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Every Trip to the Running Store Ends Like This

5 Feb


Well I realize it’s been a while since you heard from me. I spent the week trying to think up hilarious thoughts about running and couldn’t come up with any, so I figured I wouldn’t subject you to anything terribly unfunny.

I also spent the week ramping up for midterms and worrying about odd pains in my legs that I was afraid would keep me from my training. Of course I was over-thinking things and the strange pains, which were muscular in nature but never affected the same part of my leg two days in a row, cleared up and I managed to knock off a 24k training run yesterday morning. I was hoping to beat my half-marathon PR in the process and missed by two minutes, which I was upset about until I realized that being able to comfortably run almost as fast as a PR on a training run is pretty damn good and that I shouldn’t be pushing myself too hard anyway. Didn’t I mention somewhere that I am slow and proud of it? Maybe somewhere near the top of this blog?

So I guess that’s one of my goals for the month; I want to focus on injury prevention and taking it easy on my long runs. They’re supposed to be long and slow right? Setting records is for race day only hopefully.

In other news… I went shopping! Thought I would share my spoils with you.

Please keep in mind that I went into The Running Room with the intent to purchase only a set of $10 reflective snap bands, and walked out having spent $80 on all this stuff.

The reflective bands I was guilted into purchasing by my kindly volunteer coordinator at the public library; apparently she passed me a couple times one morning and could see me fine when I was facing her but that I “emerged from the shadows like a criminal” when she came at me from the other way. Although I kind of like the image (I sometimes like to pretend I’m a badass art thief or something when running at night), I took her kindly scolding and went to get these bands:

They are also snap bands. The 90s child within me is so very pleased.


They cost $10. Made by Fuel Belt. Probably I now won’t die when running in the dark, so that’s nice.

And then I went ahead and bought two new pairs of socks:

Invisible people wearing socks. This is a scary concept.

There's more than one!


The first green pair is to replace a nearly identical yet pink set that I wore (and bled/sweated on) all summer and fall and were like my modest little companions. Not too flashy like my neon shoes or all advanced like my Nike+. Just a solid sidekick that helped me to avoid pus explosions from my feet. You’re welcome for that image by the way.

And then my mom lost one of them. And so I filed for emancipation. Not really, but this is why I’ve tried to avoid letting my mom do my laundry since I was 14. I appreciate the thought… but things tend to disappear.

And the second set… they’re thicker and I liked the thought of not losing feeling in my toes on early morning runs. Both are from Wigwam. About 90% of the reason I purchased these over another brand was because I like to say Wigwam. Wigwam.

And finally, the hot pink foam roller:

It really goes well with my parents' living room decor. as I'm sure you can imagine.


I mentioned a while ago that I was interested in foam rolling. But it sounded complicated. Then I saw the pink and the foam and it was $25 so I bought it. And let me tell you… it hurts so good. I’m in love. It made its debut yesterday after the 24k and so far so good! No mystery pains.

I spent roughly $70 more than I meant to walking into that store. Why does everything in running stores have to be so cool? I want to try it all out, everything. All of the things!

So pretty much I bought stuff this week and ran around a bit and also went to school. I guess I had a typical February week. How depressing.

Pleased as a Peach

15 Jan

Winter has officially arrived. Snow is on the ground and seems like it might want to stick around. I was not aware that snow was in the forecast in any way, shape or form. Imagine my surprise yesterday morning when I stepped outside to start my LSD run to clear skies and green lawns only to have a snowplow pass me, lights flashing.

Not that kind of LSD guys. LSD = Long slow distance. Save the hallucinogens for after the run.

I was absolutely bewildered. Then it passed again, a few kilometers later, as I continued past snowless land. Finally, as I crested a particularly nasty hill, I arrived midtown to the valley between two mountains and encountered a couple inches of the stuff. And then it started hailing on me. The snow has been creeping towards my house ever since. Needless to say, I was not prepared for running in the snow. I haven’t made my ghetto snow sneakers yet (the general plan is too drive a handful of very short screws into the soles of my old pair) and I was wearing my light gloves instead of my heavy-duty pair. Thankfully there were few cars out in the snow at 7am on a Saturday, so I ran on the still-clear road rather than the mostly non-existent sidewalks. My water froze my throat closed I’m pretty sure. I only checked the thermometer when I got home (still freezing) only to find we were sitting at around -2 C, which may sound mild to you but we get MAYBE ten below-zero days a year and I do not adapt well to it.

Plus, I look about 100% less adorable than this puppy in the snow soooo...

Aside from the cold (or maybe because of it) I ran an exceptionally good 16k yesterday morning. I call it exceptional for two reasons: first, because I ran my first 16k several months ago at 7:21/km and brought yesterday’s run down to 6:41/km, without a single huff or puff along the way. Hopefully by this time next year I’ll have shaved another 40 seconds off and be even prouder of myself (oh wait not possible). Yes, yes, I am aware that this is a slow pace, but I’ve beaten myself and that’s what counts.

Second, this particular run included the dreaded Bowen Bay hill, that which I described in unflattering terms in this post. I was hoping I’d reach my turn-around point of 8k before the top of the hill so I wouldn’t have to run back up it. I was only at 7k, which meant running down the entire thing then running back up. I debated with myself, thinking I could add a quick 2k loop at my start-point and avoid the hill altogether. But 2012 is a year for challenging oneself, so I forced myself down the hill. Running down even took forever. I was cursing myself the entire way, knowing each step meant more hill to run up. When I got to the bottom, I gazed up at what I could see of the hill and cursed some more. Then I put my head down and ran.

And you know what? I breezed up that hill like it was nothing baby! I’ve avoided it since last summer and I can’t believe how much I’ve improved since then! I was actually surprised when I got to the top, certain there must be more hill to conquer. The run was pretty much down-hill (in a good way) from there. I felt like planting a flag or a headstone that read “Here lies Bowen Bay hill, also known as Margaret’s bitch”. Maybe next time.

My smugness level = approximately four smug Obamas.

In short, I’m feeling really great about my training. Although I’ve got some other not-so-nice things going on, my running is going great and that makes me feel good. I hope everyone else is doing so well with their training!

Winter. Barf.

20 Nov

Nuff said.

So it’s getting cold here. I don’t know why but I’m always so surprised by the first cold days of winter. Especially because I’m usually sick. It’s like a double kick in the pants, and Mother Nature, I do not appreciate it.

I had to officially pack away my running shorts and I’m not happy. My ears feel cold when I go outside. After runs I can’t move my fingers. My dog doesn’t want to come with me because she’s too cold (and a big wuss).

My feet get so cold I start to lose feeling in my toes. I painted my toenails blue and you can barely notice the difference. Waking up to darkness, cold in bed, and knowing it’s going to be worse outside… it’s like a little mental world war III just to get up.

I have to wear pants. I hate pants. Then I put on a long-sleeved shirt and jacket and sometimes a rain shell, then my gloves and a headband and a hat and usually a headlamp and Jesus it’s like a workout just getting out of the house.

Every day of my life.

But the biggest problem I have is when I get home from the run. My arms are so stiff I spill my protein shake all over the kitchen. I’m so cold that putting a bathrobe and sweatpants on doesn’t help at all. It takes a 45 minute shower to warm me up and even then I need to put on a lot of layers.

I’m fine on the run, in fact often a little too warm, but when I get home I start to absolutely freeze. As far as I can tell, from my limited research, is that my body was trying to cool itself down for the entirety of my run, and that mechanism takes a while to switch off, leaving me shaking next to the heater.

So, my question for you guys, is if this bone-chilling cold happens to you when you get in from a run and what you do to lessen its impact. Because I’m literally dying here. So any advice?

My Watch Never Hits Pants O’Clock

27 Oct

Apparently we both wear the same brand of watch.

So my water bottle froze just a bit today on my morning run. I noticed when I tried to wash down a gel only to choke on ice chunks. Maybe where you live, this wouldn’t be surprising. But we don’t really get winter here. The dog’s water bowl only freezes about twice a year and it’s a pretty big deal when it happens…  although poor dumb Ruby doesn’t usually notice. But it shocked the hell out of me, especially considering I was only decked out in a (thankfully long-sleeved) tech shirt and shorts. I’m still thanking whatever is was that made me decide to bring some gloves as well; otherwise I’m sure this typing would have caused some rotten fingers to fall off. Just last week I wore the same long-sleeved shirt and was so hot I rolled the sleeves as far up as they would go and tucked the bottom into the band of my sports bra (you’re welcome construction workers).

Please pleeeease don't follow me home.

And then I nearly froze my ass off today, which is saying a lot, because god knows I’ve got some insulation around them parts. So I guess winter is here. And I have no idea what I need to keep warm. So I did some research and thought I’d share with you.


So apparently, you need to wear pants. Some of you may be more okay with this than others. Basically, you need to layer up that body of yours like a lasagne. The degree and type of cold (dry versus wet, like ours) is going to vary, so use that life experience of yours to judge how many layers to wear. Gloves are a necessity. Maybe two pairs. Maybe a scarf. Hat yes, your grandma’s mink coat, no. Synthetic materials that will wick sweat but keep heat in will go a long way.

But what if you just HATE pants? First off, been there friend. Let’s just say jeans have not touched these gams of mine in a long time. I’m okay with leggings though and today I’m going to go buy those Lululemon ones I was talking about.

But MOOOMMMMM no one else is wearing pants!

And sir or madam, you’re just going to have to make yourself like pants (and long-sleeved shirts and gloves and ear warmers and everything) because if you don’t, and go run around like an idiot with cold muscles, your chances of injury will sky-rocket. Remember how everyone ever has recommended you warm up by walking or jogging before your start your run? Yeah, there’s a reason. Cold muscles do not adjust well to a sudden increase in effort. Sometimes they protest, like a little Occupy Your Body, except instead of disorganized chanting, they BREAK. AND IT HURTS. So… probably a much more effective protest than an Occupy Whatever…

So effective. I really feel his message.

So just do it.


Don’t wear your old shoes. They are old. This means that the treads are going to be pretty worn down. You’ll only need one patch of black ice to end your training for a couple weeks. So unless you really enjoy broken bones, or at the least skinned palms, wear your newest pair, even if they’re brand spankin’ new and you don’t want to mess them up with mud or snow.

There’s another option which I think I might try out… which involves driving screws into your old shoes so you can dig in best in ice and snow. If I end up doing this I’ll keep you updated, with photos of the massacre of course.

That’s it I guess. I’ll let you know how my layering goes, and maybe detail any frostbite I get. Look forward to it.

Happy winter running everyone! Try not to lose any body parts this season!

I would also protest about this.

Basic Running Gear

23 Oct

To begin with, I’ll let you know that I jinxed myself with that post about running while sick. The fates stepped in blessed me with a head cold so now I get to put all my advice to good use. Booyah.

But what I’d like to focus on now is basic running gear. I figured this was a good topic because so many running people like to debate the wicking abilities of different brands of tech shirts… and most new runners are still trying to figure out when cotton turned into a bad thing.

Oh yeah right. Awkward.

When I first started running, I wore an old pair of leggings (that boasted only three holes) and a cotton tank top. I had a fancy Lululemon jacket that I wore on top that had, until that point, never experienced anything remotely similar to exercise. My first shoes, as I mentioned before, were those Pumas that everyone was buying because they looked cool. Like most things that look cool, they didn’t work so well.

I’ve since upgraded once I learned what I needed and what I didn’t. So if you’re looking to get a new outfit for your runs, I’ve got some tips.


Ladies, please disregard what everyone says about cotton. Yeah, it doesn’t breathe so well, and probably doesn’t look as cool, and when you sweat, it’ll show. But it’s cheap. As in free. Because I would bet a $500 Nike gift card that you have old cotton tshirts laying around that would be perfect to run in.

Possibly the most appropriate shirt I've ever seen.

So what’s all the noise about tech tops? Usually these tops are made of special fabric that wick away sweat, keeping you cooler and more comfortable. If you got the cheese, buy ‘em. But if you’re poor like me, just use the cotton tops. I do fine wearing them.

Gents… uhhhh… go for the tech top. Just do it. And invest in some Vaseline. All I’ll say is chafing. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.

No I won't! You're welcome.


Everyone seems to understand what to wear on their legs. Shorts for warm weather, leggings or jogging pants for winter. Ladies, please god, make sure your shorts aren’t too short. No one wants to see your junk, especially first thing in the morning. Same goes for guys actually.

Chances of junk showing must be equal to zero. Punishable by death.

I’ll admit that I tend to splurge on bottoms for running. I have a couple pairs of fancy shorts from Lululemon (sense a pattern here?) because I like the way they look.

They also have very handy pockets that I use for my iPod when it’s raining and for my gels. I’m also planning on buying a pair of their running leggings PURELY because they make me look buff. What? At least I’m honest. Here’s the link.


And then there’s the rest.

Ladies, do yourself a favour and buy a good sports bra. Yes, they’re expensive. But your girls are going to hurt more than your bank account will. Mine is from Lululemon (duh) but they don’t actually make them any longer. I’d recommend hitting a sports store for a wider selection and cheaper prices.

What about rain? I live in a temperate rainforest. Rain is a part of my daily life. I wear a ballcap to keep the water off my face, and maybe a jacket if it’s raining hard enough. It’s an old shell of my mom’s that doesn’t fit either of us but I only use it when it’s really pouring.

That's what a raincloud looks like when it's feelin mean.

Socks? Wear the ones you have unless you’re running 15k or more, or if it’s especially hot and/or humid out. The distance increases rubbing and so does the heat and humidity. Rubbing equals blisters. Blisters equal pain (and unsightly flesh wounds that scar young children). If this sounds like something you want to avoid, buy a pair or two of tech socks from your local sports store. They’ll cost you $15 bucks a pair but it’s worth it.

For cold weather, I wear a thick headband that keeps my ears warm without making my head too hot. I also wear Lululemon gloves (god I have a problem) that boast handy pockets and finger holes.

What to do about hair? For the ladies and the male hippies only. I put mine in a simple ponytail at the back of my head and wear a Goody hairband ($5 for three) to keep the wisps away.

Of course, wear good shoes. I cannot emphasize this enough.

These things are going to be the foundation of your running. The main theme I’m trying to get across is that for most things, you don’t need to get the latest and greatest tech designs. Splurge on what’s important to you if you can. Otherwise, save the cash for race registration.

Wait what? They make you pay to run around in a giant circle, risking being rundown and/or mauled by the crowds? They make you pay $75+?

You'll pay for the mauling and you'll like it.

Yeah, life sucks.

Top Ten Things No One Tells You About Running

19 Oct

I’ve had some friends read the blog (my prettiest, nicest friends) and I’ve actually had a couple say that they felt like taking up running after doing so. This I like. Like a lot. Because then I can make them run with me/they’ll listen to me talk about running and maybe be interested. But, I thought it fair to give due warning. Not all aspects of running are pretty. Some, I’ve discovered, are downright horrible. So guys, here’s my list of the top ten things no one tells you about running.

1.The foot issue.

Do you like your feet? Do you yearn for summer every year so you can show off your finely-shaped arches? Of course you don’t. Feet by nature are ugly. But at least it’s universal so you can wear those jelly sandals like a boss. You’d think nothing could make feet worse. Until you start running.

The first issues are the growths that will sprout. Calluses man. Jesus. All of my toes have hardened bumps of skin on each side. I have particularly large ones on the outer sides of my big toes. One started bleeding once then healed over so it’s just black. Then there’s the blisters, which usually can be avoided with due diligence but if you let just one cotton sock sneak in on a long run… prepare for glares from mothers on busses as you cause their children to burst into fear tears. Festering wounds and bumps that could probably grate cheese. This is in your future, you’re welcome for the image.

2.The buffness.

“Yes,” you think as you step out for your first run, “I can feel the burn. I’m going to be so ripped after this.” I won’t argue with this. You will build muscle in your legs and it’ll be awesome. The issue I have is being too buff in the booty now. Please know that I was known as Ghetto Booty in high school. Questionably racist, yes. Flattering… not so much. I naturally am larger on the bottom than on the top. So then I go out and decide to run and bulk up even more. Good choice Margaret. My legs look like Superman’s but my top half is more like Robin. Yes I just mixed two universes but you get the meaning. Disproportion. Be prepared

*Note, this can be avoided by strength training work on your top half. I’d do it if I actually cared about this issue.

3. Weight Loss.

Weight maintenance started off being my main reason for running and became secondary as I started setting my sights on distances. It’s an added bonus for me now. But don’t expect just to lose weight because you’re running. Yes, runners on the whole are generally thinner than the average populace. But you know why that is? Most runners watch what they eat as well. You can easily burn 1000cal on a run, but if you go home and choke down pancakes, eggs, and bacon, you’re going to quickly undo any benefits of that run. So if you’re looking to run to lose weight, make sure you’re watching your diet as well. In fact, watch the food first and add in exercise when you’ve got that down. You’ll be amazed by the results.

4. Running Gear.

Is freaking expensive. And so beautiful… you’ll want to buy it all. Those leggings that make you look so buff with all those panels and pockets for gels? $100 solid. And that doesn’t even include the gels. That Lululemon tech shirt that’s so breathable you could use it to silence a hostage without suffocating them? $75 easy. Have fun with your running gear envy.

5. Wanting to Wear Said Running Gear All the Damn Time.

You look soooo good in those $100 leggings. And you spent ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS. You want to get your money’s worth, but society won’t let you. They expect you to wear real people clothes to the grocery store. Things like jeans and boots. So horrible.

"What? You said put on real people clothes! What do think this is?"

6. No One Cares About Your Running.

That’s fairly straightforward. Really, no one cares. All you’ll want to do is brag about how far you ran. And all people really want to hear is nothing. Save it up for a blog y’all.

7. It’s Addictive.

I’m not joking here. The first few weeks, or months, you’ll be forcing yourself out there. But once your body gets used to the effort, and for whatever reason you can’t run for a week or so (injury, giving birth, etc.) that body of yours will freak the hell out at you. Why aren’t you running, like now? You’ll be dying to get out and you’ll start cursing that plantar fasciitis/ newborn child.

8. Running in the Rain.

Holy mother of God, I have never felt more hardcore than how I feel when running in the rain. It’s pouring down upon you as cars splash by, and you are a god of running. You are king. The peasants (a.k.a. people driving past) will fall at your feet in envy and admiration. Combine this with runner’s high… no wonder it’s addictive.

"Bow to me puny humans."

9. Suddenly, You’re Invulnerable to Pain.

Remember what I just said about running being addicting? You’ll do anything to get your fix. That includes pretending that a major injury is nothing but an irritant. This can range from injuries from your running itself or anything else. This happened to me this summer. After two long runs on consecutive weekends, I experienced piercing pains in my abdomen. I finally made it to the hospital, where they cheerfully informed me that I had acute appendicitis and that my running had aggravated it. It was actually a good thing because I noticed it much earlier than I would have if I hadn’t run. But… it meant immediate surgery and two weeks of bedrest. Which I idiotically ignored. I took it easy for a week then got back on the treadmill. This extended my recovery I’m sure. But all I wanted was to get back on schedule. I had a run to do guys!

10. Finally, Slow Effing Walkers.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I get really frustrated by slow walkers. I used to just push past them. But now that I know I could just drop my stuff and bolt through their little molasses party, preferably flailing my limbs to inflict as much damage as possible, I get infuriated. But maybe that’s just me.

Hope this helps guys! Please enjoy another hilarious photo of an animal thinking it’s people:

This carefree attitude makes me hate pandas even more.

Buying Your Own Shoes

18 Oct

So you’ve already listened to me go on at length about shoes of races past and those bitching new ones I bought (I mean, how can you not love the neon), but you may be wondering if you’re wearing the right shoes or how to make sure the next pair you buy are going to do ya good.

I’m here to impart my wisdom.

Admittedly, I’ve only bought two pairs of runners in my years as a, perhaps improperly proud, slow runner. But I read a lot about running and I’ve gathered a few tips that I’ve personally found helpful.

1. First off, this aint about looks y’all.

My last pair of runners. Smelled kinda weird when it rained.

Sometimes runners are ugly. Sometimes they come in barf green. Sometimes this may be the best shoe for you. So put looks out of your mind and focus on the pair that will help you run safely and comfortably.

2. Know what style of shoe you need.

Did you know there’s such a thing as pronation, and the degree to which you naturally pronate can affect your running style and proneness to injury?

What exactly is pronation you ask? Is it a dirty word, because it kind of sounds like it? Alas, not today folks. Pronation is how your foot rolls inward when it hits the ground. Basically, you can under, over, or just pronate enough. Over means that your foot rolls too much inward, and under means that it doesn’t roll enough.

“Wtf Margaret”, you yell, “how am I supposed to know the degree to which my damn foot rolls when I run? I can barely tell if my feet hit the ground at all.” And to that I say, first, stop with the drugs, and second… go see an expert. That’s my expert advice. These guys and gals at them fancy running stores know their shit. They can tell just by looking at your shoe or the way you walk what kind of shoe you need. So go ask them.

If you find out you overpronate, you’ll need to look into stabilizing shoes. Underpronators will want cushioning shoes. And just-enoughers will look at neutral shoes. This is mostly helpful if you’re shopping online; otherwise the guys at the running store will tell you which shoes to focus on.

3. Don’t buy any old shoe you dumbass!

Speak up if something does feel right. Your new shoe needs to feel perfect when you’re just walking around the store, because anything that bugs you now will KILL you when you run any sort of distance. Don’t go along with what the sales guy says or your friend or your mom or that judgmental guy who looks like he runs a lot and maybe he’s looking down at you or maybe he smells something weird? Speak up now is all I’m saying.

"Oh you ran that race in 2:05? I ran it in 2:04."

4. Invest.

Straight-up. Spend good money, or risk spending a huge dump of money on physio to recover from that injury of yours. I spent $140 on my new shoes and I expected to pay more. Just do it.

5. Finally, it is about looks everyone! Neon! Pink! Gotta love it.

That’s my expert advice you guys! I hope it helps. For the record, I’m a just-enougher with narrow heels. So I need a neutral shoe with high heels in the back so I don’t rub the skin to the bone. Happened before (okay not really but there was some blood).

Oh, and don’t wear cotton socks if you’re running far. Just don’t. Blisters… oh god the blisters.

Utterly Necessary Information

16 Oct

I didn’t write yesterday because of some serious emotional trauma that I endured. I came home too emotionally drained to write hilarious things for you all to enjoy.

“But oh beautiful Margaret, how can you be so sad when your hair is so pretty?” you ask.

Well, yesterday I had to let go of two people who mean very much to me. Meet Left Saucony and Right Saucony:

It hurts to look.

Notice the faded colours that once glowed so brilliant against the pavement. The cushioning, once so comforting, gone, leaving me at the mercy of the road. Shoelaces so muddied they look like muddy shoelaces.

It was time to replace the runners.

You may call them sneakers or running shoes or maybe you’re a freak who doesn’t always wear shoes (yes I’ve seen you guys out and about) but don’t deny you develop a certain attachment. Maybe you don’t go so far as naming your shoes but… they’ve been through a lot with you.

Those Sauconys were my first pair of runners. When I started running I wore a pair of athletic-looking Pumas that were not meant for athletes at all. When I decided to actually do this running thing, I bought my first pair at a running store on the North Shore. Of course I’d had shoes for gym and once a pair of cleats for field hockey, but those were the $40 ones from Payless. These babies were the real deal. Arch support, shoelaces that stayed tied; features I’d never experienced before.

We were fast friends. We would go out and run and play but mostly run. We ran through two summers of blasting heat, and two winters of pouring rain and snow. The Sauconys came with me on my first race, the Vancouver Sun Run 10k. We proceeded to run three more 10k races and two half-marathons. We survived shin splints and runner’s knee with only each other for support. If I took a few days or a week or a month off, the Sauconys would be right there waiting for me.

Soon we added a new blessing to the family. The Nike+ device for my iPod. We were too cheap to get special shoes to hold the device so we bought it a pretty purple blanket and tied it haphazardly to Right Saucony’s laces.

With Nike+, we were the perfect team. We destroyed the road, one slow stride at a time. Nike+ took care of the numbers (calories, pace, distance and all) while Left and Right and me too sometimes did the grunt work.

It was a beautiful thing. But like all good things, it came to an end. Left and Right were getting too tired. They couldn’t keep up on the long runs. In the end they were causing me knee and hip pain. It was time to let go.

So I bought these babies!!!

The hot homewrecker.

Check that neon out. Look at those swoops and glides. Hot shoes guys.

I bought them because the guy at the Running Room told me to. Well, he gave me a bunch to try on based on my style of running and I chose these as they felt the best. I just went in there prepared to depend on their expert knowledge and I think I came out with a great pair.

My advice on buying runners? Simple. Invest and make sure that you get shoes that are right for you, not just shoes that look good.

Even though mine are sweet as all hell.

Check back for more advice on buying good shoes for you. In the meantime:

Haha ridiculous.