By Christopher Cudworth
You’ll notice a considerable absence of commercial influence on We Run and Ride. I have not written much about products or advocated many other than people who’ve sent a few things to try out.
In fact I still owe a trial run with a running measurement device that a manufacturer sent me. We’ll get to those in a few days.
This afternoon however, I was sitting outside the Starbucks in Geneva, Illinois, enjoying some sunshine with a family whose son had played for the soccer team I coached years ago.
Out of the Geneva Running Company half a block down there walked a young man carrying a pair of brightly colored Saucony shoes. I smiled and opened my arms as he approached, asking “For me?”
He held them out and let me try them on. I’ve been running in two consecutive pairs of Saucony Ride shoes. The first pair I paid full boat. The second turned out to be only $80 at Dick Pond Athletics. They were “last year’s model” and I was only too happy to get them on discount. They are stable, smooth and fit my feet really well.
Yet I’d seen a set of Saucony Triumph shoes in either an advertisement or a shoe preview and said to my companion, “I wonder how these would feel compared to my Rides?”
They felt great of course. All new shoes feel great. It’s like that scene in the movie The Big Chill in which the William Hurt character tries on a pair of running shoes and says, “These feel great. I’m never taking these off.”
It turned out Jeremy is the Saucony rep for the area and had been visiting the Geneva Running Outfitters on a sales and tech basis. He’d run in the shoes he was carrying a few times, but they looked brand new. “They’re not on the market until November 1st,” he smiled.
As I’ve written in this blog, I’m a shoe slut. Trying to add up all the pairs I’ve worn over the years, and all those different brands would take quite a bit of math to figure out. I got married in Nikes. Trained in Reeboks, Asics (formerly Tiger) Brooks, New Balance, Osaga (now defunct) Converse (never a good running shoe) and have spent thousands of dollars on running
shoes of all shapes and sizes. Training shoes. Racing flats. Spikes.
Even if I only averaged three pairs a year since I was 14, that adds up to 40 years of running, or 120 pairs of shoes. But in fact I have used probably twice that many. If it adds up to 250 pairs at an average cost of $60 per pair, that’s $15,000. More likely that figure is $25,000 over the lifetime of my running career. There were years when I alternated three pairs at a time and purchased nine or ten pairs a year.
Obviously I love the sport. Admittedly age and all those miles has made it more difficult to train and race as I once did. Those 100 miles weeks in college and just beyond are a long lost memory. Getting 25 miles in per week would be great.
Yet I tested my legs on the track yesterday and ran a 7:04 mile without much effort. My goal or plan is to run the first three miles of the Sycamore Pumpkinfest 10K this weekend at 7:10 pace and see what the body will give me from there.
Sure, I once ran the same course in 31:30. One of my favorite running photos is from that race, perhaps the only picture I ever purchased from one of those professional running photography companies. I’m wearing a mostly white New Balance kit and a pair of Nike Elite racing shoes. It was a crisp fall day and I raced well enough to be proud of that moment, taking second to a runner that actually shortened the course for the rest of us by cutting across a park that we were supposed to go around.
So it will be fun to head out this weekend in a snappy new pair of shoes. I promise to let the Saucony rep know how they feel. They’re super light and I feel bad that I have to put a pair of orthotics inside to make them heavier.
Those are compromises that some of us must accept in order to keep moving. But I’d love to flash across the finish line in a PR for the age of 50 and above. The last 10K I ran was more than 10 years ago, so any PR is a PR for me. Ha ha.
But thanks to Jeremy the Saucony rep. I’ll promise to talk these up and if I win my age group (not holding my breath on that one) I’ll hold up the shoes like Lasse Viren in the Olympics. And we all know that if Craig Virgin had been allowed to run in the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, he might have gotten to hold up a pair of adidas too. In fact if some publisher were smart, he’d give Craig a call and ask about the book that’s been written about him. His story is amazing.
If you’re too young to remember any of that stuff, then you’re too young to worry about how long your running career will actually be. So you still have to go out and buy your own shoes. (so do I…)
But those of us who’ve been guinea pigs all these years deserve at least one pair of free shoes. So I’m not apologizing. For nothing.