The story of my shoes

March 11, 2008

March Runners Fit Newsletter article. Recently, I was talking to a friend about shoes. He couldn’t understand spending a lot of money for shoes when he could go to the local budget sports store and buy a pair for $25. It reminded me of when I thought the same thing, and the events that led to my change of heart.

It was the summer of ’02 when I decided to run my first marathon. My big adventure was starting. Seattle Marathon 2002, here I come! After telling my wife about my brilliant idea, I drove down to the local sports store to get shoes. Lucky me, they were having a sale.

I spent an hour or more grabbing whatever was on the shelf in my size -trying them on and pacing a back and forth in them. I focused on the $15 – $20 shoes (I did say they were having a sale). I had to find shoes that fit OK and were a good color (because I am so well known for my fashion sense). Finally, I found the perfect pair, or so I thought. Off I went, $26.93 poorer, thinking I was a great bargain shopper.

Immediately, I laced up and headed off for my first run. Almost immediately, I realized that wasn’t going to make it to the end of the block. My feet hurt, but my lungs hurt worse! Gradually, as the weeks turned into months, I was putting in some pretty good miles. My lungs stopped hurting, but my foot pain persisted. I had regular blisters and hot spots. But, I assumed that was just part of running.

Three months before the marathon, I decided to run a local half-marathon. By this time, my long Sunday runs were 14-15 miles, so 13.1 miles should be a breeze. The first few miles were fine. It was interesting to have all those people running with me. After those first few miles, my foot pain was getting really bad. Ugh, it was awful. I managed to finished the race, but when I took off my shoes, I saw that my left foot was one big blister – from my big toe all the way to my heel – and the toes on my right foot were all blistered. At that point, I decided that enough was enough.

A few days later, when I could finally walk again, I headed to a local running store to buy new shoes. I was smart enough to take my old ones with me. The beauty of a running store is that, even when they are busy, someone is usually able to able to spend a bit of time helping you out. The salesperson who helped me looked at the soles of my used shoes to see the wear pattern and then put me on a treadmill with a video camera to watch my form. He listened to my woes and helped me pick out some shoes that worked – I mean really worked. And, thankfully, he never laughed at me for buying the bargain shoes in the first place. In addition to helping me find the right shoes, he taught me several other things, including how to pick out the right socks, what to put on my feet to prevent blisters, and how different lacing patterns can help make shoes fit even better. He spoke, I listened, and it changed my perspective entirely.

As with my bargain shoes, I immediately laced up my new shoes and went running. It was heavenly. It took a mile or two to adjust to the shoes and the fact that they forced me to use better form. Other than that, they were amazing. I went on to finish the marathon, and as far as I recall, I haven’t had any serious blisters in the years since – not even while training for the NY marathon or any of the other half marathons I’ve run. No more bargain shoes for me – except maybe for doing yard work.


The pleasure of good company

February 1, 2008

(This months newsletter column)
Running, by nature, tends to be a solitary activity. Even if there are others around, we’re generally wrapped up in ourselves. “Oh, I’m getting tired” may be a common thought, but “he looks tired” isn’t so common. Even if we did think it, we couldn’t do anything about it, so we’d go back to our own thoughts and carry on.

For our Saturday morning group, for most of last year we were pretty much on our own. Every Saturday, we’d meet and run our individual distances, then take off until next week. Sure, there was some conversation before and after, on occasion some of us would go out for breakfast, but we were all pretty much wrapped up with our own runs.

However, lately it’s been different. We meet every Saturday just like we did before. We either head out on foot from the store, or pile into a couple of cars to drive somewhere for our run. Either way, there is plenty of socializing both before and after. Then a group member created a Yahoo group, and the conversations started continuing on all week. At some point, we started getting together for Sunday runs. We are planning races as teams, hopefully with custom team shirts. We even went bowling one weekend, families included. Lo and behold, we’ve become a community.

Sure, we still each run at our own pace, sometimes even alone, but we’re also with friends. As we split up on the trails and meet up again, it’s always with words of encouragement and a wave. If you’re thinking of joining a group, just do it. You may be surprised by what happens.

Note: Now, there may be some of you out there who are intimidated by the idea of joining our group. After all, we’re a running group, we must take this stuff seriously. The truth is, we’re just ordinary people who happen to enjoy this sport. We come in all shapes, sizes, and speeds. Come on by, introduce yourself, run with us. I’ll even bet that I’m slower than you.
The Runners Fit group


Newfound Fame, almost

January 18, 2008

After my last post about running at the end of the year, I passed it on to Ryan while trying to find some email addresses. He read it, and was impressed and suggested I do a article for his monthly newsletter.

So, for the second time in my life, someone has read something of mine and wanted to do something with it. That’s pretty dang exciting. The first time, it was a technical article for a web magazine having to do with GPS’s and mapping. Cool stuff to me, but definitely a limited audience. This time, it’s a bit more accessible to everyone, since there’s no talk about computers or anything. (Well, maybe I’ll mention sites or something.)

The feedback so far has been good, and I think I’ll have a good time doing it.

Now, off to go edit pictures from this mornings run…


It’s raining? So?

December 31, 2007

After last Saturday’s group run, someone suggested a Sunday morning run, which sounded good. That the forecast called for rain didn’t seem to be an issue, since we were going to run trails at Little Mulberry park, and as we all know, the muddier the better.Three of us showed up at the Hog Mountain entrance, undaunted by the inch of water that came down overnight. After poking fun at each others clothing (Roman in a cotton shirt, me in a full rain suit and Brad bundled like he’s headed to Alaska), we took off. After crossing the dam, R&B headed off to the horse connector trail to run across the ridge, while I continued around with the plan on meeting them somewhere along the back stretch. (They both run considerably faster, so the extra mileage is no problem.)

I continued around the lake to the get to the Carriage trail, and start heading up. I debate taking the dirt route, but decide against it since the guys will meet up with me sooner. At this point, I have a daydream about beating them back to the car and having the camera setup so I can capture the splendor of them covered in mud. As I head up the hill, thinking about how dang steep it is, my dream is quickly fading.

Getting to the intersection of the trail, with a loud war cry, I head into the woods. Ah, actually it’s not to muddy. For the first mile of this, traction is no problem at all. I’m heading uphill for a lot of this, which helps. Across the backstretch with no tree’s, it’s also not bad. Starting the descent though, things start to get a little hairy in some places and the slipping and sliding begins. It’s not horrible, but definitely need to slow down a bit. (Okay, whoam I kidding…I was already going slow. I’m now going at a slugs pace.) The nice thing is, it gives me plenty of time to plan setting my camera setup, since I’m back to thinking I can beat them. There are a few spots that I’d set up along the trail if it weren’t raining. Next time…
After the run
The descent continues, and it gets even sloppier. I’ve found that the areas the water is running through tend to provide the best traction, probably due to the lack of leaves, so that’s what I’ve been aiming at. Yes, my shoes got muddy and sock are saturated. But I’m have a great time, which is the point when you’re out in 40 degrees and rain.

Ah, I think I hear voices behind me…yes, they’ve caught up. We mostly hang together for the last few hundred yards of the trail, and come out just as some other guy goes by on the paved trail. So much for us being the only idiots. (Well, he was staying on the pavement, so maybe we were.)

A nice casual 1.2 miles back to the car, and there it was, the last run of 2007.

Happy New Year.