Friday, January 25, 2013

A special anniversary for my feet

Happy fifth anniversary to my feet.

It was five years ago that I enjoyed what still is my biggest breakthrough in going from overweight smoker to a healthy, 10-time marathoner. I owe it all to these green Brooks Glycerins to the right and more importantly to a young unknown sales woman at the Fleet Feet St. Louis location in Chesterfield Valley. The moral of this story is this: running is at least 50 percent proper footwear; buy your shoes from someone who runs; and keep buying whatever type of shoe works for you no matter what.

My first full year of running was 2007 as a member of the New York Road Runners. I finished that year's ING New York City Marathon, but the last 14 miles I was in agony with plantar fasciitis and each footstrike landed on a different area of my right foot to equally distribute the pain. I tried all the usual remedies: Strassburg Sock, and rubbing with an iceball (fill Dixie cup with water, place in freezer and then tear off the top rim to form a ball you can rub on a sore spot). Nothing was helping. Had some shin splints, too.

I had been running in ASICS support shoes that first year. An incapable salesperson at JackRabbit in NYC had correctly done a video gait analysis of me on a treadmill and then gave me what he believed I need due to modest overpronating. They were the wrong shoes for me and I would not realize that until early 2008.

During a visit to St. Louis, I went to that Fleet Feet STL location and a woman asked if she could help me. I told her I going to be in that April 2008 St. Louis Marathon and that I needed a new pair of shoes. She was running it as well, so immediately I felt great knowing I was in proper hands. Those hands, it turned out, made all the difference. She told me to take my shoes off, and she got down and placed her index finger under the arch of my foot as I stood. That was different.

"You have high arches," she told me.

That was news to me.

She walked over and grabbed a pair of green Brooks Glycerins. I tried them on. She said they were Neutrals, which is what I needed for high arches. She told me to go outside store and run around in them a bit. I did. It felt like bouncing on a cloud. I would not truly know if these were the answer until I built up some training miles, but once I did just that, I found myself running with no issues. This went on, and on, and on, through my fastest year of running. That year I finished the STL Marathon in 5:21, then lowered it to 5:13 at that autumn's NYC Marathon, and two weeks after that I used them to finish my first ultra, the Knickerbocker 60K around Central Park. I was in love with these shoes.

I vowed to just keep changing the colors and stay in Glycerins. I have in these five years since. I have occasionally mixed in a set of trainers, and they have been fine, because they are always Neutrals. Other than a bout with IT Band syndrome a year ago, caused by a left hip weakness that physical therapy corrected, I have been a healthy runner. That is more important to me by far than any finish time.

Here are those same green Glycerins after they had been long retired. In December 2011, I celebrated my fifth anniversary of becoming a runner by donating eight pairs of my retired shoes to Soles 4 Souls.

Wherever that Fleet Feet STL saleswoman is, I hope she knows what a difference she made in one runner's life. My feet thank her. Happy fifth anniversary to my feet, we are still going strong!

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