January 29, 2010

Buying Shoes

Let me cut to the quick: I hate buying shoes.

Any shoes. But mostly running shoes. I am able to take this exciting (for runners anyway) experience and turn it into a sleep-losing and stressful ordeal. How? I have a knack for making things difficult. I don't mean it, it just comes naturally.

My feet fall between an 8.5 and a 9, with the 9 frequently being too large and the 8.5 being marginally too small. This is where my obsessive nature gets in the way. Which one do I choose? Too small and I risk losing toenails, too large and I risk blisters forming between my toes. Generally I end up buying a shoe and taking it home where I will obsessively try it on every 20 or so minutes, jam my thumb between the end of the shoe and my toe and try and convince myself that this is the one. Satisfied. I'll take them off and neatly return them to the box where I will carefully wrap them in the paper. Why do I put them in the box? Because even though I just decided THIS pair of shoes shall adorn my feet, uncertainty lingers like the few remaining hairs on my head.

Case in point. I recently ordered a new pair of Nike Pegasus 26 GTX. Lovely shoes. Suitable for both road and trail with a Gore-Tex® lining guaranteed to keep my feet warm and dry. Now, because I was ordering these I wouldn't be able to have the usual sleepover try on date. I wanted to avoid shipping them back. I had to do my homework beforehand. I went to the local big box store and promptly tried on a 9 and a 9.5.

Why not an 8.5 you ask? In my frantic need to get a shoe fix I overlooked this detail. Obviously the 9.5 was too big. The 9 was great. I pulled the trigger and ordered them.

When they arrived a slight squeal escaped my throat as I carefully removed them from the box and slid them onto my feet and checked the toe clearance. A little more than a thumb.

A little more. But it was just a little depending where and how I pressed in the top of the shoe. They were fine as I wore them for a few minutes, this is the size I needed I told myself.

They were too big.

Back to the big box at 8:00 pm to try on an 8.5. No Pegasus. So I tried on not one, but five other styles of Nike running shoes in size 8.5 and 9. The 9s all fit the same. The 8.5s all fit too tight. Most normal people would take this as an indicator of the 9 being the correct size. But I. Am. Not. Normal. I am tenaciously obnoxious and obsessive. About running shoes.

I went home and slid back into the 9s. This is good, these will be great. This is the size the guys at the running store would recommend. I stared at the shoes on my feet as I waited for the rationalization switch to flip. I'll take them to work with me tomorrow, and run in them. Carefully, they were wrapped and stowed inside that orange, swooshy box.

At work, again I tried them on and stared at them hopefully while jamming my thumbs first into one shoe and then the other (my right foot is slightly larger). I had tried on other 8.5s, but I would not be satisfied until I tried on the Pegasus in an 8.5. Again, back to the box.

Later that night, with a blessing from a very understanding Wifey (who is painfully aware of my nature), I drove to another big box with the hope of finding this elusive shoe. Which they did. And the 8.5 fit. Like. A. Glooooove.

A glove. Perfect in my estimation. Now that the 9s were dead to me, all I had to do was get them back. Then get my 8.5s. All of which should be done just about the time I no longer need the benefits of Gore-Tex®.

Next up? New cycling shoes. I don't like them too big either. I feel like my foot moves around inside and robs me of power. But too small, my toenails put holes in my socks and when my feet swell the shoes are too tight... Unfortunately, there is a huge price disparity between the shoes at the LBS and those at online retailers. Which means I'll likely order them. Maybe I'll just make it easy and order sizes 8-9.5. Then I can sit alone and really get crazy!

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