Friday, July 6, 2012

Always wear expensive shoes. People notice.

Women's favorite topic: Shoes.  This may not be the typical shoe post, but I'd definitely like to talk about my shoes. It all started on June 23rd sometime in the morning, when as I was packing my gear bag for Ironman, I realized I didn't have an extra pair of shoes to wear after I dropped off my running shoes at transition.  I stopped by Fleet Feet and bought an extra pair of running shoes because my shoes that I was using then had well over 300 miles on them.  It was time for new shiny shoes.

While for some buying a new pair of shoes is easy, not so much for others... I've been running with the Nike Air Citius+ for a while and it's now gone.  Nike no longer makes this shoe, and my world came crashing down.  This is the ONLY shoe that I've found that doesn't give me blisters and doesn't kill my foot after long runs.  I don't get injured and overall it's a super comfortable shoe.  I've experimented some overtime, but always kept coming back to the good ole' Citius.

Here's a little piece of my life as told by my running shoes:

The Adidas TR9 was my first "serious" shoe and while it is a trail running shoe, I was convinced it was the best for me to run on the dirt path where I used to run in circles when I lived in Mexico City.  It was a 1.5 mile loop (roughly) and I used to run around it many times per workout.  Until this day, I have these shoes, since they were my "engine" as I toed to the start line of my first long distance organized event: a 10K.

The TR9s. Today, they make for really comfy slippers. 
After the Adidas, which probably ran a few hundred miles more than they were supposed to, I made the transition to Nike in 2005 and I never looked back.  I did have a pair that lasted very little since they were uncomfortable and ugly-looking.  I trained quite a bit on those, but tossed them right after my first race on 'em.  Didn't feel attached to them at all (weird, since they were my first Nike shoes), but I found the shoe that would change my life: the Nike Air Citius+.   I used a couple pairs of Citius before I became overly attached and wasn't able to toss them after their life-span and decided to keep them.

My first pair of "important" Citius
I ran quite a few races with these starting with my first triathlon although I didn't do the full distance, I did it as a relay and I was the runner. It was the 5430 Boulder Long Course before it was bought by Ironman. Also, they ran my first full Marathon with me: the Boulder Backroads Marathon in 2009. Not only that, but I ran my FIRST Denver Marathon (first of many), as well as the San Antonio Marathon.  I was incredibly attached to the shoe and still ran my first ultra-marathon with these.  Shortly thereafter, the shoes came back to the Boulder Marathon course to run the Spring Half Marathon and after it, they made the Big Sur Marathon after which, I decided it was a good time to retire.  Actually, their retirement was long due...

Boulder Marathon, Denver Marathon and San Antonio Marathon
Surviving the ULTRA

After a few pairs of the Citius, I decided to experiment and bought the Nike+ Lunarlite. Their debut was during my very own debut as a triathlete where I participated in all three legs (as opposed to a relay).  They were OK. They didn't drive me crazy, but they held their own.

Nike+ Lunarlite

We did countless training runs together and we also ran San Diego Marathon.  They retired early since I was not fully comfortable with them.  This is when I was talked into running with the Nike+ Pegasus (by experts of course).  I thought it'd be happy times, but I was mistaken.  We did the full Boulder Triathlon Series together.  Boulder Sprint, Boulder Peak and Boulder 70.3.  I was still not comfortable.

The Nike+ Pegasus

This is when I decided to go back to the Citius and I felt like a runner once again.  I ran my first race in Mexico since I became a "serious" athlete and although they gave me THE WORST blisters I've gotten in my whole life, I felt comfortable running again (note the blisters were because IT POURED during my bike ride and had to run with soaking wet shoes).  I was glad that even after a little while of not using the Citius, they hadn't changed a bit.

More Citius...

Running Ironman Cancun 70.3

Shortly after this, I completed yet another Denver Marathon in October of 2010 with these shoes on tired legs, but my feet felt happy.  It was time to rest before starting Ironman training.  While I should've known better and should've gotten a new pair of Citius to start my Ironman training, I started training with these old ones (which I think had a little too many miles already) and easily got talked into getting the Nike Frees.  I immediately started using them, and loved them.  Tried to ignore the tired feet after long runs and even the blisters.  Started running FAST races, which I entirely gave credit to the shoes.  WHO DOES THAT?

My Nike Frees

I ran the Boulder Spring Half and I PR'd.  I ran the Platte River Half Marathon and I PR'd. I then ran the Vail Pass Half Marathon and while I didn't PR (mostly cause it's all uphill), I still kicked butt.  Not only that... I ran the marathon of my Ironman with the Frees.  Result: BLISTERS.  I walked A LOT of that marathon because my feet were absolutely KILLING ME.

Note the shoes... 

Before the start of my "off-season", I pulled out the Citius once more to race in the Montana XTerra (which I placed 2nd in my age group) and to run the Denver Marathon.. yep, you guessed it, AGAIN.  Even though the Citius were old, I would never, even if someone paid me, run a marathon distance in the Frees.

Come January and with the start of Ironman training again, I bought my last pair of Citius.  The design had changed and I was now purchasing the Nike Air Citius +4. I guess I went WAY too long without purchasing this model, since I skipped #3.

The Citius 4. 

While they looked different, they were still the same shoe. I fell in love all over again. I continued the previous year's streak of PR'ing.  I raced in Ironman Oceanside 70.3 and PR'd not only my overall time, but my run as well, running a VERY respectable half marathon.  I ran the Platte River Half and PR'd AGAIN. I was feeling strong.  I learned my lesson and didn't switch my shoe over six months... AT ALL. And kept a log of miles I've run with these to promptly retire them as soon as needed. I, of course, completed my second Ironman wearing them and my feet felt WAY happier... there was barely ANY walking, and it was definitely not because of feet pain.  I also PR'd my Ironman running a marathon 47 minutes faster than the previous year.

Retiring the Citius like a true Champ... 

Now, going back to the beginning of this post, I said I had to make a pit stop at Fleet Feet in Coeur D'Alene to buy a new pair of shoes.  While I was aware at this point that Nike was no longer making the Citius, I was sorta open to new options (kinda had to), and they put me in the Nike Structure Triax+.  Not only that, but they suggested I wear a size 8.  Just FYI, all the shoes I've mentioned above were a 7.5. WOW... how am I supposed to run on a half a size bigger shoe?  Well, I did my first post-Ironman run on Tuesday, starting with an easy 3-miler only to find out that these shoes felt way too big.  

Nike Structure Triax+

I paid Fleet Feet yet another visit and after a more thorough analysis, I should indeed be wearing a bigger shoe. Not only an 8, but an 8.5.  Ok, this is outrageous... have I been running with a full size smaller shoe?  Well, apparently, but also, the structure is apparently too sturdy for me, I need a more neutral shoe. So here we go, let's try a few more shoes.  The "experts" again suggest the Pegasus.  I'm hesitant.  I finally give in and say: "Should I be looking at different brands?" They pulled out the Asics.  I try the Gel-Nimbus on and I like it.  It feels good.  I am not wearing a size 8.5, but I will try the 8... all tests pointed at a size 8 AT LEAST.  I SHOULD NOT be wearing the 7.5... that's why I lose toenails. So here's the new kicks:

My first pair of Asics

I have a few races still in the calendar this year and I know the last thing I want to struggle with is shoes.  So maybe, with letting go of Nike altogether, I will be able to move on from the Citius and try some different technologies.  After all, so many of my runner friends do run with Asics, and they absolutely LOVE them.  So Asics: get ready to kick some ass... we got tons of miles ahead of us.

PS- Yes, I still have all the shoes in these pictures.  They are really special to me and I have trouble letting go. 

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