Monday, March 05, 2007

Making Your Own Toenail Necklace

Gosh, what is an ultrarunner to do with all the lost and blackened toenails from those 100-milers? Why, make a necklace, of course!

I kid you not - below is a picture of Jan Ryerse' toenail necklace that he made from the remnants of his Badwater, Western States, and other expeditions. He also takes donations if you would like to send yours in.

(Jan's seashell-like toenail necklace, annotated to give credit to the donations
click to enlarge...IF YOU DARE!)


Jan was mentioned in an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about ultrarunning today that has a great section on the health effects. Quotes:
Todd Cade, assistant professor of physical therapy and medicine at Washington University, says distance running promotes cardiopulmonary health while lowering blood pressure and lipids. It also raises HDL, the good cholesterol, and has a powerful positive effect on bone-mineral density and body mass index. "But once you start running more than 10 miles at a time, there are some negative effects," he says. "Evidence suggests that there's musculo-skeletal damage, cartilage damage and increased whole-body inflammatory markers. The immune system is weakened immediately after a marathon, and there appears to be cardiac muscle damage and diminished cardiac function immediately afterward. Liver enzymes also increase, which can lead to liver damage."
You can also see a pic of Jan wearing his toenail necklace. Dee-sgusting! But he sounds like a classic quirky ultramarathoner.

- SD

31 comments:

  1. Scott, I'm not sure what category the toenail necklace falls under for things I've seen in running, maybe "Jewelry Only Us Runners Could Ever Wear and Understand".

    I wanted to follow up and thank you again for linking your blog to our running Blog Database. It has now grown to bloggers from 36 states in the US and 20 other countries of all ages and abilities and has become a great resource for members to find blogs that meet their specific goals and interests. I have gotten lots of ultra-runners who have linked to it, everything from 50K's to 100 milers. Thanks again.

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  2. Thanks for this interesting article. I should have kept all my toenails, but my wife defintely does like the idea :-)

    Btw, congrats to your (PR?) finish Napa Marathon. Looking forward to your report.

    Chihping

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  3. i remember receiving and email from jan instructing me on how to submit a toenail for the necklace and thinking he was seriously kidding...

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  4. Nattie -

    That's right! You posted that in December. Did you send any in? I didn't see you on the disclaimer! ;-)

    SD

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  5. How long 'till we see this thing show up at Tiffany's?

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  6. Little bit disgusting.

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  7. That is just plain unusual. It isn't just people who run long distances who loose toenails - although I *used* to be a runner, even as a committed pedestrian (I don't drive), I have on occasion, lost a toenail after a "long" walk.

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  8. Didn't the US troops in 'Nam used to have necklaces made of ears?

    This is kinda sick.

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  9. I am so glad to see your blog. Because I lost my first toenail after my 7th marathon in April - it was my big toenail. When I told my family and friends that I was going to drill a hole in the toenail, paint it red and wear it to my next marathon (Marine Corp Marathon) in October they all thought that was disgusting and crazy. Now I can forward your blog to all of them as a proof that there are others out there that are more disgusting and crazier than I am. Thanks.

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  10. Mmm, so is this a painful process? Or more of a "Hey where did it go? Oh THERE it is" experience. A surprise? Or is anyone running that much so pumped up on endorphins they don't notice.

    Or is it something that happens after damage, a few days later, or, by surgical means?

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  11. I'm curious too, is this a painful thing or just a "it wasn't a pebble" kind of thing?

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  12. Did you guys see Scott's post today about the bike accident? Freaky, scary, emotional - I can't stop thinking about it.

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  13. Thanks for stopping by, everyone! I haven't asked Jan about how he loses so many toenails, but I will say it happens quite often in running 50, 62, and 100 miles. For me it just feels like swelling in the toes (often caused by blood blisters under the nails, ie, black toenails), then suddenly there's this little extra friend in your socks when you take them off. Mine tend not to come off during the race, but a few days later. Often in the swimming pool, much to the disgust of my lane mates who jump out like they saw a floating doody (eg, Caddyshack).

    The consensus on the cause is generally a combination of swelling of the feet and downhill running when your legs are tired. Completely avoidable with some focus.

    I should note that since switching to the Injinji socks (which have a sleeve for each toe) and making sure I'm not "braking" while running downhill, I haven't lost any toenails. Certainly not enough to make jewelry... ;-P

    SD

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  14. Herein we witness the beginnings of a serial killer.

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  15. <a href="http://medonlineshops.com/product_hoodia_gordonii.htm">Hoodia Gordonii</a>7/25/2007 03:20:00 AM

    Nice

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  16. Hi Scott - a friend directed me to your page about the toenail necklace - it has received a lot of attention!! - in answer to couple of the comments on your blog - I lose the toenail days or sometimes weeks after an ultra in which a toenail has blackened from the pounding against the toebox of my shoes - I lost all 10 toenails after running Badwater a few years back !! - its not particularly painful during the race or afterwards - the black ones just loosen up and I pull em off - there is a great photo of me removing one of my Badwater toenails with a pair of needle nose pliers on our SLUG (St. Louis Ultrarunners Group) website - check it out at www.stlouisultrarunnersgroup.net - oh and by the way - at times I may seriously consider killing myself about 80 miles into a 100 but no I'm not transforming into a serial killer !! - best regards - Jan

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  17. OMG...I'm scared now...LOL...the big toe on my right foot is hurting and is slightly discolored at the base. I think I'll get those INJINJI socks!!!
    Do they come in PINK????...LOL
    Kim

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  18. That is disgusting...the toenail necklace...and completely hilarious. Obviously one of those things only runners would ever consider.

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  19. Slighty interesting, slightly gross. I have lost a couple of nails myself but nothing to this level.

    Cheers

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  20. whenever anyone talks about losing a nail due to running, I give them this link.

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  21. Weird and unique.. yet kinda gross.. LOL

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  22. What a cool idea, it somehow takes your mind off the fact that you will lose a toenail, experience excruciating pain and have ugly feet! I'm listening to my client and she has a desire for distance running and a fear of losing nails. Maybe she will find some humor in this, Thanks!
    Archinator
    www.inchfitness.com

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  23. Nice work.. thanks for sharing this post.

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  24. Wow, that is one of the more disgusting things I've seen... But they are definitely something that has been worked hard for so should be worn with pride!

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  25. This is so crazy! I live on the beach and see some pretty crazy homemade creations such as crocodile and shark tooth necklaces but this tops them all! Made me laugh but at the same time kind of disgusting. haha. Love reading your posts!

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  26. What happens to a necklace dangling from a rearview mirror of a car when the car travels at a constant speed?

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  27. It isn't just people who run long distances who loose toenails - although I *used* to be a runner, even as a committed pedestrian (I don't drive), I have on occasion, lost a toenail after a "long" walk.

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  28. It's nice to know that whenever I read about someone's toe nails following off I can google "toe nail necklace" and this great post comes up. I shared it millions of times. Ok, maybe dozens.

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