Just for a moment I was back at school
And felt that old familiar pain
And as I turned to make my way back home
The snow turned into rain
— the prophet fogelberg
Shoes are like love affairs.
You start out playing the field (OK, I’ve never actually dated. But I saw this on the Hallmark channel, so it must be true.) You eventually come across a few that you like, and if you’re really lucky, you find The One.
And then you remain faithful to the Perfect Shoe. Sure, there are the sidelong glances at other shoes at races, and maybe you keep a pair of racing flats on the side, but once you’ve found the Perfect Shoe, you’re done.
Until you’re not.
They were the greatest shoes ever. The love of my life. The Speedstar 2. They were light, fast, neutral, never pushy. They disappeared when I put them on. Ryan Hall raced in them back before he went weird, and I’ve always had a thing for Sara. No idea what her stand is on Nina Simone. I went through four or five pairs I had stockpiled in case I didn’t like the eventual update. Which I didn’t.
I have a pair of Speedstar 4s that I wore twice before abandoning forever. Just not the same. Why do they do that?
I loved those shoes. But what happened? Is it like a relationship that goes bad? Years later you only remember the good times? Did the Speedstar 2s prefer creamy peanut butter and I’ve just forgotten the bad things? Or was it just time? I suspect I just used up the relationship, and there was nothing left.
I’m rummaging around trying to find some shoes. I’ve got three pairs in the current rotation. The Skechers are at the point where I’m starting to feel them. Too much wear on the heels. The 110s are still encased in 3 pounds of Bandera mud. And the Piranhas are, well, the Piranhas. What to do?
I poke through the reject box, going through each pair while remembering why they’re rejects. Nothing.
I go back to get the Skechers. But then, sitting on top of the plastic bag full of Goodwill shoes, I see them.
A discarded pair of Speedstar 2s. They’re dirty and grassy, so they must’ve been from the era when I was running the 1/3 mile Ahwatukee loop. The insoles are gone, so they were in the Serious Rotation. But the soles are almost new. Minimal wear. Why?
I try them on, feeling for hot spots or an awkward lean or something that would make me realize what went wrong. Nothing. I instantly fall in love again. I did about 500 bazillion miles in Speedstar 2s. Now here we are again. Be still, my heart.
We go out on the awkward first date, a 4 miler on the treadmill at noon in a well-lighted gym. No need to rush things.
I am taking today off, because they say you shouldn’t be too eager. We’re going out on a 6 miler tomorrow. But then.
I have a 15-miler Sunday. Is it too soon? Should I just take the plunge? I loved these shoes back then. Have things changed? Will it be the same? Boy meets shoe. Boy loses shoe. Boy gets shoe back.
I don’t know. I wish Hallmark made more movies about running shoes …