Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Lessons from a Rancid Water Bottle

In order to be ready for this Half Iron Person triathlon in June, I need to fit in 9 workouts a week: three swims, three rides, and three runs. T minus 6 weeks until race day. My stomach, and my bowels, do a shaky little jig every time I think about race day. More on this exciting dance later.

Last Friday, my parents (AKA, all star, award winning grandparents) were in town, and I had my long run to do. Ten miles, give or take. The cool part was that my parents are training for a half marathon at the moment, so they agreed to do the run with me. Six years ago, I never imagined I'd run ten miles by myself, let alone with my parents.

While I was proud of them and their new found love of running, I quite frankly expected to leave them in my dust and meet them at the car afterward. As we were driving to the trail, I felt a little cocky about it, actually. There's not many people I can beat, I thought, but surely, surely, I can beat them. My mom just took up running a year ago and, after all, is more advanced in years than I. I had it in the bag, right?

WRONG. I tried to lose her, I really really did. But, the old girl hung on and hung on. Every time I glanced behind me, there she was in her pink running shirt, keeping the gap between us short and tight. I kept running, downing my water and gatorade intermittently, beaming at the tenacity and strength my mom was exhibiting. I guess I shouldn't have been that surprised. She did raise 6 kids, all of us girls, after all.

The only problem with my hydration efforts was that one bottle of water had a wee bit of bacteria in it. The dirty bottle had been sitting in my athletic gear drawer for months. I had apparently neglected to wash it after I last used it. Before the run with my parents, I hastily rinsed it out, swished a little soap around, and re-filled it with new water. I thought it tasted funny, but by mile 4, was thirsty enough not to care.

Around mile 7, I decided to run it in with my mom and slowed down to let her catch up. It only took about 20 seconds for her to reach my side. Then, suddenly, out of nowhere, my bowels began to do different versions of the mamba and traditional Zulu dance. The nervous little jig that they usually perform was swallowed up by louder jungle drums beating insistently in my intestines. I had a major emergency on my hands. I darted behind a thick patch of blackberry bushes, shouting to my mom, Go on ahead, I'll catch up, and did what I had to do.

Well, to make a long story short, my mom was waiting for me by the car. I ended the run with a less than calm digestive system and some wounded pride.

So, BE YE WARNED.....If a dirty water bottle is permitted to grow bacteria for several months and you do not clean it with bleach, IT WILL GIVE YOU DIARRHEA. There, I have done my public duty.

In spite of the negative gastrointestinal experience on this run, I learned something huge. My mom's exemplary 10 mile run taught me, quite simply, that my best years are ahead. That one can age with strength, endurance, and excitement to conquer new challenges. That grandmothers really do rule the world.

My mom and I are going to run a half marathon together this month. And, I will show up to the race with clean water bottles.

I have two words for you, mom. GAME. ON.


  1. Oh yes, brings back my running days. I got beat by a blind guy, hanging onto the arm of a sighted guy. Determination. You gotta love it. YHang in there with your intense training schedule. Just think of all the calories you are burning. Yippee.

  2. Yay! You're an inspiration. Thanks for the tip too. I usually think something is clean if it's been swished with soapy water.

  3. I love powerful moms and dads. They remind us that no matter how hold we are we can keep on moving. And as to the water bottle...Ewwww! I hope it has literally all passed!

  4. You are a BRAVE woman - both for your kick butt training schedule and for sharing this story:) I had a similiar run in with a water bottle during my crew days...only I was on a boat! Talk about team building...

  5. Thanks Jodie for your kind words!
    The truth is...you are my inspiration and I would not have taken up running except for your example. I hope I don't end up in the blackberry bushes but if I do I will think about you! Love You!

  6. Hi Jodie...

    It's Jason...you ran into us on the Samammish trail today. This isn't a comment on your piece (although I will read it) but rather a follow up note to say that it was nice to meet you and your friend today. We hope you got your tire situation resolved without too my walking.

    In the future, and definately for the Iron Man you're training for, you should consider replacing your tubes with Slime Tubes; they're self-sealing for small to moderate punctures and far cheaper than Taxi cabs and Tylenol. In addition I would invest in a CO2 cartridge that has 'the on-off valve' (you can say that to the bike shop tech; he'll know what you mean.

    Again, nice to meet you both and ride safe.

    Jason Souza


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