It’s almost embarrassing (but not quite) to admit that as a runner I’ve never had a black toe.
I only say embarrassing, because like any rite of passage, pushing yourself hard enough on a race or just a run to crush and/or bruise a digit to the point where your toenail turns a lovely shade of purplish-black is a mark of semi-crazy honour.
Or so I understand it.
Everyone seems to brag about their black toes. I’ve heard of races being named after black toes. Run clubs calling themselves the black toe runners. Or just look up the hashtag on your favourite social network.
My winter runners, the shoes with the Vibram rubber treads that are almost as good as spikes, have manifested some little toe pokes. That is, I’ve run so much in them that on the top of each toebox, a centimeter-wide hole has appeared where the thousands of impacts have broken through the mesh.
Because of this and because I’ve been running through fresh snow, the tips of the inside of my shoes have been filling up with bits of loose snow, slowly but surely. After a few klicks this is no big deal: remove, shake out, replace, run on…
But we got a little lost in the wilderness yesterday and my toes filled up with snow… which melted into ice pellets… which filled up around my toes… which was cold, numb-inducing, and (because I wasn’t going to take off my shoes in the wilderness and do the shake out) ultimately caused an impact injury to the middle digit on my right foot.
Thus… my first black toe.
The picture (and I know I could probably use a pedicure or something) was taken a few hours after the injury, but it has since overnight added some additional ugly colour… and some extra pain. Which leads to my next quandary: It’s lunchtime and sometime before I go to bed tonight I need to squeeze in a four klick run… in the snow… with a really sore toe.