An Ode to a Pair of Shoes.

July 11, 2016

A fond farewell to a friend

Today I bought new running shoes.

It was a long overdue mission, mind you: my running shoes, which have been traveling with me for (quite) a while, have shamefully more holes in them than I could count. But it wasn’t until I came home with those new, brand-spanking new shoes, that I realised they meant retiring these old ones… and that was a sad, almost distressful thought. So this is my thank you, my ode to an old, rather cheap and beaten up pair of running shoes. Kind of like me, coming to think of it.

I ran 2052km on these shoes.

2052km. That’s 1275 miles. About the same distance from Paris to Athens. More importantly, and shameful, is that this is 4 times the maximum recommended distance for any pair of running shoes.

So I dug deeper into some more statistics I have logged… 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 many years ago, 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 boroughs 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.

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Written by Ricardo Magalhães who works for the Internet. By day, a front-end web developer with a passion for typography and design. By night, he sleeps. Follow me on Mastodon.