One of the nice New Balance folks asked if seeing all gear at the Outdoor Retailer show made me want it. Nope. It was like sitting at a table covered with all the food you’d eat in a week. Overwhelming and unappetizing. There was great people-watching on the other hand. It was fun watching the vendors pitch their wares. And I liked hearing about people’s jobs with their companies. It was like walking into a house you’d driven by for years, but never been invited into before. I have the most superficial understanding of sales and marketing. I’ve never been curious about the details of how it all works. I also have a very limited understanding of running shoe design. I am more curious after meeting the New Balance people who do these things. Maybe curious isn’t the right word. I am more appreciative of the talent that is involved in some of the work. And I am more cognizant of people’s efforts — particularly on the shoe design side. The NB folks made me feel my feedback was valuable. Now, I’ve never been a running shoe geek. There are so many large-scale things to work on with my running that shoes seem like a detail. It’s like when I was on the swim team in high school and someone asked if I was going to shave my arms for a meet. Um, less arm hair (even on my Italian arms) was not going to keep me from finishing last in the breaststroke. Large scale: bad swimmer. Detail: arm hair. I’ve always seen running shoes the same way: details. But really that attitude is a holdover from my road running days. Certainly different trails require different shoes and in 100k and 100 mile races on really rocky terrain like Bandera, a little padding can change a race — and a recovery. I’m not ready to buy my running shoe geek hat yet, but I’m looking forward to paying attention to how the tread on my shoes wears and handles more. (As I work on getting back in shape again.) For the most part though, I felt like a fish out of water at the event — flopping around on the convention room floor. My time was mostly my own and I spent a lot of time wandering feeling overwhelmed by all the stuff on display. I probably should have gone outside for a run, but I’d used up my running minutes that morning. (45)
Before I go any further, I should tell you about the Uphill Challenge on the treadmill — or my 15 minutes at a 15% grade running “against” Krissy Moehl. It wasn’t really all that horrible. People, especially Krissy, were wonderfully nice and the “run” didn’t last all that long, — but the whole thing was so surreal and it had enough unpleasant parts, that “nightmare” seems the best word for it. The two treadmills for the Challenge were set up in the back of the convention center in the climbing gear section. They were not easy to find and I started to feel hopeful that I might miss the whole thing. ”Oh, gosh, I’m soooo sorry I missed my time slot. I was lost somewhere in the gear-for-dogs section.” But I did find the treadmills set up side by side with the two guys in the 2 o’clock time slot warming up for their sprint. There was a good crowd ready to cheer them on and a whiteboard with all the participants mileage listed next to their names. I told you that my ego was not tied up in running fast on treadmills, but I figured I needed a goal (besides not vomiting or reinjuring my stress fracture), so I looked for the lowest mileage and figured I’d try to match it. (Wanting to make New Balance proud and all — since Anton wasn’t able to participate.) 2:3opm rolled around before I had time to have a stroke, so I mounted the treadmill after a few hints that it’d be okay to warm up. (Whatever.) Signs with our names were hung in front of the mills. Krissy had a large crowd of fans. (And rightly so.) The announcer introduced us with a microphone. (This is where it gets surreal.) I stood on my treadmill and listened to the announcer catalog Krissy’s accomplishments. And I stared at the crowd of strangers in front of me. I thought: this is the part where I look down and see that I’m naked — and then I’ll wake up and get Asa’s oatmeal ready for breakfast. Nope. And the dream continued. The announcer said some things about me — including that I was coming from sea level. I told her to add that to whatever she was going to say. I know, it was weak, (SLC is 4300 feet), but I panicked. I didn’t tell her to add that I haven’t really trained since May when I fractured my foot. So my dignity’s not totally gone. And then we started. The actually running part was fine. I’m not in super fit, but I can still run slowly for 15 minutes up a hill. There was lots of cheering for Krissy, (as there should be), but it did make me imagine my own afterschool-special-underdog-makes-good movie. The announcer moved back and forth between our treadmills to see how far we’d each gone before announcing it to the crowd. ”After three minutes, Krissy has gone 97 miles. Liza 0.04.” Well, not quite, but that’s how it felt. About halfway through, Krissy felt ill and had to step off the treadmill. I quickly suggested that we could pause the event. ;) ”I’m happy to stop really.” They told me to keep running. I had to do the last five minutes or so on my own. The crowd was nice, but a lot quieter. Nightmare. Krissy cheered. (The ill feeling was random and had made it hard to keep her footing.) And then it was over and I was out the back door of the convention center chatting with Krissy. Still surreal.
I’m going to finish up this story tomorrow. We had Asa’s birthday party today and both he and Eliot are already in bed fast asleep.
Running log: 1:45