An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
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Friday, February 11, 2011

Shoe Lust

I've got it.

They say there's a "buying mood" that car salesmen can smell, and when they smell it, they KNOW they've got a buyer on their hands. Running shoe store workers probably know the same thing, even if they're not aware of it. The look in the eyes, how the person kind of barely hears what the salesman says, he just nods in that far-off way... The work of the sale is already done. All that's left is the exchange of credit card numbers.

It's not an uncommon thing with runners. The "contact points" are the feet, and shoes are the intermediary to the earth (or concrete). For cyclists, it's the bike itself (and more closely the shoes and pedals, saddle, gloves, handlebars, and even bar tape). Swimmers, the suit and goggles (okay, maybe not -- I've never really considered myself much of a swimmer, so I'm kinda guessing). Triathletes, all of the above, plus some.

I just threw out about 10 pairs of shoes. Some of them were in pretty good shape. Okay, pretty good condition. Not "shape". In fact "shape" was the reason I threw some of them out. There was a "vintage" pair of Nike Free Trail shoes, some dress shoes, some Keen "running" shoes, a mid-top pair of motorcycle boots, my ancient Danner low-top hikers... Gone now. I think I still have some 8-10 pair of shoes (not including my biking shoes -- that would add another 3 pair). I'm not some Imelda Marcos wannabe. Yet. I don't have any desire to sport stiletto heels. In public.

Anyway, I threw out these shoes because they became "shoes which shall never more encumber my feet." In the case of the Nike Free's, the last time I had them on my feet, by the time I finished the walk, I had lost feeling in half my toes. Others were similar, but to a lesser extent -- toe boxes just weren't bearable for any length of time. The dress shoes were some that I've had for some time, and while passably workable for short periods of time, didn't pass my wife's "I could be seen with you in public wearing that" test. As a male engineer, I obviously have none of this instinct. As a female engineer, apparently that gene didn't get passed on to her.

I've been eagerly awaiting the introduction of the Merrel Barefoot line, the New Balance Minimus line, and the Altra Instinct and Lone Peak (not so much the Adam -- a little TOO minimalist for me), ever since I first heard of them back in October. The availability date of the Merrells is... now. They were shipping on February 1st. That was over a week ago, and still no store near me has them. The Born to Run Store in Bellevue's shipment was delayed, and I just saw on their website that they're saying they'll have them available on Tuesday. The New Balance Minimus Trail is supposed to hit the market March 1st, and the Altra on April 1st.

My wife (bless her, and oh, did I mention we got married on New Year's Eve?) has unwittingly chosen to support my shoe habit by making a pair of the Merrell Trail Gloves a Valentine's Day gift. We're going to Portland, OR, tomorrow, and Track 'n Trail JUST got them in... So part of the trip to Portland will include stopping in there to try them on, and likely buy them if they're comfy. I suppose it's forgivable (as in she can forgive herself) that my wife would do this -- we're in the first two months of married life. And she still has more shoes than I do. Anyway...

Sure, I could order them online at a few shipping-only places. I've seen a discount code for But I want to try them on before I buy. Call it another part of the compulsion, the hands-on part. The anticipation of ownership by tactile input. Kinda like a test drive in that sporty convertible... Well, not quite. But the only time I've bought shoes online without first trying them on... didn't turn out so well. Those were one of the pair of shoes I tossed last week. And so I prefer to "try before I buy" when it comes to shoes. Follow-on pair could definitely be bought online, though. All I need to do is make sure they FIT first.

And of course I'll post a review of my initial impressions. And a later one of a full report.

So even if the Merrells DO fit, will I try on the New Balance and the Altra when they hit the market? Of course. Will I buy them if they fit? Most likely. Will I keep the Kinvaras in my shoe rotation? I'm sure I will, at least for as long as it takes to get the other shoes (which ever ones they are) fully adapted. Or more appropriately, *I* get fully adapted to the shoes. And it also depends on how much better the new shoes fit.

Why is it so important that I get these shoes now? That "buying mood", and a whole lotta lust.

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