On one of my first truly long training rides a few years ago, I felt as if I had to go to the bathroom. But it was only about 13 miles or so into the ride and stopping so soon seemed like it would be, I don’t know, a little soft. Granted, I wasn’t trying to prove anything to anyone or fit into some hard core notion of a triathlete though I suppose I did want to “fit in” on some level.
So I passed up the opportunity to stop at the coffee shop.
Shortly after all I could think about was going to the bathroom. Bring out every cliche about having to really, really, pee. I saw two women from my training group pull into a parking area. I caught and followed them and we used the “au natural” facilities.
There were two important lessons learned that day:
No. 1: When you have the opportunity to use the bathroom, use it.
No. 2: Triathlon would alter my sense of modesty forever.
I thought of this on Friday as I did my five-hour bike ride. My course was on Grand Island, N.Y. as one loop around the island between Buffalo and Niagara Falls is 20 miles. (Currently, there is road construction and a detour making it close to 21 miles. But the principle still works.) I chose this particular route because (a) the loop keeps me passing my car so I always have a place to stop and get more water/fuel and (b) my race in Montreal has loops, so this would help me get used to the round-and-round type of course.
Somewhere on the first loop, I got that feeling of having to go the bathroom. Really? It’s just my first loop? Maybe I can stretch it for another loop?
Ah, but I learned my lesson and took the opportunity after lap No. 1 to relieve myself. Because one of the lessons I’ve learned through the process of triathlon is that you have to have plan to break a plan and the ability to change without pesky self-judgement is often a key to joy and success.
I then proceeded to ride the next two laps without stopping. A break between laps No. 3 and No. 4 let me refill my water bottles. Lap No. 5 brought me one more stop – to say hello to my dad. I asked my father if he would meet me at the conclusion of my five-hour ride. This would be the farthest I’ve ever ridden and I was riding alone. I had no idea how I would feel – physically, mentally or emotionally – and it would be nice to have someone there in case