The 13-mile road beater connundrum

It’s amazing how much difference a few degrees and a greater shade-to-sun ratio can make.

Last week’s 10-mile run was an ordeal. Whereas this week’s was … just a run.

Which freed my brain cells to consider the biggest question going into next weeks’ mini-marathon: Am I nuts to wear my thousand-mile* shoes for a 13-mile race?

Lately I’ve been thinking of my scruffy Adidas road beaters as the footwear version of a beloved used car — the kind with minor body defects but no underlying structural issues and a sound engine under the hood.

But then I took Ben to the Three Rivers Running Company to get a pair of cross country spikes, and I was smitten by all the futuristic footwear on display. It would be so fun to test-drive a pair of those funky Newtons with an etching of Sir Isaac on the heel pads.

“You really need a new pair of running shoes,” said my inner whiner. “Think of your poor feet pounding on 13 miles of asphalt in next week’s Parlor City Trot.”

To which my inner cheapskate sneered: “Look, if proponents of the barefoot craze can do a marathon on the streets of New York, you can surely run half that far in your comfy old running slippers. They ought to provide at least as much support as a pair of fancy-schmancy foot gloves.”

Ultimately, this question will likely be settled in the usual way, with inertia exerting  force on an overly stressed calendar.

In the meantime, I brightened up my Adidas beaters with a couple of colorful lady bug stickers. I also took heart from a story my dad told me about his old boss, a frugal small-town banker.

According to Dad, when Fred first started jogging, he’d trot the few blocks from his house to the First Bank of Berne in his slacks and dress shoes. Though he logged many, many miles over the years, helping usher in the running culture** that still exists at the bank, Fred never paid much attention to what he wore on his feet.

“I don’t think he ever even bought a pair of real running shoes,” Dad said.

*Because I log miles in little notebooks that double as a food log, I don’t have an easy electronic way to calculate mileage totals. I’m guestimating that I’ve had these shoes about 14 months, which comes out to roughly 60 weeks. If I averaged 20 miles per week over that time, that would be 1,200 miles. At 15 miles per week, my total would be 900 miles. I’m guessing my average probably fell somewhere in between, but it’s just a guess at this point.

**The current president at the bank, Kent Liechty, is a runner, just like Dad and Fred Liechty before him — a tradition that goes back nearly three decades. The bank-sponsored Swiss Days Race was started 37 years ago by Dad and Jack Shoaf, who were running buddies for years before my dad developed knee trouble. Dad retired as bank president last year, and Jack, a former cross country runner, recently retired as assistant vice president and loan officer. Fred Liechty, whom Dad believes started running in the mid-60s, was president from 1982 through 1992.

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