The Shoe Saga Continues

To recap: I went to Fleet Feet for some new shoes, and after running 30-some miles in them, I decided they weren’t working for me. I went to exchange them and didn’t get a lot of help. Eventually, they told me they had ordered the newer model of the shoe I had been wearing, but I didn’t have any choice color, and that they’d call me when they came in. A week went by, and I didn’t hear anything. Two weeks went by and I started to get impatient, but because I was so busy with Mary Poppins rehearsals and shows, I didn’t have a chance to call them until my lunch break yesterday.

Associate: Thanks for calling Fleet Feet Essex Junction, how can I help you?

Me: Hi, my name is Rachel Drew. I was waiting for a pair of shoes to come in, but it’s been a couple of weeks and I haven’t heard anything, so I thought I should check in with you.

Associate: Oh, that’s strange, let me take a look… *typing noises* Huh, I see that you came in in February and got some shoes… is that what you’re waiting for?

Me: No, I got the Saucony Guides in February, but they weren’t working for me, so two weeks ago I came in to do an exchange. We weren’t able to find something in store that worked for me, so the associate said he’d order the Saucony Mirage 5s for me.

Associate: Yeah, I don’t see that at all. Hmm. Oh! I see what happened, the Mirage 5s have been discontinued, so we couldn’t order them. I’m sorry no one called you.

Me: ……… Huh. Ok then. That’s weird, cause I’m looking at the Saucony website right now and I see that they’re available in my size.

Associate: Oh, ok, let me check on that. Oh yeah, my supplier does have them. 

Me: Do they have size 9.5?

Associate: Oh, hahaha, yeah, I should probably check. Ok, yes they do. There’s only one color available, it’s gray and coral, is that ok?

Me: Yes, that’s fine.

Associate: Ok, so those will be here by Thursday. Sorry about that!

Needless to say, I’m angry. Firstly, of course, I’m still angry with the original scenario of how I ended up in this situation. I should have just ordered new shoes online because I know the Mirages work for me, and back in February, 4s were still available online in my size. I’m angry that Fleet Feet seems to let their personal bias regarding extra cushion shoes affect their customers negatively. I’m angry that the associate I worked with two weeks ago TOLD me that he had ordered the shoes when he obviously didn’t, and completely failed to record my visit and order in the system. He straight up lied to me and then completely dropped the ball.

Secondly, I’m angry with myself for waiting so long to call them. I had a feeling after the first week that something was wrong, and if I had just called right away, I’d have new shoes by now. I’m also angry with myself because I didn’t really stand up for myself at all during the phone call yesterday. I get it, sometimes things happen, but I’ve been waiting for these shoes for two freaking weeks, and now that the shock has passed, I feel like the least they could have done was to offer me a discount, because it’s their fault I’ve been without good shoes for two weeks.

I’ll tell you one thing: if those shoes don’t arrive by the weekend, I’m going to throw a hissy-fit. And I can guarantee that I will absolutely never buy shoes from my local Fleet Feet again.

I’m having a frustrating day, so tell me something good that has happened to you this week!

 

Frustrations in Shoe Buying

A few weeks back, I went to my local Fleet Feet because it was time to replace my faithful, electric blue Saucony Mirage 4s. I’d put about 330 miles on them in nine months, and I wanted something fresh for the remainder of marathon training.

Normally, I’d just buy a new pair of 4s online, but supply is becoming scarce because there is now an updated version, the 5. I’ve worn Mirage 4s continuously (2 different pairs) since May of 2014, so this was a little upsetting. I was open to a new shoe, but I liked having the Mirage 4 as my safety shoe.

I showed the sales associate (who I’m pretty sure is also the owner/co-owner) my shoes and said that’s what I’d been running in for 2 years. They don’t carry the Mirages at my local Fleet Feet, but she brought out several pairs of shoes that she said were similar. If you follow me on Instagram, you saw that I ended up with another pair of Sauconys, the Guide 9s. I tried on several different brands, and the Guides felt most similar to the Mirages. I have feet that get wider at the toes, like duck feet, and Sauconys have nice, wide toe boxes.

As I said, I was open to something new, and fully committed to giving the Guides a fair shot. From the outset, they were… weird. The Mirage, while technically a Guidance shoe, has a very natural ride, with only a 4mm heel-toe drop. The Guide has an 8mm drop, so already, there was a lot more shoe involved. And the Guide also has much more cushion than the Mirages. Historically, high cushion shoes have not worked out for me (see my experience with the Asics Gel Kayano and Mizuno Enigmas), so I was concerned on that front as well.

compare

Still, I tried. I put about 35 miles on the shoes, wearing them for ever-increasing distances. I often found my feet scuffing the road or treadmill belt, because the extra few millimeters meant that I needed to pick my feet up higher than I was used to. Some runs I could feel my right big toe rubbing on the front of the shoe, but other runs, it was totally fine. After most runs, my calves and feet were a LOT tighter than they usually are, but I just attributed this all to being normal adjustments to a different shoe.

Last Saturday, I wore them for a 10 mile long run. Only 1 mile in, I already knew I was in trouble. I felt blisters forming on the bottoms of my arches. By the time I got home, I had silver dollar sized blisters on the bottoms of both feet, which made walking and running very challenging for the next few days. This was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back; in combination with the issues above it was clear that I couldn’t continue to wear the Guide 9s, especially as I move into higher mileage in my marathon training.

I think the people at Fleet Feet (or at least my local store) have a tendency to put people in a higher cushion shoe than is necessary–they’re huge on Hokas. This same issue happened the first time I got fitted there two years ago. I had been running in minimalist shoes (Nike Frees), and they put me in a maximal support and cushion shoe, which I later had to return for the more “natural” Saucony Mirage 4s.

I am forever grateful to Fleet Feet for having an excellent customer satisfaction policy, but my experience there when I went to exchange the Guides this Saturday was less-than-stellar. I brought them back and explained the issues that I was having. The woman who had originally put me in the Guides was there, and seemed sort of skeptical about my reasons for returning them, which annoyed me. Another associate ended up helping me, and brought out two other shoes to try that he said were similar to the Mirages. Neither shoe was a good fit for me, and when I said as much, he just shrugged his shoulders and said, “Well, that’s all we have that’s close to what you were wearing.” I just looked at him and said, “OK?” As in, ok, so what’s next? Re-measure my feet and check my gait to see if something else might work? Try some other shoes just to see?

In the end, he offered to order the Mirage 5s online and have them shipped to the store for me. While that’s a decent compromise, I could have done that myself (and probably for less money) without ever having stepped foot in the store. The associate went out back, presumably to check on ordering the shoes, and then he came back out and told me that he’d call me when the shoes came in. I asked if I could see the colors available and pick what I wanted, and he said no, that he’d already ordered them and had no idea what color would be coming. Thanks a lot, guy.

In the past I’ve been very pleased with the service I’ve gotten at this store, but this experience left a sour taste in my mouth. I could have easily ordered the Mirage 5s myself online, but I wanted to support a local business. At both of my recent visits, they based all of their assumptions on my old shoes, rather than doing another measurement and gait analysis. Then, when I went back to exchange the Guides, they gave up pretty easily on trying to find a shoe in stock that would work for me. And then to just order whatever color shoe without even checking to see if that was what I wanted really upset me. I know that at the end of the day, it’s the fit that counts, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to want to be able to choose the color if possible.

I probably could have demanded to try on some more shoes, or at least expressed interest in other specific shoes (for instance, the Saucony Kinvara looks somewhat similar to Mirage), but I kind of suck at asserting myself. I think in the future, I will probably just go to a big warehouse type shoe store where I can try on whatever I want and not have a sales associate’s opinion of what I should or shouldn’t be wearing affect my potential choices. They may not have a huge selection, but at least that way if I end up with something that doesn’t work, I only have myself to blame. And anything that I do buy will generally be cheaper regardless. Having a great return policy is only helpful when I can find what I’m looking for without feeling like I’m inconveniencing someone, or getting attitude.

How do you shop for running shoes? Do you take “expert” advice, or try things out yourself?

 

Lake Champlain Running Club

I know you were all probably expecting a race recap today, but I’m waiting on pictures from my sister–she got some really great ones of me running, so bear with me!

I am so excited to announce that I’m FINALLY joining a running group! Despite the fact that Burlington is about as bustling a metropolis as you can find in Vermont, and despite the fact that it’s a very health conscious community, there seems to be a dearth of running groups. The few I found initially were either based too far away, or their run days totally didn’t jive with my schedule.

Then, about a month ago, I got an email from RaceVermont (they organized my PR half last fall, as well as several other small races I’ve run with them), gauging interest in a RRCA-coached running group sponsored by Fleet Feet. I immediately emailed the guy, but didn’t hear much for a while. I was beginning to think that maybe they weren’t going to follow through after all, but I got a follow up email last week that the first run will be this Saturday! Woohoo!

The group will be running two times a week; on Thursday nights, we’ll set out from the local Fleet Feet store (about 15 minutes away from our new apartment, depending on traffic), and on Saturday mornings, we’ll start from the Shelburne Field House (about 10 minutes away from our new apartment). This schedule is perfect and doesn’t conflict at all with rehearsals. The annual cost is only $10, and all of this is included:

  • An annual Fleet Feet Savings Certificate
  • $2.00 off Racevermont.com entry fees (this is amazing because I race with them frequently!)
  • Free LifeTrak Personal Training 1 hour Fitness Assessment
  • Free DeePT injury screening
  • 20% savings on Shelburne Health & Fitness punch pass (1x/member)
  • Lake Champlain running gear available for a discounted price

I’m over the moon excited. One thing I’ve heard consistently from running friends is that running with friends or a group was a main contributing factor to them getting faster and stronger. I’m also psyched to try out some new routes, and hopefully make some new friends. I’ll be sure to give you an update next week 😀

Do you run with a group or groups? What’s your favorite part about it?

Shoe Update and More Liebster Love

Unfortunately, things didn’t work out with my Asics Gel-Kayano 20s.  While they felt extremely comfortable walking around and doing quick jogs around the store, if I ran in them more than 10 minutes, they caused my feet to go numb.  Like, weird, tingling, I-can’t-wait-to-stop-running numb.  At first, I thought it was just an adjustment period, since I’d been running in much less supportive shoes for so long and my feet weren’t used to the extra cushion.  But after two runs that I had to cut short just because my feet felt so weird, I decided they weren’t worth my time.  Spending $160 on shoes that I can’t run in is absolutely absurd.  That’ll teach me to be so gushy before actually testing them out!

Thankfully, Fleet Feet has a great customer satisfaction policy–there’s a sign right up by the cash register that says “The sale is complete when you are satisfied.”  I called the store and explained my issue, and even though I’d worn the shoes outside, they took them back, no hassle.  I seriously can’t recommend Fleet Feet enough.   If you have one near you, definitely give them a try!

After talking with sales associate Chris, we decided that a more middle-of-the-road shoe was probably best, since going from total minimalist shoes to super support shoes was probably the main issue.  I settled on the Saucony Mirages.  They definitely have more support than my Nike Frees, but they don’t feel like they’re suffocating my feet like the Asics did.  I also ended up with shoes a 1/2 size larger than normal to allow for spreading and swelling.  Fingers crossed these work out better!

PicMonkey Collage

I’m super happy I still got orange shoes 🙂

 

The best part is, the Sauconys were so much less expensive than the Asics that I got these Nike shorts for free (yes, I know that’s now how it actually works but that’s how it works in my head!).  They’re really comfy, flattering, and lightweight–I can’t wait to try them out!

Photo May 08, 6 49 53 AM

Also, Darlene of My First 5k and More has nominated me for another Liebster Award!  Thank you so much Darlene!  Everyone please pop over and say hello.

Since I’ve already done one round of nominations for my previous Liebster, I won’t send it around again.  I don’t want people to get tired of the Liebster since it’s really such a nice idea.  I also think that pretty much everyone I follow has been nominated at least once, so I’m just going to let it rest.  And while some of you may have a burning desire to learn more random junk about me, my guess is that most of you don’t care to read through another batch of answers, so I’ll hold off on that as well.  Congratulations to everyone who has been nominated!  It’s been really fun getting to know you all better!

Have you ever gotten a new pair of running shoes you were really excited about, only to have them turn out to be totally wrong for you?

I might be in love…

…with my new shoes.  Yep, that’s right.  I got new running shoes last night.

Look at them.  Just look.  Take in their splendor.  They’re pink and orange.  They’re perfect.  And they’re mine!

Photo May 02, 6 44 03 AM

I went to my local Fleet Feet store last night.  I’d never been and was really looking forward to it.  The sales associate who helped me was awesome.  She measured my feet while sitting and while standing, and watched me walk barefoot around the store.  She determined that I over-pronate and needed a stability shoe.  Now, this is hilarious and awful, because I’ve been using Nike Frees for the last year and a half, which are pretty much the opposite of a stability shoe, and probably explains my foot and hip pain.

First, she brought out a pair of Sauconys and a pair of Nikes.  The Sauconys were pretty nice, but I had major heel slippage with the Nikes (also they looked like old lady shoes).  Next she brought out some Brooks Ravennas, which were similar to the Sauconys and very pretty.  And then she brought out my new loves, the Asics Gel Kayano 20s.  I feel like I’m running on fluffy clouds and kitten cuddles.  They’re like a hug for my feet.  No foot pain.  No knee pain.  No hip pain.

She originally brought out a blue and purple pair, and on a whim I asked if they had any other colors in my size.  When she brought these out, in my favorite color combination of all time, it was like a sign from the heavens–“Rae, these are your shoes.  Take them and run.”

Photo May 02, 6 44 23 AM

I simply cannot wait to go do my run tonight.  I’m gonna hit the gym for a quick interval workout before going to our friends Aimee and Andrew’s house for the evening.  We’re gonna make cauliflower crust pizza (hello healthy!) and play Wii.  Mario Kart 4 lyfe!

What are your favorite running shoes?  

Do you ever play video games?

Ever tried using a cauliflower pizza crust?