts, we athletes are hardcore and those victorious moments live in infamy.
What we don’t often see, however, is the rest of the workout. You know, the boring stuff—the actual work. You know what else we also rarely see? The mortifying and repulsive (read: interesting) stuff that happens during training and racing! Why does nobody want to Facebook Live their projectile vomit at the end of a 5K test? Why is no one Snapchatting their road rash from an embarrassing face plant? I suppose you can say that it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt, and, fortunately, when embarrassing stuff happens, usually the only thing that gets damaged is our ego.
Recently, I asked people to share some of their gross and repugnant stories thinking I wouldn’t hear much for fear of public humiliation. Boy, was I wrong! People do love to tell their war stories; so many, in fact, that I had to break them up into “creepy categories.” Clearly, when your pride is on the line, your dignity goes out the window (or down your leg).
As the author of this future Pulitzer Prize winning piece of literature, I figure if I’m going to call-out other people’s abhorrent moments, I better start with my own.
“I was in fancy Aspen, Colorado a few years ago with my friends Heidi and Christine. One morning, I decided to go for a solo trail run along the Aspen Valley Trail. Unfortunately, about four miles into the glorious run through the woods and backyards of millionaire Aspen-y folk, I started getting stomach cramps and there was no bathroom in sight. I ran off trail and, even though I was hidden from view of the trail, I was in plain view of some rich person’s back window. Lord, I can only hope they weren’t sipping their morning coffee listening to the birds chirp when I went to town on their property. It was fast and furious and I scurried off like a bunny. When I got back to my friends, the only thing I could say was, “A bear’s not the only thing that sh*t in the woods today.” —Carrie B.
“I used a cycling glove to wipe my booty after an emergency pit stop. Sadly, I proceeded to wash and reuse that glove because I was broke and unable to afford a new pair!” —Priscilla V.
“I dropped my last tampon in a port-a-potty while biking on Parmer, 25 miles away from my car with no stores around and on heavy flow day…I retrieved said tampon that was surprisingly unharmed and sitting on top of my own fresh toilet paper.” —Maureen H.
“During the CrossFit Open this year, the 17.5 workout included 350 double-unders. If I ever have to do more than TEN, I usually let out a little bit of pee, unintentionally. Even though it was 90 degrees outside, I came prepared by wearing long black pants. By the end of the workout, I had completely emptied my bladder all the way down my leg.” —Jessica R.
“Donde esta el baño? Donde esta el baño? Where the heck is the bathroom?” That was what I kept saying like a madwoman when I literally ventured off course during Ironman Cozumel into various restaurants because the port-a-potties were gross and I had to go so bad. Yes, I could’ve been disqualified, but I really didn’t care in that moment.” —Kathryn V.B.
“I was in the middle of a team CrossFit competition—the energy was high and everyone was moving through the workout with such ferocity. I ran up to the barbell for my turn at the heavy deadlifts. On my last rep, I accidentally let out a splash of pee. Hopefully my judge was the only one who noticed! (That’s what I told myself to avoid getting caught up in the feeling of humiliation.)” —Krissy M.
“I thought I was alone in a Half Ironman run and decided to blow a snot rocket out, but yikes, a pretty young girl was just passing me…and it was a lot of snot.” —Warren S.
“At the Gulf Coast 70.3, my bike fell in T1 and gouged my foot! It didn't really hurt and I could wiggle all my toes, so I started riding, figuring I would stop at an aid station if it started to hurt, but it never started to hurt. I pulled into T2 with some gasps from the crowd (it was gross and bleeding a lot) and told myself not to look at it as I shoved my sock and my shoe on and headed out on the run. Blood started seeping through my shoe before I hit mile one! I pushed through and finished (with a PR!). I got some fun reactions as I hobbled into the medical tent at the finish line though! I ended up with 14 stitches, but at least I got a good story out of it!” — S.K.
“I had severe butt chafing after the Austin Half Ironman one year and had to lay on my stomach naked because even the sheets hurt. My friend said I had ‘baboon *ss.’” —Liz B.
“Always look before you put your hand down in a field to do push-ups. Those fire ants are vicious! I looked like Michael Jackson because I had to wear a glove on one hand for a couple of weeks.” —C.B.
“At the 2016 3M Half Marathon, I was wearing a new pair of super cute shorts, but not enough body glide. I chafed so bad that friends cheering at the finish line thought I had started my period and blood was running down my leg. Nah, just me trying to fit cycling quads into running shorts.” —Whitley A.
“I got punched in the face on the swim during TriRock. Shook that off. As I was going up the hill toward the bikes, all of sudden I had to stop because I was choking on my tooth.” —Kelly H.
“I was volunteering one year at the Rookie, cheering people on right before the finish line. This guy projectile vomited as he passed right in front of me. He kept going and didn't flinch. Got 3rd.” —Sunday P.
“The first year of Ironman Arizona—in the crowded first part of the swim in Tempe Town Lake in which you couldn't see your hand in front of you—I unknowingly swam up on another swimmer and felt something in my mouth—it was his toe! EW!” —Betsy T.
Just know that the next time you’re out there and you think, “Uh oh…” You’re not alone. Gross things do happen to good people.