My Love-Hate Relationship With Being a Woman
I love being a woman, but sometimes I just really don’t. Last month, I ran the Tecumseh Trail Marathon in Bloomington, Ind. While its first 13 miles are challenging and hilly, the back half is ridiculous and exhausting, and that’s when conditions are perfect.
On this day, the trail was dry, and the weather was nice and cool at the start. I had a few 20-milers under my belt so I was ready for the distance. What I wasn’t prepared for was starting my period three hours into the race.
I had recently been diagnosed with mild anemia and started taking iron supplements just a few days before the race. Unfortunately, my bowels were off starting two days prior to the marathon, but I chalked up the stomach issues to the tossing back iron supplements. The bloating and cramping feelings were just symptoms of constipation, right?
So at about mile 19, in the middle of the woods, with two dudes right in front of me shuffling up a hill, I felt the tell-tale flow. Yes, I said it—flow. “Shit,” I said, unwilling and completely uninterested in sharing my bit of news with the dudes up ahead.
Beyond finishing the 26.2, I now had a new mission: I had to find a tampon as soon as possible or risk serious embarrassment. At this moment, I hated being a woman. Why me! Yes, I know I should have realized the cramping and bloating are common signs that my special time of the month is eminent. I know.
I ran for about another mile until we popped out of the woods and I saw a woman and man cheering on runners. I ran right up to her.
“Do you have a tampon?” I whispered.
“Oh, no. I don’t. That’s terrible. I think there are some more women up ahead,” she said.
I charged on with renewed hope. At the bottom of a steep paved road, I saw a woman sitting in a camp chair. “Do you have a tampon. I started my period,” I said. She feverishly rummaged through her bag. No luck.
At the top of the hill, I asked another woman. “You poor thing! I’m so sorry. There are some women at the aid station,” she said.
A few minutes later, I came to a minivan parked on the side of the road. Two women about my age with a few little kids were nearby. I assume they were watching their husbands run the marathon.
“I started my period. Does either of you have a tampon?” I asked. The first woman did not. The second woman looked triumphant.
“I do!” she exclaimed, racing to her purse. She whipped out two tampons. “Regular or super?” she asked, pushing them on me like she had the holy grail of drugs and I was hooked.
“Super,” I said. “You are my angel! My lifesaver! Thank you!” I scrambled up through the woods just a few feet from the minivan and did what had to be done. And then, I was off and running again.
Right before crossing the finish line, I saw the woman who gave me the tampon. We locked eyes. I gave her a point and a thumbs-up. She clapped and smiled and I hope she knew she was my hero.
My tampon debacle that day reminded me how being a woman is annoying sometimes, but for the most part it’s awesome. I love that we freely act like friends and mothers and sisters to each other. And at least some of us are always prepared for anything.