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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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Running and Dumping

Comments (36)

If you are a fan of Californication, you’ll recognize my homage to Hank Moody. As a marathon runner, I regularly encounter one of the mildly unpleasant aspects of long distance running. When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go. And it’s not always straightforward.

This morning I had a great 80 minute run in Boulder starting on the Boulder Creek Path downtown. Wednesday night I had a sushi orgy with Dave Jilk, CEO of Standing Cloud. We’ve been overeating sushi for 27 years together going back to when we were in school in Boston when sushi was referred to as “Japanese food.” We spent a couple of hours together talking about Standing Cloud while consuming a lot of sushi and saki. Yum.

This morning I got up at 4:45 hoping that after a couple of cups of coffee I’d be moved to do something useful in addition to responding to all of my email. At 6:30 I’d waited as long as I could (I had an 8:30 phone call and a board meeting starting at 9) so I hit the road.

At around 29 minutes into the run, the deeply uncomfortable feeling that every runner knows of “I have to go – and right now” predictably came over me. I had just crossed under the bridge at Foothills and had turned left. I spotted the CU Foundation building and figured it would be open at 7 and anyone inside would be friendly. As I approached the entrance, a person was going inside so I grabbed the door after them, went in, and starting hunting for a bathroom. As any runner knows, once you shift from running in the cold to walking in a warm building, the time you have to find the bathroom decreases even further.

I couldn’t find the fucking bathroom. I wandered around on the first floor, found the weight room, found some showers, found the cafeteria, found some locked doors, but couldn’t find the bathroom. In a mild state of panic, I found a person sitting at a desk and meekly asked “can you point me at a bathroom.” She looked at me like I was a terrorist – granted, I was in running clothes and a blue knit hat – but I can’t imagine I looked like anything other than a runner who desperately needed to take a dump.

Her: “Do you work here?”
Me: “No – I’m just on a run and I need to use the bathroom”
Her: “That’s not allowed here”
Me: “C’mon, your not serious, pretty please?” (followed by my best hurt puppy dog look)
(Silence for about five seconds as we stare at each other and I hop from foot to foot)
Her: “Ok, but if we let anyone use the bathroom here, hundreds of people would come and trash our bathrooms”
Me: “Thanks so much – I really appreciate it”

Of course, the bathroom was 10 feet from the front door – I had walked right past it in my desperation. I did my thing and felt 1,427,523x better. As I exited the bathroom, I saw my new friend standing by the front door with another person.

Me: “Thanks – I really appreciate you letting me use the bathroom”
Her: “How did you get into the building”
Me: “The front door was open – I just followed someone in”
(She fiddled with the door and looked perplexed)
Me: “By the way, I’m a donor to the CU Foundation and have a bathroom named after me in the ATLAS Building
Her: “Well thank you!” (I could swear I saw her roll her eyes)

The rest of the run was uneventful. Fun, but uneventful.

I have a simple request for all humans out there. If a runner asks to use your bathroom, let him (or her). If I’m on a trail run in the middle of nowhere, I reluctantly have an effective “shit in the woods” method. But if I’m in a city, while I can pee in 30 seconds anywhere by just pretending I’m a dog, it’s not so easy to jettison the alien in the middle of the street.

  • http://www.facebook.com/MarcusWhitney Marcus Whitney

    “jettison the alien” – hilarious.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      One of my favorites.

  • http://twitter.com/broughten Jon Christensen

    I might have rolled my eyes too. But I would have let you use the bathroom without a resume.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Thank you.

  • http://dohsimpsons.com/ zackola

    Oy, as a fellow runner that’s the worst. Currently working on a public restroom/kid friendly restaurant app in NYC. The proliferation of Starbucks is good for one thing besides burnt coffee!

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      I actually find Starbucks to be unpredictable – I often have to wait
      for the bathroom and more than once have been chased out by the staff
      since I wasn’t buying anything. I prefer McDonalds. Go through the
      door and turn right. The bathroom is right there almost 100% of the
      time. Clean, always empty.

  • Peter Cipollone

    Don’t leave home without it. http://amzn.to/gthz2U

  • James Fazio

    It never fails…7minutes 32seconds out the door and the invasion begins, but if I wait 8 more minutes to leave…nothing. It is still better than not running.

  • http://twitter.com/freds4hb freds4hb

    So awesome! You should send them a card inviting them to use the bathroom you have named after you! (and a link to this post!!) Awesome as usual!

  • Cory

    Thanks, Brad. I’ve had a shitty afternoon and this post finally made me laugh.

  • Akibalogh

    Love the straightforward nature of this post!

  • Pete Maysmith

    Perfect timing to read this post. I just got back from my morning six miler and nearly tore the door off the house coming in as a made a beeline for the bathroom. It was close but I made it…

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Ahh – and now I know how amazingly good you feel!

  • Dharmelink

    Thank god you’re not Tucker Max…

  • http://tonepedia.com/blog Danny Strelitz

    too be a “Hank Moody” post you should have went and find no toilet paper after it was a bit too late.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Ah – good point. Fortunately, there was tp.

  • http://twitter.com/rahulcee Rahul

    This is hilarious and so is getting a bathroom named after you. Some entrepreneur should invent a mobile & hygienic kit to help us out in hour of need.

  • Charlie Wilson

    I am not a superstitious person but you cursed me this morning. FYI…police offices are a good place for a pit stop. A public building open 24 hours/day. Thank you officer.

    • http://tonepedia.com/blog Danny Strelitz

      Depends on the smell, you might be charged with offending an officer if its a bit too funky. A police station for some reason attracts a lot of negative people, and can get awkward…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=11303003 Kevin Owocki

    Feld – C’mon, you surely know this by now. You need to dump before you run! Always!

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      I try, I try, but often I fail.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=11303003 Kevin Owocki

        try drinking some tea and/or a few glasses of water as soon as you get up. that almost always does the trick for me.

  • Pete0

    So great to read. Can’t tell you how many of my run routes are laid out based on their porcelain accessibility factor…

  • David L

    A good article that tries to give the issue some mainstream facetime:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/news/story?id=5651802

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Wow – what a phenomenal article!

  • http://reecepacheco.com reecepacheco

    …and this is why I like running in the woods.

  • http://twitter.com/JohnHinnegan John Hinnegan

    After a traumatic experience, I now avoid long runs if there’s any “risk”. I’m not nearly as dedicated a runner.

  • Kevin

    A long time ago when I worked at the Gap, you could get fired for letting customers use the bathroom. According to my boss, at least, there was a different health code to have a bathroom open to the public, and our bathroom was only approved for employee use. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if that was an invented threat to avoid bathroom-cleaning. Anyway, I understand it a little more now when someone refuses.

  • DaveJ

    Brad, you need a new Category/Tag: “Oversharing.”

  • Anonymous

    Uh, either she aimed you at the door with the little man cutout or you were about to make her an offer neither of you could refuse!

  • http://biggovernment.com/author/mwarstler/ Morgan Warstler

    You are a bold man. Good for you Brad.

  • Ned

    “Wednesday night I had a sushi orgy”

    “My weight: 212 lb. Eat less, exercise more (Goal: 190) http://withings.com
    9:00 AM Jan 15th via WiTwit from Whittier, Boulder”

    Just saying…

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Yeah yeah I know. I had a salad for dinner tonight.

  • Jim

    Double whammy – hilarious and disgusting!

  • ck

    As a runner, I can appreciate this story. I laugh as I think of the great “one liners” that could have followed, “that’s not allowed here” and a post sh*t on the floor. They are as follows:

    1) “Ok, do you have any toilet paper?”
    2) “Would like fries with that?”
    3) “Oh Sh&T!
    4) “Now you know what it feels like to be a CU Buff football fan the last 5 years!”
    5) And finally, “Sushi Orgy!”

    Unbelievable, we live in an outdoor gym full of runners and bikers. This is the home Frank Shorter and the Bolder Boulder, you shouldn’t pontificate (CU Lady) when someone in this town, dressed in running gear, needs a Jon!

  • http://www.blazetravelguides.com Taylor

    Ha – I think that every runner out there sympathizes with you. We actually just had a post dedicated to this very problem on our blog – check out “Going when you’re on the go” on the Blaze On blog (http://blazeon.org/?p=311)

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