Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A girl and her shoes

As Sex and the City taught us all, girls love their shoes. And while I count myself among those, I don’t have a particular affinity for the Jimmy Choos, Manolo Blahniks, and Louboutins of the world. No, I’ve bought far more Saucony Rides than stilettos, and worn each of them into the ground.

I donated my last collection to Shoes for Africa in November. Which means I've accumulated this many since then. Are you listening, Saucony?  
A few months ago, I branched out a bit. I was noticing as I glanced around everyone’s feet at races they were all wearing some form of lightweight shoes—what we used to call “racing flats” and now, in the post Born to Run era, call minimalist shoes. I was still racing in my clunky training sneakers, whether it was a 5k or a marathon. I was reluctant to change shoes (if it ain’t broke why fix it?), but clearly the people I was racing against had moved on to more professional looking shoes, so I decided to give it a try.

I bought my first pair of Saucony Kinvara’s (a light 6.7 oz compared to my 9.7 oz Rides) and have been slowly easing into them. Currently I wear them for track workouts, some short runs, and shorter races like 5ks. Immediately when I started wearing them I noticed they cut up my left ankle, but only my left ankle, which made me wonder if I am lopsided or the shoes are. When I wear high enough socks that problem seems to be fixed. (But whether or not I am lopsided is still TBD.) I raced one 5k in them on a cold and icy morning and immediately felt like I had contracted shin splints, but that may have been due to an insufficient warm up for such a cold race. Other than that, they seem to be okay and my disloyalty to my Rides hasn’t backfired. I’m not ready to race a marathon in them (God forbid my sock slipped, my whole left ankle might be sliced off by the end) but I think I’ll keep trying them in successively longer races and see what happens.

They also make me feel a little more official when I head to the track. The track I run on is 3.5 miles away (and then 3.5 miles home) so I haven’t yet graduated to wearing them to and from the track, but I carry them in my hands and change into them when I get there. Which seems like a perfectly logical thing to do to me, but certainly looks a little crazy. On the way home the other morning, a biker stopped, gave me a strange look, and finally asked the obvious question: “You carry an extra pair of shoes??” Like I was running Forest Gump style and would need to switch shoes somewhere on my way to California. I explained briefly it was for the track, but I think he thought I was crazy nonetheless. I was vindicated later, while walking to work, when I spotted the entire Georgetown track team running off to practice, carrying their spikes in hand. (I wish I had looked at them more carefully, apparently Jenny Simpson was in the mix!!)

Ok so I’m not a collegiate athlete with fancy spikes. But I am a marathoner trying to do speedwork and maybe my Kinvaras will help me shave off a second or two. And even if my shoe collection is a little atypical, it’s a bit easier on my bank account than Louboutins. Although, Saucony, if you’re listening, I won’t mind a sponsorship.

Dream big,

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