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Friday, 30 November 2012

#24: Racing Dynamite

One of the perks of a running addiction – especially a long-distance one – is that you can eat like a horse. And I'm not talking about a Shetland Pony; I mean a Shire horse. The Big Daddy Fat Dog—err, horse—of the equine community. And I’m not talking about a giant vat of salad for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The odd doughnut, too.

However, while it’s scientifically proven that bulldozing your way through an all-you-can-eat buffet is fine following a race/workout; caution has to be taken beforehand, to avoid calamitous consequences. Namely having to make an emergency pitstop in Mrs. McGuigan’s rhododendron bush at No. 42 – just past the 5k mark.

Pre-workout or race, a runner would be wise to avoid eating anything spicy; anything creamy; and, above all else, anything fibrous. Taking an eye off the ball in regard to any of the latter trio, will inevitably result in a racing shorts-related explosion; preceeded by 30+ minutes of agonizing foreplay.

I’ve twice made schoolboy errors in the above regard – and the gastric firework displays that subsequently ensued would have made Guy Fawkes proud.

The first time was back in April, 1999, the day before the London Marathon. That particular date happened to be my 26th birthday, so I and some friends indulged in a birthday dinner-come-pre-race meal at a restaurant in Victoria.

I plumped for chicken and pasta – which, on the face of it, seemed like a sensible enough choice. Except that the pasta came with a thick, rich creamy sauce; likely laden with calories, saturated fat and the effortless potential to play havoc with my marathon race plans. I was oblivious at the time; but I’d made a humdinger of a mistake.

Race morning, some 18 hours later, I was forced to make multiple trips to the porta-potty pre-race, as 40,000 runners gathered at Greenwich; and I think I had most of them lined up behind me at some point, as I tried not to hog the bog too long.

The signs weren't good as we limbered up on the start-line; a mass of potential energy, blending nerves and excitement. And that was just my bowels.

Three miles in, my large intestine felt like it had a gorilla swinging from it...

To read the rest of this column, check out BC Johnny's upcoming book: Chilled Almonds.

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