Farewell Old Friend


Over the years I’ve said farewell to many pairs of running shoes, some with glee, others with sadness. When I first began running seriously while in the Army, my initial intent was to buy a not-so-expensive shoe (a step or two above “cheap”) and then use them until they almost fell apart. While I was attending a year-long senior military service college in the mid 1980’s I learned from a highly regarded running coach and advisor that such thriftiness regarding running shoes was, in fact, dumb. He asked me if my knees were hurting after I ran. I replied they did, and he looked at the well-worn heels of my shoes and told me that was the cause of my pain. At that point in my running life I set two future criteria for my shoes: 1. I’d buy a new pair at least every three-six months depending on miles logged; and 2. I’d spend what I could afford and get a highly rated shoe.

At first I tried different brands: Nike, Saucony, Brooks, Asics and New Balance. I never was a marathon or half-marathon length runner, but I was not a casual runner either. My goal was to run my pace (whatever that was on the day in question) and run as far as my mind and body told me to go, and to do so usually six days a week. When our Malamute dogs were with us, Nickie (first) ran me hard, and after he passed on Mystee did the same. In Germany Nickie never wanted to stop running and we often trooped off on the trails in the woods near our housing area for upwards to ten miles, with me hanging on dearly to his fully stretched out ten-foot long leash. Mystee being a gentle lady was a bit more conservative runner, but she had to have her daily jaunt regardless of the weather or how tired I was. During all of this I began to favor New Balance brand shoes, and finally settled on the Classic 990 series, which I used for a very long time. Then, as I aged, two things happened.

First, my knees began to tire so I started to mix my running with brisk walking. Then, as Mystee also got older we started to walk exclusively together normally around 2-3 miles, six days a week. Sadly, Mystee’s back legs and hips gave out and I was then alone every morning on my route, but with a new pair of New Balance 990’s on my feet every six months or so. More recently I had some serious health issues (cancer) which led me to undergo a bone marrow transplant with all the side effects that result from such things. For several months after the transplant I put on my New Balance shoes and wore them inside the house as I worked to regain my leg strength. Finally, I worked my way back to my normal outside neighborhood walking routine. Last winter I bought my last pair of New Balance shoes (shown above after my final walk with them). I decided last week it was time for a shoe change. I really hated to say farewell to my old friend New Balance, but I wanted something new, something that would cushion my feet, legs and knees better, while at the same time making me feel (and look) somewhat younger. So, after getting some advice from our youngest daughter and her husband (both marathon runners) I settled on a flashy pair of Asics Gel Nimbus 16.

With the help of the Good Lord and my body, I hope to be able to replace this new pair of Asics in six months of so, and then to do that again and again for many years to come. I will, however, always cherish the memories I have of all those New Balance shoes I owned and wore out. All those miles running and walking, during hot and cold weather, by myself and with friends or our dogs. Now, it’s time to make a new friend in Asics. Wish me well. Cheers!

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