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Take Your Marks…Go - Katie Kirker

In the corner of my closet there’s a pile of running shoes – the discarded remains of miles past. The colours form a rainbow, like flowers clustered at the base of a tombstone.

It’s my running shoe graveyard.

The blue and black trainers, the creases deep and prominent in the foam, show the wear of training for my first marathon. The trust I had in this singular pair of shoes to carry me through forty-two point two kilometers on an overcast May day. The joy of crossing the finish line visible on my face. The creases show a life well lived, scars etched into the sole to remind me of how proud of myself I am for picking myself up and beginning the excruciating climb out of depression. How can I give them up?

My pink racing flats that I used to fly along brick red tracks. Their mesh upper and light weight allowed my legs to turn over and over, quicker and quicker. I felt fast as the lactic acid burned through my legs and my breaths became laboured. The pounding of the shoes on the rubber tracks the only sound in an otherwise silent space, like the quiet murmur of someone kneeled at a headstone talking about how they will continue to live despite how hard it might be. As I flew in four hundred metre circles, these shoes made me want to be strong again someday.

The kind of strong I know I’m working towards.

The matching pairs in shades of black, pink, and silver – used for training for my next two marathons. The mileage increased, the intensity upped. I alternated between the two sets of shoes ensuring they had time to recover from the repeated pounding against the hot pavement of July and the relentless rain in winter. The lifespan elongated from the consistent care set upon them, tread deeply worn like the grass paths used to visit loved ones who have passed.

I am recovering.

My first pair of running shoes with the famed carbon plate – propelling me forward to a new personal record. The rock from the plate so foreign to my seasoned feet -- Comfortably uncomfortable. Walking into the unknown, like the first step among the headstones, seeking the grave you need, but wondering about each other life lived. I’ve made steps forward -- feeling more hope and joy than I have in years. It feels like I’m progressing, getting more comfortable with the uncomfortable.

My white race shoes. The strongest and fastest I have felt yet. The florescent yellow and blue remind me of waves in the sea and lightening in the sky. Strong, fast, and bright. Like a sunny day over tombstones, a ray of joy in an otherwise bleak place.

I will survive.

How can you part with something that is so much a part of you? It’s a graveyard of my past where I can honour the person I was as I fight to live.

Some may call it hoarding.

But to me, it’s healing.


Katie Kirker is a writer based in Vancouver, BC. Her journalistic writing has appeared in Gotham Gazette and USC Annenberg Media. She holds a MS Journalism from the University of Southern California. When not writing she enjoys running long distances and drinking (a lot of) coffee.


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