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Running releases endorphins making you feel happy and giggly. They also make you love.
    I love the rhythm of running. With every step she takes, I move forward; forward into new terrain and new life. She splashes into a puddle, a muddy baptism onto our road. Oh no, the run is ending. I want to go, go, go, but I can hear her tired panting, I guess we'll be stopping soon. The same plain gray sidewalk passes beneath me. Each square the same as the one before; how dull. Suddenly, soft springy grass with a dusting of dew to tickle my tongue, then the driveway and the familiar pause at the door before she finds the key and lets us inside.

She reaches down to untie my laces, "Good run today. I feel great." I say to her, she can't hear me but I tell her daily all the same. Her nails are freshly painted a spring rose color, how unlike her. Her favorite color is blue; everything she owns is blue, even I'm blue. Why on earth are her nails pink? As she sets me down in the corner like she does every day, I see why. A dress is laid out on the bed and the red pumps are grinning next to me. She walks away to shower off the sweat of a good, hard workout, a badge I wear with pride.

    "Boy, do you stink," The pumps hissed. I rolled my laces.

    "I've run six miles, what did you do today?" I said haughtily. The pumps spent the majority of their time collecting dust.

    "Nothing yet, but she's got a date today so I'll be highlighting those legs you work so hard for. Isn't that ironic?" The pumps put an extra glow into their red patent leather.

    "I don't see why, you're so last season," with this final blow, I retired my case. The pumps spent the following fifteen seconds trying to form a comeback. I sunk into the carpet to get some needed rest.

    My nap was interrupted by the pumps and the pair of plain brown ballet flats screaming, "Wear me! Wear me!" As our beloved owner stepped out of the shower. I scoffed, the flats haven't moved from that spot in months, and odds are the next place they go is the trash. All shoes end up in the back of the closet, or so the running shoes before me told me when I was fresh out of the box; it was a tough reality to face. I watched in horror as she picked the pumps over me to go with the dress. Personally, I think blue and gray look good together, but whatever. The pumps smirk at me as she waltzes them out the door. I don't know what's worse, being stuck here with the flats or the fact that her legs really do look great in the pumps.

    "How was the run? Are you tired? I'm not tired, probably because I never get worn," the flats said with a forced, pitiful chuckle. I laughed halfheartedly, "Yeah, it was good. I've gotta rest, talk to you later, ok?"

    "Yeah, sure, no problem. I'll just sit here. Quietly. Just me and my thoughts."

    I am not the shoes I used to be. I'm worn and dirty and dusty and losing my game. But I'll hold it together. I'll keep my rubber soles to my top for as long as I can just for her. She's put so much time, work, effort, namely in the form of sweat, into me and I want to give the same respect to her. My biggest fear, the thought that makes my laces run cold, is that one day I won't be able to support her and I'll start her on the path to shin splints. Because I couldn't do my job, she would have to stop doing what makes her happy.

On the other hand, I'm tired. My laces are frayed, one missing an aglet; my soles are imprinted with the chunky outline of her feet; I stink to high heaven and then some; countless treads through mud and stale water and doggy droppings have rendered me stained and ugly. I want to stop and just be a lazy pair of shoes for running to the grocery store and other careless errands. But more I want to keep her happy and to do that, I've got to keep running. Waves of lethargy wash over me and I succumb, it's as easy as giving in to a cheat day. As sleep takes over, I realize that soon I will be retired and there is no way around it. Really, I am all right with that.

    "Helloooo! We're back!" The pumps scream as she walks into the room, legs looking as good as ever. She kicks the pumps into the corner, narrowly missing stabbing me with their ridiculously small pointy ends.

    "How was the date?" I asked.

    "We're meeting him again in a few days for a run," they said. Something in the way the pumps wouldn't look directly at me and something in their voice tells me my journey to the closet would be sooner rather than later.

    "Seems like you did your job well, then," I say.

    She returns from the closet with a pair of paint-covered shorts and a race shirt, her normal garb. From an unseen section of the house she brings a slick white bag with boxy innards. A muffled voice shouts, "Hello! Someone let me out please! Guys! This isn't funny anymore!" The voice sounds so young, so squeaky and clean.

She withdraws a familiar box, a carbon copy of the one I came home in so many runs ago.

Right next to me, our laces barely grazing, she sets the new shoes. They look just like I once did. Except their blue is pristine, and their white is so bright it blinded me.

    "Hi! I'm the...replacement," the shoes say. I try to remember my first day. "Hey, I'm the originals," I say with a chuckle.

    "Don't get the wrong idea, I'm not replacing you. I'm just newer shoes so she

doesn't get hurt. But you, you'll always be her shoes. I'll just-" an unmistakable air of panic and guilt fills the new shoes' voice. The flats and pumps are being surprisingly respectful and quiet. It hit me, they are worrying about being thrown out in favor of a new pair.

    "Stop," I say. "You are replacing me. And you better be just as good, if not better at your new job as I was at it. She will become your whole life. I am holding myself together for our daily runs. I won't be here long, I'm getting too old for any of this hoopla, so it's all up to you, kid." I cough a cloud of light brown dust and the scent of hard work. She picks me up for what I knew would be the last time.

    "Oh I will!" The shoes shout. "I promise I'll be amazing! Spectacular even! I will work so hard, I-" the shoes keep shouting to me as I am carried out of earshot. I smile, they'll be great. Held at waist-height and arm's-length, I travel to the closet where the big pile of discarded junk stood waiting to devour whatever is to be sacrificed to its maw next.

    "Goodbye old shoes, it's been great," she said. Unceremonious words for my graceless descent into the trash.

    2032 miles. 1 marathon. 101 days. 41 puddles, 15 muddy ones. 13 blisters. 10 toes. 2 feet. 2 shoes. All culminating in a dark closet. But if I could do it all over again, I would in a single step.

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