A fond farewell to a friend

An Ode to a Pair of Shoes.

Today I bought new running shoes.

A long overdue mission, mind you: my running shoes, which have been traveling with me for a while, have more holes in them than I could count. But it wasn’t until I came home that I realised that buying new shoes meant retiring the old ones… and that was a sad, almost distressful thought. So this is my thank you ode to an old, rather cheap and beaten up pair of running shoes.

I ran 2052km on these shoes.

2052km. That’s 1275 miles. About the same distance from Paris to Athens. I know this because being a statistics freak, I track every single run on my phone. Locations, routes, shoes.

So I dug into some more statistics… and suddenly the numbers became more than just numbers: they became words, a trip down memory lane. It’s been exactly 800 days since I bought them in Aveiro (Portugal) where I used to live in 2013, just a week before I made a move to London. I remember buying them before the trip so I could immediately use them to run around whatever neighbourhood I landed at… and start exploring — with a curious mind and bursting lungs — a new city, a new country, a new life. No excuses; the shoes were there already.

Since then, they were my to-go shoes with every house move. With every country move… Each time I’d travel, I’d bring them with me for the same purpose: run around, get to know the place. More than just distance, the shoes began ranking up memories.

  1. I ran with them in 12 different areas of London.
  2. I ran with them when I brought them back home for a week of holiday, in Porto.
  3. On the idyllic landscapes of Iceland, I ranked a few miles with them a few early mornings.
  4. In Turkey, twice, in Kalkan and around the Lycian Way, where I ran my first trail.
  5. In Chiang Mai, running around the empty streets for a month at 6am before it got too hot.
  6. On a work and travel UK trip this year; using them as an excuse to get to know Oxford and South Wales a little better.
  7. In Prague, running my own, self-organised “bridges tour”. On my birthday.
  8. In Berlin, where they ran their first half-marathon, wrapped up in plastic bags because it was raining a lot and they had… well, many many holes.
  9. In Jordan, even after hiking the Wadi Rum desert for days on hiking boots, I still brought them to squeeze in a run, somehow.

So what to do with these retired shoes, now, then? Yes, I could keep around them for those occasions… you know, that day lake trip, going to the grocery store, taking the garbage out. But if I were a running shoe, is this really the destiny I’d like to end up having? Garbage trips? Wouldn’t I prefer to go out in a bang, after such a priceless portfolio of miles and memories? It would be like using Miles Davis’ trumpet to hang drying clothes in the living room.

You see, I am those shoes. Beaten up, but happy to have lived through more than just boring laps on a track.

Whatever I end up doing with them, this thought is now deeply engraved in the back of the mind: this new pair, shiny and red, whether they last 2 months or 2 years, have a lot to live up to. So let’s rank up those memories.