All posts by Becca

Buying my first (expensive) pair of running shoes at Fleet Feet

The weather is getting warmer and my last semester of undergrad will be coming to a close on Monday! :O I’ve got a lot of studying to do this week and a huge report that I have to start finish, but I’m so excited about being done with school. I’m mentally planning all of the things that I want to do after our move back to St. Louis is complete and I have some more free time. One of those things that I’m excited about is running.

On the track

Every summer, I get back into running. It’s like clockwork; once winter arrives, it becomes too cold for me to run outside. Since I’m not fond of treadmills or gyms, the running ceases until the weather becomes warmer again.  My first run of the year is always like greeting an old friend.  It felt really good, but my foot was hurting a little bit afterwards and I was pretty sure it was because of my shoes.

The tennis shoes I had been using were ones that I’ve had since my junior year of high school. I looked back at some pictures taken during tennis season and saw I was wearing the same shoes! They were really starting to fall apart – and no kidding after almost six years.

So I went out and bought a new pair from Kohl’s. I really like New Balance, so I picked out a pair that seemed comfortable and were a pretty reasonably price. But when I went running in them later, the shoes really hurt the arch of my left foot. I’m assuming they must have had some built in correction for pronation, but since I have a pretty normal gait, it just really hurt – and more so than my old shoes!

If there is one piece of advice I hear over and over from experienced runners, it’s that it’s worth it to invest in a pair of good running shoes. What’s kept me from doing that in the past is how expensive they can be. My sister-in-law used to work at a running store called Fleet Feet, so I knew that a good pair could be anywhere from $100 and up. The price tag is a bit scary, but I knew if I wanted to keep running,  a good pair of running shoes would be worth the price. There is a local Fleet Feet in Kansas City, so I figured that would be the place to go since they offer professional gait analysis for free.

The store was empty when I first arrived, which was nice because I got the attendant’s full attention. She was really friendly and asked me what kind of mileage I was doing and what shoes I had been using before. She flipped my shoe over and showed me the wear on my shoe; I tend to strike on the inside of my heel and then midfoot. She then took some measurements of my feet and then analyzed my arches while I was standing and while I was walking. Apparently I have pretty normal feet.

Side View

Since I tend to like New Balance shoes, she brought out three different pairs; each had a different size cushion and heel, and she suggested the two that had more of a cushion. She also let me use socks that were designed for running while trying on the shoes, since I just had plain cotton socks with me, which was nice. I tried them all on, but the one that felt the most comfortable was the mid-sized cushion. They felt very light instead of clunky, which I liked, but they still provided enough support. It was a bit tight in my toes, though. I was wearing a 9, which I normally wear an 8 or 8.5, but I know that with running shoes you tend to get a size larger. The 9.5’s felt really good, but they were a bit loose in my heel. She tied the laces using the second eyelet so that it would bring the back of the shoe forward and that helped.

She wanted to show me a few more brands to see if there was anything else that I liked better. They were all lighter shoes, so they were very comfortable, but they just didn’t fit as well as the New Balance. I have a really narrow heel, so on some of them my heel kept slipping, even with the laces tied to bring the back forward.

I kept going back to the New Balance shoes. I walked around in the store with them on and they felt very comfortable and secure, but I wanted to make sure they felt right while I was actually running and didn’t cause any pain.  She said it was perfectly fine for me to go outside and run in them, so I took her up on the offer. I jogged down the sidewalk past the other stores in the shopping center, and they felt very light – and best of all, no pain!

Posing after my run with my new running shoes.
Posing after my run this morning with my new running shoes.

That confirmed my decision for me. These were the shoes! I was very excited to have found a pair that fit so well, but also were pretty cute. Oftentimes runners have to picks shoes that are comfortable and fit right, but don’t come in colors they care for. So I lucked out on both.

I went in and nervously asked the price. She said they were one of their more affordable shoes at $100, so I was really happy to hear they weren’t more than that! I also ended up buying the pair of running socks she let me use while trying on shoes, but I only bought the one pair because they were $12! That’s a bit much for one pair of socks, but they were really comfortable and I know they will help with blisters. It will be nice to have a good pair for races and for a couple runs a week (depending on when I do laundry).

Overall, I was really happy with my experience at Fleet Feet. The service was great, and even though the shoes are a bit pricey for me, I think the shoes I bought are really worth the money I paid for them. Plus, I think this will motivate me to keep running past the summer months. My sister and I signed up for a 5k in September, so I am already envisioning super runner Becca. ;)

Note: I was not paid or compensated in any way for sharing my experience with Fleet Feet Sports or my New Balance running shoes. All opinions expressed are my own and are not influenced in any way.

March & April 2016 Reading Recap

You may have noticed I didn’t include a March Reading Recap last month, but March was a bit of a slow month for me since we were on vacation (and you would think that I would read more on vacation but I don’t!). So I decided to combine March and April and include some of my favorites and more popular reads.

I read 8 books in the last two months, which brings me to a total of 20 books this year! My goal is 52 books, so that puts me three books ahead of schedule. I would have liked to read a little bit more so  I don’t fall behind during finals and the move back home, but I’ve still got a bit of wiggle room!

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – 3/5 stars
Eleanor & ParkThis young adult novel follows Eleanor and Park, two teenagers who meet at school and slowly fall in love. Everyone thinks Eleanor is weird and she comes from a troubled home, but Park seems to see right through her differences to who she actually is. I really wanted to love this story, truly. Everyone I heard raved and raved about this book, but I should know by now to not set my expectations based on other people’s opinions because I’m often disappointed.

Let’s start with the good. This story took place in the 80s, so this was really refreshing for a young adult romance novel. I love all the quirky tidbits and the lingo that they used, and I feel that Rowell really captured the thoughts and the reactions of teenagers in high school three decades ago. There were thoughts that characters would have that I couldn’t help but giggle or relate to. But there were just so many little things that constantly bothered me in the back of my mind. I tried to push them away until I finished the book, but here we are.

I understand teenage infatuation – I’m only four years out of high school (crazy, yeah!) and I remember the feeling of being swept away by someone (who I am now married to! :heart: ). But their relationship escalated in such a weird way for me. At first they hate each other, and then two days later they are professing their undying love. C’mon. Second, I understand Eleanor’s home life was sucky, but my goodness I felt like she was whining and being so self-deprecating all of the time, and getting mad for absolutely no reason at the one person that made her life better. Third, there were little situations throughout the book that just didn’t make sense to me. For example, near the end of the novel (I won’t go into too much detail to avoid spoilers), Park has to sneak out to help Eleanor and his father catches him. But instead of doing the responsible thing that most parents would do, like accompanying Park and Eleanor to make sure everyone is safe and a dangerous situation, he says, “Sure! Go have fun!” I don’t get it.

Overall, if I didn’t think about it, I enjoyed the book. But the more I stew over it the more it bothers me, so let’s end this long review here. :)

The Martian by Andy Weir – 5/5 stars
The MartianI would like to start out with the fact that I’m really not that interested in science. It was my least favorite subject in school, and while I admit that it’s kind cool, I just don’t really enjoy it. I bought this book for my mother-in-law last Christmas and she has been wanting to talk to me about it but I hadn’t read it yet! I also wanted to see the movie, so I thought a bit reluctantly that it was time to read it.

Mark Whatney is stranded on Mars after he and his crew are hit by a storm and they presume him dead. He has no way to communicate to earth and has to fight to survive in a harsh and unwelcoming Martian environment.

I just, oh my goodness. I don’t know where to begin. I loved everything about this novel, and I’m not even that interested in science. I couldn’t put it down. Mark’s humor was absolutely perfect. It wasn’t a “laugh out loud” kind of humor; it was dry and subtle, but it kept me smirking as I flipped the pages. For example, he takes his laptop out into the Mars atmosphere and when it stops working, says,

Maybe I’ll post a consumer review. “Brought product to surface of Mars. It stopped working. 0/10.”

Smirk, smirk. Another gem:

I’m traveling 90 kilometers per day as usual, but I only get 37 kilometers closer to Schiaparelli because Pythagoras is a dick.

Also:

They’re not much different than kitchen trash bags, though I’m sure they cost $50,000 because NASA.

I could do this all day, but let’s move on. Weir put so much detail and research into this novel, you would think he was an actual astronaut stranded on Mars and lived through what Mark did. He used such specific numbers and calculations that a lot of the time went right over my head, but were still understandable to an average person without a degree in rocket science. How he managed that perfect balance, I’ve no idea. And through all of the problems and crazy situations that Mark got into, his science-y answers weren’t far fetched. It made sense in a crazy, oh my gosh he’s really going to do that? way.

Hands-down the best book I’ve read all year. I don’t want to see the movie now (though I’ve heard it’s quite good) because I don’t want to be disappointed. D:

Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal – 4/5 stars
Kitchens of the Great MidwestI love food; I love to eat, I love to cook, I love Food Network, so when I saw had a Goodreads Choice Award and it was about food, it was a no-brainer. The novel follows our food-loving protagonist, Eva, from birth to the height of her culinary career.

The narration of this novel was very unique. The POV changed every chapter to someone that Eva knew – from her father to an ex-boyfriend she dated for a couple months in high school. Every chapter also highlighted a dish that is either important to Eva or to the character currently narrating the story. This was such a fresh and unique way to get to know the different characters but to also see Eva and how she was perceived in the eyes of others.

This was a charming, quick read that I would recommend to any foodie. It will make you hungry while simultaneously warming your heart. Also, I thought it was a wonderful depiction of the absolutely fabulous and kind people that live in the Midwest.;)

Ptolemy’s Gate (Bartimaeus Trilogy #3) by Jonathan Stroud – 5/5 stars
Ptolemy's Gate (Bartimaeus, #3)The first two books in this series that I previously reviewed were good, but not absolutely riveting. The second was actually a bit hard to get through. However, this book was very unlike the others which was such a relief because this series had so much potential, and Stroud was finally capitalizing on it! As the book progressed, I was absolutely glued to the pages. Nathaniel became a likeable protagonist again, Kitty become a likeable character for the first time in the whole series, and their stories were finally intertwining like they should.

And then all of the pieces started to fall into place. Just like Rowling artfully pulled every last detail together in the final Harry Potter book, Stroud pulled all of the pieces together so that as I neared the conclusion, I could only go, “Oooohhhh.” I finally understood why certain things happened in the earlier books and saw how Stroud had been planting little seeds throughout the series to finally draw them all together at the end. The ending was bittersweet, but very fitting and realistic. Stroud put all that he had into this last novel and it really changed the whole series for me. It’s been a long time since I’ve read such a perfect ending to an intricate series, so I would definitely recommend! Just be patient with the first two novels. :)

Okay wow! This Reading Recap went a lot longer than I thought. Happy reading!