New Shoes

This week has seemed long and kind of uneventful. In reality, plenty of things have happened: I went to the dentist, AND the gym. My sister came home for a few days, but she was so busy that I barely saw her. I played some ultimate frisbee, volleyball, and sticky-noted my friend’s car. I babysat a girl who pulled a tooth out and promptly put every white towel in the house into her mouth to soak up the blood. I did some cleaning, some reading, watched the Olympics.

Of everything that I did this week, the only thing I want to write about is shoes. I bought new shoes. As I was swiping my card, I felt an overwhelming sense of dread. I HATE buying new running shoes. I’ve been told that running shoes should be replaced every 300-500 miles. That sounds like a lot, but turns out to be every 4 months, give or take, and over the past few years, I’ve put various models of Nike, Adidas, Vibrams, New Balance, and Asics between my fragile feet and the ground. Today, I bought a pair of Asics GT-2150s. They are blindingly white, with aqua accents. They have thick white soles, with a reinforced grey arch. They’re mesh and wide. They are certainly no Nike Frees, which can make anyone look like an athlete. No, my new Asics do not flatter the legs, there is really nothing aesthetic about them at all. They are, however, excellent for keeping my shin splints to a minimum, and identical to the shoes which they are replacing, except the old ones came in a color called “Lightning/Paradise Pink/Lemon.” You’d think I would be excited, as a proud owner of a pair of fresh, however ugly, shoes. But, I had on my old ugly shoes: the ones that have a slight smell, are an unidentifiable shade of brown from a particularly muddy track season, and are falling apart from the miles of asphalt, rock, rubber, and barkdust. They didn’t get that way by themselves. These shoes and I have been through a lot. The deterioration they’ve undergone is like a work of art, a vague collective of the last few months of my experiences: midnight runs when my friend and I tried to convert to the everyman sleep cycle; relaying to Jamba Juice; track meets; 26.2 miles in Eugene, the only time I’ve ever raced on Hayward Field; my one high-elevation run in Colorado; being up to my ankles in mud on my favorite trail; and how many countless runs with some of my best friends? 

Replacing a pair of running shoes is like trading your old dog for a puppy. The puppy looks better, but you’ve got a loyal dog who has been there day after day, never letting you down. And let’s not forget what happens to cute puppies ... they just turn into dogs, losing most of their appeal unless they’re yours. So, here I have these new shoes, just waiting to be broken in, stained, and generally abused. They don't know me, or my friends, nor have they been to any of the places I've been. In a few short weeks, we'll pack up and move a few hundred miles away together, and they will come to represent a new set of memories. This has been a fantastic summer, and the heir to the Asics GT-2150 dynasty will have big shoes to fill. But, seeing as how both pairs are size seven, I’m sure I have nothing to worry about. 

--Claire Cushing