Finding the Right Shoes and Running with Rattlesnakes (Or Not!)

youtube-pictureThis week I’ll talk a little bit about what things I’ve learned about the culture of running and triathlon, and I’ll talk about my journey to get my little duck feet into the perfect running shoes! If you’d rather read than watch, I’ve got you covered – the transcription is  underneath the video.  If you want to subscribe to my Youtube channel (which would be awesome, since once I get 100 subscribers I got to create a super cool custom url – oooooh….just click here and then click the red subscribe button!)

Welcome to my third vlog about my Ironman journey! Things are getting back to normal around here in terms of my ankle sprain healing and getting back into a regular training schedule so I’m really happy about that. It’s been raining a lot which…a lot, when I say a lot I mean a lot for Southern California not a lot for anywhere else. But we just don’t have the infrastructure for it and so there were people actually kayaking down the street today on one of the side streets. So, since I’ve been kind of cooped up I decided to spend some time researching new places to run, which is kind of indicative of my situation – I can walk out my door and start running and sometimes I do. But running blows and so if I can find a place that’s pretty to do it, it makes me loathe is a little bit less while it’s happening which is extremely helpful overall.

So here I am, I’m online I’m looking for these places. I come across a notice that says that hiking and running have been suspended in Rattlesnake Canyon due to graffiti.


I immediately think to myself – why were hiking and running ever suggested in a place that has so many poisonous snakes that they actually just named it after them? That does not sound like a place to blow through with your iPod blasting Hamilton.


Which brought me to the next question which is: who saw the graffiti? If I’m running through Rattlesnake Canyon, and believe me if I’m in Rattlesnake Canyon I’m running because I don’t know how I got there and I want to get out, there could be people physically painting graffiti, those people could be naked and on fire and I would never see them because the only thing I will be doing with my eyes is scanning the 3 feet directly in front of me for Rattlesnakes!

But this is the culture, the culture of running and triathlon and I am a visitor to this culture I am not a citizen and so I can kind of stand back and look at their customs and say “what are you doing?” You know, last year a woman was bitten by a great white shark at a beach near me, and she’s fine – luckily she recovered she is running triathlons again. But I was in a triathlon forum and people were saying what to what in my mind was very wise -“Yeah, I’m not gonna swim there anymore.” And other people said “No, no, it’s actually a good thing because statistically it means we’re even less likely to get bitten.” And I was like you know what … I like math as much as the next guy but I personally think sharks develop a taste for neoprene and I’m not swimming there anymore. But that’s, that’s the culture – this willingness to deal with inconvenience and difficulty like rattlesnakes and sharks as part of your workout.

Oops, I forgot to record a clever segue, we’re going to talk about running shoes now.

Shoe buying has always been pretty fraught for me since I was a little kid. The women on my mom’s side of the family have progressively shorter and wider feet such that I’m afraid if I had a daughter she would end up having a square with toes for feet. Wide feet narrow heels, I have duck feet basically.


So ever since I was a little kid the choices I had were incredibly limited and they were usually brown leather and ugly but in good news they lasted forever. I can remember a shoe salesman telling me that I should probably just leave the shoes and take the boxes because they fit my feet better. This is been my whole life finding shoes has been an issue. I can remember when I was a cheerleader they came up with those, I think they were called Kaepa shoes, they had these little plastic inserts that you could snap into the shoe in your school colors and so I had to shove my feet into those for cheerleading, so it felt a lot like I was cheering on a bed of nails.


When I started to train for the marathon I went to a proper running shop to get properly fitted for proper shoes and I ended up a New Balance and they were great in terms of making shoes that were small and wide enough for me but not great in the fact that the soles were so stiff that it felt like I was walking in those shoes that they give toddlers to help them learn how to walk.

I went to a different store and got fitted and they put me in Brooks shoes and I was so happy – they were so much more flexible and so running was much more comfortable I could actually flex my feet and use them properly so they were great. So great that I sort of ignored the fact that they were pushing my feet to the outsides a little bit which was uncomfortable was triggering a chronic issue I have with pain that goes up from my ankle to my knee. It was the pain I’ve had since I was a kid but it was getting more regular and more intensive so I was doing physical therapy and massage and things to manage it. But i was just so much happier in these shoes because I could actually roll through them and have a proper stride.

And then I was online and I saw, I don’t even know what I was looking for, but I saw this thing called A Snail’s Pace running shop and I was like well if there was ever running shop for me this would be it. So I did a little research and they actually have one not too far from my house so I decided to go and check it out. And they do a full diagnostic so they have you run on a treadmill, they have all different brands of shoes they carry and so they seem to really be set up to help people find the perfect shoe.

So I headed up there and I met Jenny. Not only is Jenny awesome but behind us you can see part of their gigantic wall of shoes that you have to choose from. Also, also hello to my fellow Flying Rhinos, you can see I’m wearing our team shirt to show the Rhino love.


It turns out Jenny is an ultra-runner – she does ultramarathons. If you’re not familiar with this, an ultramarathon is any distance over the marathon distance of 26.2 miles, and so there are some that are 30 miles there are also some that are 100 miles or more and these people are hard-core runners. I know a lot about ultramarathon because I listen to audio books written by ultramarathoners while I run, because it makes me feel better that there are people who do stuff that is worse than what I’m doing at that moment.

So I’ve listen to tons of books about ultrarunning so I was desperate for her to tell me her experiences She finally divulged that she had won the Los Angeles Crest 100 mile race. She had WON IT for the women’s division and she brought the trophy which was amazing. 100 miles, 1,760 football fields, I don’t even wanna drive that far let along run it. It’s totally bananas, I have so much respect for people who do ultra running.


She was just so supportive and so awesome, and had amazing advice for me. Now we found shoes that I have that are, I think, going to work really really well. I’ve taken them out on a few short runs and they have that flexibility of the sole and I’m able to run without having my feet go to the side which is amazing and feels much more stable so I’m happy and excited and hopeful that these will be the shoes that will carry me across the IRONMAN distance.


Check it out – I took my new shoes into the nature!


Not the actual shoes, obviously. Which brings me to a tip: if you are a larger runner know that whatever they say, however long they say, the shoes will last for, they probably won’t last that long for you. Cause they’re tested on people who have smaller bodies so I run through my shoes about twice as fast as it suggests that I will because I’m just heavier than then the woman that they are tested with. So that’s something to know ‘cause running on worn-out shoes can lead to all kinds of injuries and unpleasantness that you definitely want to avoid.

That’s it for this week if you like these vlogs don’t forget to subscribe by clicking this button right here and then you’ll make sure that you never miss one and I’ll be back next week with more tales from the triathlon trail. I hope you all have a great week, bye!

Click here to subscribe to the vlog on Youtube!

*Disclosure:  I was not compensated in any way for talking about A Snails Pace, I just really like them! (and I did receive permission to use the pictures)

About danceswithfat

Hi, I’m Ragen Chastain. Speaker, Writer, Dancer, Choreographer, Marathoner, Soon to be IRONMAN, Activist, Fat Person.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Finding the Right Shoes and Running with Rattlesnakes (Or Not!)

  1. Lily O'Hara says:

    Sounds like I have the same feet as you – little boxes basically. So what brand are the shoes that actually fit? There’s nothing like A Snail’s Pace here so I’d love to know what the brand and model are if possible.


  2. Love your new kicks! They’re a great colour! I’m loyal to Saucony for my wide “peasant feet”, as my late grandmother used to call them, but I’m terrible about replacing them when I should. I tend to run my shoes into the ground (literally) before I’m willing to run in new shoes; then, I just demote them to gym shoes that are good for stationary cycling or weight lifting.


  3. wonkafonka says:

    I have flippers. Like yours, they’re wide at the toes and narrow in the heel. Except they’re long. I wear a 10.5. Did you know that women’s shoes (mostly) come in half sizes until 10, and then only whole sizes after that? Because if you have giant clown feet, who cares if your shoes really fit, right? I’m the crabbiest shoe shopper ever because nothing ever fits. I’m glad you finally found some shoes that work for you! I had the same experience this year, and I immediately went back and bought a second pair so I could make them last longer. 🙂


  4. Denny says:

    I can’t seem to get the video to play. When I put my mouse pointer on the triangle and click nothing happens. Any suggestions to see the video?


  5. blueraindrop says:

    Brooks beasts literally kept me from needing a second knee surgery with the foot positioning correcting my knee angle on my bad leg (wearing as regular shoes not just for running, physical therapist insisted they work better than the orthotics), but they drove my other foot bonkers!

    My local running shop tried about 4 different things.. and what worked to fix it is actually a little “ball of foot cushion”, I think I paid $6 for the set of two, but instead of putting them where they normally go, you put them under the outer toes to tilt them back up a bit. Worked wonders!
    I was starting to think I was going to have to wear mismatched shoes…
    So if anyone else has Brooks as their best availed option but the pronation correction is killing them, that might be a cheap and easy thing to try.


  6. lsstrout says:

    I also have duck feet. I’m glad I have no desire to run, and when I found that Birkenstocks worked for me, I was super happy.

    And running with rattlesnakes or swimming with sharks? Also big ‘NOPE NOPE NOPE?’

    Why did the close the place due to graffiti? Did it hypnotize people?


  7. Thalia says:

    Every canyon in Los Angeles could be called Rattlesnake Canyon! They are everywhere. The good news is that they don’t want to mess with you (and they’re hibernating in January, anyway). `

    I worry way more about ticks than I do about rattlesnakes. I must have had about 10 encounters and the snakes were totally uninterested in chasing me up a canyon, full of graffitti or not.

    BTW, those are cute shoes!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s