Lacing it Up

I recently bought a new pair of running shoes when I was home in New York a week ago. I knew that I was long overdue, but it’s funny how you get attached to a certain pair of shoes. When I look back at all of the running shoes that I have owned in my “running career,” each pair tells a story. 

When I was home in New York, I went to the gym with one of my old friends. I sifted through my closet and found an old pair of adidas trainers. On the backs of each heel, I had written (in permanent marker) a personal note to myself that only made sense when I had both of my shoes on at the same time. It was my first pair of adidas trainers that had been given to me when I was a freshman at N.C. State University.

I had kept them.

Buried even further in my closet was my very first pair of running shoes ever: a semi-worn pair of New Balance shoes. Looking back, there were pictures of me racing my first indoor track meets with these on…big and bulky compared to the other, more seasoned runners who knew better and had on their fancy spikes and waffle trainers. I didn’t know any better back then.

Once I started taking running more seriously in my sophomore year of high school, my dad brought me up to Runners Edge, one of the most popular running shoe stores on Long Island, where we picked out another pair of running shoes to withstand my increased running. We also purchased my very first pair of waffle racers. I chose a pair of rubber bottomed Nike racers that were colored green, white and black with the Nike symbol on each side of the shoe in a bright orange/red color. 

I remember lacing them up for the first time and feeling like I could fly.

That first pair of waffle racers saw my running career take off. I had them on when I won my first major meet as well as when I won my first city and league championships for both cross country and track. Unfortunately, during one the Invitational meets sometime during the middle of my high school running years, someone stole those spikes. I remember staying long after the meet had finished with tears running down my face frantically looking for my waffle racers with my teammates and parents.

I went out and bought another pair of waffle racers- an adidas pair- but it wasn’t the same.

I know it’s silly to get sentimental over such material items, but like I said earlier- as runners, every pair of shoes that we own has within its rubbery, worn soles hundreds (maybe even thousands) of stories…of triumph and of failures….of blood, sweat and exhaustion…

and if it’s a really special pair-a kind cushion to soften the blow of each minute gone by; of each unit of energy expended…urging your tired body to press on.

Where did all of this time go
All my memories are laced up 
Inside my first* pair of running sneakers
Collecting dust somewhere I can’t find them
Impressions left on the soles
are also left in my heart
A rusted paperclip and a faded piece of string
looped meticulously through worn laces
getting older
and fading…
I never hoped or wished,
but just dreamed
and smiled

as I soared.

“My last pair of shoes”, J.V. 1/19/02

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