Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Shoes of Passion: My 5th Anniversary As A Runner

Today I celebrate! It was on December 1, 2006, that I moved to the Upper West Side and decided that a new, freshly painted apartment next to Central Park required a runner and not a smoker dwelling inside. I broke a full box of KOOLS in half at the intersection of 73
rd & Columbus and that day I bought a box of ASICS instead. I had smoked for 6 years. My goal was to run a marathon within a year. My mission was to live as long as possible for my 3 sons Matt, Ben & Josh, and enjoy every day of life. I joined NY Road Runners and entered races, trained at Central Park, drank a lot of water and it was easy.

Five years later, as I train for three more marathons in 2012 (Miami 1/29, Paris 4/15 & NYC 11/4) that will put me into double figures, I have a story to tell. I am going to let my shoes do the talking, because I kept every pair that I have retired along the way once they reached 350 to 400 miles. I am celebrating by donating most of these to Soles4Souls (website | Twitter) so they will go to people in need of shoes.

As you can see from that video, there are 11 pairs in my running history to date. They are shown there in order, and below in more detail. I am going to celebrate my fifth anniversary by making it a dozen, because my current Nikes are rubbing on the ball of my right foot when I get past 6 or 7 miles. I am taking no chances with the Miami Marathon coming up, a blister having already ruined my 2010 marathon there. So I will get back into my most reliable shoes: neutral Brooks Glycerines (fifth pair). The greatest advice I can give any aspiring runner out there is this: It is mostly about the shoes, ask the salesperson if s/he is a runner, and once you find the right pair don't change. Color and pizazz become meaningless after dirtying them 50 or 100 miles.

1ST SHOES: ASICS GT-2110 GEL (12/1/06)
I had no idea what I was doing on December 1, 2006. I took the subway from 72nd Street to 42nd Street, got out at Times Square and went to Foot Locker. I asked where running shoes were and a salesperson recommended these for me. I'm a 10 1/2 and he told me to get a half-size larger for running. I have ordered 11s ever since. Alas, the salesperson was clearly not a runner, and I would deal with a year of leg injuries related to being in the wrong kind of shoes.

During 2007, an ill-equipped salesperson at Jack Rabbit Sports on 14th Street in NYC correctly put me onto a treadmill for a video gait analysis, but he incorrectly told me I overpronate and need to buy a pair of inserts for those ASICS. In this picture, you can see one of the stiff, built-up instep inserts pulled out. I followed the person's advice and it led to great pain with plantar fasciitis and shinsplints among other problems during my novice first year.

These are the shoes I bought for my first marathon, NYC 2007. I ran the last 12 miles on different spots of my right foot to deal with the daggers caused by being in a wrong shoe. Still, I was a marathoner. The feeling of finishing was incomparable in life.

Finally, at Fleet Feet in West St. Louis County, a fleet female runner salesperson took charge and did the "finger test." She simply put her index finger under my heel as I stood and said, "Oh, you have high arches." She sold me these green Brooks Glycerines. After starting with three pair of the wrong ASICS, it was the turning point in my five years of running. I have been healthy ever since. Two months later I ran the St. Louis Marathon in 5:21 and was gradually a PR machine.

5TH SHOES: LI NING (8/24/08)
I was fortunate enough to work the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing for Major League Baseball's digital operation. Those two weeks were life-changing, as I went for a training run on the Great Wall of China, ran my own sub-2-hour half marathon on a real Olympic venue, watched the men's marathon, and bought my own pair of Li Nings. Li Ning was the most famous Olympic gold medalist in China's history, and he had his own line. Between the men's marathon and Closing Ceremonies, I went to a downtown mall and several workers eagerly tried so hard to help me find the right size. That was MY China, and they are world friends. Alas, the Li Nings were too large for me to use for more than an occasional short run, but they are beautiful.

6TH SHOES: BROOKS GLYCERINES (10/14/08) I bought these at Super Runners Shop from a familiar salesperson who ran marathons. This was probably my high point in five years of running: KNOWING what I want, not needing to try on any other pairs, just buying what already is proven for me. Indeed, less than one month later I ran the NYC Marathon in 5:13, which was lightning for ME. I was in such good shape, two weeks after that I finished my first ultramarathon, the Knickerbocker 60K. It rained solid for one of the laps around Central Park in that 37-miler, so I changed from my Brooks yellows to greens during the race. I wish I could find another pair exactly like these: MY FAVORITES!

What footwear should a man buy to pop the question? I went with my third consecutive pair of Brooks and I wore these at the July 2009 New Jersey Marathon. It was solid rain from start to finish, but it didn't matter because at Mile 25 I picked up the engagement ring box held by race officials and carried it to the finish line. Then I got down on a knee and asked Lisa if she would marry me. She said yes and I love her.

Lisa and I were married on Valentine's Day of 2010, two weeks after I ran the Miami Marathon with a 14-mile blister (bad sock). We honeymooned in Curacao. A month later, these were my fourth pair of Brooks and the only change was a little fern frond design work along the sole.

I went to the annual Wall Street 3M Run to support friends, and the finish was at the World Financial One center along the Hudson. They set up a makeshift shoe sale for runners who congregated at the finish, and I snapped up these cool pair of Sauconys. I wanted to take a chance on "neutral is neutral." Indeed, I absolutely loved these shoes. Very cushiony and a lot of life. The only downside is that my English Bulldog, King Bingley, liked to chew shoes as a puppy and took a chunk out of these -- look closely at the left shoe.

10TH SHOES: ASICS GEL-KAYANO 16 (Spring 2011) My English Bulldog having munched on the Saucony, I happened to be at the Palisades mall and in a Sports Authority. These were neutrals and on a clearance table for something like $60 so I took a chance that they would at least rotate in as decent trainers. I ran the Brooklyn Half in them. They're OK, not ideal for me. My first ASICS since my rookie year!

11TH SHOES: NIKE VOMERO 6 (8/17/11)
I wasn't even the one looking for shoes when I got these. Lisa bought a pair of Adidas at the Adidas Store in Soho, so while we were there I picked up my first pair of Nikes. They are the most cushiony shoe I have ever far. The cushion lasts forever. Unfortunately, once I get past around 6 miles the ball of my right foot starts to sear. I can't chance it for a marathon so these will be just for trainers going forward.

12th SHOES: Coming soon.

1 comment:

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