Saturday, August 20, 2011

Rites of Passage

“You run marathons? Wow! Have you ever pooped your pants?” If I had a nickel for every time someone has asked me that… Seems like some people think uncontrolled bodily functions go hand-in-hand with long distance running. (Hint: They don’t! And I’ve never pooped myself on a run!)

I’m not immune to similar ignorance. For years I’ve watched other runners lose toenail after toenail (including my husband, who lost all 10 after running the Western States 100 miler!). Somehow, I saw this loss as a badge of honor, a mark of commitment to the sport. My internal dialogue kept reminding me, “You aren’t a true ultra runner until you lose a toenail.”

Well, after running the Voyageur 50 mile a few weeks ago I’ve had a sudden change of heart. I endured over ten hours of heat, humidity and hills. I had existential moments I thought came only with a Timothy Leary experiment. My husband has a pithy little saying he heard somewhere: “If you make friends with pain you will never be alone.” I suffered. I made friends with pain, and as it turns out, I got my wish granted. I am going to lose a toenail.

Now I would like to unfriend this particular insidious version of pain. It’s there constantly. I rub my toenail on the sheet and it hurts, I stubbed said toe on the dresser and it sent a scream out of my mouth that brought the whole family running into the room. I thought that draining it might reduce the pressure and make it feel better. It turns out that my Dr. Oz moment may have just got it infected. It’s not the glamorous party I thought it would be.

I gave birth to my two kids without drugs.  What I wouldn’t do for an epidural right now.

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