I spent years of my life searching for my perfect match. When I was younger, my stipulations were simple indeed — fun, amusing, low-maintenance – but as I’ve learned more about myself and my needs, my priorities have changed. I began looking for stability, support, durability – a partner who would be in it for the long haul. Once I knew what I wanted, I began asking friends for suggestions, putting myself out there and even tried looking online, as many in my generation are wont to do. But when it came down to it, I ended up finding my perfect fit the good old-fashioned way:
At a running shoe store.
Oh, you thought I was talking about Ben? Why ever would you think that?
When I first started running, I knew so little about shoes that I called them “sneakers” and was more interested in lace color than arch height. I bought shoes for excessive pronation off the rack because I liked the price, switched brands willy-nilly and even ran a half marathon in the same pair of Nike Fitsoles I’d worn at soccer practice three seasons straight. Undiscerning to say the least, I’m lucky I didn’t cross more finish lines with shin splints my first few months on the non-competitive circuit.
And then I met Asics Gel Neo 33s and finally understood the meaning of love. The sun shone brighter, the birds sang sweeter and my days of blistered heels and lost toenails were behind me. The shoes worked so well for my needs that I did what any sane runner would do: I went out and bought four more pairs.
Unfortunately, even four pairs cannot outlast two marathon training cycles and hundreds of miles in between, and when I went in August to add yet another pair to my footwear coffer, I was slammed with the devastating news: my dream shoes had been discontinued.
Asics had upgraded the model to a 2.0 version, and while the Paragon Sports clerk had promised me they’d be a seamless transition, I found myself sporting juicy blood blisters with every wear. (I could attach a photo here, but I’m kind.) So I regressed to my vintage models and pushed them far past the breaking point, with my second black pair clocking an unwise 497.1 miles – or the distance from Brooklyn to Raleigh, N.C.
Deep down in my heart, I knew it was time to start pushing my Asics into retirement, but I couldn’t bring myself to leave them, especially after all we’d been through. And then I got the perfect opportunity: my recent trip to Hong Kong.
I knew I wanted to pack running shoes for my two weeks overseas, but I also knew I’d want the suitcase space to transport home all the overpriced knickknacks purchased at the Temple Street Market. So I made the difficult decision to pack one of my oldest pairs with the intention of leaving them behind in my hotel room after their final use – in this case, hiking a mountain.
Not a shabby victory lap if you ask me.
As is the case in any long-term relationship, saying good-bye was difficult. But with 445.7 miles on at least two continents under their belt and a lifetime value of just 19 cents a mile, I think it’s fair to say that these bad boys had a very good run.
Do you have a hard time putting your running shoes out to pasture?