October 8, 2014

When Is It Time to Say Goodbye?

Published In UltraRunning Magazine (10/6/14)

Don’t know why I’m struggling with this one. I need to get a grip. Remind myself. It’s not like I’m putting the family cat down. And how would I know what that’s like anyway? We don’t even have a cat. I’m talking about a pair of shoes here. And wondering, when is it time to say goodbye?

It’s a little weird. To even be writing this. But I need to write it. I’m not sure why. Is it because I’m feeling really vulnerable right now, without a plan or a clue about to what to do? Or is it because I’m not ready to say goodbye, and looking for a reason not to?

Today, when I pulled my last pair Hoka Stinsons (original) out of a drop bag, I took a closer look at them. My trusted ones. I could see the ad hoc upholstery thread tightly clinched and holding the nylon upper to the thick rubber sole. Thankfully, the day before the Leadville 100, the owner of the house I rented gave me a cobbler style sewing kit equipped with this thread and a few massive, curved needles. I quickly went to work, sewing the upper section of the shoe back onto the rubber. I broke at least one of the needles as I dug deep into and out of the rubber.

I know. You’re wondering, why is he doing this? Yea, it’s a little out there. Most people with half a brain would just buy a new pair of shoes. Out with the old, and in with the new, right? If only life were that easy. What if this particular pair of shoes were the only ones I could trust? What if I’ve run seven 100 mile races in these shoes? What if I finally broke down to buy a new pair, but learned to my disgust the manufacturer stopped making them two years ago?

I rolled the dice at Vermont. My trusted ones were literally falling apart at the seems. So I started the race with the new “generation” of Stinsons, called the EVO. It was a painful experience. My toes were screaming like long tailed cats in a room full of rocking chairs. Thankfully I had stashed my trusted ones in my drop bag around mile 48. The change couldn’t have come soon enough. It was like unleashing a dozen masseurs upon my feet. All I could do was smile.

The sewing had worked wonders. My trusted ones made it through Leadville, and looked to be primed for Wasatch. That was when I noticed the tread peeling off the bottom of the sole. I applied industrial bonding glue and stacked phone books on them. Unorthodox for sure, but would they hold up? I made it to mile 50, noticed some more peeling, and reached to snap off the small section from the shoe. What snapped off was a little more than I bargained for. The good news? Hokas work pretty well with no tread.

I don’t know why I’m struggling with this one.


Jill Homer said...

I feel your pain. I love the Hoka Mafate 2, not so much the Mafate 3. I had nearly 950 miles on my last pair, was shooting for 1,000, when a large chunk of the tread pealed away. The soles were already collapsed enough to become concave, each footfall felt weird, and yet it was still hard to say goodbye. I did, though. They've become impossible to find online in my size. I have one more pair of 2s with about 200 miles on them now. I don't plan to let them go as far as the last pair. I realize it's time to move on.

Will Cooper said...

Jill, yea, I've run in the Mafate 2s and 3s, there is a difference. It is a subtle one but enough to cause concern over 100 miles. I havn't been able to race in the Mafate mainly because of the wieght. they are just to heavy for me. Used them for the last 25 miles of Wasatch though and they worked well. Thanks for the comment.

Jill said...

I still have my 1st marathon shoes; my 1st Boston Marathon qualifier; my 1st Boston Marathon; and my 1st Silver Rush shoes all having in my garage. I have a severe case of letting things go.

I think it's the Hoka Stinson you have :)

Jukka Kukkonen said...

Yeah it's tough to say goodbye, when you have a Hoka your feet love, but have a hard time finding a replacement! I'm rotating my 2 pairs of Stinsons. In UTMB I ran the 1st half with my new 2014 Stinson Trails and 2nd half with my old 2013 Stinson Evos. No issues, but I'll need new ones eventually. I tried the latest models in Chamonix, but no luck: none of them seemed to fit too well. I'm glad Hokas last so long!

Sheryll said...

It's surprising how many memories a pair of shoes remind you of when you come to throw them out!
I have 2 pair at the end of their life, and I'm struggling to find a good replacement. They're so expensive here in NZ that I'm going broke fast!

Will Cooper said...

Jill, duly noted and corrected. I need an editor!

John Morelock said...

March 2008, UltraRunning, page 92, 'run gently out there' column "Spring Cleaning" -- I assume you moderate this. I am not interested in it being published, just saying thank you for the memory jog, good story. John M.

Nancy @Runabees said...

Will, it is certainly tough to say goodbye. Sometimes I too struggle with throwing away my old running shoes. There were times I just couldn't bring myself to doing it and sat down and thought about my mental problem :) It turned out that they were more than shoes for me, they were mementos. However, their lifecycle has come to an end and we just need to part ways.
I find that throwing away the old ones is much easier after I receive the new pair. The sad feeling is suppressed by the eagerness to try the shiny new ones.