Every week, our block watch sends out an email that lists the calls to local police for that week. A few months ago, one of them recounted how someone had broken into the locked bathrooms over by the baseball fields off County Line Road near the bike path. My sister, who gets the same block watch email, sent me a message asking if that was me. HAHA!! The reason it is funny is because that absolutely could have been me. When you spend significant time walking, on the bike path, on the trails, in the woods, or in your neighborhood these issues can come up suddenly.
It is funny until it impacts your willingness to get out there and walk. One of the top reasons women I work with give me for not participating in our walking group is fear of needing the bathroom.
I understand completely. It is embarrassing.
If you read my previous post, you know that last week was the Cap City half marathon. I told you about my ups and downs during the race. But what I didn’t tell you was as I was walking back to the car, which was several city blocks from the finish line, I started to feel that telltale cramp coming on. I looked around in a bit of a panic and saw nothing open. No fast food place to run into, nothing. All I could see was a dumpster down an alley. I ran over behind it and before anything else happened, I heard a noise from within the dumpster.
Oh, hell no.
I would rather deal with whatever was about to happen in my gut than deal with whatever was in that dumpster. I got out of there and started to walk quickly, thinking I can just get to the car and maybe get somewhere. I turned a corner towards my parking lot and voila! Firestone car place. I run in, praying the office area is open, and as I walk through the door the guy behind the desk says, “The key is right there, you’re not the first one in here today.”
Sincere thanks, Mr. Firestone man. That actually helped me feel less self conscious about the final sprint I made to the bathroom. It happens.
I could tell you lots of other stories. Stories about Highbanks and Sharon Woods. The bike path. Stories about making it and stories about not quite. But my bathroom issues are not the point. The point is, like Mr. Firestone said, you’re not the first one in here today. It is common. So please do not feel alone or ashamed.
Then how do we women over 40 get out there anyway?
One. Don’t let it stop you! I know it is embarrassing but no one cares. Seriously, no one is judging you. Pee behind a tree. Run to the nearest Firestone. (Beware of dumpsters.) Do what you can do. Just know that if you spend enough time outside…always carry Kleenex.
Two. Find the time of day that works best for you. Morning is difficult for me. Afternoon and evening are usually so much better. If I have to go out in the morning, I try to get up super early to take care of business beforehand. As you can see, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. That’s OK, I know you love me either way.
Three. What I eat every day matters. When I am prepping my veggies every week and eating mostly clean, I am surprisingly predictable. This helps immensely in planning my outdoor workouts. Cut out the things that continue to cause stomach distress, especially too many carbs, and the fear of urgent matters coming up is greatly diminished.
Why did I decide to write about this? Because I think there is a lot of shame around it, and that’s not freedom. That’s not peace. I am lucky. Even though I know where every restroom is all over Westerville and beyond, I have friends and a sister to talk to about this. We walk and run and chat and compare stories and laugh. Yes, laugh! And you would not believe how much that helps.
Isn’t it the truth? At the root of everything is fear or love. I am either too afraid to walk because of fear of being embarrassed, or I know I am loved, loved, loved no matter what. Even if I am found squatting behind a dumpster in an alley downtown, or behind a tree at Sharon Woods. Or running like a madman for the Firestone. Stay rooted in that knowledge, that knowing, that you are truly loved no matter what. Be anxious for nothing. Instead, watch fear lose its power in all circumstances and claim the freedom that is intended for your life.