I was running along at around mile six of a big long race this past May. My brother was socializing in the back of the pack and my training partner was stopping to puke every half mile. With no one to talk to, I began listening to the two guys in front of me. If for some reason, Ella, you ever get bitten by the ultra bug, you'll discover as I did that no matter what race, what distance, what time of day or night, the guys in front of you are talking about shoes. Always. I listened in on the shoe conversation, learned there's an important distinction between running in Mudrocs and Roclites. For instance, you might wear the Roclites in a road race, but you'd never wear the Mudrocs on the road. Oddly, the reverse is not true. You might wear the Roclites or the Mudrocs on the trail. It all depends. Could go either way. Here at Massanutten, the guy in front of us had opted for the Roclites, but not without some trepidation. As riveting as the shoe conversation was, I was pleased to hear them take a break from it and move on to a different subject. It seems they were greatly offended by some whimsical running stories they'd found on the internet and were comparing them with another set of whimsical running stories they'd found on the same site. One of the "authors" was getting dragged through the mud. I like a good mud-dragging, myself, so I was thinking about joining them, saying things like, "That idiotic son of a bitch!" and "Derivative. Entirely derivative." Sadly, I was to discover they were talking about me.
Later that night, I was fumbling along and I was coming up on a small group crossing a particularly rocky-bouldery stretch. I heard "...and I have to say, I'm a little disappointed with the way these Roclites have held up on the technical stuff here." The Montrail Continental Divide is one tank
of a shoe. Not good for much, I found, what with the mangling it did to my heels. But I tell you what, as bad as it hurt my feet, it probably was ten times worse for that guy to find one lodged in his ass as he fell down Short Mountain. My brother wanted to know why I'd done that. I said it needed to be done and he seemed to accept that.