That “new shoes” feeling

I often save a post about new shoes until the verdict is in: I’ve run in them (at least once; just once is fine if it’s a particularly magical run because of particularly magical shoes), but this time, I just can’t stand waiting.

When I first started running, I ran in whatever gym shoes I had at the time. As those of you who have read my first post already know, I started with the mile in gym, and kept going from there when I felt the pride of a job well done. Eventually, as I ran more, and then had a car sophomore year, I started going to Kohl’s to replace my shoes: it was cheap, and I didn’t really know any better. Even then, I was still pretty cautious about what I bought. It only ever cost me about $60, and I’d jog up and down the aisles in the shoes, seeing how they felt. In fact, the other day I was clearing out my car and had several pairs of old shoes (which I hope to donate, or at this point might just throw out given how old they are), including my very first pair of Asics. Back when they made red Asics for girls (seriously – what is with the lack of cool colors for girls’ running shoes? I know a lot of you ladies like pink, but I am not a fan. My car is red. My iPod is red. The best color ever, in my opinion, is fire engine red. Cranberry in certain contexts).

It wasn’t until I think senior year of college that I discovered Jack Rabbit Sports in New York, my very first specialty running store. I honestly couldn’t tell you anymore what led me there, because I really don’t remember. Maybe someone recommended it, maybe I was just googling, but after discovering the concept of getting professionally fit, I was hooked. That day, I walked out with a pair of Asics Gel-Cumulus: cushy, lovely. Cloud-like. A couple months later, I dropped serious bank (and fortunately they have 10% discounts for returning customers) on getting real winter running gear, since I was attempting to run year round, rather than only running when the weather was “nice” and having to start from scratch every spring. But that’s a bit off topic.

I got to visit Jack Rabbit a couple times when it came to shoes, but then I came back home. I think I held onto my last pair probably too long, but I wasn’t clocking all that high a mileage. In September, my first in Pittsburgh, with NB and I about to embark on training for our very first half-marathon, I knew I needed new shoes, and wanted to introduce him to the joys of the speciality running store. In the spring of my senior year, after never getting around to take NB to Jack Rabbit when he was in town (we were long distance for the first 3.5 years of our relationship), I helped him use the Runner’s World shoe finder and shopped on for his first pair of Asics, getting the Evolutions (he has huge flat feet, over-pronates and has bad knees because of it. He said the shoes made an ENORMOUS difference).

So I googled around and asked some running groups, and we wound up at the local store Elite Runners and Walkers – which also puts on a lot of great local races (though the director is kind of a sadist who likes including some really mean hills). This was the first time I was buying two pairs of shoes: I wanted an everyday trainer, and something lighter and quicker for speedwork, which I had never done very much of at all. I wound up with the Asics Gel-Nimbus (they didn’t carry the Cumulus) for every day and the Gel-Landreth for tempo runs and speedwork (I also raced the ATL half in them). NB had to special order his, given his size 15 feet, but stuck with what worked for him, though he was pretty impressed by the overall fitting process.

For any newbie runners, any specialty running store worth its salt is going to watch you walk around, stand, see how your (bare) foot collapses, and hopefully stick you on a treadmill to analyze your gait. And then they will tirelessly fit you into shoes until you find the perfect pair. They’re all runners, so they know how important this is. A shoe that isn’t quite right can spell disaster, and suddenly you’re in agony, eight miles into a 12 mile run.

I stuck with the Nimbus for another two cycles, eventually switching speedwork shoe to the Ghost 3 (racing Pittsburgh in them). Over the summer, I got the Nimbus 13, and started having knee problems. I have no idea to this day if this was a related issue, but the association was there. I still think Asics are great, but by then I had the Ghost 4s, which to my dismay were a bit heavy (having started out as a performance trainer, they have shifted dramatically into the neutral category) and trained in them exclusively. I love them. They’re wonderful, but they are now my everyday/long run shoe. Period.

For weeks, nay, months, I’ve been salivating over one particular model of Brooks. The Launch. I had heard nothing but praise: they were a light, fast, neutral shoe, with some cushioning, and more of a racing flat feel. A perfect hybrid, and comfy enough for distance. Going into the store today, I was already pretty certain Elite didn’t carry them, so I had taken a risk. As part of my Hanukkah wish list my dad had been bugging me for, I included a link to the Launch on Brooks’ website. I know they have a good return policy, and I had a good feeking about the shoe.

The stuff on my list was mostly from Amazon, so it was trickling in. Thursday, I got home late from work since we had our office holiday party, and found a FedEx tag on my door. Confusing, I pulled it, trying to figure out when I’d have time to go. Friday, another tag – second attempt. The package was marked for security concerns so I couldn’t sign for it to be left at the door. I had to be there, or else pick it up at the FedEx office.

This morning, before our errands (which also included lots of Christmas/Hanukkah gift shopping), NB and I made a run to FedEx. I’d checked the tracking number online to insure it was there, and that they weren’t trying to deliver it again that morning or something. It was. As I checked the number, I saw the origin city: Seattle, WA, instantly confirming my first instincts about what the package was.

I was absolutely giddy driving there. NB was sort of laughing as me as I stood there giggling, waiting for the guy to get the box, and seeing the telltale size and shape of a shoebox. I opened it the moment I got back in the car, cutting open the outer box with my car key, and then slowly oepning the shoebox lid, pulling back the paper.

They, are beautiful. I got the light blue ones, and they are just lovely to look at. I pick them up with one finger, feeling how light they were hanging there. And I cannot WAIT to run in them. I’m wearing my new Ghost 4s (also blue. Elite doesn’t carry the green, and I’d gone the last pair at the local Fleet Feet. Darn it) and will try the Launch out on a tempo run this week. For once, I cannot WAIT for this tempo run: to go fast, to push, to feel like I’m flying.

All because of that new shoes feeling.

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I'm a 35-year-old writer and runner. This is my running blog.

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