My earliest memories of running sneakers center around my mother, which is fitting because all my earliest memories or running and road racing also center around my mother. I remember the line of sneakers in my mom's closet. There had to be around seven pairs all at varying levels of wear and tear, laid out like a timeline, the newbies at one end and the retirees at the other. The oldest pairs were so worn you could slip them on with out undoing the laces and were reserved for random things like gardening and running out to get the paper first thing in the morning. The newest pair apparently the only one worthy of getting some time on the road.
Every year at the end of winter my dad would pile my sisters and I in the car and we would take a trip to this tiny running store in the city. I don't remember much about it, other than piles of shoe boxes all around and it's dusty atmosphere but we would pick up the newest model of Saucony Grid running shoes and hurry them home to wrap for mom's birthday. At the time I never gave much thought to a yearly gift of sneakers. I didn't see the excitement or purpose in it, but I didn't spend enough time on the subject to think it was anything out of the ordinary. My mom's life as a runner was just a big mystery. At the time, I even thought it was easy.
It would not be until I began training for my first half marathon that the mystical world of running shoes would be explained to me. At our first Saturday meeting for training, the coaches explained we should go to a local running store and be fitted for sneakers that worked best for our feet. They talked about pronation and stability and other things that I didn't yet understand. Conveniently there was a Sports Basement right across the street from where I was working, so Monday evening I stopped in to get some new kicks. I was instantly overwhelmed by the amount of sneakers under one roof.
This was definitely not like any store I had set foot in. I wandered around a bit before getting up the courage to ask someone for help (what can I say I can be painfully shy sometimes!) I explained my situation - training for a half marathon, looking for my first pair of good running shoes, etc. The sales associate had me take of my shoes and walk across the store. I felt only semi awkward. After determining I was going to need a stability shoe he grabbed a pair from three different brands and had me try them all one. I was somewhat disappointed that this process had nothing to do with looks. I was instructed to try each shoe, and pick whatever felt the most comfortable. You mean I can't have that really cool pink and silver pair across the room? Or maybe the green and white ones? No, sorry Sara you have to have the ugly Navy and grey pair that feel really awesome on your feet. Ok just for the record they DID feel really great (my feet would thank me later) but i was nervous about making a final decision. Once I took them onto the pavement I wouldn't get to bring them back.
"Can I run around the store?" I asked the sales associate.
"Of course, people do it all the time." He said with a smile. But even with his approval I feel ridiculous running around the store with people watching. I did something that would resemble a half jog/trot for a few yards and then turned around and came back. What the heck, I guess they were the best so I took them.
They were Asics Gel Evolution 2's. Which pretty much means second generation of that model but I was just happy to have made a choice. Now runners, as I have mentioned before are creatures of habit, so it is no surprise that Asics Gel Evolutions are the ONLY model of shoe I have run in ever since. Not only that but when Asics stopped making 2's and started carrying the 3's I all but lost it thinking I would have to buy a *gasp* different shoe!.
Now you can imagine that after three half marathons and one full marathon, five or six pairs of shoes later I would start to get them all confused. Once I had been on one long run in the rain they were all the same amount of dirty, and after one injury prone summer which I blamed completely on old sneakers I was paranoid at the thought of running on overused kicks. One day sometime after my first marathon when Larry and I were stretch before a workout I noticed numbers written on the sole of his sneaker in black marker. When I asked him what it was he said it was his goal finish time for his upcoming marathon. Of course it was something crazy fast but it made me start to think what I could write on my shoes. Not just to tell them apart but also maybe it would give me an extra little bit of inspiration to lace up and get out the door.
And so it began...
"Philly 26.2" For the pair that carried me across my first marathon finish line :)
"Run Easy is an Oxymoron" not so visible anymore but that quote is one of my favorites
"Not done yet..." this quote was part of an ad in Runner's World which I loved
My newest pair of Asics have yet to be labeled. Any suggestions?
This year when my boyfriend gave me a new pair of sneakers for my birthday, (into the 5th generation and my now 9th pair) I was absolutely overjoyed. Not only that he can realize my love for the sport and support it by gifting me with sneakers. But also because I flat out needed new sneakers and was running (haha) short on money. I think I had finally come to understand why my Dad chose to always get my mom running shoes as a birthday gift. It was one of those gifts that was easy and practical but not looked to as unthoughtful as something like a vacuum or a blender. I don't think I have enjoyed a present so much in a very long time. And I hope he makes it a yearly tradition!