An open letter to my first pair of running shoes

Not everyone knows what an open letter is, so before I begin here’s a short intro: An open letter is a letter written to a specific person or thing with a purpose for a broader audience. People have been writing open letters for hundreds of years, and have written them to many different audiences including celebrities, food, places, and circumstances.

Here is one I wrote about my first pair of running shoes, I hope you enjoy it!

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Dear first pair of running shoes,

I am doing great! Since I got rid of you, I’ve run over a thousand miles. But that’s beside the point and definitely not a polite way to start off.

I remember the first day we met. It was a hot day in the middle of my 8th-grade summer. I had just finished cross country at my middle school and decided I wanted to try out track my freshman year of high school. Dad would take me to the track at the Taylorsville High School almost every morning that summer and I would do different variations of sprint workouts. He had told me that I could get a pair of special shoes designed just for running and took me to Salt Lake Running Co. down on 7th east. When I sat down, they brought out at least 10 different shoes for me to try on. I had no idea picking out shoes could be so meticulous. They measured my feet and the depth and width of my arches. You were the very first pair I tried on. Pink Nike’s with blue on the sides. A mesh top covering my toes, and a high arch in the soles.

I didn’t like you.

Every other pair I tried on after you looked prettier and I knew I didn’t want you. The guy at the store had me run in each pair of shoes I tried on, but when it came down to it, you fit the best. You fit seamlessly to my feet. I would later learn the importance of a running shoe, and you, my friend, were exactly what I needed.

You intimidated me at first. You were exactly $120, more than I had ever paid (ok, more than mom or dad) had ever paid for a pair of shoes. I worked almost every day that summer doing work for dad’s company to earn you. And boy was it worth it.

You taught me to do hard things. Cliche, I know, but it’s true. When spring track came around, I was terrified. I had seen those upperclassmen sprinters, and I marveled at their talent. I wanted to be like them, but I was scared that I wouldn’t fit in or even be able to do it. I had only ever practiced on my own, but I decided to give it a try. You were with me that first day. I put you on my feet and nervously walked into the rubber room. The upperclassmen led us in an intense warmup, and then we were instructed to run laps up and down the stairs. By the end of the workout, I was drained of energy and my heart was beating fast and my lungs were on fire. But I had done it-WE had done it.

From that day forward, you became my best friend. I would be reminded of this many times in the passing years when I was nervous to try something new. Dad would tell me of my bravery and remind me that I told him the only reason I liked school was because I got to run track every day after school.

At the beginning of my junior year, Beth and Charlie convinced me to try cross country. “HECK NO! What kind of crazy person would do that, I can barely run a mile without getting tired!” I thought. But like that first day of track, I decided to give it a chance even though I really, and I mean reallllly, didn’t want to. Well, I soon became one of those crazy distance runners and fell in love with it.

One day after a cold December run, we were stretching with the cross country team in the breezeway. I had one leg stretched out to the right and I was reaching for my toes when Anthony Davies, the fastest runner on the team, looked at me and said, “Emmie, you need new shoes.” I wasn’t sure how to react. It embarrassed me, and I didn’t like the idea of parting with you. But he was right. You literally had holes in the bottom of your sole and I could see right through you. It was hard to let you go- you stuck with me for four years-way longer than you should have. So thank you.

When I got you, I committed to running-something that was-and is-painful and scary, but also very rewarding. You gave me a chance. If I never ran track, I would never have made the friends I did. If I didn’t run track, I wouldn’t have run cross country. If I didn’t run cross country, I wouldn’t have learned that it’s a great way to relieve stress. When I run, I am my best self. I am happy. I am content. I love myself. And I can see who I want to become. You changed my life. Wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, I know that I need to give new opportunities a chance-especially when I am scared.

With love,

Emmie

P.S. I may have new shoes, but I’ll never forget you.