Six Birthday Things, Monday Motivation and New Running Shoes!


In my last post I vaguely noted that one reason I love April is it is my birthday month. I failed to note that I published on April 4th … and my birthday was the 5th! There are a couple of reasons for this – first my post was a bit of a ‘coming back’ theme and I felt saying ‘my birthday is tomorrow’ was a bit too much like fishing for birthday wishes. But also it just isn’t in my character to advertise it like that … I don’t hide it, but nor do I flaunt it.

Anyway, this was my birthday weekend, but we are also cranking up college tours for our older son, so Lisa took off the whole weekend and we decided to head to Rochester and make a day of it. Ultimately this meant having my birthday cake and dinner on Sunday, which was fine by me! Here are another few thoughts from my birthday weekend:

1. It really IS the Thought that Counts

It is a bit of a paradox that I love things that are expensive (generally technology-based items), I am really not very materialistic. I am much more interested in someone showing me they care in a small but real way than getting a material gift.

So I am very fortunate to have so many people who took a moment this weekend to wish me a personal happy birthday. Sure there were all of the basic Facebook ‘happy birthday’ notes – and trust me, I love those as well! But there were more personal notes, pictures shared, texts, calls, and some great emails. I got some great emails and messages from people I have never met but that I consider friends through blogging or other online writing through the years.

Combine all of those great feelings and a family that made me feel special all weekend … it made for an amazing birthday!


OK, so while I didn’t necessarily NEED anything, there were things I wanted – and a Nutri Bullet was one! Lisa was listening, and I was thrilled to unwrap the big box – even being pretty sure what was inside!

Because of the weekend schedule I never got to make a smoothie – but I was so excited I had the entire thing washed out before we left for Rochester Saturday morning.

This morning I finally got to use it to make myself a post-run breakfast smoothie: banana, mango, broccoli and nutty granola. SO good! I left it a bit ‘textures, because I actually like it that way (the rest of my crew thinks it is gross). My mother sent along a ‘smoothie recipe book for runners’ … can’t wait to try those out!


3. The Emperor’s New Clothes

I love shopping, but am always hesitant to buy things for myself. Again, I just don’t have a huge desire for ‘more stuff’. As a result, when I say something like ‘I need pants’ … Lisa grabs her car keys, grabbing the opportunity before it passes! I have had to pretty much revamp my entire wardrobe over the last year – for the first year my previous ‘skinny clothes’ still fit, but at this point I am the thinnest and fittest of my life by a considerable amount, so they were getting ridiculous!

As I have noted I have a fraternity 150th anniversary coming up at the end of the month, and was just noting that I no longer have a suit that fits, as I had been looking at a picture from the last even I went to five years ago where I wore a suit that didn’t really fit – and now I am at least 35 pounds lighter!

So naturally she and the boys totally surprised me with a great outfit – fitted dress shirt, tie (with tie clip) and dress pants! For the banquet I’ll wear my fraternity tie and school alumni tie tac, but I was so thrilled that they thought of me and made sure I had something nice to wear!

4. Clueless Health Food Bag!

I will readily admit to being pretty clueless – so when Lisa and Danny had to head to the local food bank so Danny could get a signature for his National Honor Society project, and Lisa came in with organic sunflower seeds and licorice from a new health food store that had opened … I really didn’t think twice and just said, we’ll have to go check it out together soon!

It seems so obvious now that she had bought me a bunch of stuff. I mean, um, ‘duh’?!?! The smoothie I made had some of the granola from the bag, and I look forward to checking out everything else. The Kind bars are the only things I’ve tried before.


5. My Selfish Second Day

When we were discussing how to work the weekend, Lisa said that presents the morning of my birthday was non-negotiable. But we decided to grab a quick breakfast out, also knowing that dinner would be in a restaurant. So what I said I wanted was dinner and ‘cake’ on Sunday, and a ‘second birthday’ where we spend time together and watch a movie Sunday night.

Lisa made a really cool ‘eggs in a basket’ from Cooking Light’, we got loads of things done before dinner, and after dinner we watched ‘American Hustle’. Not the best movie I’ve seen, but pretty decent. We noted that neither Gravity nor American Hustle really blew us away, but they were solid (and we were glad we only rented!) with some good writing and performances.


6. The Joy of Family

Ultimately on Monday morning I felt what I could only describe as ‘birthday afterglow’ – which is the exact opposite of ‘birthday letdown’. I had such a great weekend that I was still gliding along, despite being annoyed that the temperature at 4AM was back down close to 20F and my hands just refused to get warm on my run.

What made my attitude so great? Three things: Lisa, Danny and Chris. No matter what else is going on, I already have the best gifts I could ever hope for by my side.

Shoe Shopping!

OK, so I did make one other selfish birthday request – I wanted to go to the Medved Running Store in Rochester. I knew my shoe situation was getting to the point where I needed to think about getting new shoes (translated from Mike-speak: it was getting desperate), and as it turned out my parents and Lisa’s mom both sent birthday checks … so I had cash burning a hole in my pocket! Time to check out shoes and possibly buy!

My criteria were pretty simple:
– Lightweight to ultra-light
– 4mm drop or less
– Available in size 13
– Loud colors always preferred.

So what did I try on – and my quick thoughts on why I didn’t get them?
Altra Instinct – the rubberized toe band was terribly uncomfortable on the shoes that fit me. I saw toenail issues in my future wearing those …
New Balance these were a 8mm drop, and frankly made me feel like I was wearing heels! And with my Minimus ditching out after <400 miles … I am not paying more than $50 for any NB’s!
Saucony Kinvara 4 – I LOVE these shoes, even though the toe-box is narrow, they are still so comfortable for me. I would have bought these again.
Nike Free 5.0 – the only type they had in the new line … and I really hated them. I tried on my old Free Run 3.0 when I came home to confirm … yeah, they screwed up that line for me!
Hoka Conquest – this wasn’t my choice, and honestly I can’t think of anything I liked about these – they were light and technically low-drop, but were boxy and clunky and just about the most awful things I ever put on my feet!
Brooks Pure Connect – the tongue was disconnected and drove me nuts as I tried them on and did a quick lap …
Brooks Pure Drift – these were better, but they didn’t have my size and the tongue continued to be an issue.
Pearl Izumi N0 – they didn’t have the right size for me, so I couldn’t get the right feel, didn’t either love or hate them.
Merrell Mix Master Move – given how much I like the Vapor Glove (ultra-minimal) and Allout Rush (trails) I was surprised at how much I DISLIKED these …
Mizuno Wave Sayonara (? or Hitogami, tried both and forget which I liked better) – I could have bought these if it wasn’t for the Saucony! These technically have a higher drop, but unlike some of the others that felt really sloped, these had a natural grade that was incredibly comfortable.

So … what DID I get?

Saucony Virrata 2

Saucony Virrata 2 – the fit on these was very much like the Kinvara, but tighter to the ground and with a zero-drop and a feel closer to the New Balance Minimus that I have been loving. The sales person and Lisa both noted how I lit up when I tried these on, and everything after that became a comparison – and nothing compared!

Summing up

Going back through the years I have always enjoyed my birthday – it has always been celebrated, and because of whatever reasons on occasion as a child it would span a couple of weeks to get in all the gifts and visits and celebrations. So I am not so concerned about celebrating ON my birthday as I know the celebration will arrive eventually!

And as always this year I had a great birthday thanks to my wonderful wife and boys. The weekend was filled with rushing and relaxing, fun and food and loads of laughs.

How do you do your shoe shopping? And how was YOUR weekend?!?

13 thoughts on “Six Birthday Things, Monday Motivation and New Running Shoes!

  1. Happy Birthday (again)! So happy to hear it was everything you wanted it to be – your love for your family is always so great to read about! I can’t wait to hear how you like the Nutribullet and some of those other goodies (heat up the Quest bar for 10 seconds in the microwave – so much better!).

    • Thanks (again) Megan! πŸ™‚ I am loving the Nutribullet so far, and haven’t begun to explore it yet … and cool tip with the quest bar, will have to try it!

  2. Happy birthday! It sounds like you had a great time-your family is so awesome. My shoe shopping has gotten pretty easy-I go to our running company, they watch my stride, give me a few options and I’m set. That’s the one thing I’m not very good at choosing for myself, so I’m glad they take good care of me.

    • I really don’t think I took full advantage of all they have to offer at the shoe store, but I was happy enough with the massive selection. I know what is working, so I wanted to just branch from there.

  3. Happy belated Birthday and may you have many more. I am not good about birthdays, even for family and am usually late on those too. πŸ™‚

    It sounds like you did the important thing – spent quality time with your family, which is always a good thing.

    It sounds like you did a little bit of my kind of shoe shopping try everything and see what really feels good. I am glad you found a pair of shoes you like, it is so important to find the pair that you find is comfortable for you. I liked the Virrata’s but they were a little too narrow for my feet, but I have heard nothing but good things about them from people around here who run in them.

    Glad you had a great weekend and now to put some miles on those puppies πŸ™‚

    • Yeah, I know I didn’t take enough advantage of the resources of the shoe shop, but I did widely avail myself of their selection, which was simply amazing! I know I tried on more than I listed, but lost track …

      I definitely think the Virratas would be too narrow for you – I know the Kinvaras were and these fit nearly the same. I might have whined and complained about the Kinvaras a bit, but ultimately I realized they were some of the best shoes I owned and most comfortable. Especially since it seems Nike ruined the Free series with their latest abominations …

  4. Happy birthday, looks like you had a great one!
    I’ve been buying my shoes online because I’ve stayed with the same models for a while, but I think I need to get to a store and try a few new ones..

    • I am enjoying variety right now, and since there seem to be changes with every model year (some good, some not), I figure I should work to get the most for my money (shoes are NOT cheap! πŸ™‚ )

  5. Happiest of birthdays!! It sounds like you had a wonderful day and I love that you consistently say how important your family is to you. You clearly adore them and I love seeing a man who isn’t afraid to show/say it!! Your shoes are super cool, I love that they are loud and I hope you have gotten to enjoy your new blender!

    • Thanks Sara! I appreciate that – it is often surprising that by expressing how much my family means to me, that I am an ‘outlier’. Actually it saddens me – I know there are people who are not so family oriented, and that is fine … but those who really do adore their family and don’t feel they can express it – that is unfortunate. Life is too short to worry about being macho or whatever.

      And I’m totally loving the Nutribullet … but the smoothies can be SO filling …

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