Saturday, August 20, 2016

Hard Time Parting with Running Shoes

I find it challenging to part with running shoes.  Not my favorite pair of dress or comfortable shoes.  My running shoes.

Anyone who has known me since I ran the Boston Marathon in 2013 may recall that when I was finished with those shoes, I wanted to find some meaning for them, so I had them turned into a trophy that I then donated back to the league of schools that I had grown up in to use as a sportsmanship award for cross country.

When the shoes in which I ran my best marathon (a 3:09:49) had used up all their miles, I kept them as walking shoes until yesterday.  It was not unusual for me to transition shoes from running shoes to walking shoes.  But I usually made the transition with each new pair of running shoes.  Buy new ones.  Make old ones into walking shoes.  Take last pair of walking shoes and donate them to a place that takes old shoes. I had done that for a while.  But I kept the shoes that I had trained and raced in during the fall of 2014 for a long time.  Why?  They had a lot of sentimental value.  My best marathon was almost five minutes faster than my second best.  That meant a lot.  So did running my best half just six days after my best marathon.  And, on top of that, one of my fastest 5K races a few weeks before the marathon.  And fall of 2014 was part of the evolution of multiple running friendships.  So, I had a lot of reasons to keep them.  But I retired them yesterday.

The reason for their retirement was that that the shoes in which I ran Comrades had reached their mileage limit as running shoes.  They now have more sentimental value than my Philadelphia marathon shoes.  So, I will have a nice pair of gray (or maco, as in the shark) Launch 2 Brooks running shoes to wear as walking around shoes for a while.  Those shoes also have a lot of stories associated with them as the entire Comrades preparation and running experience was incredible and forced me to think about the value of running in new ways.

Yesterday, I also retired my one pair of Newtons.  My Newtons were like a fling.  I have a record of every mile run in Brooks starting with a pair of Ghost 4’s that I ran in for the first time on June 13, 2012.  Four years with one brand except for this pair of Newtons.  I have a friend who has not had a single issue with stress fractures since she switched to Newtons.  And I am glad for her.  In the meantime, I used them for short runs this year, finally accumulated enough miles, and now am ready to move ahead.

My next pair is a pair of Ghost 9’s. I’ve bounced back and forth between the Ghosts and the Launches during the 4+ years of keeping records.  With my first run in the Ghost 9’s, I have accumulated over 8500 miles in the 4+ years of keeping very careful records.  In those miles, I have made numerous friends, shared numerous stories, and accumulated many memories.  It Is amazing to think of how far friendships have come in the four years.  All that I have seen of Baltimore and the world.  And the many interesting events and people I have encountered.

Sometimes long, sometimes short, sometimes alone, sometimes with a partner, and sometimes with a group.  Sometimes reciting the Serenity Prayer before we begin.  Sometimes having to fight for every step.  Sometimes feeling like I could run forever.  At least for the 55 mile run in South Africa, pretty much factually running forever. 

Running as a party of relay teams with names like Who’s the Mentor, Running Family, and Amicis Animalium.  Two of those runs happened in shoes that were either retired or changing roles yesterday.  How running helps to develop day to day positive relationships with sharing life and sharing stories.  Sharing fun.  Sharing ideas.  Sharing what comes from the heart.

The relationships are ones that I have to continue to nurture.  But taking the time to be with someone to speed up together or to slow down together.  To wait together.  To do whatever one can to help the other not think about how much they hurt.  To do everything possible to avoid overheating or freezing.  That is what the shoes have brought me.  That is what I anticipate the shoes will continue to bring me.  Each pair of running shoes is truly a part of my identity. 

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