Tuesday, March 08, 2016

The Shoes That Carried Me There

So I've been trying to give these perfectly good running shoes to Goodwill for a decade. They've only got about a hundred miles on them, but 26.2 of them were in my first completed Ironman. I bought them, broke them in, and then put them on in T2 over a dislocated big toe, hoping and praying to (but not knowing if I could) cross the finish line. They did, these shoes carried me there, through the pain, through the puking, thankfully not through crawling (though I didn't rule out the possibility). So it's been just a tiny bit hard to let them go.

Finally I decided that there was only one place I could leave them: at Pre's Rock. For those of you who don't know this, there is a semi-shrine at the place where Steve Prefontaine lost his life in a car accident in 1975. There have been Olympic medals left here, shoes worn by world champions and those worn in someone's first-ever 5k, race numbers from all over the world. To athletes everywhere, his legacy is immortal and his words stay in our ears in the darkest moments of training or racing:

"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift".
"Don't let fatigue make a coward out of you"
"Success isn't how far you go, but the distance you traveled from where you started."

These quotes are in the arsenal we keep in the recesses of our brain, to pull out at Mile 21 when the world narrows to a dim, pain-filled tunnel with a finish line at the end of it.

So although Pre has been gone for a long time, I still run every week on the trail he helped to create, inspired by the ones he saw while competing in Europe. And this seemed like the only place I could leave my shoes behind. They still have the reflective stickers required in an Ironman for athletes running after dark. They still hold the memories of crossing a finish line. I think they're worthy of resting there.