Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Answers to Life's Questions

For me, one of the great things about running is the time that it gives me to think. To ponder on the deep issues. To work on the solutions to humanity's biggest problems. And to contemplate answers to existential questions.

I have solved major household crises. Like where exactly did Iven lose his wallet? (Answer - under the driver's seat of his car.) How do I get the boys to keep their rooms tidy? (Answer - I can't but the rooms have doors so at least I don't have to look at the mess.) And what will we have for dinner tonight? (Answer - chicken stir-fry with rice because that's my favourite and if I have to cook it then it might as well be something I like.)

Yesterday's run, however, threw up a question that no amount of running will ever answer.

It was speed session and generally speed session is not the time to think. It is solely about survival. It's about running as fast as you can for as long as you're told to then having a very little rest and doing it all again. For about forty-five minutes. Or until you vomit, pull a muscle or pass out. Death will also get you out of finishing the session.

Speed session also tends to be quite a social session. After all, misery loves company and hardship breeds mate-ship. It's a little bit of a band of brothers experience without the war and shooting part.

And being a social session where the aim is just to survive so you can have a nice cafe breakfast afterwards, I rarely delve into existential issues. But yesterday that question arose that I just couldn't ignore.

We were running ten minute reps. Five minutes out, five minutes back - with the aim of finishing at the spot you started at. Coach Chris sent us on our way and Coach Barry was positioned about a kilometre up the track to blow his whistle when five minutes was up. I was trying to pace myself - to not go out too hard so I could finish the whole session (of four reps) at about the same pace as I started - and I was trying not to think about anything other than the rep I was in (so I didn't psyche myself out too early). I got to about nine hundred metres and could see Coach Barry up ahead. With his car. And a cone to mark the 1k distance. And a toilet.

It wasn't a whole toilet. Just the bowl. No cistern. And it was just sitting on the side of the path.

I'm sure that there wasn't a runner in the group that didn't have the same word flash through their head.


I guess that's less of a word and more of a sound. But its meaning is more of a paragraph. Why was the toilet there? How did it get there? When did it get there? And most importantly - was it clean?

It was a good distraction - got my mind off the pain of the running and having to listen to Flo Rider singing about bubble yum bums in my head. But the lack of oxygen that always happens in speed sessions stopped me from coming up with any answers.

But today I had an epiphany.

The toilet was sent by God.

I can't tell you exactly how many times I have prayed for a toilet while I've been out running. It would probably number in the triple digits by now. They have been heart-felt prayers of desperation. Sometimes accompanied by offers of my first-born son. Or second. Or third. Or all three - depending on my level of desperation and the distance to the closest known toilet.

I had assumed that my pleas were of such a selfish nature that God had chosen to ignore them. But not so. He was just choosing his moment.

It was either that or it had been dumped there by unscrupulous tradies who didn't want to pay to dump it properly. But I'm sure that's a much less-likely answer.


  1. Why else would the toilet be there!! Love it!!

  2. Hahaha! This is especially hilarious to me, because (I don't know what you do in Australia), but in Singapore, the bathroom is referred to as the "toilet". As in "I need to use the toilet." or "Where is the toilet?"

    In contrast, in the US, we typically say bathroom or restroom, as the word "toilet" means, literally, the TOILET BOWL. [But I get a funny, confused look if I ask "Where is the restroom?" in Singapore.] In the US, if someone asked where the "toilet" was, the answer would be, "In the bathroom. Duh!" So I'm rather tickled that you prayed for a toilet, and some higher power sent...the American definition of toilet, although you probably wanted the Singaporean (British? Asian?) version of a toilet.

    Well, who cares. When you're desperate enough, anything will do, right? :)

  3. You are a master manifester!!! He listens to our requests...just sometimes the timing is a little off :)

  4. I have also prayed for a toilet, and if I had come across that I could have been tempted to use it...

    So did you finish your session? Did you have to run past the toilet 8 times? Do you carry paper?

  5. Too funny this post. Now I'm wondering why the toilet was there too :)

    I've been so lucky that in all my years of running (even when I was running longer distances) I never had to use the toilet during a run.

  6. Pray for money next time.... lots of money! Big pile of it will be sitting by the side of the road next time.

    ..... wont hurt to try :)

  7. This is so funny! I've had a few toilet emergencies over the years but luckily I have some bushes around all my routes to dive into.

  8. Isn't this what the book "The Secret" is all about? You totally conjured that toilet. No doubt.

  9. I was interested in your answer related to the 2nd question: we have to close the door of boys' rooms. That's really great! You made me laugh!

    I've sometimes had toilet emergencies before a race ... but not during a run ... fortunately.

  10. Of course that's how it got there! God knows what you need and want...

  11. That random toilet is hilarious - I'm sure it is an answer to your running prayers!!
    And - I'm with you on fixing dinner - if I'm the one planning and cooking then it should be my choice!!

  12. LOL! That's funny! I run along a country road where over the years I've seen enough stuff dumped there by thoughtless people that you could completely furnish a house with it!!

  13. Since I'm a firm believer in "visualization" you clearly conjured up the toilet! Now, maybe try for the winning lottery ticket numbers for me :)

  14. A LOL post for sure. I have also prayed for that toilet many times. I'd kind of like some walls around it though.

  15. I. Love. Your. Blog.

    Thank you for making the internet a happier, funnier place.

  16. I'm assuming the toilet wasn't connected to anything and therefore usable?

    I finally walked with a friend this week - after about 4 weeks of NO cardio at all - and I was out on the pier and desperately needed to go to the loo. The pier is 800m long and it nearly killed me... the walk to the loo at the end. My friend suggested I run or hurry but I thought that might (ahem) make things worse. Damn my irritable bowel issues!!!


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