The Ick Factor of an Active Lifestyle
Mid-day today my sweet husband picked up my headlamp from last night’s run, crinkled his nose and said “Eww, this is still wet.” That’s okay because I’m the one who launders his stinky sweaty bike shorts. Seriously, wet chamois beats wet headlamp band in ick factor, hands down.
This life we lead can be a little gross. In the past 39 hours, because I couldn’t go 40 even if it would have made a better story, I have spent 22 hours outside in the Arkansas heat and humidity. In that 22 hours I biked 15 slow miles leading a beginner training ride then treating myself to a trip to the farmers market for the last of the summer’s blueberries by wheel power. We packed and loaded overnight gear into the Arkansas Outside Mobile Office, traveled down the way to our campsite for the night and set up in a light drizzle. We waited and chatted and caught up with friends we may not have seen since the last long trail run event waiting for the gun to start the Full mOOn 25K/50K run. I opted for the 25, let’s face it, I don’t train distance runs enough to pull of another 50 right now. After running that 15—- miles in the heat, with the humidity from the afternoon rain still hanging in the air like a moist towelette, almost refreshing but not quite doing the trick, I stayed out at the finish line for another 4 hours to cheer in more runners and friends. There was music, and beer. There were hot dogs and fun size candy bars. There was a spontaneous yoga class and a dance party. Because even after running 16 or 32 miles, these folks know how to have a good time. Which is why we love them and why we put up with their stench. Now some of these stinky folk were nice enough to use the showers available back in the campground to rinse the smell of hard work off their bodies. Some, like myself, chose to embrace the funk and let it linger. As the morning hours continued to tick away it seemed a good idea to stay up to watch the sunrise. At this point I was close to 35 hours into my experiment with ick tolerance. And because my aforementioned sweet husband had been out on the run course photographing these foul smelling, often scantily clad-don’t get chest hair on my chilidog you jerk- runners too, it was a collaborative experiment. Having ridden his bike for 25 miles in the morning, his olfactory presence was almost as good as mine. As long as it’s both of us, it’s okay. Finally I crawl into my hammock and let the man stew in his own cloud inside the tent. Not because I could smell him, but he was so wiped out the snoring was way worse than any smell could be.
There was much discussion after the race about the things we do to our bodies in order to do the things we want to do. There are the missing toenails. Every distance runner loses a toenail at some point. I have one that I lose sometimes twice a year. This is gross. It comes back thicker each time. Eventually it will match the toenail my husband has that we affectionately refer to as “shark toe”. Luckily, shark toe’s presence in our lives prevents my man from being grossed out by my missing nails.
Then there’s the chaffing. Prevention is key but it’s a hard thing to remember. Sometimes you don’t even know the places to try to protect. I wore a shirt on the Full mOOn 25K run that I’ve worn several times without issue but this time, I got a nasty chafe burn inside my upper arm. And there’s the boob chaffing. And the worst: the diaper rash chafe. No one wants the butt crack rash. I suppose it’s lucky that millions, possibly billions of dollars are spent on prevention an treatment of butt crack rash so product availability is high. You just don’t think you’re going to have to buy it for yourself.
Within 30 minutes of breaking camp I received a text photo of a tube of Boudreaux’s Butt Paste from a sweet friend who did her first official 25K race AND got a nasty butt crack rash as a reward. When choosing an outdoor lifestyle leads you to days of wallowing in your own funk, losing toenails, needing industrial strength deodorant that contains compounds no longer legal in any country other than a few in East Asia, stuffing your running shoes with sachets of baking soda, and to purchasing vats of diaper rash cream when you have no babies, you know your tolerance for ick is just where it needs to be.