Friday, October 20, 2006

Sneaker snobbery

Today I took the day off, or as the Brits refer to as "holiday". I didn't do anything spectacular. I ran out to Target in Colma to pick up a few necessities for home. Then I headed to Stonestown Galleria for lunch and browsing.

My motivation to browse was because I'm in the market for new running shoes. I usually rotate 2 pairs at a time, and the current 2 pairs are different colors of the same shoe, Nike Shox Ride 2. One pair in silver with the fuschia swoosh, the other in white with a blue swoosh. If you had no idea of what I just said, then you're not a sneaker snob (and previously professed movie snob) like I am. The silver/fuschia shoes are now over a year old and need to be replaced.

To replace running shoes for me is always a scientific expedition. Stop reading here if you don't admire running shoes as much as I do. Anything read beyond here is at your risk. Lisa's ex-husband Joe is about the only person I know who has the same obsession. As mentioned in a March 2006 blog, I don't have a problem forking out $150 to buy a new pair.

The history of my sneaker obsession began in the 5th grade, when I got my first pair of boys' sneakers, Converse All-Stars. At that time, it was daring for girls to buy boys' shoes. I did it because a childhood classmate, Chris Shadwick, wore boys' sneakers. She was Etna Elementary School's version of "Be Like Mike" (Michael Jordan).

Chris was smart, cool, and most of all, very athletic. She was as good or better than most boys in sports. I was enormously flattered when Sherman told me the real estate person involved in the sale of our Columbus restaurant about 10 years ago said his aunt knew our family. The aunt was Chris.

But I digress. Back to the sneaker history. After Converse, I then upscaled to a pair of Adidas Vienna. Then it was Puma, then Nike. My first pair of Nikes were the Cortez, which to me, is the shoe that set off the Nike popularity. I had 2 pairs of Cortez, both in white, one with the red swoosh, the other in blue. You can still buy Cortez versions of Nike, but are in the "retro" section. Retro but still cool. These are probably my favorite sneakers of all time.

In my adult life, I've worn Reebok, K-Swiss, Asics and Saucony. I've owned only one pair of New Balance and never wore Brooks or Mizuno. I haven't worn Adidas in 20 years. Asics and Saucony are recent retirees since I became a gym rat and are the best bang for your bucks. But Nike was coming out with hot but not too flashy shoes that was competitive in price with the top of the line Asics and Saucony. Which got me to buy the Nike Shox 2. They give me great support and cushioning and I love showing them off at the gym.

But as I am with cars, I don't keep running shoes until they die. I like to stay up-to-date. It is recommended that running shoes get replaced about every 6 months. I began researching online a few months ago and found that Nike Shox Ride 2 is discontinued and is now Shox Ride 3. Yuck. The shoelace eyelets are sewn on the outside flaps, rather than the traditional eyelet holes. I've pulled the stitches out of this kind of eyelet on previous shoes. Plus I didn't like the diagonal lines with contrasting colors.

I then found the Nike Shox TL IV in purple. It was on my wish list until recently, when I saw that they now come in black. Ooooh.... Sports Authority in San Mateo (formerly SportsMart) usually has the latest in gear so I go there because the shoes are on the shelves to try on. Once I try them on and know they fit, I buy them online. I intentionally limit big ticket purchases from this location because they wouldn't price match a softball bat about 8 years ago.

This time, the Nike Shox are all kept in the back and you have to ask a salesperson for assistance. I can understand that because they'd be stolen within minutes if they were out as open stock. I saw the Shox TL IV in purple and asked to try on a pair. I noticed that they were on sale for $100. Uh oh. After bringing them out, I noticed how light they were as I was lacing them up. Then I put them on. Oh baby. Comfortable and way cool.

Salesman did everything he could to get me to buy the shoes (on sale, last pair I have, sure they'll match the black you wear at the gym...) but I simply didn't want purple. I ended up buying them (in black, of course) online that evening at Eastbay Sports. I used to buy my running shoes online at Lady Foot Locker, but Eastbay Sports actually manages their site and supplies their online stock.
The trip to Stonestown this afternoon was so I could see the TL IV in black. Sure enough, there they were, at Nordstrom's. Oh man, what a shoe. I am so glad I chose black. I should get them in about a week to 10 days. This obsession isn't going to go away anytime soon. But will this pursuit look dignified when I'm 80?
image courtesy of Eastbay Sports

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