First Love Lost, but not Forgotten

You know that feeling.  The relationship was exciting from the start, awakening new possibilities and it only gets better over time.  You feel reborn, renewed every time you’re together.  Hopping and skipping along like you are two years old again and the world opens up before you.  Friends and family members don’t understand your passion.  You get odd looks whenever you’re out together, but you don’t care. You know the feeling is not going to last forever, but you convince yourself that it will.

Then you start to take things for granted.  It’s little things at first. Just because they enjoy the open road more than the trails, you start to wonder if maybe, on those trips, you’re better off bringing others instead.  You always come back to them, you know they’ll be there, but the newness has worn off.  You don’t take care of them as much as you used to, and they only get washed when they really start to offend.  Then, on a routine run, you stub your toe and they rip, and you realize how much they changed you, and while you can’t ever get them back, they’re actually fairly easy to replace (They’re sold in a lot more places now than two years ago)…

Yes, my Vibram FiveFingers, after over 500 miles, decided that enough was enough.  I started running in them in August 2010 as I prepared for what was, at the time, only my second half marathon.  I had issues with shoes (and age) before them to the point that if I ran more than 3 miles, I wore two knee braces and enough support to make me wonder if I was doing any actual running, or if it was just the equipment.  I had read some articles about barefoot running and the potential benefits and decided I couldn’t look any sillier than I already did, so I bought a pair.

They shortened my stride and made me land on the balls of my feet, almost immediately eliminating the knee pain, but also causing my calf muscles to seriously consider whether or not they wanted to stay attached to my legs.  Once my calves got over their initial shock, however, it was unbelievably fun.  Running in them makes me feel like I’m getting away with something, like when I was a kid. That barefoot feeling made running enjoyable and I completed the half marathon, my wife and I alternating pushing our 10 month old son in a jogging stroller, in almost the same time it took me to gasp my way through my first half marathon back in 2003 (the only record I set was for inhaling a snickers bar at the end of the race- more on that on another day).  It was so much fun that I decided to push through my barriers, run my first marathon in April 2011, and begin the journey that is taking me to Death Valley in July.

I won’t be taking them or their replacements with me (it’s too hot and for my old feet, they’re really only good for shorter distances), but I use them on my training runs, and that feeling always comes back.  Gone but not forgotten…


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