My cross country spikes have been sitting in my little entryway by my front door since the last race I wore them. I haven’t worn them or moved them since the race, but more than that, I haven’t cleaned them since the race… but more than that, it was one of the muddiest races I’ve ever run – but more than THAT, it’s been Five Months since the race!! Those poor shoes needed some love.
It wasn’t just procrastination. Those mud caked shoes were kind of like a trophy in and of themselves after my 2nd 50-mile finish, and 13.5 difficult, sloggy hours of foot travel. But I’ve finally got another race coming up that I might want them for, so they got a well-deserved bath.
Once they were clean, I realized just how much I’d already worn down the spikes. They’d started out as six pointy canine teeth on each sole, but now they looked more like a set of discarded baby tooth molars. Not so impressive. And not worth much for trail travel. I’d need to find a replacement set.
First, I searched the New Balance website, but the only spikes I could find all came with one unwanted accessory: the shoes they screw into. I’ve already got the shoes. The local NB store couldn’t help me either, but I finally found out that the spikes are not brand specific, and most of the bigger sporting goods stores carry replacements. Good News! I called a Dick’s Sporting goods, located at little north of the city, and they told me they had some in stock. I’d just need to come match the size.
However, later in the afternoon, I found myself nearby the Fleet Feet store in Lincoln Square and went in to buy some gels to eat on my next long run. I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask about spikes while I was there.
The attendant who helped me was really nice and told me they did have them, but when he went to look, all he could find was track spikes which are only about 1/8” long. My cross country spikes are 3/8”. He looked around for five minutes, quietly frustrated that he couldn’t find what he knew he should have. Finally he looked at me, a bit determinedly, and said, “Wait here for just a minute,” and he disappeared into the back. I wandered over to look at some running shorts. He came back a few minutes later, his face a bit red, said, “Here you go,” and held out a little bag of black spikes with a turnkey. “Just take ‘em. On the house,” he said, “I pilfered them from a shoe box in the back.” “Really?” I asked him. “Yeah, go ahead,” he said, “just stick ‘em in your pocket, my pleasure,” and he grinned at me. I paid, of course, for the gels, thanked him a second and third time and left with my gift.
And that, right there, is kind of everything that’s cool about running, about being a runner: Not always, but often, it’s kind of like being in a big, friendly club, where all your fellow runners just want to help you out and see you do better and cheer you on, even as the same is being done for them. Sure, there are a few people out there who can actually race, but the vast majority of us are only ever racing ourselves, and you can only get further along by helping someone else get there, too.
I’m going to run fast in those spikes the next time I wear them.