A Runner Packs for Germany
Handsome J and I are sitting in the Charlotte airport, having completed leg one of our ridiculous (but cheap!) journey to Aachen. Leg two is Charlotte to Philadelphia. Leg three—following a 4-hour layover—is Philadelphia to Brussels, and leg four is a car ride from Brussels to the promised land.
Only now is it really sinking in: Holy crap, I’m moving to Germany! What was I thinking?!?
There’s a big part of me that just wants to start sobbing and write, “I miss everyone already! Let me come home!”
But that would not be in keeping with the cosmopolitan intellectual I like to imagine myself to be. After all, I did just get off the phone with Wells Fargo, where I very casually informed the banker that I’ll be working in Germany for the next 9 months. “Why yes, dahhhling, it’s the most natural thing in the world.”
In fact, it’s not accurate to say that I completely failed to process how this move is going to change my running life. For example, being the paragon of preparation that I am, I went into Rogue a couple weeks ago with the intention of purchasing 3 pairs of running shoes to more than cover my 9 months in Deutschland. That’s when they informed me that a) they did not have my size and b) the New Balance 1225 has been discontinued and replaced with the New Balance 1226, which they also did not have. Baaaahhh! Curse you, running shoe companies!
With similar results at other local stores, I turned to the internet. (I may not do Twitter, but I can enter a credit card number with the best of them.) The only problem…I couldn’t remember what width my shoes are. I know, most people wouldn’t have this issue. But the thing is, I spent my entire life thinking I had wide feet because shoe stores would always give me wide shoes. Then, when I got my super-fancy custom orthotics made, the podiatrist told me I didn’t actually have wide feet, they just have no arches, so without an orthotic they kind of…umm, fill the space available.
And THEN there was the guy at that other famous local Austin running store who had sold me the shoes in the first place, all the while looking down his nose and acting like I had just asked him for some LA Gears with the blinky lights. It was so uncomfortable that I just took the shoes and ran, without actually looking at the width.
So, sitting at my desk (at work, naturally, but it was early morning!), I pulled my still-wet shoes out of my backpack to check the tongue. Which, was worn completely blank. I held it up to the light at various angles and even considered holding a piece of notepaper over it and rubbing it with pencil lead to see if I could reveal a secret message, but no go. The developer who sits across from me even convinced me to pass my wet shoe through the hole in our cubicles where we’d removed some panels, but he had no better luck.
From that point I naturally went into panic mode and ordered every shoe in ever width that I could find, for a grand total of 3 pairs from 3 different companies. The first company refunded my payment immediately, saying they didn’t actually have the shoe as advertised, but the other two confirmed delivery to my mom’s house in San Antonio.
Fast forward to last night. I was doing some last-minute re-packing in an attempt to get my total number of bags down to 3 (a mere $155 excess luggage charge) and their individual weights down to 50 pounds. It occurred to me that even though 2 weeks before the marathon is cutting it a bit close, I would save a lot of room if I bid my dead shoes auf wiedersehen and only packed the good new pair. Which left the question: Which of the two new pairs I had was the “good” pair? One was a B width and one was a D width.
First I did the very scientific test of holding a right shoe from the old pair and a left shoe from the new pair up to each other, but that didn’t really work because, well…we all probably knew that wasn’t going to work. So then I dug into the travel sewing kit for a tape measure and started measuring the widths across the bottoms of the shoes. Which ALSO didn’t work because, as far as I can tell, the rubber part of the shoe is the same width no matter what. (Either that, or my extreme flat-footedness had pounded a pair of normal-width shoes into a pair of wide shoes.)
Ultimately, I came up with the brilliant solution of putting on one of the wide shoes and one of the narrow shoes and running around my mother’s living room to see which one felt more normal. Fortunately, the dog was already asleep.
Final decision: Normal width. I stuck in my orthotics, stuffed the new shoes with underwear (space saving!) and said a little prayer. If Chicago goes to crap, maybe I can blame the shoes.
As a runner, I faced a few other packing issues that normal people don’t. For example, will my GU clear customs? For that matter, will it clear baggage claim? I had originally stacked the packets of gel neatly in a Gladware container, but in the interest of space I had to transfer them to a Ziploc and hope that the result won’t be a glucose-infused energy explosion all over my sports bras.
And then there was the question of how many running shirts to pack. Given that it will be winter for approximately 6 of our 9 months in Aachen, I can’t imagine I’ll have much need for sleeveless, moisture-wicking Coolmax. Of course, being obsessive, I packed them anyway.
Finally, there was my poor little water bottle. After 4 dramatic tumbles, it’s not in the greatest shape, and I’m more than a little concerned that it will give up all structural integrity if crushed by a 50-pound bag hitting tarmac. I did try to cushion it with socks, and it’s sort of near the GU. My hope is that one way or the other, something will survive.
Boarding starts in 20 minutes, so I’m going to sign off here and save my tribute to friends made on the road for next time. But to all my runner friends in Austin (and my non-runner friends as well) I miss you dearly, and the roads won’t be the same without you! (Or breakfast tacos.)