An Open Letter To My Running Shoes

Dear ASICS GEL-Nimbus,

I know they’re sick of our PDA. They’re tired of the social media posts. I’m sure they’re over my sweaty face and hearing how far we went. I know to some extent even those that are rooting for us are done hearing about it. No one can ever really comprehend how much you mean to me.

When I think back to when you came into my life, I never thought we would still be together. I was a mom in my late 30s with three young boys, squeezing in an occasional power-walk in my cross-trainers. I’d enjoy walks with friends, but nothing really stuck. Growing up as non-athletic as you can, it was a bit of a shock to everyone when we made our commitment to one another.

Sometimes, it still is.

Remember when we began our journey with walk/run intervals, but then my BFF suggested we set a race goal and sign up to run a Halloween-themed 5K in Howell? That seemed very official. I had to be prepared. Although intimidated, I went into Running Fit and tried a few on for size; one too big, one too tight, and one just not quite right. But then, there was you. I felt like Cinderella in her glass slippers. The salesperson called you, “The Cadillac of Running Shoes.” To me, however, you were simply a perfect fit . . . a fit that gave this mom a confidence no stiletto ever would.

So we trained. And we ran.

With my BFF/cousin Theresa before my first 5K!

Then you and I trained again for a 10K in Novi, and with some more friends we trained for the Detroit Free Press Relay-Marathon, followed the next year by the Detroit Free Press International Half-Marathon. This past Spring we also ran the Martian 10K in Dearborn.

We did all of this in freezing cold temps and in the blistering sun on our own accord while Adam and the boys were sleeping, working, and at school. Somehow it happened in between grocery shopping, volunteering at school, and soccer practices. Then there was making time for you around my Dad’s chemotherapy treatments . . . then, his funeral. It was a constant challenge, but we did it. When I looked down, you were always there to lift me back up.

We’ve been slower than many, but unstoppable. For the first time ever, I’d found a way to make it stick. Regardless of the mountains I faced, I could always count on you to be there just waiting by the door at a moment’s notice. Some days I felt like we could fly, while other days my legs felt like they were fighting through cement. With your support, I also ugly-cried my way down Six Mile, because sometimes, that’s all we could do. Bottom line Asics, we’ve shared the good, the bad, and the ugly, but I’ve never regretted a moment we’ve spent together.

You see, you changed my life. You gave me hope. There’s this one story I never told you. What began as a back injury on a trampoline, became a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. Yes, it’s true. It was terrifying. I was unable to walk. Tingling and numbness slowly but steadily took over my lower half, leaving me scared and uncertain about what this meant for my potentially bleak long-term-picture. I had MRIs and other tests were done, and endured the horror of steroids, yet got back on my feet . . . more than once.

With my cousin Sarah in Detroit VERY early in the morning before my first half-marathon!

Who would have thought these same, timid (still slightly numb) feet 20 years later would eventually land in a pair of running shoes? Everything was different after you, and the others that followed suit. When placed together next to one another you could easily make a colorful Asics rainbow. This mom has learned so much from you along the way.

You made me feel strong. You taught me how to sweat. You’ve made me a more patient mother and wife. You taught me to make a plan and stick with it. You’ve allowed me to grieve. You’ve taken me further on foot than I ever thought I could go. You don’t judge. You taught me therapy doesn’t have to be on the couch. You’ve (sometimes) convinced me my body is beautiful. You’ve helped me focus in a way nothing else ever could. You taught me it’s OK to be vulnerable.

And, of course, you taught me how to run.

Oh, and my boys. When I ponder the lessons being passed on to them, I am forever grateful that I found you. When I come home, and we’re both drenched in sweat with legs like jello and their first question is, “How many miles today?,” I know it’s all worth it, because they’re worth it. No excuses boys, just get it done.

If you can dream it, you can do it. –Walt Disney

As moms, we spend our lives putting others before ourselves. In our DNA somewhere, it must be laid out that once a tiny human is placed in our arms, we just accept we are no longer first. It’s all a part of the understood package. But you Asics, you helped me to make myself a priority again. Through you, I’ve learned that I may be a mom, but I’m still a woman, and I matter.

I hope those that see us together understand a little more. I hope they, too, can find their perfect pair, or that one thing to make it all stick. Either way, I’m thankful you’re still with me. I need you. This isn’t a good-bye and we’ve-had-a-good-run letter but, rather a let’s-keep-moving-forward and thanks-for-being-faithful to me letter. You’ve really made me a better, stronger person.

Enough with the mushy stuff though, it’s crunch time. We have to finish training to run back up that Ambassador Bridge to Canada, and somehow make it through that sweaty, stinky tunnel on the way back. Yep, I’m scared! 

Just keep doing what you’re doing, and I’ll keep doing what I’m doing, and all will be good.

Let’s do this!

Your Mother Runner

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