Iron Stomach


Karma caught me that day.

The Friday before Saturday’s 5k, I was popping bacon-wrapped jalapenos, chips and salsa, and enchiladas like they were Girl Scout cookies. A few times during the evening, my husband Kyle looked over at me and said warily, “You know we’re running a 5k tomorrow, right?” Yeah, darling, I got it. I’ve also got the iron stomach of an 18-year-old freshman boy.

I really do.

My tolerance for spice is legendary. I was running late for a 10-mile run one Sunday afternoon, so I had to wolf down a cheeseburger and fries within minutes so I could get to my running partner. Time between the last bite and the beginning of the run? 10 minutes. I’ll be honest – it wasn’t a pretty run, but I did it. I also was 29 years old and pregnant before I had the first taste of heartburn. I thought I was having a heart attack – seriously. I’d never experienced heartburn before, and I had no idea what was going on (I’m also a bit of a hypochondriac, but I digress). My male coworkers thought I was just hilarious that day, as they both have experienced heartburn countless times.

Alice holds my bib number – and her ever-present Elsa doll – before the race.

So, no, I was not expecting any adverse effects to my poor eating choices the night before a 5k. I run five miles before breakfast four (or three) days a week. What’s a measly three miles?

To quote Jean-Ralphio from “Parks and Rec,” it was “the woooorrrrsssssstttt.”

When I woke up that morning, I did not want to run. I had no energy, and to be honest, my stomach was churning over the idea of bouncing up and down as I ran three miles. However, I had two major reasons for running that Saturday. First off, I was part of a friend’s team. The race was for the Hope Center for Autism, a non-profit organization that helps kids and families affected by autism. So there was a selfless reason to attend – to support my friend and her family. Then there was the other, selfish reason – I wanted this to be our first family race. So I dressed, laced my shoes, and we headed to the park.

This was our first run as a family of three at our parish park. I was going to push our two-year-old Alice in the Bob stroller, and Kyle and I had already made a pact to leave the other behind. He’s a new runner, so I’m generally faster, even when pushing Alice. Plus, he likes listening to podcasts while running, and I like blaring Disney music for Alice’s singing delights.

The three of us, all smiling before the race – and sweating already.

When we arrived at the park, I continued to drink my coffee (don’t judge; it makes me a nicer person) and suddenly realized that at 8:45 a.m., 15 minutes before the race, I forgot to eat breakfast. Thankfully, a group of sorority girls helping with the race were handing out bananas and granola bars, so I grabbed a half of a banana and ate it quickly. Kyle glanced at me drinking my coffee and eating my banana. I’m not sure exactly what he said, but it sounded something like, “This is going to be a dumpster fire.” I couldn’t really argue.

Even at the beginning of the race, my goal was just to finish. Just get done with this, go home, and swear never to eat so poorly again. The mugginess of our Louisiana first-summer (when temps are already in the 90s even though it’s April) coupled with a slippery road made me quite nervous when approaching down hills. I had to slow down, actually, because I was afraid of losing control with the stroller, and I couldn’t imagine the embarrassment and injuries that would occur to Alice and me if I fell down while running.

Alice’s view going downhill on the wet road during the race.

She, by the way, had a blast running the 5k. When we ran downhill, she yelled, “Wheeeeee!!!” in excitement. I, on the other hand, gritted my teeth and prayed for the next mile marker. We passed other runners, and she waved and called out, “Hi!” I chugged along and vowed never to touch another bacon-wrapped jalapeno (but I knew I was lying to myself even when thinking it). She sang along to her favorite Disney songs, clapping her hands to the music. I couldn’t help but smile.

We did finally cross the finish line at 33:33. Not really bad for me, as I generally run a 10-minute mile. Alice cheered on her father as he came across the finish line as well, and we basked in finishing our first family 5k.

The iron stomach won again.


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