So I am a woman of child-bearing age who has a penchant for rolling around in mud and diving into Dumpsters filled with icy water. I do this with a few thousand people. Usually in the hot, humid summer More often than not I do this in New Jersey.
Cleanliness and hygiene can be a problem. In fact, after the Dirty Girl Mud Run this past weekend, a first-time mud runner joked that she could “just feel the UTI forming” after our romp through the course. As mentioned in a previous post, this can be especially problematic at that time of the month. Whether you call it “surfing the crimson wave,” having a “visit from Aunt Flo” or “taking Carrie to the prom”, having your period for race day blows. Bloating + tight running pants or shorty shorts = not so much. Cramps + wall climbs and army crawls = are you freaking kidding me?! I ran the Warrior Dash and a Rugged Maniac while “riding the cotton pony” and it was none-too-pleasant.
I am one of the lucky women who doesn’t get much bloating or cramping at all, but there is still the grossness that comes from having to deal with a constant flow of blood while covered head-to-toe in funk-nastiness. Maxi-pads are out unless you want to be carrying a lot of dirty water around in your crotch after the first water obstacle. For the longest time I thought the only alternative was tampons (or going without anything – but I’m not even going to there) so my trusty Playtex Gentle-guides came with me to the starting lines. I knew that it wasn’t going to be good from the first wall climb. As soon as a straddled the wall and started to pull my leg over, I could feel the string being tugged ever so slightly by the friction of the movement. After that I as very aware of the dangling thread throughout the rest of the race. When I saw the first water obstacle it hit me like a ton of bricks: There is an absorbant string carrying this gross stuff up into my lady bits! Spew!
But what other options are there? I had heard of menstrual cups, but the idea put this image in my head:
But after discussing with some like-minded women in the Spartan Chicked Facebook group, I was introduced to the Instead SoftCup. This was not the odd-looking, stiff, rubbery cup that I imagined.
I filed it away in my head under “Things I Should Look Into But Probably Won’t Because I Am a Lazy Bum.”
The next week I was stuck wandering aimlessly around the pharmacy while waiting for yet another bottle of antibiotics for my son’s 5th ear infection. I happened upon the feminine hygiene section and the bright pink packaging caught my attention.
It was less than five bucks so I grabbed a box.
According to the vast wisdom of the internet, it was supposed to be easy but I was still apprehensive. How do I know if I did it right? Is this actually going to work? Am I going to be able to get it back out? I think I wigged out more over this than over delivering a child. In my head, childbirth should come naturally while shoving plastic bits over my cervix might not be quite as innate.
I was wrong to be nervous though. It went in easy enough and 12 hours later – yes 12 hours is completely safe! – I was able to retrieve it with no problems. Although I did have to get over the ick-factor of pulling out a puddle of blood.
Oh wait, there was one tiny problem. I had nearly forgotten that I had my period and had to have a Tampax commercial remind me about it! The only time I can really tell that my ‘friend’ is around is if it is a particularly heavy day and a little leakage occurs when I use the toilet- and only when I use the toilet. That week I had BodyFlow and Body Combat classes at the gym and through all the front kicks and warrior poses, not speck of blood dared show its face. There was no discomfort. There was no overly dry feeling that I would typically get with tampons. I haven’t gotten the chance to test these out during a mud run*, but if regular running and pilates and muay thai are any indication, I’m pretty sure the Softcup won’t fail me.
- 12 hours as opposed to 8 hours of protection = I can sleep late!
- No link to Toxic Shock Syndrome had been found yet = I don’t have to panic every time I have a headache
- Cup can be rinsed before tossing it in the trash = a lot less interesting stuff to lure my beagle into eating the bathroom garbage
***Note: In the interest of disclosure, I will say that Instead Softcups sent me a free box and will soon be paying for one of my races for writing this blog. I did try these and decide to write a blog about it prior to this offer being made. It was shear coincidence that someone showed me this post from For the Love of the Run.
*LONG OVERDUE UPDATE 09SEP2014– I have since done a few mud runs/OCRs/long runs/road races with a SoftCup. They performed as well as I expected. No problems, leaks, accidents, or anything of the like. Highly recommended for all such activities 🙂 Also of note, I accidentally left the darned thing in for a bunch of extra hours (fell asleep before I remembered to hit the bathroom) and I didn’t die or ruin my sheets.