How Marathon Runners and Their Beautiful Neon Shoes Made Me Want to Change

Dec 12 / Build Muscle

Yesterday, I witnessed the entire Los Angeles Marathon. Pretty much all of it, from start to finish. Not the entire 26.2 mile stretch, but just my area of town. For me, that was quite a feat. I watched the endless flow of moving people. I saw the top of the pack pass, and I saw the stragglers at the end. I'd like to share with you my findings. First finding—Out of the entire L.A. Marathon, there were about 374 Steve Prefontaine look-a-likes. This includes the headband and the tube socks. None of them, however, looked like Jared Leto. Second finding—Good news! If you’re not ready to commit t...

Yesterday, I witnessed the entire Los Angeles Marathon. Pretty much all of it, from start to finish. Not the entire 26.2 mile stretch, but just my area of town. For me, that was quite a feat.

I watched the endless flow of moving people. I saw the top of the pack pass, and I saw the stragglers at the end. I'd like to share with you my findings.

First finding—Out of the entire L.A. Marathon, there were about 374 Steve Prefontaine look-a-likes. This includes the headband and the tube socks. None of them, however, looked like Jared Leto.

Second finding—Good news! If you’re not ready to commit to the running lifestyle, no one yells at spectators for smoking.

Third finding—Brace yourself: Neon is in!

Neon shirts. Neon socks. And especially, neon shoes.

Remember musclemorphosis.com from a few years ago? Apparently, it no longer exists. This year, it’s neon—the antithesis of flesh color.

Oranges. Yellows. Pinks. Vibrant blues and greens. I hadn’t seen this much neon since Wham back in the 80’s. It’s what I imagine the Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Festival is like, except this took place in LA, and it was from the knees down.

I knew neon shoes existed. I’ve even considered getting them, but I was afraid they’d make my feet stick out like clown shoes.

But after a full day of watching neon shoes fly by in a blur, like LSD-induced color trails, I've changed my mind.

It’s almost as if neon running shoes have a personality. They make Keds and Converse seem lobotomized by comparison.

Neon shoes have spirit. They own the ground with each stomp. Each glide. Watching them made me feel like I was at a rave, a little too stoned, and I wanted to get the hell out of there. I became overwhelmed with the amount of people, and the amount of neon. Yes, there were all ages. All colors. All walks of life. Some on wheels. Some walking. But they were all going down Sunset Boulevard like wild, colorful buffalo. A human rapid.

I lit a cigarette and waited for the flow to die down. Then I made my way along the route towards home.

I liked the stragglers. They gave me hope. I went from saying, "I would never do a marathon" to "Maybe I can quit smoking and try it next year."

As I ruminated, neon passed in my periphery.

I thought about the shoes and why they've caught on. Perhaps people like them because they're fun to put on in the morning. Like, five in the morning, that ungodly hour when people train for marathons. (Isn't that when they get up? I think that's what I heard.)

Maybe they put on those shoes, and they light up, like you do when you see a new puppy or a child… but it's shoes.

Who knows, maybe those shoes could kick the cigarettes right out of my fingers, and push me to start exercising. Or do other things, too. Like date. And get a career.

I watched the last of the stragglers around the mile ten marker.

“You’re halfway there!” I shouted. They looked at me, confused.

I have always been terrible at math.

I saw a bigger man struggling. He was barely holding it together. He seemed concerned about his prospects of finishing.

“You’re going to make it," I yelled at him. "You’re almost there!”

He gave the thumbs up, then wiped the sweat off his brow.

Next year, no doubt, he will have neon shoes. Even if it’s just the sole, or the stripe, or the swoosh, or the whoosh, his feet will be a little bolder. He'll be further ahead in the herd of neon shoes, and he'll have earned it.

And maybe I've earned it too, this decision to change. Take a risk. Maybe next year, I’ll be running with a hot pink tongue and lemon yellow soles. Or maybe I’ll be the walker with lime green stripes and bright orange laces. Maybe I can be that flash of light my neighbors see every morning... like streamers calling forth a new day.

I know, I know, I'm getting ahead of myself. First, I need to learn how to run around the block without passing out. But something about what I witnessed on the streets of Los Angeles—all those hopeful people in neon shoes, like a sea of poppies making their towards the ocean—tells me that maybe I can.

(Not ready for an actual marathon? How about musclemorphosis.com?)