Running Until My Toes Fall Off


It happened again. I ran, I tortured myself, and my toenails, (and other parts of my body), paid the price. I never knew about this disgusting after effect of running, (the toenail part). If it happens, does that mean I’m in the official running group?

I ran a half-marathon on Sunday, 05-20-2012. It was rough. Many of my followers may know that I had to let my dog go because of cancer. It has been a month since he passed. Before he did, I was running pretty well. I was up to 11 miles and I still had 4 weeks until the race. I was certain I would be up to mile 15 or 16 by race day. Then my dog took a turn for the worse and my running abilities went in the crapper. I couldn’t make it past mile 3 on any attempted run. I thought I was absolutely pathetic. My family thought I was deeply saddened; more than I would let myself believe. They were right. I was really depressed. So 4 weeks pass after my great 11 mile run and I was barely running. Race day was near and I was not ready.

I was, however, ready with all the proper gear. I prepared myself mentally. I even made a shirt dedicated to Sam. To top it off, my mother came from Missouri to see me cross that finish line. I had to do this. I was going to do this.

I woke up from not sleeping and was actually really excited. My husband, mom, and I drove to the race site where thousands of people came to race and watch. The sun was rising, along with the temperature and the race was inching towards the start. 6 am is really early, but it’s a perfect time to run around the city.

I was in a corral that had a projected finish time of 2 hours and 30 minutes. When I ran my last long run of 11 miles, I finished at 2 hours and 10 minutes. So this time of 2:30 seemed quite feasible. I was ready. In my mind I was going to finish this race and I was going to do it in 2 hours and 30 minutes; so help me God. I took off and passed the pacer holding a sign of 2:45. YES!! This really amped me up. By mile 2 or 3, I passed the 2:30 minute pacer. Sweet Lord Almighty!! I’m going to beat my projected time!! When mile 4 approached, I started to feel a pain in my left hip. I’m not a cry baby type when it comes to competing. I was in the military and have dealt with more pain than a muscle starting to wimp out. I just kept running. By mile 7, my other leg, near the hip area, started to hurt. Damnit. I started to think of why and knew it was because after 4 weeks of running like crap, I have pushed myself beyond 3 miles and my body was screaming at me. By mile 8, both of my big toes, (inner side that rubs against the shoe started hurting). Now, I am starting to get angry at these pesky ways my body kept telling me to stop. I get it, body. First, you make my leg hurt. Then, you make my other leg hurt. Since I ignored those signs, you decided that both of my toes needed to feel pain too. I took it upon myself to tune out the pain. It was then, around mile 9, that my body thought it would be funny and cruel to make my second toe, on both feet, start to hurt.

*sigh* I knew exactly what was happening. My toenails were being pushed up against the top of my shoes and slowly, with more force, both will start to fall off. Mmmm… Just what I want. 4 toenails on each foot. Well, at least I would be symmetrical. By mile 10 I was hurting. I could not ignore the pain, but I would not let it stop me. I kept going. It was a much slower pace, but I refused to stop. At mile 12, the 2:30 pacer had passed me. I had a strong feeling it would happen and it made me sad and angry. All I could think was ‘I passed you miles ago!!’ It made me run a bit faster, but my body turned up the pain dial and my pace turned into a crawl, but I didn’t quit. I only had another mile to run. It felt like 5 miles. I finally saw the finish line. I pushed my legs to run as fast as they could. I scanned my surroundings for my mom and husband. Just past the banners, they stood, waving and cheering. I pushed a bit harder. When my foot crossed the mats that track time, I had to stop abruptly because of the volunteers holding medals. My legs nearly collapsed from underneath my body. The pain was almost unbearable. I almost lost my balance and tears filled my eyes. However, I didn’t let them fall.

I ran the entire 13.1 miles without stopping. I told my body’s subtle ways of telling me to stop, to shove it. My legs hurt, my big toes hurt, and my second toe’s nails were turning a nice color of yellow. A big sign that I’m about to lose the nail. Mmmm…

I finished the run in 2 hours and 32 minutes. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can you believe that!! I couldn’t. It’s true. I received my time the day after. I let it go to my head and felt awesome all day. I still feel great about it. So great that I ran this morning. Only 2 miles, but hey – my toenails are about to fall off.

That, to me, is worth all the pain, all the blisters, and all the lost nails. It is 10 minutes less than last year. It is a day to remember. Now, on to the next half, where I will beat that time, gain more blisters, feel more pain, and lose more nails. 🙂

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