Warning: This article contains somewhat gruesome content.
No one ever claimed that running was pretty. There are certainly benefits to running, no question about it. Weight loss, cardiovascular improvement, strength, stamina, confidence, the ability to outrun most muggers (or cops, if you by any chance are a mugger). These attributes come at an ugly cost. I’m brave enough to share some of these war wounds. In fact, as I write this article I’m sporting a missing toenail, a couple black toenails, a giant blister on the inside of my right foot, lots of calluses, strangely formed feet that seem to only fit into sneakers now, and lots, and lots, and lots of chafing. I go through winter with a perpetual wind burn on my face, a red nose, chapped knuckles, and blistered lips. Oh, and when it’s really cold, and I’m running really hard, I have a thick string of drool that I can never seem to spit out, and it won’t break if I try to wipe it, so I end up with mucus strings from my mouth to my arm. I look like I got caught in the web of a mucus-spinning spider.
Today was another group run at work, and I was looking forward to a nice, loose shakeout run after my 10 mile mini-marathon with Ronnie yesterday afternoon. One of our running friends, Jaimee, was back from a training seminar and rejoined our group. Upon entering the locker room, Jaimee confided in me that she would need to take it easy today because she had forgotten to pack her sports bra. Next to sneakers, a sports bra is the single most important piece of equipment for most women. When I first started running, I didn’t understand the importance of this miracle worker, and I have scars in places I can’t show you. In a way, her disclosing this to me was a relief because she, too, would want to take it easy today. I felt like I had an ally against Todd, aka Seabiscuit. But then it reminded me of the excruciating stinging pain I endured when I showered after yesterday’s long run. My own sports bra was starting to fail me. The once smooth band was becoming rough and creasing. I was chafed in a line all the way around my chest, back, and even across my shoulders. My skin had become raw and bloodied and angry. It hadn’t bothered me a bit until I had taken a shower and all the salty sweat seeped into the wounds and caused a horrible burn. The good part about this is the pain is temporary. The bad part (aside from looking like I got carved by Victoria’s Secret butcher), is that the pain is bound to come right back when the same sports bra is worn the very next day. Jaimee’s disclosure reminded me of the wounds that would be ripping back open shortly. Ah, the perils of running.
We met up with Todd outside the locker rooms, and Todd was gentlemanly enough to offer his “support” to Jaimee’s bouncing challenge. Our short little non-bouncing run ended up being 4.6 miles (of course) and faster than I hoped for (of course). Todd saw a guy ahead of him and chased him like a greyhound after a rabbit. (Todd actually refers to these unsuspecting targets as rabbits). Jaimee maintained co-captain status with Todd, and yours truly played caboose. I know I slowed them down but it didn’t seem to bother them, and I will admit the last mile was hard. My legs are drained after enduring 15 miles over the last two days, and I don’t know what needs the rest more: my legs or my bra-induced battle wounds. The funny part is, it doesn’t bother me at all. If I’m sporting a limp, it’s because I ran 10 miles. I’m proud of my missing and black toenails, because I know what I did to achieve them. Same with the blisters, the calluses, the chapped face, the windburn, and yes even the chafed bra line. Unsightly? Nah…they are little badges of honor I carry on my body, and a testament to the miles of ground I’ve covered. I wear my wounds with pride.