Saying Goodbye to My Running Partners


Perhaps I get into my running shoes a little too much. My cat’s name is Mizuno—my brand of running shoes. I love my Mizuno running shoes. Every pair has given me great satisfaction. The end of the run for each pair, however, is an end of an era. “Era” is a good word; for the length of time it takes me to run through a pair of shoes can be quite long.

This past weekend I ran the ING Georgia Half Marathon. It wasn’t my last run, but it was my last run in my Mizuno Wave Rider 12s. They served me well for over 300 miles. This race was their swan song—a fitting accomplishment for me and my laced friends. I, in those shoes, have some memories: Some good, some not so good, and some unique. Yet, they are memories.

One of the most interesting moments came one morning while I was running along Dogwood Road in Snellville, Georgia. I had run past Brookwood High School and Grace Fellowship Church and was making my way to Scenic Highway. Running along the sidewalk, I noticed someone walking, also along the sidewalk, in my direction. Typically, I acknowledge those I pass on a run and so as I approached the man our eyes caught. He motioned to me and so I stopped—grateful for a break. He was dressed appropriately, wearing a winter jacket and long pants. I was simply in my running shorts and a technical shirt. Holding an unlit cigarette he asked, “Do you have a light?” “Does it look like I have light?!” I sarcastically said—not really, but that is what I wanted to say. Sure, all runners carry lighters; after all, we are known for taking smoke breaks every three miles. If he had asked me for a cell phone, Jelly Belly Jelly Beans, an MP3 player, a sip of Gatorade, a QT gift card, or even toilet paper, I could have helped him. But matches? No. I simply told him the bad news, wished him a good day and resumed my run. Perhaps the next runner who came along would have what he needed.

There is another special memory I have with this pair of shoes. I did something with them I have never done in any other running shoe. The Run the Reagan race is an annual event for our family. Every February the Ronald Reagan Parkway, which is just one mile from our home, is closed for a Saturday just for this race. This year the weather put the race in jeopardy. A rare Atlanta snow had left many roads covered with ice and snow. The race was delayed till noon. What was typically a fun race with boring scenery came alive with bright sunshine beaming down on evergreens laden with dazzling white patches of snow. Yes, it was my first race with the opportunity to enjoy a snow-lined course. Even better, though it was a cold day, my daughter heated up the 5K by taking second in her age division. I gloriously finished the 10K somewhere near the back of the pack.

These shoes have taken me many places, mostly around Atlanta. The soles of these shoes hugged the paths in Alexander, Bethesda, Centennial and Reagan Parks. They took along North Point, Old Milton, & Ronald Reagan Parkways. They have taken me to school along the streets and sidewalks of Georgia State University, Oglethorpe University and Georgia Tech. They took me through the only U.S. National Park located in a city–the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. In these shoes I have traveled past Ebenezer Baptist Church, The Georgia Aquarium, and the (Jimmy) Carter Center and, of upmost importance, the Snellville Hibbetts Sports where I adopted these shoes—with a discount coupon, of course. We’ve weaved our way through Five Points, Little Five Points, Inman Park, Virginia Highlands, Snellville, Lawrenceville, Alpharetta, and downtown Atlanta. The most distant run came somewhere out in the Caribbean where these shoes took me around the track on the Norwegian Pearl–33 times, enough to equal six miles.

For a period of time these shoes were not allowed to run along one of my favorite running spots. Atlanta experienced record amounts of rain and the result was severe flooding. Not being able to run on the Alpharetta Greenways along Big Creek was nothing, however, compared to the losses others experienced with the floods. People died in their cars and in their homes as the rivers and creeks rose. Hundreds of homes were flooded and roads washed out. I remember one run on Oak Road where I had to turn back because of flooding. Off in the distance I could see people standing in their front yards stranded, but safe.

In addition to some nice shirts—including Run the Reagan and the Charles Harris 10K—these shoes have brought home the hardware. I proudly display my finisher’s medals from the 2009 Inaugural 13.1 Atlanta Marathon and the 2010 ING Georgia Half Marathon.

Running in these shoes sometimes served a dual purpose. My auto mechanic happens to be just 6 miles away and so it’s not unusual for me to drop my car off at the shop and run home. Once I get across the 6 lanes of Highway 78, it’s a perfect run for me. I will run while my daughter is on the soccer field. One morning my Wave Riders took me to return a movie to Redbox at Walgreens.

The first half marathon in these shoes was special for me. I ran with a purpose–a purpose to raise awareness of an issue that tugs at my heart. In one of my very first blogs, (From a Poster in Asia to a Race in Atlanta), I shared about the race and the tragic plight of young girls being trafficked in our city. Once I lose about 10 more pounds, you might see me running in my StreetGrace t-shirt that was provided for that race.

As with any runner, there will be seasons when the shoes lay dormant. Regretfully, these shoes didn’t pound the pavement as consistently as they could. Weather, work schedules, blisters, Plantar Fasciitis, and an Upper Respiratory Infection teamed up to sideline us. Even when in action, more than once these shoes stopped dead in their tracks so I could turn my cell phone on to call home, “Can you come pick me up, I can’t finish.”

So far I have spoken very fondly of my Wave Riders. I do have one complaint, however, about these shoes. Apparently these shoes never got the “get rich” memo. I read in Runner’s World of a guy who has found thousands of dollars while running. He would stop and pick up change, and an occasional dollar bill, and then save his running money. He claimed to have found money on nearly every run. I tried it for a week and all I gained was a penny and a crick in my neck. Maybe people in Gwinnett County don’t lose their money. Maybe I should have searched a little harder. Whatever, I may give my next pair of shoes a better chance at success by running through coin operated car washes or the drive-thru at McDonald’s.

I’ve asked these shoes to help me, and they have. They have helped me by providing exercise and better health. They have also helped me clear my mind and bolster my EQ. Many runs provided time to pray for my family, work and friends. I’ve solved work problems while running. I’ve contemplated the silly and not-so-silly questions of life. I’ve been awed by the creation of God as deer, rabbits, owls and a coyote graced my running path. One morning, in particular, the sunrise was spectacular, once again reminding me that the mercies of God are new every morning.

With that I close. Thank you, Wave Rider 12s. You served me well. I’m going to miss you—at least on my runs. But know this, as soon as the grass needs mowing we will be together again.

_____________________________________

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5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by jackwbruce on March 25, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    According to my Runner’s World online log, this pair of shoes ending up costing me an average of $.16 per mile. Interesting. If I wasn’t so heavy I could probably get more distance out them.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Tracy Price on April 1, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    Awesome Jack! Glad the run went well. On to the next one. A QT gift card on the run?? lol.

    Reply

    • Posted by jackwbruce on April 1, 2010 at 5:55 pm

      Tracy, Thanks for your comment. You could say that I am a fan of QT: http://wp.me/pBhtB-51 It’s a nice place for a pit stop or to pick up a bottle of Gatorade to finish off a run. Keep running. – jack

      Reply

  3. Jack, I enjoyed reading this! My mom is running her 20th consecutive Peachtree Road Race. (It will be my 15th but not consecutive).
    Best Wishes,
    Sue

    Reply

    • Posted by jackwbruce on June 29, 2010 at 3:25 pm

      Great Sue, maybe I will see in the crowd of 55,000. I think this will be my 7th or 8th Peachtree Road Race.

      Reply

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