“So do you just want to leave your old pair with us?”
“We can just recycle them here.”
Visions of my shoes, my constant partners of the last five months, being ripped to shreds, parted out, destroyed… I looked up at the cashier, the pair of impostors in a fresh box sitting between us. My tattered purple sneakers reeked quietly in my hands. He must have recognized the panic in my eyes.
“Don’t worry, we can say a few words, if you like.”
I laughed like it was a joke, payed for the new un-smelly shoes, and left my purple monsters behind, no words said. Still, I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge them here. I bought those shoes the moment I was cleared to run after shoulder surgery, which meant they bore the brunt of six weeks grounded. They did things that no running shoe should ever be asked to do and more, until a couple weeks ago when they began to stink up my car and injure me. Below is my list of our best moments together:
The whole time I was sling-bound, I stared at the flatirons, picturing the runs I’d attempt as soon as I could get outside again. I’ve lived in Boulder my whole life but my knowledge of the trails closed to bikes is embarrassingly slim. So I squinted over a map and put together what I figured would be a reasonable linkup; I started from my front door in North Boulder and crawled, semi-delirious, to my parents’ in South Boulder about seven hours later.
The next thing I did with my new shoulder and new shoes was a little ski tour. It’s a pretty cool thing about Colorado that you can park just off the highway in June and hack your way up to some snow in just a few hours. I eventually had to switch to ski boots, but my purple monsters carried me all the way to the white stuff, and for that I was grateful. I was also grateful to Emily, who brought dumplings.
THE MIDDLE TETON
I was really stoked to link up with KT and Tory for a scamper up the Middle after OR this summer. It was my first trip to the Tetons and it was love at first sight. We hopped boulders, kicked terrifyingly shallow steps in the summer corn, and enjoyed a cloudy, dramatic summit. On the way down Tory reminded us of the beer stowed in my car, and we spontaneously broke into a noisy run, passing backpackers, tourists and one lazy, huckleberry-stuffed bear.
MOUNT COWEN (with Ned and Adam)
These shoes were a terrible choice for this objective. I backpacked eight miles in them and then soloed two class five pitches before switching to rock shoes. On the descent their grip on steep flowers was considerably lacking, and their unprecedented ability to fold completely in half when stressed was not much appreciated. However, I was still glad to have them to share the experience with me, especially because camping out for the night meant that I didn’t have to ask to sleep on anyone’s couch.
THE BEARTOOTHS (with KT and Caroline)
Here was where I really got to test the versatility of the purple monsters. They handled extreme huckleberry picking, canoeing, trail sprinting, whitewater crossings, scree surfing, more class five, and an hour standing in an alpine lake trying to trick fish into being dinner. They performed admirably, but at this point their stench had become a palpable thing.
After a great month on the road I was feeling pretty cocky about life, so I decided to run up a fourteener. 7,000ish feet over 13ish miles didn’t seem too bad from the comfort of my tent with a whiskey-cider in hand, but after seven miles it felt like my legs were made of cement and there wasn’t enough oxygen left in the world. So Brooks and I settled for a “fast hike” the rest of the way, and then ate huge bacon cheeseburgers. Ah, Sweet success!
BOULDER TO WINTER PARK
Spurred by the thought of even more bacon cheeseburgers, we then decided to run over all the mountains between us and the high country, neglecting the fact that we’d only had about four days to recover. The trip ended up being over twenty miles, which when you’re not a marathon runner tends to feel like a lot. I couldn’t really walk by the end of it, which brought me and the purple monsters to our final goodbye.
As my new hero, Dr. Mark, pulverized my foot, muttering words like “crepitus,” and “overuse,” I gritted my teeth and tried not to scream. Apparently the pain of the last season had all been stored in a single muscle, which had recently reached capacity. Embarrassed, I showed him the purple monsters, and he promptly sent me off to the running store with a list of possible replacements. Now I’m wearing something squishy and too-clean. The guy who sold ‘em to me didn’t believe I was a runner. I’m not sure I do either. Anyway, I’d still like to thank Mizuno for making the greatest adventure shoes I’ve ever had. I know they weren’t designed for the things I did to them, but they took me everywhere (physically and emotionally) that I needed to go this summer. It hurt to leave them behind yesterday, and not just because it hurts to walk.