Oh, the Places You'll Go! (For Runners)

Oh, the Places You'll GoCongratulations!
Today is your day.
You're off to Great Races!
You're off and away!

You have legs in your shorts.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can train yourself for
Any distance you choose!
And now that you’re running, I’ll say what I know:
Number one… Number two… Yes, you’ll have to go!

You’ll run up and down streets (look ‘em over with care)
For on some streets you’ll say, “There’s no place to go there!”
But with your shorts full of legs and your shoes full of feet,
You’re too smart to get caught down a bathroom-less street!

Unless, of course, you do,
And you have to go NOW.
In that case, of course,
You’ll improvise somehow.

‘Cuz it’s quite the gastrointestinal scare
When you have to go NOW
In the wide open air.

Yes, out here things can happen
And frequently do
To runners with stomachs
As crampy as you.

Oh, yes, it will happen.
I’m sorry, it’s true.
Mile ten… Mile twenty…
It’ll happen to you.


A tempo in shorts
Or a long run in tights—
The pain in your gut
Will tell you your plight.

You’ll start lagging behind! You won’t have the speed!
You just passed a bathroom! If only you’d peed!
Oh! You have to go! And you have to go NOW!
Just keep on running! You’ll find one somehow!

Except when you don't ,
Because, sometimes, you won't.

I'm sorry to say so
But, sadly, it's true.
Gut-sy disasters
Can happen to you.

With your stomach in spasms,
Convulsions, and knots,
You’ll slow from a run
To a jog to a trot.

Then you’ll slow from the trot
To a walk with a lean
To a shuffle and wail—
What a terrible scene!

And once you start shuffling
You're not in for much fun.
Shuffling and holding
is not easily done!

You’ll settle for any old bathroom to use
For discretion is lost in your have-to-go blues—
A coffee shop brimming with books and restraint!
A hardware store stocked with plaster and paints!
A tall-looking church full of Latter Day Saints! 

And when you go in, should you turn left or right?
Or right-and-three-quarters? Or maybe not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
The bathrooms in places aren’t easy to find
When you’re sweaty and spandex-ed and dressed to be fined.


If you like to run trails, why, that’s even gladder!
The woods are a great place to empty your bladder!
There are rocks and trees and old wooden shacks!
There are bridges and bushes and fields of haystacks!

But the worst is when
You have to go in a RACE
When you’re running down roads at a PR-ing pace
And you’re forced, I fear, to that terrible place.
The Waiting Place…

…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a chance to go,
In record-breaking lines for SLOW,
For a door to open, or that guy to be done,
Or the line to keep moving for Portaloo One.
Or for Portaloo Two, Or for Portaloo Four,
Waiting just to wait some more.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting with a fatalistic stare,
Wondering what they’re doing in there?
Waiting while the clock ticks on,
Wondering what is taking so long?
Waiting for a chance to go.
Everyone is just waiting.

That's not for you!

Somehow you'll avoid
All that waiting—You see,
You used the bathroom before!
You took Immodium AD!

With split-shorts flip-flapping,
Once more you'll ride high!
Ready for any race under the sky.
Ready because you're that kind of a guy!


There are runs to be run!
There are PRs to set. There are races to be won.

And the magical things you can do in those shoes
Will make you a runner who can never lose!
You’ll run fast! You will fly! In your singlet and shorts!
You won’t have to go in the going-est of sports!

Unless, of course, you feel ill.
Because, sometimes, you will.

But if you must go
When you’re on the run,
Why then you’ll just go
At a local Pier One
Or a Target or Wal-Mart
Or a grocery store
Or a gas station or high school—
There are bathrooms galore!

On and on you will run
And I know you'll run far
And find the best bathrooms
Wherever they are.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)


Whether you run 5Ks or 10Ks or 3Ks on tracks
Or full marathons or ultra marathons or marathons in halves,
You’re off to Great Races!
Today is your day!
Your bathroom is waiting.
So… Get on your way!


Amy L. Marxkors is the author of The Lola Papers: Marathons, Misadventures, and How I Became a Serious RunnerHer second book, Powered By Hope: The Teri Griege Storywill be released in 2014.

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