Over the past few years, I have run 3 marathons. It is no coincidence that, over that same time period, I have lost 3 big toenails.
While distance runners often do lose a toenail or two or three, my most tender tootsie is really a result Chase, my 90 pound lab cross. Five years ago, just after getting home from a ten mile run, Chase ran to me and stepped on my right foot landing primarily, you guessed it, on my big right toe. I cringed. My feet were already sensitive from just finishing my run but my dog aggravated them further with his weight. For the rest of the summer, I watched the toenail turn black, lift and, eventually, fall out. It has never been the same. Now, during every period of building mileage, I prepare to go through the same process, resulting in feet that just don’t sport a pedicure well.
Since the beginning of June, while training for the Chicago Marathon, I’ve watched my weekly mileage increase from 20 to 40 miles a week and that same toenail become more and more purple. It isn’t the nail itself that is the problem; it is the blood blister underneath the nail. As the blister grows, the tissue under the nail becomes more swollen, the nail begins to lift and turn whiter and the toe becomes sore to touch.
Wearing compression socks helps relieve some of the discomfort but, tonight, I wanted a more aggressive solution. Out came the vinegar.
After sterilizing a needle and while soaking my foot in a bucket of vinegar, I gently poked the needle under the nail so that the blister popped. A tiny bit of blood oozed out. I did it again; a bit more blood escaped. After the third poke, nothing came out. I think I drained it. I let my foot soak a little more, dried it and covered it with polysporin.
It didn’t hurt. Honestly. And my toe already feels better; I’m not noticing that same pressure on it when I walk. The real test will come tomorrow morning when I put on socks again.
Many of my friends sport lovely pedicures throughout the summer. Sometimes I think that I should too. That way, I don’t have to look at my mess of discoloured toenails. But I also want to see what is going on with them from one week to the next. More realistically, though, I want my feet to show off the miles that I’ve logged while on the road to Chicago.