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I have had this frustratingly similar argument, err, conversation, multiple times over the past three weeks.  The dialog is the same, only the location changes.

Me: Hello Mr./Ms. Shoe Store Clerk, I’m training for a half marathon and I need a pair of running shoes.

Clerk: Okay, I’d be happy to help.  Which half marathon?

Me: The Acadia National Park Half Marathon in June.

Clerk:  Takes a step back, cocks head to one side and stares at me askance. Oh!  You know the course is like this, right? Clerk hold arm horizontal and then bends hand back against wrist in an unnatural angle.

Me: Yes, I’m aware.  It’s crazy, I know.  But that’s why I’m here – I need new shoes.

Clerk: Okay, well what are you looking for?

Me: Well, my feet are fairly flat and I used to run in a barefoot style shoe.  But I think my feet flattened even more from being pregnant with a 10.5 lb baby and my body hurts on a daily basis so I’m thinking I need something fairly cushioned and comfortable.  Like the Cadillac of running shoes.  But I’m a neutral runner, so nothing that’s going to correct my stride, you know?  I take a breath.

Clerk: Hrm, okay we have a ton of options for you.  There are some great new shoes by Mizuno and Saucony out now and then we’ve also got some Asics and Brooks models that will be perfect for you!

I can feel my excitement mount.  New running shoes are the gift that keeps on giving…one that doesn’t require medication.

The clerk snaps me back from my daydream of wearing new running shoes and not only making it through the Acadia race, but getting a PR and holding my baby in victory while I cross the finish line.

Clerk:  What size did you need?

Me: 10.5.

Clerk: Oh ::long pause:: well we don’t have anything that big, err, in that size.

There’s skepticism written on my face.

Me:  You have nothing at all?

Clerk: Nope*.

Me:  Do you mean you’re just out of stock in that size or you don’t carry womens shoes in size 10.5, period?

Clerk:  We just don’t carry that size.  Like, ever.  Then Clerk helpfully adds, You could try ordering that size from our website.  We might carry, um, larger sizes online.

Me:  So I should just order random shoes from your company online because they can’t be bothered to carry a perfectly normal sized shoe in their store, where I could try it on and decide if it even fits and feels good before having to buy it?  I mean, a size 10.5 shoe is not crazy!

Clerk: Um, if you’ll excuse me I need to help this other lady who has normal sized feet.

Okay, so I added that last part but I am so frustrated!!!!!  I have been all over Bangor trying to find a freaking pair of new running shoes so I can properly train for the half marathon that is in 5 weeks!!!  I’m running in my clearance aisle pregnancy shoes that were flattened by my massive belly during daily 3 miles walks months ago, and my toes literally feel like they are snapping off because there is absolutely no padding left whatsoever.

I feel kind of helpless.  It’s enough to have signed up for the race that everyone seems to want to scare me out of because of the elevation climbs.  It’s enough to have put this crazy deadline of training on myself when I’m only 7 months post-partum and my body is still trying to find it’s way back together.  It’s enough that I’ve logged miles on the treadmill in the basement because it was too cold/snowy out, the roads were too treacherous or I had to squeeze in a run while the baby slept because there was no other time for it.  It’s enough that I’m willing to work hard at getting back in shape.  It’s enough that I want this.  And yet, I can’t find a pair of freaking running shoes to actually make this happen.

This is ridiculous.  Running shoes, or lack thereof, should not be the limiting factor in training for this run.  I don’t have any of my shoes left from before I was pregnant to see the style and size.  Even if I did, my foot shape has changed slightly; wider in the toe box I think and flatter in the arch a little, and my left ankle and right toes both hurt when I run.

And before you can tell me to order shoes online from Zappos or Road Runner Sports, let me tell you that I have.  I have ordered multiple pairs of shoes online but without knowing what I truly needed now that my feet have changed, I’m just taking a stab in the dark and so far, the only blood I’ve drawn is my own.  I don’t know what I’m going to do.  I can’t keep training in my old shoes.  I need new running shoes.

My good friend over at I Should Run sent me a link to her new favorite running shoes, the Altra Provision 2.0.  Apparently Altra’s shoes feature a wider toe box that allows your toes to relax and spread naturally, which should prevent my toes from going numb and feeling like they are going to break off halfway through a 6 mile run.  And Altra shoes have a zero drop platform which I like because it should mimic my barefoot running days, but they also cushion it which I think I will need because this extra baby weight I’m still carrying around needs some support.

I Should Run logs hundreds of miles a month and runs multiple half marathons every year with a few marathons thrown in for good measure.  If anyone could recommend a comfortable shoe to train in, it’s her.  So it looks like I am going to have to place another blind Internet order for a pair of Altra shoes.  The Provision 2.0 shoes are for pronators and I’m don’t pronate so I’ll have to look through their line to find a neutral shoe, but at least I have a new place to look now, the first beacon of hope in a long time.  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll find my Cadillac of running shoes yet.

Check back here to see what I end up going with.  Hopefully there will be a happy ending to all of this.

*Sometimes the clerk is able to bring out a single pair of shoes for me to try, or they offer to let me try on a man’s shoe.  This has never worked.