I had to think long and hard about whether I should write this blog as when people read it they may jump to the wrong conclusion that I am enjoying the company of lots of random Latin American ladies. Let me just state for the record that that is not the case!
Yesterday I ran 70km from a town called Somotillo to Chinandega in Nicaragua. It was a beautiful run towards and around a huge volcano. As the temperature was going to rise to the high 30’s (or 90’s) so I was up at the crack of dawn. Once I had breakfasted (peanut butter sandwich and cereal with powered milk and warm water) and packed I was on the road. The first few kms were through rolling hills that ran east and then turned to the south. The next section was a long flat straight with leafless trees extending as far as the eye could see on both sides of the road. The land looked thirsty and the grass was yellow.
After about 20km the volcano appeared through the haze and set a target for the day. All I had to do was run to its base and then around to the other side. The road rose around a small hill and then descended into another plain. This one was starkly different to the other with beautiful green leafed trees on either side of the road and horses wandering freely – it reminded me of the New Forrest back in the UK. The volcano grew as the kms ticked away and as I got closer the road curved to the right and started to make its way around to my destination.
I had my music on and a chap on a bicycle slowed down next to me and followed me for about 8km. He was obviously a fan of the music and on occasion broke out into loud humming! As mildly irritating it was have a tail it did help to keep the pace up.
It was at about 53 that the problem struck. I had drunk quite a lot of water but by no means enough for the amount I had perspired. I felt the urge and stopped at an appropriately large tree. Hiding behind it I got on with the business. Now normally a pee stop is pretty straight forward but not today. It hurt and it hurt bad! At first I put it down to dehydration and sought out more water and drank my fill. About 2 km further down the road I needed to pee again – knowing this wasn’t normal I stopped again. BURNING! Again and again I needed to find a suitable place and stop. On one occasion I looked down and the normal yellow colour was replaced with bright red. I had just drunk a red Gatorade so put it down to that. I pushed on finding it harder and harder to find places to pee as the town started to get more densely populated. All this was on top of the 70km I had just run.
I was in so much discomfort that when it came to finding a hotel I opted for the first option I could which at $25 was slightly out of my price range. I bought lots of liquids and set about drinking as much as possible. I bought water to rehydrate, Coke to kill germs and beer to mask the pain of peeing. (none of these worked) I spent most of my time dashing to the loo for very short piddles.
[I’ll cover the rest of the evening in another post because I met up for dinner with an awesome chap who puts my expedition to shame!]
I woke this morning and was relieved to go for a pretty normal pee. Thinking I was out of the woods I packed my stroller and hit the road. This was a bad option and the sensible thing to have done would have been to stay for a day of rest and see a doctor! Anyway, I started my run out of the City and nearly immediately regretted it. I felt an agonising need to pee but was in a densely populated area so had to carry on. When I hit the 5km mark I found a tree and went to the loo. BRIGHT RED. I hadn’t had a Gatorade so there was only one option – blood. I staggered on trying to work out what to do. Should I return to the City or kick on the 38km to Leon. Luckily this dilemma was answered for me when I saw a sign on the side of the road for a pharmacy with consultancy services. I looked down the dirt track and saw a little red bungalow and a pharmacy sign. When I arrived I was greeted by a very friendly lady who introduced me to the doctor.
I entered his office and sat down. This was going to test my Spanish… I started to explain my symptoms – blood in urine and pain – and explained that I had not had any “encounters” that would mean it could be STI. He took me into the garden and gave me a small jam jar. He pointed to a bush and asked me to make a urine sample. I returned shortly and handed him the jar with a disturbing coloured pee. He took the sample into his office and a very short while later returned with a piece of paper telling me that my urine contained “a lot” of blood and wrote a prescription of antibiotics. He said I should be able to carry on running but advised me that I should take the rest of the day off. Very luckily for me there was one hotel right next door (again slightly out of my budget) where I could rest for the day.
While this may be an embarrassing story I think it is important to share the misfortunes of running through the Americas. It is not all fun and games, there are hard times and these hard times can be scary when you are alone. But the great thing is that everything does have a way of sorting itself out.