Pre-trot thoughts and love for the local road race.
Shopping is not enjoyable for me. Well, except for grocery shopping.
But shopping for clothes? No. I will wear my clothes until they are threadbare if it means I get to avoid shopping. Thank goodness for the occasional racing t-shirt — it’s nice to be able to throw some unstained attire into the mix.
And shoe shopping? No thanks. Size 10 Pegasus. Quick check for defects, then tuck the box under my arm and make a beeline for the cash register. Normal person shoes? I’m entirely mystified as to how I’ve even come to own any. Probably has something to do with my mom periodically taking pity on me after gazing in horror upon the outfits I’ve come to mark as appropriate for common events like looking nice or going to work.
There is, however, one non-food-related store on planet earth that I actually enjoy spending time in, and surely to your great shock, it’s a running store.
It’s called Kelley’s Pace, and it’s in Mystic, Connecticut.
When I went in yesterday on my quest for a minimalist shoe to do a chunk of my mileage in, Johnny Kelley was there, almost 80 years old and zipping about the store with the ease of a college kid, pulling shoes off shelves and striding around with the same affable attitude and quiet purpose that must have propelled him to a Boston course record 53 years ago. His newly adopted dog — this sweet, puppy-eyed mutt rescue — was in the store too, and he eventually stepped out to walk her, leaving me in the capable hands of another wiry, lean, running-devoted employee.
The reason I love Kelley’s Pace is that it’s never, ever a shopping experience. It’s a “trying on shoes while chatting about running” experience. It’s small. It’s homey. There is old Boston and small-town paraphernalia posted up on the walls. There’s no sterile superstore fluorescent lighting. The wooden floor is one of those old, lovely, uneven creaky things. The people who work there are consistently wonderful. Not to go all kumbaya on you, but the whole place is infused with a simple joy-of-the-sport feel.
When you’re in search of a new type of running shoe, how do you shop for it? Specialty store? Big box store? Online?
I tried on a few different brands, chatted about injuries, bears, and other random topics with the guy, and ultimately narrowed it down to Nike Frees vs. Lunarglides. Apparently I just can’t leave Nike alone. The store put in an order for my size, so I’ll head back on Tuesday to check things out again.
In the meantime, for the third year in a row I’ll be running in the oldest shoreline race in Connecticut tomorrow, which, coincidentally, is also named for the very same Johnny J. Kelley (apparently, he’s embarrassed about that fact, according to a great Running Times article which really captures the spirit of the race).
By the way, it’s free. And year after year, it attracts a particular segment of the local running community. Usually at a race this small (~450 people), I’d expect to squeeze out an age-group medal, but I didn’t even place in my age group here last year despite having a decent run, because the quality of runners tends to be solid even though there are no cash prizes. See what I mean about this Kelley guy? It’s no wonder I’ve come to associate him with everything simple and great about running.
My only real goal for tomorrow is to settle into that extremely uncomfortable, awful, “Can I do this?” zone. The one where I pipe out a hearty “Thank you” to every single group of race officials and volunteers, so as to trick them into believing I’m comfortable, relaxed, and in control, even though behind the sunglasses I’m patently uncomfortable and my shoulders are jacked up tense around my ears and I’m spiraling into oh-crud-about-to-dry-heave territory.
Pretty simple. That’s all I really ever want from a race anyway.
Do you have any local legends who’ve influenced your area running community?
How about local races that are particularly special to you?