Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Adventures in Shoe Shopping

I needed new shoes.  That wasn't in question.  My old shoes were purchased to train for my first triathlon last year, and while they were not top of the line, they served me quite well.  After all, when I started I ran from one telephone pole to the next and nearly passed out.  So footwear built for mileage was not all that important.

Fast forward to this year.  I'm running farther and faster than I have in over a decade, and my old "go fasters" as they called them in boot camp, are just not cutting the mustard. They are stretched out a bit, which has led to some growing concerns about foot and shin problems.  And worst of all, they stink to high heaven!  There are at least three full locker rooms of smell in each shoe, which makes peeling them off my feet at the end of a run rather noxious.  So yes, they must be retired.

I've done lots of reading on buying running shoes, talked to some runners for suggestions, and today went out to take the plunge.  I stopped at a couple of places to try on shoes by myself, but after a dozen different shoes in two stores, I was befuddled about what to get.

I decided to bite the bullet and go to our local running/walking store.  I knew they would analyze my stride and be able to tell me what shoes I should get, but I was gun shy about the prices they would no doubt charge.  From the moment I walked in I saw the guy watching my feet.  Sure enough he instructed me to take my shoes of and walk across the floor a few times.  After he gave me the diagnosis, he took the time to explain it to me, and he asked a dozen questions about my running, stretching, any pain in my legs or back.  He really did an amazing job of getting to know me before he even went to the back for a pair of shoes!

He brought out a half dozen pairs of shoes for me to try, and we compared one to another until we had it narrowed down to just the right pair.  Perfectly comfortable, and built not only for mileage, but for my foot problems (they are a little flat).  Then I asked about the price and was more than pleasantly surprised to find they were really not that much more than the other places I had been looking!  And for the service I received, it was well worth the extra $20!

I also asked him what could be done for the pain in my shins, which I am sure are the beginnings of shin splints.  He ran me through a few stretches and recommended a foam roller for my calves.  I am anxious to try it all out so that I can actually feel good while I run!  I am certain that my old skids are the cause of my current leg problems.  So I am hopeful, hopeful, hopeful that my experience in shoe shopping today will alleviate those problems and help me train.

Mostly I wanted to post about what a wonderful experience it was going to a locally owned store for my shoes.  Their friendly attitude and professional knowledge made me feel very comfortable with my purchase, and I feel like they have earned my patronage in the future!  I'd also recommend it to my friends.

For those of you out there toying with the idea of a triathlon (or some other sport) I'd encourage you to go to a locally owned store and get their expert help.  It was well worth it for me! 

More Later

Friday, May 13, 2011

Many Happy Returns

Many many moons ago, my wife and I were wondering what to do for a gift for her grandparents.  They were both in their nineties, and needed nothing, so shopping for something was pretty much out of the question.  Both of us agreed that our fondest memories of time spent with Gram and Grandpa S were when we played cards with them.  Specifically the game of Gin.  They were brutally good at Gin.  Grandpa had a habit of flipping over that last card for Gin and singing out a hearty "DIXIE BELL!" that had a joyous, mocking tone.  They were hard to beat, but so much fun to play!

Anyway, we settled upon the idea of making a stained glass piece that reflected our shared love of the cards.  We gave it to them and it was put in a prominent window where we could see it while we played Gin.

A few years back, Grandpa S passed away.  Gram has since moved in with her daughter and son-in-law in Ohio.  As such she has had to pare down her things.  When we heard that she had moved, I wondered what had happened to that piece.  I guessed that someone had acquired it, probably someone who loved playing cards with them as much as us.  Or perhaps Gram had gifted it to one of her card playing friends.  She's pretty generous that way.  Either way I never thought I'd see it again.

The Wife's folks came for a visit this week and brought a box of stuff to go through, and much to my surprise, it reappeared in our lives!  I was moved nearly to tears.  It was so unexpected to see it again, and I was very happy to have it back at our house.  It will continue to remind me of those Gin games and "Dixie Bell's" and the fun we have had with Gram and Grandpa S through the years.

 Speaking of things going out and returning much later... I finally completed my first 5K run of the season.  To be fair, I ran the first 1.5 miles and did sprint drills on the way back - that is to say, I run as fast as I can from one telephone pole to the next, then walk to the next, then run... etc. etc. etc. Until I get back to where I started from.  But it is an improvement, and I cannot complain about the small steps taken to reach my goal.  I'm sure hoping that sometime in the future I'll be writing about running the first three miles before I head back.  Time will tell.

It has been a long and emotional day, (week?  year?) so I am off to bed.

More Later

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bye Bye Beardy

When I first heard the news of the demise of bin Laden, I was... well... pleased.  Yeah.  Pleased would sum it up.  I was not elated.  I wasn't giddy.  My first thought was literally "Oh!?! OK then.  That's great.  What will I do for breakfast tomorrow, I wonder?"

Don't get me wrong.  I'm immensely impressed with everyone involved in that mission, from President Obama making the call to send them in, to the men who went in and accomplished the mission.  Immensely impressed. I could go on for pages about the mission and all involved.  I have been avidly keeping up with what happened on the mission, because it IS an historical event.  Akin to the death of Hitler, or of Caesar.  It will be in the history books.  But as a major history buff, that's about the extent of my interest.

And I am pleased that the religious zealot that started this whole mess is dead and gone.  But there are others who will keep the fires of hatred for us burning brightly.  The wars won't end because he is gone.  I worry about the next attack that is done in his name.  Hatred just breeds more hatred.  Just look at our own countries white supremacists.

Which brings me to the biggest stomach turner of them all for me.  The footage of so many Americans dancing in the streets and celebrating and acting as if their team had just won the world cup, or some other random championship that doesn't really matter in the scheme of things.  I saw the coverage of that and was taken back to 9/11.  The pictures of Palestinians dancing in the street and celebrating the destruction of the towers.  Those scenes made me sick.  How could people celebrate at a time like that?  The whole world knew that a war was beginning.  Untold numbers would be killed and maimed.  Lives would be thrown to the wind like chaff.  And these people had the nerve to celebrate?  I remember the fury with which many Americans reacted.

I'm guessing a great many of those same Americans were dancing in the streets at the death of bin Laden.  Was he a terrible, horrid excuse for a human being?  Yes.  Did he deserve the end he brought upon himself?  Without question.  Do we lower and debase ourselves by reacting the same way as those revelers did on 9/11?  Indeed.  Our obvious hatred of the man and his cause will only serve to inspire those that hate us to continue to do so.  It is foolish and naive to believe otherwise.  No matter how badass the SEAL's were that took him out, no matter how amazing the warriors are in Afghanistan and Iraq who fight day to day for us back here, no matter how persistent we are at hunting them down and exterminating them, they will not suddenly shrink in fear at our might.  They will hate us more for it.  And the violence will continue.  Probably past the time when my own children are old enough to serve should they choose to do so.

And if my son or daughter gets killed over there, a bit of that blame will go to those who danced in front of the White House.  A bit more to those who partied in Times Square like it was the New Year.  Nobody wins because bin Laden is dead.  Hatred breeds hatred.  It is time we start to learn to bury the hatchet and learn to live with each other, the whole stinking planet.  Because if we don't, there will always be an Us vs. Them fight.  I don't believe that is worth the price of my son or daughter.

So Bye bye, bin Laden.  You will not be missed over here.  I pray that the hatred of those we don't agree with died with you, in your people and in mine, and that there can one day be peace.  Oh, and thanks for feeding the fish.

More Later