The salesperson looked up from where she was measuring my foot and cocked her head to the side. “Aw, that’s sweet.”
“Will you shut up?” I shot at McKenzie.
“What? You did,” she said. “Look, I took some pictures of you while you did your test run. I’ll text them to you.”
“Fine,” I said.
After realizing working out was definitely helping lessen my ever-mounting stress about the move and California job search, but that I couldn’t justify continuing taking boxing classes so often, I’d decided to try running again. Being the middle of April, Winter was finally starting to abate so I thought maybe I could handle it now. I’d messaged McKenzie to have her help me pick out some new running shoes as mine were pretty worn out. Um, because they were over eight years old. As I’ve mentioned, McKenzie is a very established runner so I valued her opinion.
When we’d arrived at the fancy schmancy running store she frequented, I’d gone over to the display, immediately falling in love with a pair of orange and pink sneakers. “Oooh, I want these,” I breathed as I picked them up and cradled them to my cheek.
“Well, we have to see if they’re the right shoe for you first,” McKenzie said.
“What? You don’t think they’ll have them in my size?”
“It’s not that,” she instructed. “You’ll need to do a running test on the treadmill over there and then the salesperson will tell you what shoe is best for you.”
“I don’t get to pick my own shoe?”
I placed the shoe back on the shelf. “Running is a weird world.”
“Now listen,” McKenzie said, her voice lowered. “We’re not going to get these now. You’ll pick the shoes out and then we’ll order them online because I’m a member and get a discount.”
I did the running test where it was determined I had a ‘normal gait.’ After our salesperson got my foot measurement, she brought out a number of options (my orange and pink choice not making the cut). I tried a few and then found the perfect pair. “These are it!” I said and ran around my chair.
“You should get some socks with those too,” the salesperson said.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because when you were test running, your socks were riding up out of the backs of your shoes. They’re not fitting correctly.”
“I don’t believe that,” I said. “They’re socks. I bought them in my size. They fit. Why does that even matter anyway?”
“What socks are you wearing?” asked McKenzie.
“I don’t know. Athletic ones I got from Duane Reade probably?’
“Oh lord,” she sighed. “No.”
The salesperson handed me a 3-pack of socks.
“Why are these thirty-six dollars?” I asked McKenzie.
“Because they are the most comfortable and wonderful socks in the world. Look,” she said and pulled off her right boot. “I’m wearing them right now.”
“This is ludicrous,” I muttered.
“Just try on a sample,” purred the saleslady. “I think you’ll like them.” And so I did. And they were right. I walked around the store and in them I felt like I was tiptoeing on a cloud. I wanted to wear no other socks. Ever.
After we left, McKenzie and I went to Starbucks to get a coffee and she put my order in on the store’s website. Then we walked uptown together through Central Park and took a few selfies. All in all it was a pretty great day.
That night I messaged her. “I’m SO excited about my new shoes. I think I’m going to ‘train’ for a 5K just for fun. Just to have a goal :)”
She wrote back immediately, “You know, my mom and I are doing a Mother’s Day Run in Central Park on May 10th. It’s four miles. You should totally do it with us!”
“Really?” I asked. “But that’s in five weeks!”
“You can do it!!!!” she wrote.
I was truly touched by this for two reasons. One – that McKenzie thought I would actually be able to run four miles in five weeks, and Two – that she would include me in her Mother’s Day plans with her mom.
“Okay! I’ll do it!” I responded. Then she sent me the link to the race details. “OMG,” I wrote. “This is amazing! It’s Japan Day in Central Park that day!”
“Yes, it’s The Japan Run!”
“That is so awesome!” I said. “My mom has been obsessed with the culture ever since she and my dad were stationed in Japan when they were first married. Her whole house is filled with Japanese art and books and knickknacks. What a great way for me to spend Mother’s Day – she’ll love this, thank you!!!”
The next time I saw McKenzie, she gifted me with a slim runners’ belt to hold my phone and keys. “The fanny pack is dead to me,” she said with a dismissive wave of her hand.
Lux then messaged and walked me through the set-up for an app which would guide me on how to train each day, so I could prepare. It was pretty rigorous, I’m not going to lie, and I felt very nervous that I was not going to be able to pull it off.
But I had to be brave at this point.
Because I was now training for a race.