Training for the Boston Marathon, one considers the many challenges- the hours needed to put into training, the possibility of injury, the concern over what you need to eat for better performance, are you drinking and stretching enough, are you psychologically prepared? If you live in Boston, you have a head start given that runners can train on those nefarious Newton Hills. From the time training season begins to Marathon Day, the Newton Hills brings a bevy of runners along with an introduction to every charity in the Boston area (the Disease and Disaster runs as I lovingly term it) to packets of goo, bottles of Gatorade and water and the waves from friendly neighbors walking their dogs.
Given all the preparations, all the support on the sidelines, there is one thing you won’t find – a Bathroom. As a 48 year old woman who gave birth to four children, the bathroom has become ever more important. Ok men, given your appendage this does not apply to you (but it is all your fault.)
Consider a training run with my friend Terri, 55 years old, menopausal. Running is therapeutic for us in so many ways, and for Terri running is also a substitute for Metamucil and a colon cleanse – running gets her going– and watch out if she needs to go. On this particular Saturday we set forth prepared to taper (which essentially means you run less than the marathon but its just as grueling).
Our 12-mile run began with a stop at the local gas station in Auburndale where the friendly attendant gladly offered her a key to the facilities. On a scale of 1 to 10, the gas station bathroom rated a 7 out if 10 for cleanliness and availability of soap and toilet paper, not bad for a gas station. We then hit the hills, chatting, waving, smiling and nodding to our running compadres. We had made it to the top, when Terri looked at me and declared, “I need a bathroom”. Given that we were familiar with the territory we knew that Dunkin Donuts was ahead.
DD may be an addiction to the masses, enticing them with donuts and coffee, but for us Dunkin Donuts means a beautiful white porcelain structure with toilet paper and a sink, a far cry from a port a potty or dare I say the bushes (ok those who live in Winding River Road in Wellesley, we confess)
On this particular Saturday however, an onerous sign appeared, “Out of Order”! Apparently too many runners had used the crapper and it was full of it! Next stop the convenience store, apparently they don’t even have a rest room – poor woman must think she can use the Dunkin Donuts bathroom. Then there was the coffee shop with home baked goods, and sweet cherubic children and non sweaty mothers who all seem to be 6 feet tall and look beautiful. This restroom was not for public use – whatever happened to “Give me your tired your poor?”
The next option was to simply hold it in for as long as we could with the possibility that Moses would come forth and find a burning bush for us that wasn’t in front of a million dollar home. But alas, we spotted “In Shape” a workout place, we ran in knowing they would appreciate the fact that we were training for a marathon and dare I say, “in shape”, and would gladly let us use their facilities. This was not to happen, the trainer nicely said “no” and then Terri offered her first born and $20. At that point he took pity on us and allowed her the use of the facilities.
As Terri relieved herself, I realized I too had to “go” but was accosted by Elvira, the Newtonite, who was clearly “pissed off” that we were in need of a bathroom. She offered her opinion, remarking that we should have used the bathroom prior to the run and prepare properly. The angel next to her offered a suggestion, “Perhaps Newton would consider placing port a potties up and down the hill.” Well the shit hit the fan and Elvira said, “Why would we want that in our neighborhood, can you imagine how that would look?” As soon as Terri exited the bathroom we headed for home, scheming as to what we might leave at the doorsteps of all these facilities that denied us relief. Hell hath no fury than a woman in need of a bidet!
After all that, I was still in need of a bathroom and it was there that I saw it, could it be a mirage? It was tall, green, big and plastic and it was beautiful! The interior had all the accoutrements a runner would want, toilet paper, sanitizing lotion and a gaping hole. And then I saw it — this porcelain god had a name I won’t ever forget– SAUCONY. The very same Saucony that covers my “soles” and the very same Saucony that has covered my ass – literally.