How Could You?

(Mags performed this piece as part of 20×2 Chicago, where 20 performers each get 2 minutes to answer the same question in whatever manner they see fit. You can watch her live performance here, or check out the embedded version below starting at the 3:22 mark.)

I couldn’t. I wouldn’t.

I can’t.

Many a motivational quote says that in order to be successful, you have to eliminate the word “can’t” from your vocabulary. While training for my first marathon, I was given that advice over and over again.

And yet here I am, at mile 24, and all I can think of is can’t. All of my energy is concentrating on can’t.

“Maggie, you can’t pee your pants.”

MagsCM2010I’d been running for four-plus hours in unseasonably warm October weather, drinking water at every stop along the way, when the urge to pee hit me. Hard. I scanned through the options in my mental Rolodex, which admittedly, was not firing on all cylinders. One, I could stop at the next aid station and use a port-o-potty. But this was my first marathon and I was afraid if I stopped running, I physically wouldn’t be able to start again. Or two, I could try to hold it for another 2.2 miles.

I decided on option two, to hold off on going No. 1.

Every step is a strain on my bladder. Great. Just another part of my body that’s now in pain, to go along with my intensely aching knees, hips, calves, ankles, feet and back.

Then I realize, I am in danger of pissing myself in front of my friends, family and a million strangers at the Chicago Marathon.

That’s when the can’t takes over.

“Maggie, you can’t pee your pants.”

The last mile is hell. It’s hot and I hurt and now I’m convinced I’m going to have a goddamn bladder infection to go along with my possibly-but-almost-definitely sprained ankle.

I make the turn into Grant Park and now it’s only 800 meters between me and my goal. I kick into whatever semblance of a high gear I have left. Arms raised in a V, I cross the finish line.


And then, in my most triumphant moment of joy, pain and relief, I promptly pee my pants.

I couldn’t help it.


3 thoughts on “How Could You?

  1. True sign of a die hard runner. Anything to finish the race in the best time possible. Congrats on the finish. I hope you had a change of clothes.


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