Thursday, March 6, 2008

Coping With Embarrassment and A Retirement

It took more courage than I knew had today to put on my running shoes again after remembering the shame and humiliation I felt the last time I had them on. Okay, so maybe being “chicked” by a couple members of the opposite sex, having an older and probably more experienced runner question your readiness to run, and having a school child hand you a cup of water after your run would not qualify as public embarrassment to anyone outside my tiny egocentric world, but still, I couldn’t help feeling a little damaged, like milk that’s been left out of the fridge too long.

So today, I took every precaution to make sure there would be no repeat performance. First, I wanted patiently for the dark of night to settle before heading out. I figured if I can’t see them, and they can’t see me, I’d be safe. Then, instead of wearing bright and reflective clothing like you’re supposed to when it’s dark, I wore the darkest sweatshirt with the darkest sweatpants I could find…again, for the camouflage. Finally, I ran against the flow of traffic (clockwise around the park) so I could see every car, bike, pediatrian and whatever two or four-legged creature that’s trying to run me over. Also, I figured if I’m running against people instead of with them, I’d have no basis of judging their speed as compared to mine. Brilliant. Oh, and as a last bit of insurance, I ran the first mile at 7:23 (instead of 8:22, like last time) so I wouldn’t have any time pressure for the subsequent miles.

As a result of my extensive preparatory work, I finished my 4 mile run in a respectable 30:43 (7:33 min/mile), a full 1:25 faster than my run the last time. I was satisfied with my faster-but-not-quite-tempo run today. More importantly, my tormentors were either not around or did not see me in my perfect camouflage. My awesome plan worked, and allowed me to escape the park with my honor intact. Score one for the slightly sick and injured guy.

In other news, today I lost the last remaining artifact I had left from my last great running season. It had been with me, in my Queens half marathon PR; with me through the streets of NYC on the way to a BQ last fall; with me, even afterwards, when I PR’d at the Race To Deliver 4-miler. But when I got home after my run today and took off my socks, it was no longer there. My left big toenail, which had gotten progressively black throughout the race season last year, has suddenly and completely fallen off. I’d never had a nail spontaneously remove itself from my body like that before, so I had always assumed that when the thing became completely black, it was going to be that way forever, like a permanent stamp that marks me as a runner. So imagine my surprise, when I removed my sock after my run, and the whole nail just lifted off the skin like a dried up sticker. In its place was a clear small baby nail nubbin’ that I don’t really recognize.

Like Brett Favre, who officially announced his retirement from the NFL today, my big black toenail was a personal treasure and a sports icon that will always hold a special place in my heart. Rest well my friend. To you and Brett both.


Non-Runner Nancy said...

Running in the stealth of night, as if you really have anything to be embarrassed about. Looks like you did well for the 2nd time back. I wish I could improve that much :D

I liked your very clinical assessment of the toenail and thinking it would just remain black and stay there forever. With that in mind, I'm still going to ask...any additional advice on the Fifth Disease (besides take it easy)? The joints are still affected and I can find that this is possible in the literature but I'm guessing I just have to live with it. I really can't find anything more(about consequences or treatment).

Thanks, Lam. Glad you're back. I'm really sorry to see the icon go, too. Mostly referring to Brett here. :D

Run For Life said...

Glad to hear things are going a bit better. I'm with Nancy on wishing I could improve that much!

The real question is: did the toenail cry like Brett in it's depart from your foot? (I know, I know, that was a low blow - just couldn't resist.)

nwgdc said...

still haven't lost a toenail, although one of mine stopped growing for about 6 months. like nancy said, i'm glad you're back! i think our running experiences are very similar.

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