There are things that bother others that simply do not bother me. At least, not enough to actually do anything about them. A messy car, for instance. I always experience a moment of surprise and delight when riding as a passenger in a friend’s vehicle and their floors are not blanketed with leaves, Sun Chips, and Buzz Lightyears. Also, their cars smell fresh. I can’t pinpoint the exact odor of our minivan, but “fresh” is definitely not it.
I have always been something of a slob. I prefer to think of it as “creative” or “too busy.” Things just got worse (depending upon your perspective) when I started running. There are new things I do that immediately put Matt LeBlanc’s voice in my head: “I’m Joey. I’m disgusting.” Although, I hear him saying, “You’re Jenny. You’re disgusting.”
I launch snot rockets, hock loogies, scratch inappropriately. When I first started running in cold weather, I delicately folded tissues into my fuel belt, zipping them in securely for future use. I quickly ditched that habit when I realized how much easier and kinda fun it is to simply rocket that snot right outta my nostril and spit violently right on to the ground. Hint for you germaphobes out there: don’t hug me or shake my hand until I’ve showered post-run. I used to subtly check for approaching cars, dog walkers, and bikers before quickly and demurely scratching an itch. Bah. That’s sheer silliness. Dogs don’t care. Bikers understand. Those drivers are pickin’ their noses in the privacy of their own cars. Now I attack itchy body parts wherever they might be. I’m running. I don’t have time for or interest in tact. Plus, I feel sorta incognito with my bandanas and sunglasses. I don’t look the way I look at parent pickup or strolling beatifically through Wegmans. It’s okay if I’m gross on the road.
I no longer balk at portapotties. Rather, I wish I could sprinkle water on them after midnight to create more. As a distance runner, I would love nothing more than a freestanding toilet along my routes. When I think of the number of times tears have filled my eyes as my bladder heavier and my stomach cramped (oh yeah – runner’s have to poop all the time)…well, let’s just say I set some PR’s those days. And getting faster is good, because it means I will be the victim of far less cropdusting at races. They don’t call ’em fartleks for nothin’, folks.
Not only am I unbothered by blackened or missing toenails, callouses, corns, and bunions – I am quite proud of some of them. That requires a lot of miles and hard work, my friend. My feet ain’t pretty, but they sure can take me places. I’m gonna keep ’em around.
There’s also chafing in the most unfortunate of areas, blood – be it from blisters, falls, or Mother Nature, and sometimes vomit. It’s running. It’s disgusting.
I can paint all sorts of lovely word pictures about the way the sunlight falls on the cornfields in fall or the how much bluer the sky is in winter. Those are true things, too. The zen, the freedom, the unmatched endorphin release – all part of running. Those are the parts that keep me coming back. It’s a beautiful thing.
And I often witness it in the same nasty sweaty pants I wore during my previous outdoor run because compression pants are freakin’ expensive and Mama’s only got one pair. I’m a runner. I’m disgusting.