Sauc-it to me!

Today I bought new running shoes — a pair of Saucony Excursion TR3's.

The original plan was to bring my Asics back home. But, as I was packing Saturday night, I looked at the bottoms to make sure they weren’t dirty and noticed the rubber was worn so badly the cushioning showed. Not good. I ran those shoes ragged and decided I’d pounded the pavement with them for the last time. Not only did that mean there was more room in my luggage, but also that I had to buy another pair of running shoes when I got to Iowa.

Ugh…Coral Ridge. It’s not so much the mall I don’t like — though it did effectively wreck the Sycamore Mall and Pepperwood Place for years, and ushered in the downfall of the Old Capital Mall — but I’m not a fan of the shopping centers it spawned. It’s Californication. Not good, especially in Iowa; this state doesn’t need more chain/box stores, and I’m hoping the economic downturn puts a stop to the unrestrained shopping expansion. Before there was a giant open field, the U-Haul dealer, and the local garden center that featured a large pumpkin patch every October. A few years later there was a giant mall with a huge parking lot, the U-Haul dealer, and a strip mall where the garden center had been. Boo suburban development. But, shamefully, I went there anyway. Seriously, though, I had to given the lack of choice elsewhere.

Speaking of lack of choice, Foot Locker and Finish Line never have the shoe I want in my size. Only once have I gone to that mall and been able to walk out with my first shoe choice: when I bought my first running shoes more than three years ago. How convenient is it that the sales person always walks out of the back shaking his head and immediately starts telling me about another shoe, one that’s usually more expensive? So convenient I’m sure they do it on purpose to up-sell me. It happened once again today, so fuck them. My sister mentioned Famous Footwear so we left the zoo of the mall and crossed Interstate 80 to one of the mall’s offspring shopping centers.

Famous Footwear is like the Kohl’s of shoes. (Ironically, Kohl’s is the store next door.) They take in overstocked and undersold merchandise from other stores so the selection wasn’t bad. Also, there were no sales people to disappoint you. Everything in stock was stacked on the walls, so if your size isn’t there they truly don’t have it. I perused the Adidas, Asics, New Balance, and Saucony sections. Nike is out of the question; I just can’t do it given their shameful labor history. Plus, the plethora of alternate football jersey’s they design for the Oregon Ducks has never impressed me. (In fact, I think most of them look like shit.)

Here’s something I just realized: I’m writing about buying shoes. How low have I sunk? Pretty low, but I need to get writing and hammering the keyboard about seemingly unimportant events in my life is a way to lubricate the gears of creativity.

I wanted something new, but didn’t want to count out Asics and New Balance, the two brands of running shoe I’ve tried; both have done me well. Plus, I did absolutely no research this time around and thought a familiar pair would be a safe and comfortable alternative if I couldn’t make up my mind.

One bad thing about Famous Footwear is there’s scant labeling. Obviously I could tell which shoes were for casual wear, basketball, and dress, but the difference between cross-training and running shoes is a little fuzzy to me and I would have preferred some kind of tagging. Both look alike but are very different. Running shoes are specifically made for hardcore, serious running — and only running; cross-trainers are all-around athletic shoes and are not recommended for regular running. Since I don’t like asking for help — a typical guy thing — I used my own discretion. The cross-trainers I assumed had knobbier soles to handle a variety of surfaces, like knobby mountain bike tires, so I looked mainly for something with baby smooth bottoms ideal for the asphalt I mostly run.

I took a few boxes from the wall, sat down to try on a couple pairs, and discovered another quirk about Famous Footwear. The Saucony box had two different shoes inside it. One was a light colored Grid C2 Roadster and the other a dark colored Grid Excursion TR3. Since it’s a do-it-yourself system, the stacks are susceptible to the stupidity of customers. I wanted to try on the Roadster so I searched its stack and found another size 13 box with the partners for both the Roadster and Excursion.

After trying on all three shoes I chose the pair I accidentally took from the wall. They were very comfortable and passed all the fit tests I could remember from the last time I bought shoes. However, when I got home I did a little research on the Saucony website and found the Excursions are most suited for both trails and roads. It’s not a bad thing; I run trails when the sun sets later, but have had to relegate my route to streets so I can see. Regardless, I hope they are as good as my last two running shoes.

There — I’m done writing about shoes…at least for another 500 miles.

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