Some runners go to extreme lengths for a comfortable run; they have their toenails surgically removed. While beat-up toenails are marks of distinction for the ultra-marathon runners, toenail injuries are serious business. Blistering under the nails, bruising, ingrown and lost toe nails effect the gait and cause suffering. Pain and the love of the sport are enough to motivate drastic measures.
Permanent toenail removal is not for the faint-hearted. Runners tend not to watch as they undergo the 45-minute procedure. A podiatrist anesthetizes the tip of the toe, applies a tourniquet at the base to limit bleeding, softens the tissue, trims the nail to its root and then pulls the nail out from its bed. A final swipe of carbolic acid prevents regrowth.
Normal activity, even running, can be resumed within days of the removal, although it takes weeks to fully heal. Repeat procedures may be necessary before the toenail stops growing back completely.
Andy Newman and Barnaby, his basset hound with a trace of beagle, set out on a marathon walk around his block in Brooklyn. He was never more than 416 feet from home “a feat that has never been attempted in the history of extreme sport.” Barnaby made it through the first 22 laps. Newman devised this adventure during a routine outing to accommodate Barnaby’s ‘call of nature’. He timed it for the day after New York’s 2009 marathon of 40,000 people running, walking or wheeling their way through five boroughs.
Newman’s marathon was a frame by frame contemplation of the static and active aspects of his neighborhood. What he discovered that marathon day were the stuff of small “L” life:
- Remembering neighbor’s names, reflecting on their homes, on long surviving businesses alongside new ones, on a rocking Pentecostal church, on and on as he went.
- The gentle tap of construction hammers on a new building louder as he approached, dimmer after passing by
- A young girl walking her dog while reading a book
- People who simply stare out from their homes
- An ice cream lady 100 feet from his house
- A box of books open to takers, gradually diminishing
- A suspicious man, a woman nursing a beer, a hipster in headphones
- The number of steps from his house to the intersections
- That a newly opened spa could do a pedicure on lap 50 – “digging 18 miles of road from under his toenails.”
For the last lap, Newman roused Barnaby from a deep sleep to join him. Halfway around the ultimate block, Newman met a man walking his dachshunds and he announced completion of the 75 block effort. The man’s response: “And he still won’t go?”
Adapted from: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/01/nyregion/01marathon.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0