Losing a toenail while training or during a race is a "badge of honor." I lost my first toenail at the end of October. I did some research on the topic and most blogs say to "suck it up" and that "it's no big deal you baby," but this is my toenail we are talking about! I don't care how tough you are, losing your first toenail is a little freaky.
During the Columbus Marathon I started feeling that something was wrong at about mile 17, but some silly toenail wasn't going to stop me. I'm pretty certain that it happened because my left shoe wasn't tied tight enough; I noticed some movement. I felt the pain on my toe for about 30 seconds and it went away. After completing the Marathon the first thing I wanted to do was get my sandals on. Whew, my nail was still there, as well as intense pressure; the not-so-nice kind that feels like someone is pulling up on your nail.
What the heck, I'm here, might as well go to the medical tent to get it checked out. The students at the medical tent gathered around to look at what was "the mother of all blisters." It was a blister that covered the entire top of the toe – including underneath the nail – and you could see right through. They proceeded to sterilize my toe, and the poked a hole in the blister to relieve the pressure. The needle didn't hurt, but the pressure from the guy squeezing my toe did.
The remainder of that day and the next it just felt odd. It hurt, but not extremely bad; just bad enough where it just didn't feel right. It felt like during every step someone was trying to pull back my toenail. I started to wish the darn thing just had fallen off.
I continued to poke it during the next several days to release the pressure from the fluids that continued to build up. I also cleaned it, used Neosporin and put a band-aid on it twice a day. I didn't know what was going on. It certainly didn't feel normal, but my nail was still there. I poked around on the internet to try to figure out what to do; releasing the pressure was about all. Was I going to lose my nail or not? I continued to wear my sandals for the next week, in fear for wearing socks and accidentally ripping off my toenail.
Exactly two weeks later (on Halloween, how funny!) I realized my toenail was pretty much hanging on by a thread. It was kind of like losing a tooth as a kid. I carefully touched the toenail, and it lifted off! I showed mark my foot; magenta shimmery toenail polish on all but one. It felt weird, but it felt so much better!
I learned that your body will take care of itself and do the right thing if you give it time. In a way it's like any other injury, take care of it and give it time and it will iron out the kinks itself.
It's been about three weeks since I lost my toenail and it is already about half way back. After going through the experience, like the other blogs say, "it's no biggie," but it certainly an odd experience the first time it happens.