Brand New Shoes, Brand New World

Yesterday my friend Meredith (“Mert”) and I spent time catching up while shoe shopping. So what’s noteworthy about that? The image of the shoe-shopping, chatting female bonding is a 21st century cultural icon thanks to the “Sex & The City” amiga chicas.

We weren’t after Manolos or Jimmy Choos, though. Mert and I found ourselves mesmerized before a wall of colorful and stylish specialized footwear designed by Brooks, Mizuno, Asics, New Balance, Nike, and Saucony. Running shoes.  

It was Mert’s first trip to a running store, and I had fun seeing what has become an errand for me through her fresh eyes. Looking at the rows of bleached white or glossed gray leather embellished with pink, red, orange, green, and purple  — there was even gold python motif for one brazen Asics model — the eye-pleasing hues made the experience more like being in a flower shop. “They’re so pretty,” Mert exclaimed. But this merchandise can keep going long after the most beautiful bouquet wilts, and offers even more opportunities for blossoming.

My wish for Mert, who is beginning a running program this week, is that running will enhance her blooming in fitness and wellness.  Her growth in that direction really took off last year when she trained to teach pilates classes, which is how we got acquainted.  I was immediately drawn to her openness and  positive energy. Although we hardly knew one another at the time, I impulsively invited her to South Carolina to support me in the marathon I ran there last December. “Watch out! It’s addictive, and spectating is how I got hooked,” I warned her.

I had a strong feeling that her smile and encouragement would be a welcome boost, punctuated by her special cheer we practiced, “Run, Bitch! Malt Balls!” to push me, make me laugh, and entice me with my favorite candy as a post-race reward.  Sure enough, while I stiff-leggedly ambled around after finishing, Mert’s enthusiasm for what she had just witnessed again boosted my tired body. “That was so cool! I want to do one! Maybe a half marathon some day.” Mwa ha ha ha, another precious soul converted.

Like all new runners, Mert was a little unsure in this new world of endorphins and wicking fabrics, and asked lots of questions yesterday.  “What kind of socks will I need?” “Will I get shin splints?” “Will you run with me when they make me run to look at my feet?”

The store assistant, Jeremy, measured Mert’s feet, pronounced her an overpronator after seeing her take a few paces, and brought out a few pairs of shoes to try. Side by side we ran down the store’s aisle and back while she test drove each model.  We left with an orange and white pair of Sauconys, Mert’s passport into a new adventure. 

Depending on how her beginning running program goes, Mert could be ready to try a 5K race in a few months if that’s something she wants to do. If she does, I’ll be there yelling “Run, Bitch! Pork Rinds!” to push her, make her laugh, and entice her with her favorite snack as a post-race reward.

Good luck as you start on your running journey, Mert! I hope this new world you are stepping in to shows you the world in a new way. May running take you wherever you want it to … and possibly even beyond what you can imagine.

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3 Responses to “Brand New Shoes, Brand New World”


  1. 1 Carla January 14, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    I was at Beyond Running just yesterday and thought the same thing…all those shoes are so bright and colorful and inspiring!

    Made me think about what my chant would be…

    Faster, bitch! Salt and vinegar!

  2. 2 Andrea January 14, 2008 at 8:10 pm

    Hi Carla! I would be happy to yell that for you anytime!


  1. 1 Running For Pork Skins: A Pacer’s (Pig) Tales of a First 5K « In The Distance Trackback on May 11, 2008 at 3:43 pm

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