I remember my first pair like it was yesterday.
The year was 1982. Reagan was in the White House, the Soviets were busy stockpiling nuclear ICBMs, and I was a scrawny, bespectacled nerd, eager to start the 6th grade.
Why so eager? Although the West Point Elementary School was small, it had enough resources to support one organized sport: running. We didn’t even have singlets – we ran in sky blue, cotton t-shirts with an iron-on logo.
Back then WPES had both a track and a cross-country team, and track was reserved for the upper classmen only. Each fall any ambitious 6th graders could ask to fill the open ranks of the CC team, but that was it.
Although I hadn’t ran an organized race in my life, I COULD NOT WAIT to be old enough to join the CC team. First day of 6th grade I marched immediately to Coach Downer’s office and told him that if he’d let me, I was ready to run.
I convinced my mom that I was going to need a new, specialized pair of running sneakers if I wanted to be successful. Neither of us had any clue of what to buy or where to buy it, so we did the usual: we drove to the Newburgh Mall, went straight to The Athlete’s Foot, and gazed at the rows of sneakers hanging on the wall.
My choice: a bright blue pair of Nike Oceanas
My rationale: the Oceana had a bit of tread that carried up onto the heel. Having absolutely no running experience, I figured that this “heel tread” would be perfect for running through the woods (In my mind the CC events would be similar to the footrace at the end of “Meatballs”).
When I got home, I laced them up and ran up and down our block a few times to break them in. Wanting to convince my mom that we made a prudent choice, I told her they felt “fast”.
To be honest, that’s not so different then when I get a new pair today 🙂