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      Marc Schollett: This is going to get ugly....

      How can I tell I am starting to log some serious miles? It starts with my toes!

      There are a few sure signs that my marathon training is hitting that serious stage. It happens every year, a few moments where I realize that I am not in fact just out jogging. (Not that there is anything wrong with jogging, but I am not even sure anyone uses that term anymore--what happened to all those joggers from the late 70's anyway? I guess we became runners?)

      But I digress. Every year during this stretch from New Year's Day (when I typically start my Bayshore training) to race day I cross a line, from jogger to runner. That line was crossed this weekend.

      Ask anyone who has trained for a marathon and they can tell you, there comes a week when your long run becomes....long. I guess everyone has a number of miles where it suddenly goes from a "good workout" to "wow that was far." When I started 16 years ago, that number was 3. Anything farther than 3 miles required a Herculean effort and was rewarded with at least three rest days after (which probably totally counteracted any benefit of having actually run the three miles!). Over the years, that number grew, probably because the number of rest days shrank! This weekend, I discovered that my number now is 20. I have realized that for me a long run is one that if you were driving in a car for that long (time wise); it would require a bathroom break. This weekend's run would have needed a few pit stops had I been behind the wheel.

      Another sign this weekend that I am in fact now in the middle of marathon feet are getting ugly, and not in a "oh you have guy's feet" kind of way. My feet aren't really much to look at anyway, but as of this weekend they fall somewhere in the ugly spectrum, just after "you should put on socks" but just shy of "you should see a doctor". I read an article about an older runner (probably a former jogger) who had his toenails surgically removed because he was tired of having them turn black and blue and then fall off. Half of the year I think he is nuts. Turns out, this morning starts the half of the year when I think he has the right idea. I woke up last night because of the pressure under my big toenail. (Alright if you are eating right now...stop reading or eating, one or the other!). The pool of blood makes the toenail look like a Ziploc bag that is about to burst (I warned you! Put the sandwich down!). I know that someone is saying you need different shoes or socks, but I have tried them all. Turns out I have strange toes, unusual lengths and angles. The transition into ugly feet seems to just be a rite of passage every spring, and seems unavoidable. But once I see that first toenail start to die and fall off, I know that I am officially a runner, it's like a finishing medal you wear for months (but show no one!) Now I think I better go put on some socks....