Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Shoes, Shoes, Shoes

There are lots of shoes that are symbolic in our culture.  Cinderella.  Dorothy.  I’m sure I could think of others.  Today, I will talk about shoes. 

The first pair of shoes saw their retirement after my track workout this week.  I have gone back to track on Tuesday for at least one week.  I was assigned to run 9x600 at a 2:10 pace.  I thought it would be rather daunting given that this translates into a sub-3:00 half mile pace.  And I was supposed to repeat it nine times.  And I had only 200 meters (half lap) of rest between each.  Yet, the person who developed the plan for me told me that I could do it.

I was lucky to choose to not only go back to Tuesdays but also to go back to the Dunbar track this week.  The officer has been showing up regularly to open the track since the school year started up again.  And they have lights, which makes the running easier.  And my track buddies still run there—which makes it even easier. 

There was one guy running 6x1600 at a pace almost as fast as what I was running.  Then, one other friend came to the track to join me, although he did what he described as the “Kevin lite” workout.  He doesn’t give himself enough credit.  There were also several other runners and walkers out on the track.  Always good to see the community taking advantage of the wonderful facility. 

In any case, I did my three miles of warm up.  Travis arrived with a half to go.  The warm-up was run at an easy pace just a little slower than 8 min/mile.  Stopped to get rid of the shirt.  And then we began.

Ran the first five in 2:10.64, 2:12.52 (I have a four second window on either side so while these were not exact they were still pretty good), 2:09.40, 2:10.36, and 2:09.  Travis made the comment that the start line seemed to come up rather quickly.  When taking only a 200-meter rest, I can’t say that I’d argue that point.  I ran the next two alone while Travis took a brief rest and hit 2:10.56 and 2:12.52.  Travis rejoined me for #8 and we high 2:09.24 again and then closed with 1:27.84 over the last 400 in a 600 in which I missed starting with the first 200.  I’d guess we were running about the same pace the whole way through so that translated into 2:11.8.  The overall average was 2:10.67.  That was one of the most challenging track workouts I have ever run.  But it was well worth it.  After the poor showing on Saturday, a day of rest, and an easy 7, I had accomplished the goal.  I was happy.  With the 3 mile warm-up and 2.5 cool down I had my 10—or 40 laps around the track.  I thanked Travis for his company.  The run wouldn’t have been the same without him and we were running 8-minute miles by the end of the cool down, so we were in pretty good shape.

As mentioned, that was the run to retire that pair of running shoes.  Those shoes got me my race PR for a 20 mile run and one of my most challenging track workouts ever.  A good pair.  I went to Charm City Run to get the next pair of shoes.  Short trip as I ended up with the same model and same size.  Constancy is good. 

So, today, I broke in the new pair with a 7-mile maintenance run.  I ran it in 58:07 or an 8:18 pace.  To do that the day after a very challenging track workout was amazing.  I was back to where I felt at ease and just comfortable running that pace—no matter what I had done the day before and no matter what the hills looked like for the run. 

2 “winning” runs with 2 pairs of shoes.  Both felt good.  Both made me feel great.  Both helped restore my confidence that a PR may be possible in Philadelphia in late November. 

The reminded me of constancy.  Multiple pairs of the same model of shoe.  More pairs of the same brand of shoe—Brooks.  Run with the same people over and over again.  Same shoe store.  It is similar to other aspects of constancy in my life.  Same place to go for a haircut.  Same church.  Same job.  Married half my life.  Even the title of this blog entry reflects constancy—the same word three times.  Constancy is good.

But the fact that I had a shoe transition also makes me think of my Boston Marathon 2013 shoes. Last year in an article in the Baltimore Sun, I said, "I'm still not quite sure what I'm going to do with them," he said. "But I'm not going to just throw these out. That would not be the right thing to do." After much discussion with running friends I grew up with—many of whom are still in the same general area where we grew up—we decided to turn my 2013 Boston Marathon shoes—the only pair of running shoes I’ve ever saved after they had accumulated enough miles not to run any more—into a pair of sportsmanship awards—one for the boys and one for the girls—in a league wide award in the athletic league in which I competed in high school—the Central League outside Philadelphia. 

Today, I share the pictures of the awards that were created by Clear Preservations. I am hoping that the awards will be given at a time at which I can attend the first awarding ceremony. It may be at the Central League championship cross country meet. That would be fun as it would take me back to Rose Tree Park where the issue of how to balance running and the rest of life was first a reality for me. I remember in my sophomore year going to the county championship meet and having to leave early being picked up by my parents rather
than leaving with the team so that I could go to my aunt’s (and now uncle’s) wedding. The reality of the conflict between running and life is also a constant.

For the record, my total mileage is now 1662 on the year.  Still on US 54 in Texas headed toward New Mexico on my virtual pilgrimage.  New Mexico is the only other state I will run in before I am done. 


  1. Kevin, I really enjoyed reading your blog. It gave me insight about the man behind the shoes. I confess the only running I ever did was running for buses in NY before moving to California. That and running after my kids. I admire your dedication to running and to life. Keep moving and keep your spirit on the long distance road. Sincerely, Helen Linden

  2. Thanks so much. My classmate Doug received the shoes today and he will show them to other coaches/Athletic Directors tomorrow. I'm very much looking forward to this.