Shoes of My Past: Track Racing Spikes

I can say with barely a whiff of hyperbole that I loathe shopping. I hate the fact that designers’ refusal to standardize sizing requires me to lug two or three sizes into the dressing room. I hate the salesgirls’ sweet “How are we doing in there?” when the fact that the twelfth pair of jeans looks like crap too is my suffering and mine alone.

Shoe shopping, however, is a joyous exception. I love strutting through the store, showing off 4-inch heels and my ability to walk in them. I loved it as a little girl wearing Capezio ballet slippers or anything patent leather.
Yet never have I felt greater pride than when I bought my first pair of racing spikes for my first high school track meet.

I’d been impressed by my distance running older brother’s racing flats—the unbelievable lightness of them. But spikes! No one had told me about them! When I was assigned the 4x400m and the 400m hurdles, spikes were an unexpected bit of excitement, reserved only for us sprinters who needed better grip on the track as we sprung out of the blocks.

I imagined that everyone in Foot Locker was in awe of me. I did some kicks, some high-knees, jogged on my toes from Running to Basketball and back.

As if wearing something that undeniably labeled me “Athlete,” weren’t cool enough, my new footwear came with hardware! Screwing dangerously pointy pieces of metal into the soles was thrilling. Even the loss of a spike was scintillating—frightening, but cool.

Thinking on it, I’m sorely tempted to buy a new pair. I don’t need them for running, but should I become a spy and have a street fight with an evil genius (you never know), shoes covered in spikes could definitely come in handy.


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