On the Run: This little piggy | AspenTimes.com

On the Run: This little piggy

Tim Dudley

I left a toenail somewhere on Highway 82 east of Aspen.Well, that’s not exactly true, but it might as well be.The gray, overcast weather last week got me down. I’d wake up, see it’s cloudy or rainy and act like I stayed out till the wee hours of the morning.Wednesday I planned to bike before work but ran some errands instead. Thursday I planned to swim but watched a movie. Friday I planned to swim or bike and sat on the couch for an hour until I tied up a pair of shoes, opened the door and went for a run.Problem is, I grabbed the wrong shoes.The chosen route started at the Smuggler Mountain parking and ascended two Smuggler switchbacks to a cutoff that goes down through some housing, then past Snyder Park to Highway 82 and the East Aspen Trail.And what a trail. The river oozed by on the right, through Pitkin County open space and the North Star Nature Preserve. Birds chirped, trees budded, flowers bloomed, the sun finally shined – easy to ignore a dull pain in the middle toe of my left foot.Until the pain got worse and I almost had to stop on the way back. Shouldn’t have worn the old running shoes that lost a layer at the toes in an ill-advised tennis match. Now this toenail has taken the hue of a violent approaching thunderstorm. It’ll probably be gone in a couple of weeks. Not that I need it.Nails are mysterious body parts. Made of keratin, the protein that’s also the main component of hair and horns, they grow slower than 0.5 millimeters a week. Fingernails are useful for picking up tiny objects and scratching ourselves, but most scientists believe toenails are an evolutionary dead end, like your appendix.I lost my first nail in a hot tub melee after the Detroit Red Wings won their first Stanley Cup in like more than 50 years or something. I assumed since they grow out from the root, a nail would start at the cuticle and slowly make its way down to the tip of the finger. But that never happened. Eventually, the skin where the nail should have been gradually hardened until a nail magically formed.I imagine once this one falls off, it will do the same. And when it does, I’ll be right back on that trail – with a newer pair of shoes.

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