by Will Cooper
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 Stinson (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? Hoka’s work pretty well with no tread.
I don’t know why I’m struggling with this one.