I think the last time I went shoe shopping was more than four years ago. About that time, I found a pair of shoes that worked for me. The Merrell Pace Glove. It fit perfectly, required no break in period, and had plenty of room for the wide spread of the toes of my right foot.

I originally bought them from REI, but then I started buying online, because I knew the shoe I wanted. Whenever a pair wore out, I’d buy another. Same size, same style. Color was irrelevant, which is how I ended up with a lime green pair with purple trim. But mostly I had black ones.

They upgraded the style once, from a 2 to a 3 or something. And I didn’t like the changes, but they weren’t significant enough to stop me from buying them. Wearing them. Wearing them out.

But this time, when they wore out, I discovered something awful.

Merrell had stopped making that style.

I know women are supposed to enjoy shoe shopping, but my feet have always been an awkward fit. So I have always hated it. And shopping for athletic shoes was a special torture. I consistently felt like I did not belong in specialty shoe stores. I would get nervous and upset and sweat a lot. I’d feel awful that the shoes wouldn’t fit and it wasn’t unusual for a trip to end in tears.

So I really girded my loins before making a trip to the Nike store to try on CrossFit specific shoes. I tried on several pairs there. None were wide enough, but I didn’t panic. I didn’t feel guilt at wasting their time. I just left without buying anything. We tried REI and DICK’s Sporting Goods. No dice. No shoes that felt right on my feet.

When we went to Costco for our regular grocery shopping trip, I decided to check out what they had. Why not? I ended up buying a pair, because my old Merrell’s were worn out to the point of hurting my feet and these were only $25 and felt wide enough.

But the big trip was when I braved the specialty store. A running store that I hoped would carry something close to what I needed; a shoe good for CrossFit that would work for the Spartan Race. I explained that to the clerk, leading with the CrossFit, and I didn’t feel like a fraud saying that I do CrossFit. Even to this very fit young woman.

She measured my feet, analyzed my gait and brought out four pairs of shoes for me to try on. One of them was wide enough and Ambrose and I left with a pair of shoes for me to wear. I didn’t even get a little upset. No crying.

And I realized that I’m finally not feeling like an impostor athlete. Sure, it’s taken about four and a half years of CrossFit, and I know I don’t really look that athletic at first glance. But I know what I can do. I’m comfortable and confident that I am a person who needs expensive shoes for my hobby of exercise.

I’m thinking my next boot purchase will go a lot easier.

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