"Down dooby doo down down, comma comma
Down dooby doo down down, comma comma
Down dooby doo down down
Breaking up is hard to-oo-oo do
Don't take your love away from me
Don't you leave my heart in misery
Think of all that we've been through
And breaking up is hard to do..." Neil Sedaka
Those are my shoes in that box--my HOKA Cliftons, Machs & Bondis. I walked and ran 1,000 miles this summer and then capped it off with a 24 hour ultra, and these three pairs of shoes came along for the ride. They were my ride. I actually ran in these shoes last winter and spring, as well.
They still look pretty, don't they? But they're worn out for running. I use to think it was baloney that you had to switch out your shoes every 300 to 500 miles, until I started running consistently and realized that you indeed need to switch out your shoes every 300 to 500 miles. They got compromised and I could feel it in my legs and in the nagging little injuries that were starting to crop up. It usually isn't an emotional experience: the shoes wear out and I get new ones. It wasn't emotional until I had to relinquish my HOKAS.
Each pair of shoes were waaay past 500 miles and I was in denial, until I was in the gym one day in November and my coach said "Umm, those shoes are past their prime. Did you wear those all summer? And for the ultra?" Yep, that's right. And I kept thinking I could push them all just one more week, even though my knee was on fire and my shins were starting to bark.
So, I got new shoes. I got new HOKAS. And I washed the old ones up and let them air dry; I tied the laces together and put them in a bag. The owners of my gym have a box for gently used shoes, and by most standards these are. I know I'm biased, but they look fantastic. It's criminal to throw them out, and ridiculous to let them sit in my closet when they have another worthwhile purpose to serve. I was almost ashamed of my privilege when I gently set them in the box, knowing that I needed new shoes to keep pursuing this call to run, and someone across the globe needs these shoes for their livelihood. I don't know how to manage those feelings except with gratitude.
I walk by this box everyday now and sneak a look at my shoes. No one else has donated yet, so they are in full view. Embarrassingly I dread the day I look in and someone else has dropped their shoes on top of mine. I don't pile shoes on top of each other--that's not how I take care of them. Come to think of it, I don't take my running shoes for granted. The years when running shoes were an extravagance that I couldn't afford are still in view, and I kind of do know what these shoes will mean to someone else. Still when I look in, I feel like I'm abandoning a friend. I love their bright colors and how pretty they are. I love how they felt mile after mile after mile. I know it sounds a little crazy, but I built a relationship with those shoes. There is no other person or piece of gear that was with me every step of that transformational summer. Together those shoes and I made magic. I wrote a post about magic shoes last spring:
"A magic shoe is a shoe you have a relationship with. A magic shoe is the shoe plus the runner. Together. The two of you...A magic shoe gets you out of bed on a rainy morning. A magic shoe might be best at one thing, but can do other things in a pinch. A magic shoe is your partner in crime. It doesn't artificially make you better, it's your number one teammate while you make yourself better. Most importantly, they carry you through your running life: through PR's, angry runs, and through that fleeting flow run. They wait for you when you're injured, and carefully ease you back onto the road when you're ready. They take you over the mountains, across the snow, and down the parkway on Thanksgiving morning with the other Turkey Trotters. They can do short and spicy, or long and lazy. They are ready to go on those steamy, summer mornings, when the only other people on the street are other runners in their magic shoes. And, they stick with you during tough mental times--those times of long plateaus, or when life hits hard and you scramble to believe you'll ever have that fire again to give those shoes the opportunity to perform to their potential..."
I wrote that last spring, and then I lived it with my shoes. And now it's time to let them go. Hopefully I can make my new HOKAS into magic shoes. And hopefully those shoes in the box have enough magic left in them to do something good in their next life.