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Running shoe logic

Dial my face to shocked. No, make that panic.

Manufacturers underproduced my running shoe. And this, oh, this is not good.

I found out this bit of information shoe shopping yesterday. It shouldn't have been that difficult of a shop because I knew exactly what I wanted -- another pair of Asics 2140. It's the shoe I've been running for the better part of a year now. A basic stability shoe, the bells and whistles are ultimately meaningless to me. The shoe feels good on my feet and my body feels good after a run. That's all I need to know.

And so I walked in to one of the local running shops and informed the helpful staff of my desired purchase.

The duo working the store stopped and stared at each other.

"Um, what size," one of them asked.

"Seven and a half," I replied, concern growing in my mind.

He sucked in air hard, making that noise that usually precedes a negative statement.

"I'm not sure," he said. "Let me check."

He returned momentarily empty-handed and suggested two other Asics shoes -- one with slightly less cushioning and one with slightly more. And like Goldilocks and the Three Bears I was interested in the extremes. My shoe was just right.

The staff member explained to me Ascis had underproduced this model of shoe. That every time they put an order in they would get one quarter of what they asked for.

But this is my favorite shoe, I thought. And I need new ones now. Mine are completely beat up from my 70.3 race, still caked in mud from my cross country race and well past their usefulness other than to keep sharp objects from puncturing the skin on my soles. This is no good.

Thanking him for his time, it was time to try another local running store, careful not to break speed limit laws but anxious the entire drive. I picked up the shoe from the display rack.

"Would you like to try that on?" the woman asked.

"Actually I just need a 7-and-a-half," I replied. "I already know this is my shoe."

She returned with the magical box containing my coveted sneaker.

"I was told they underproduced them this year," I said.

"They did," she replied.

"In that case, what's the difference between this shoe and the Asics 2140 trail shoe over on the sale table?"

Turns out the only difference is the tread, that the trail shoe should feel and perform the same on my foot. With the winter running season coming up, some extra tread for training runs might not be a bad idea. So I grabbed a pair of those.

Had there been more disposable income in my checking account, I probably would have purchased two pairs of each shoe. But that's not in my budget. Still, the exhale finally came and I got to return home with my running shoes ready for a weekend of hill workouts.

But there's some bad news on the horizon. Shoe companies are much like car companies -- every year they roll out new models which are often just jazzed up versions of their old ones with some new colors, new styling and maybe a new "enhanced" feature or two. So starting in January, I will be looking for the Asics 2150 -- and I'm told those are also already being underproduced. Which to me makes no sense. Upon a google of "most popular running shoe for women" results came up for the Ascis 2140. If you have a popular shoe, wouldn't you want to produce enough of them to keep your customers happy?

A final note on shoe shopping: Had my second local running store not been able to provide me with my desired shoe, I would have gone online where it would be easier to locate. It perhaps would have been slightly cheaper also and there have been times when Internet shopping has been more efficient, both in time and money.

But there is something to be said for patronizing the local shop. For instance, introduction to the knowledge that my shoe is getting increasingly difficult to find (an early Christmas hint to Santa) is something I would only get from talking to the local staff. I've shopped at (and will shop in the future at) bigger chain stores, but the feel of the small, local store is still something I love whether it be a running store, a bike shop or the new triathlon-based store and training center TriSpot. Each store has is it's own unique feel and unique personality. You can find one you click with and develop a great relationship or you can go to different stores depending upon your mood that day.

Here's hoping that whichever option you pick, you find your favorite running kicks without having to deal with the mysterious logic of production and demand.

--- Amy Moritz
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