Tag Archives: Merrell

Look, No Shoes.

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It’s time for vacation!

“We are stopping at the next rest area in 2 miles to use the bathroom. Get everyone ready to go in,” my husband informs me.

I looked down at the floor of the car and see nothing but clean grey carpet.

“Where are my shoes?” I wondered out loud.

Back up about a couple of hours…

When I got home from an excruciating half-day of work, I threw down my dress shoes (Merrell Serene Gloves), took the obligatory pee, and climbed into the car without recognizing I was shoeless.

Being barefoot wasn’t going to be much of a problem for me, if I was desperate, like needing to pee at the rest area, I’d borrow my son’s gigantic shoes. Most of the time we’d be at Gaŗezers Latvian camp. No shoes required.

If I hadn’t planned a spectacular day in Saugatuk to show off the spenders of Michigan to my kids, I would have just said forget it. But, I was wary of entering the Coral Gables restaurant without shoes. Fortunately, my sister loaned me a pair her of sandals.

Unfortunately, those sandals sucked! As in, every time I took a step I made a farting noise from the suction between the arch of my foot and the sole of the shoe. So much for sophisticated browsing through rich, quaint shops. I tried carrying the sandals except when inside of stores or restaurants but it was a 100+ deg F day. I only went five steps on the docks at the yacht club before feeling a burn blister form. I was stuck wearing the sucking shoes.

Ironically, a few days later, my husband and I went to watch a friend’s son’s band play at a bar near the camp. I wore the sucking shoes. 90% of the college kids in the bar with their sun-kissed noses and beach wear were shoeless. Well, when in Rome!

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Filed under Barefoot, family, Michigan, minimalist shoes, personality flaws

One Week

One luminous January day, I was overdressed and perspiring within 1/2 mile of starting an excursion. Truth be told, if it had been a normal Saturday in January, I would have been struggling to keep frost from building up on my eye lashes rather than struggling to cool down after making a last minute decision to put on a light jacket. My two companions, on bikes, were fairing much better in just jeans and sweatshirts. I, on the other hand, had pulled crazy snowflake (hopeful thinking) socks overtop tech running tights then slipped them into Merrell Pace Gloves. On top, I had two (many) layers of shirts and a jacket, hot pink, ironically. The only thing I got right was my lack of head gear allowing my head to breathe.

Did I mention it was Saturday? The three of us were headed into town to drop a package at the post office, stop in for smoothies at Jazy’s Java then pick up a handful of candy at the candy store (otherwise known to adults as the party or liquor store) before running/biking home for lunch.

One week later the situation was as turned around as a contestant in Pin The Trail On The Donkey. Snow was lightly falling upon seven inches of powder that had accumulated the day before. I was trudging up a hill of untouched snow on the edge of a rolling soybean field. This time, my companions had replaced their bikes for antique snowmobiles and were driving them in gigantic circles at the center of the same soy bean field. On this cold and blustery Saturday, a pair of Rocky Gear hunting boots rated for forty below zero encased my snowflake socks. A fire engine red Columbia jacket and a pair of waterproof bib overhauls replaced the tech tights and hot pink jacket to protect my body from blowing snow. A ten pound, black and white striped helmet securely rested on my head with the face shield raised open. A mask protected the lower half of my face and neck from the arctic breeze. I was hiking the edge of the field as something to do while the boys practiced driving the sleds. Even then, I was sweating.

One week. A different world. The same person.

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Photo by Arnis Kengis

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Filed under Michigan, minimalist shoes, running, snow

Cruise-ing

You know that scene? The one where Tom Cruise does the famous slide and dances in his socks.

What? In his underwear? No. No. No. He’s dancing in his socks. Don’t you remember?

Ok, we all remember it as the underwear scene but it wouldn’t be the same if it hadn’t been coupled with that fantastic entrance, courtesy of his socks.

In the last couple of years, I was bitten by two bugs. First, I was bitten by barefoot running then I was bitten by crazy knee high socks. It’s a love triangle, I guess, because you don’t wear socks when you run barefoot and wearing socks means you’re not barefoot. My two separate loves are able have their place in my life thanks to the winter season.

This past summer and fall, I went barefoot more often than the previous year. I even switched to wearing minimalist shoes at work instead of dress flats. Considering that my minimalist shoes look like lizard feet (VFF) or trail trainers (Pace Glove) this is a rather big statement as to my preference for foot wear in all occasions. I’m anxiously awaiting delivery of Merrell’s Life Gloves that will be perfect for the office.

Back to my point, I embraced my barefoot nature as much as I could. Even at home with the No Heat Challenge I went barefoot all the time letting my feet adjust to the environment of chilled tile or cool imitation wood. (cool as in cold not as in sick which is as in cool not as in barf all over)

I looked forward to I wearing socks with wild colors and holiday themes again once the frost started to set in and frost bite was just a couple of miles away. It’s true, socks claimed their place in my love triangle.

Much to my chagrin, however, I have realized that bare-footing has put a wedge between my socks and me. I grew so accustomed to the language that my bare feet speak that my body no longer knows how to interpret my socked feet signals. Literally, I am slipping, sliding, and unable to navigate across the floor in a comfortable manner because I’ve lost my grip!

It has been a bit heart breaking and confounding, because, how did I ever walk accross the floor in socks before?

Now, when I am wearing socks, you’ll find me more often sliding across the floor like Tom Cruise in whitey tighties because I just can’t get a the hang of walking without grip. Oh, well, I might as well take those old records off the shelf. Spring is just around the corner.

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Filed under Barefoot, minimalist shoes

I Can Brainwash

I mean, I can expose my children to new experiences and encourage them to keep an open mind.

It went something like this.

I was sitting at the computer with the barefoot Merrell web page up.  I said authoritatively, “These are the shoes you are wearing to school.  What color do you want?”

K-man took to them right away, although still wears socks. (Some things a mom can’t control)  Still, he says they are very comfortable.  This is Mik’s first day in them.  He hates wearing socks.  I’m looking forward to his shoes not stinking as bad as last year.  I’m very glad that they will be getting used to a foot free feeling.

I was hoping someone would choose the Cheddar color.

This was the first day of school.   Already we are doing homework.  Ugh.

I only have one person in the house left to “convince”.

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Filed under Barefoot, minimalist shoes

Sisters, Sisters

As my Aunt Rachel said, “She does so many wonderful things for us but there is only so much complaining one can take.”

My mother was born and raised in a very close, large family of all girls.  They all like to let you know, “Daddy never once complained that we were all girls.”  There were six sisters.   

This is when the family starts singing

Sisters..Sisters… There were never such devoted sisters

It’s been a big deal to be born a girl or give birth to a girl but even a bigger deal to be a sister/ have a sister on that side of the family.  One aunt produced three sisters, who then produced a set of sisters and a single girl.  It took four generations before a boy came along in that line of the tree.  Another aunt produced a set of sisters.  My mother produced a set of sisters (and a brother…shhhh).  Her older sister produced a set of sisters…. well, you get the idea.  Every year since the 70’s, the sisters got together for a few days in the summer to shop, do crafts, eat and laugh, laugh, laugh at the Sisters’ Bash.  At one time, we had a wooden pig as our center piece for the bash.  A humorous outlook at our ability to eat for three days straight.

My mother died ten years ago of pancreatic cancer.  She was the baby of the family so she had a close relationship with each one of her sisters.  She’d be happy to know that the bash is still happening and that my sister and I haven’t missed a bash since she died.   She wouldn’t be very happy nor would she be surprised to find out that it took about 30 minutes of being together before the Sisters (as in, the remaining original sisters) started going after each other’s throats.  Of course, it’s all done in a passive aggressive way, so, it all works out in the end. 

One thing I like about my generation of the sisters is the focus on exercise and activity.  Or, maybe we do it just to get away from the others so we can freely talk about them.  One of our activities this year was to hike the ridge behind my cousin’s house.  It gave me an opportunity to actually use my Merrells on a trail instead of just urban walking.  My cousin K moved into the mountainous (well, mountainous to someone who lives in the prairie) area south of Louisville.  Hello, instant cardio workout!  The steep ridges had my heart popping right out of my chest before we’d made it half way to the ridge.  The fragile shale rock crumbled with every step keeping my core taut and ready.   My legs were challenged with steep ascending then descending not too quickly.   I might be biased but I’m fairly certain that my Merrells out performed any other shoe worn on the ridge that day.

K’s sister has lived in the city so long that she was excited just to see a cat out-of-doors.  She was constantly on the hunt to see and perhaps better able to flee from any type of critter.  We happened upon a very unusual ‘critter’ that none of had seen before and were quite interested to view. 

Red Velvet Ant Wasp

This thing was huge.  It looked to be about 1 inch long and so bright it looked like it was some type of stuffed animal or puppet.  Luckily, K’s sister may be a city girl but she’s also from Texas.  She warned us that red usually means poison.  This ant is really a wasp and is sometimes called a cow killer.  Their stings aren’t poisonous enough to actually kill a cow but those that  have been stung by them report them to be the most painful sting they have ever experienced. 

Hmmm, a wasp that looks like an ant that has the most painful sting ever?  Bold. Beautiful. Stings.  Sounds like we have a new mascot for our bash.

Truthfully, the laughs at the bash outnumber the stings.  Being with my mom’s family is the closest I’ll ever get to her again.  Some of my cousins have turned into my closest friends.  We laugh until deep into the night.  And, I always want more time with my sister.

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Filed under family, personality flaws, travel

Another Shoe

It’s hard for me to compare one shoe to another as I am in a different place and made adjustments as I moved along this path.  I am unable to determine if the difference is in the shoe or in me.  Perhaps that is why Dr. Craig Richard’s proposal to study running shoes makes sense after all.  

Neither here nor there, I am going to tell you about my new shoes.  For the most part, I like to go barefoot.  There are places like work, the store, Monster Truck Jam when I feel (or am required) that wearing shoes is necessary.  I find it most interesting how self-conscious we are about shoes or no shoes.   No matter how crazy, or different, or daring we are, even us barefooters, are programmed to feel self-conscious about going without shoes.   I have yet been reprogrammed.  Thus, I bought another pair of shoes. 

When I went barefoot, I kept my Adidas shoes for casual wear, turning the compost pile, or other emergencies.  This past winter I resigned to the fact that I had no tolerance for sub-freezing temps and slushy, icy roads when wearing my VFFs.  I sunk to wearing my Adidas for winter runs.  Bah.  I am fairly certain wearing those Adidas lead to the flare up of tendonitis that I have yet to resolve.   Even wearing the Adidas for casual wear began to make my feet hurt more and more.  As a result, I began my hunt for a minimalist shoe that I could wear for winter runs.  Now that it is summer, I need a shoe for casual wear. 

My latest purchase…. Merrell pace glove.

I do not intend to wear these shoes for the purpose in which they were designed, at least, not very often.  I purchased these shoes for casual wear in the summer.  See all the nice mesh upper?  I have not had a stinky foot since purchasing them! This is very important because I tend to take my shoes off all the time, like, in the car.  The 5 hour Memorial Day car ride was a bit unpleasant until I covered up my stinky feet. 

I also tried on the Merrell Pure Glove.  I was mad for the red ones. I have wide feet so I was very pleased with the fit of both shoes.  However, I have to note that I fit into a 9 for the Pace but an 8.5 for the Pure based on width alone.  It is not often that I have to go down a size due to width.  Although, I went to the store for the Pure, I chose the Pace just because it seemed to feel better. 

I was going to wait until I actually took them for a run before writing about them but the best you are going to get is a half hour of playing tag at the park with the Cub Scouts.  I did a lot of short sprints and twists and turns.  The shoes did well.  They have a little bit of tread in them as you can see below.  You can also see the dirt on the front of one shoe.   

I’m already tired of writing this review as you are reading it.  I’ll cut to the chase.

Things I like: 

  1. The sole follows the curve of your foot.  I feel like it hugs the ball of my foot. 
  2. The width is fantastic
  3. They seem easier to walk in than VFFs.  Not sure if this is a real benefit or if I have just learned how to adapt a barefoot stride to shoes.  I do remember feeling awkward trying to walk in VFFs last summer.  I have no problem waking barefoot but I seem to have a brain-shoe connection with my stride.  This seems reduced when wearing my Paces. 
  4. Love the look.  They just look good plus they draw less attention to my minimalist style. 
  5. The back hugs up around your heel.  It is a fabric covered piece of elastic.  Because I am going casual in these shoes, I leave them tied.  The elastic heel allows me to just slip them on.  I had a bit of irritation from rubbing on the heel but I think that would be reduced if I was tieing them as I’m supposed to be. 
  6. When riding my bike, the grated edges of the pedals are less noticeable in the Paces than in the VFFs.  I won’t wear the VFFs when riding my bike.  The Paces are perfect.
  7. The sole is completely flexible unlike a lot of other shoes I have looked at. 

Thinks I don’t like:

  1. They might be considered barefoot, but they are a shoe. period.   They are not the same as going barefoot.    
  2. I agree that it seems a bit silly to spend so much money on a shoe that is supposed to feel like it’s not a shoe but I’ve tried going with cheap shoes.  I wore a pair of Payless ballet type tennis shoe last summer.   I don’t know why but if you are going to wear a shoe, maximus or minimalist, you do get what you pay for. 

In all, the Merrell Pace Glove is almost exactly what I was looking for in a casual minimalist shoe.   I’ll keep my Miminus Lifers for cooler weather when my feet won’t stink so much.  I’ll keep my VFFs for running on extreme surfaces.  I’ll try to go barefoot as much as possible and stop spending so much money on shoes!

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Filed under Barefoot, cycling, Vibram Five Fingers