New Kicks

I happened to look at the soles of my shoes yesterday and saw the tread— or rather the not-tread on the outside of the heels and also in the mid-foot.  Following the Laws of When To Buy New Running Shoes, I cleaned up and headed out to the running shoe store in Beverly, where the expert salespeople observe the runner’s gait and help find the right shoe with just the right fit.  They are willing to bring out and let me try on as many shoes as I have energy for— the energy to take out their insoles and insert my orthotics, the energy to go outdoors and run up and down the sidewalk there to see how the shoe feels at an easy pace and then fast.  The patient young man who waited on me kind of pooh-poohed my orthotics; he thought that with the right shoe I probably wouldn’t need them any longer.  I tried on around six or seven pairs of shoes, indecisive but able to narrow it down to two.  I chose the lightest one, willing to give them a spin at home without my orthotics, feeling fairly confident in my choice.   The shoe hugged my foot nicely.  My heel didn’t slip out in the back.  The support was minimal, but the lightness of the shoe sold me.  I left the second choice shoes behind— the ones I had intended to try and then buy when I entered the store, the ones that felt just as great during the trying but were not quite as light, not quite as glove-like as the Asics.

This morning I slipped into and tied the bright white and purple (yikes! why can’t running shoes come in black?) fresh new kicks and changed over the sensor for the Nike + iPod.  I planned to run about 5 miles, maybe with a couple of walk breaks in between to let my feet adjust if necessary.

I started off slow.  The first thing I noticed was that my feet were cold.  Most of the time, that’s the one part of me that is warm for a run.  I prefer SmartWool mid-weight hiking socks in winter.  They are warm and cushion-y, but don’t take up too much room in my shoe.  This morning I chose SmartWool running socks, and my bare ankles were not pleased with my choice.  The thin mesh of the new shoe let in lots of cold air.  I figured Sunday’s run would be better with my other socks.  After about the first mile, the three toes on the outside of my left foot began to feel numb.  I could not decide if was from the cold or if it was a circulatory problem with the way I had laced the shoes.  I “pulled over” and loosened the lace on that foot and continued. I saw Richard and Sue up ahead walking and decided I would catch up and join them for my break.

I kept company with my two friends for about a mile, chatting but also paying attention to how my feet were feeling.  Still cold, toes still numb.  Richard strongly recommended not giving up my orthotics; Sue wisely spoke of the comfort and advantages of the shoes I had left behind at the store.  We split at the intersection of Eden Road and Penzance.  I pounded up the hill and continued my run, and began to feel a funny twinge in my right leg, just above the ankle on the inside.  The pain increased as I turned right onto the long loop of Marmion Way, but I persevered, focusing on my music and the beautiful, bright sun reflecting on the ocean.

I stopped at home at mile 4, and yanked out the foam inserts that came with the new shoes.  In their place, I stuffed in the toe of an old insert, them fit in my orthotics.  My husband, steel cut oats at the ready, waved me off for my last 1.5, promising to keep our breakfast warm.  I headed downtown on Atlantic Ave.  It’s a short, steep hill at first, then flows into a nice even road to Bearskin Neck.  I picked up the pace a little, noticing how my left foot seemed to be getting pressed inward by the shoe.  By the time I climbed the short hill at the end of the neck, the big toe on that foot was completely numb, and the nagging pain in the other ankle had intensified to a burning sensation.  I scurried around the tiny roundabout at the tip of the neck and sprinted down the hill there, switching to a dog-trot for the rest of the way home.

I immediately removed the fancy new shoes and stretched the burning ankle for a few minutes before rounding up my husband to eat.  Our favorite hubby-works-from-home-on-Fridays-and-waits-to-eat-with his-runner-wife breakfast is a big bowl of steel cut oats cooked with tart dried cherries, topped with dark molasses and chopped walnuts, a splash of milk stirred in at the end to make it creamy.  We relaxed on the couch in front of the pellet stove and watched Dr. Oz while we ate.

“I’m going down to the running store after my shower.  I want to return these shoes.”

“They won’t take them back now that you’ve run in them, will they?”

“Their policy is that shoes can come back after two short runs.  As long as the tread is intact and they are in salable condition.”

He looked at me somewhat skeptically, but didn’t argue.

Back at the store, the young man who helped me yesterday was nowhere to be seen.  I sighed and hopped in line.  The store manager remembered me.  Well, more than that.

“We had a discussion after you left as to whether you had chosen the right shoe.  You’re back for the Mizuno Wave Inspire 6.  Size 8 1/2, right?”

Wide-eyed, I nodded.

Ten minutes later, I was back in my car driving home, the box with the right new kicks beside me on the front seat.  Extra bonus:  they are not bright white and purple, but rather a silver and neon-yellow combo (I can tolerate that.)  I could almost hear them in there like puppies, whimpering,  waiting to get out and get going.  Tomorrow is a cross-training day, per the new plan, so they will have to wait until Sunday morning to be let out and let loose.

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3 Comments on “New Kicks”

  1. Pat Says:

    I espacially liked the “puppies” metaphor–But… who’s the puppy :>)

  2. Sharon Says:

    I also needed new sneakers this week! I love my Asic s. There was definitely a spring in my step this morning. On a side note, I love my oatmeal with pumpkin, walnuts, and dried cranberries and a dollop of maple syrup. Yum!!


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