Shoes Shopping and Mill Valley Kitchen

Shoes are a big problem for me. From running shoes to just regular sneakers, it’s always a struggle for me to find shoes that will 1) fit my orthotics, 2) give me enough support outside of the orthotics, and 3) meet my high standards for comfort. I’ve had several attempted and failed shopping trips to try to find a nicer looking shoe that meets all of my requirements. Currently, whenever I go somewhere that calls for a nicer pair of shoes I either wear my Ugg boots, suffer miserably wearing uncomfortable shoes, or give up altogether and just wear my sneakers. On the recommendation of someone at my office, I decided to check out Schuler Shoes in St. Louis Park.

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I was told that Schuler’s had a wide selection comfort shoes and staff members who would help you find what you were looking for. The selection of shoes available was pretty impressive. They had an impressive selection of pretty much every comfort brand I’ve heard of.

Keen and Choco:
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Naot (an Israeli brand!):

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I tried on a couple Naots and a pair of Danskos. The Naot shoes were a little too narrow for my orthotics to fit quite right. The Danskos were a little wider and felt pretty comfortable. My heel did seem to come out a little when I walked, but the salesperson told me that is standard with Danskos since they have the hard rocker sole. The Dansko model were called Arden Black Nappa:

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I’m wearing them today, and so far things are going pretty well. I started the day without socks, but that was a little uncomfortable and I felt like they were rubbing. Once I put socks on, I’ve been feeling a lot better. The only issue now is might need some non-white socks.

For lunch yesterday, we went to Mill Valley Kitchen. It’s in St. Louis Park, and they boast healthy and well-proportioned meals. I’ve wanted to try it for a while, and – given that it’s my own personal restaurant week – this was the perfect opportunity.

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The inside was very classy! I was expecting a cafe of sorts, but it was a lot more formal.

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From their bathrooms, I could also tell they are into the environment and all that good stuff. Telltale sign: REAL TOWELS!

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My dad and I both got salads for lunch. I got a butter leaf salad with asparagus, new potatoes, and skirt steak:

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My dad got a house salad with chicken, and we shared some house made pita bread:

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The lunch didn’t quite fill me up (there was very little meat on the salad). If I went back, I would definitely order something else, but I’m not desperate to return soon. I wasn’t too impressed and would go back to a lot of other places before I go back here.

We love to shop (?)

I don’t think of myself as a big shopper. Nonetheless, I sometimes get a hankering to go to stores. This past weekend, Noah and I had the shopping itch, so we visited Nadeau and Ridgedale Shopping Center.

Nadeau is a furniture store at 28th and Hennepin. I’ve driven by it many times, and always thought, “their windows are full.”

We decided to look inside and see what it was all about. Turns out the inside gave me the same impression as the outside:

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Very full.

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Very, very full. The furniture was stacked on top of each other with narrow rows for customers to walk through. Most of the stuff seemed to be of a more vintage style, and I found this gem of an armchair:

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oh yeahhh. I also like this blue cabinet:

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I guess I would characterize their selection as ‘funky, faded furniture with a twist.’ All of the furniture in the store is handmade – not mass produced – which contributes to the slightly rough-around-the-edges feel. If I were looking to furnish a house, I would consider going back here.

After Nadeau, the shopping itch was not satisfactorily scratched, so Noah and I went to Ridgedale. This excursion had a real purpose though since both of us were looking for shoes. I wanted some walking shoes and some dress shoes that would be comfortable and accommodate my orthodics. Unfortunately, I was only successful at finding the walking shoes.

When we first got to Ridgedale, priority #1 was food since we were both hungry. I got a fruit and yogurt parfait (chunky strawberry topper version) from Jamba Juice. It had strawberries, bananas, yogurt, peanut butter, and granola blended together and then topped with more granola and banana.

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Noah got a chicken philly sandwich and fries from Charley’s Grilled Subs.

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I didn’t try any, but Noah said it was yummy. After eating, we were ready to look for shoes!

Appropriately, I got my walking shoes at the The Walking Company (where, by the way, I received great service and got a lot of useful information). I got a pair of Dansko Elise in grey.


Noah was looking for a mid-level shoe, meaning something that falls between a sneaker and a dress shoe. He found what he was looking for at Clarks.

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The shoes are Clarks Saranac in tan leather. After trying a few different varieties, these ones were the perfect fit.

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While I was waiting, I found this gadget:

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That’s a shoe horn with a long handle. For some reason I thought it was hilarious – maybe the concept that people would want a tool to avoid bending down to put their shoes on? Or maybe I just liked it since I originally thought it was a backscratcher.

Breakfast in Jars and a Public Declaration

For the last two days, I’ve been experimenting with oats in a jar variations to make – more simply – breakfast in a jar.

Yesterday: Last bits of Hell’s Kitchen peanut butter plus granola, ricotta, and almond milk, soaked overnight. Sprinkled with cinnamon in the morning.

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Today’s breakfast: last bits of raspberry jam plus granola, ricotta, cashew butter, and almond milk, soaked overnight and sprinkled with cinnamon in the morning. Apple on the side.

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Obviously, I am the type of person who – after liking something – wants it again! ‘Breakfast in jars’ is a winner for me right now, and you should do it too! Benefits of breakfast in jars include:

1. You don’t waste any of the last bits of jam/nut butter/(fill in the contents of your favorite jar).
2. Granola, oats, nuts, and dried fruit all taste amazing after being soaked in milky deliciousness overnight.
3. It is beautiful! I love seeing the yummy swirls through the jar’s glass in the morning.
4. It’s something to look forward to when you finish a jar off – besides scraping the insides in an attempt to get it in recyclable condition, that is.

Moral of the story – if you make breakfast in a jar, you will be happy.

In other news…I have a public declaration to make.

I will be taking a one week hiatus from running.

I needed to put that out on the blogosphere to keep myself accountable. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I have been having some knee/IT band/hamstring/weak butt issues for the last several months. I’ve gone to the doc, been doing physical therapy, tried new shoes, and more new shoes.

Unfortunately, the issues still persist, and every time I try to add mileage back in things start to flare up again. I’ve decided that what I might need is some actual rest from running, rather than just ‘taking it easy.‘ I know it will be hard to stick to my guns on this one, but I’m committing to doing only low-impact activities for the next week. Give me your support!

Do you have any suggestions on good stress-relieving but still low-impact cardio? If you do, please share in the comments section!

New Shoes: Take Two

This morning was an early one: up and at the gym before 8am! (Yeah, yeah, I’m sure some of you are laughing at that…but it’s seriously early for me!) I had a great workout of lifting and 2 quick miles on the treadmill. I didn’t do anything special on my run – pretty much just increased speed by a notch or two whenever a new song came on my iPod. After the gym, I had a quick breakfast of 1/2 cup kashi go lean, 1/4 cup trail mix, banana, and greek yogurt.


After eating, I rushed off to TC Running to exchange the purple Nike Pegasus I bought last weekend.

remember these?

Their special place in my heart was short lived after learning from my physical therapist that they didn’t offer enough support. So…back to the stability shoes! Enter: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12. If the intensity of a shoe’s name has anything to do with their ability to prevent me from injury, then I should be golden with these bad boys.


Why are they good for me? Because of the progressive diagonal rollbar (PDR) in the midsole. PDR is a fancy way of describing the shoe technology that is designed to serve as a stability system, preventing the foot from rolling inward. Sounds good, right? Still, I’m not holding my breath since my last new pair of shoes failed the PT test. Here’s a close up of the PDR:


It might not look much different than the sole of any other shoe, but the material is much firmer and more shock resistant than your regular running shoe. Plus, the box had this lovely promise on it:


I’ll take Brooks up on that job. 🙂

Foiled Again!

Remember how I was so excited last weekend to get new purple running shoes? Unfortunately, on my next visit with the physical therapist, she evaluated me running in the shoes and determined that they – in fact – did NOT give me enough support. Her instructions: “Return the shoes and ask for something with more medial arch support.” Oy. I have the shoes in my car but haven’t gotten out to return them yet.

The PT also scolded me for my 4.4 miler on Tuesday and said I should only be running a maximum of 3 miles at a time until my knee/IT band/weak butt issues are fixed. Whoops….

So, it was back to the treadmill this morning for a quick 3 mile run. Since 1) I was on a treadmill and 2) if I was only doing 3 miles, then I wanted it to be good, I decided to do a fast paced interval workout. Inspired by Carrots ‘N’ Cake’s 5k Challenge, I mixed things up a little and did the following:

Distance (miles)              Treadmill Pace
0-1.0                                         6.0-6.6
1.0-1.25                                    7.6
1.25-1.40                                 4.0
1.40-1.65                                 7.8
1.65-1.80                                 4.1
1.80-2.05                                 8.0
2.05-2.20                                4.2
2.20-2.45                                8.0
2.45-2.60                                4.2
2.60-2.80                                8.2
2.80-3.0                                   6.0

Big, bang, done. It was super sweaty but super satisfying, and the best part….ZERO discomfort in my knee/IT band/butt.

Afterwards, I was in a huge rush to get to work so I had to bring my breakfast with me in a tupperware. It was completely identical to yesterday’s breakfast.

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Treadmill Test

Today I tried my new running shoes for the first time. Since I’ve been fighting an injury, I haven’t been running as much as usual, and I also didn’t want to use my shoes outdoors the first time just in case I didn’t like them and wanted to return. My plan was to try a fairly easy 4 miles on the treadmill and see how it went:

ready to go!

ready to go!

I was surprised at how good I felt! I had a little discomfort in my knee (which is where the whole trouble started), but besides that I didn’t have any hamstring or major IT band issues. I ended up going for a little more distance than I had planned – 4.4 miles in 40 minutes.

After the run, I definitely felt a little soreness on the outside of my knee but nothing terrible. I think I’ll try another run the day after tomorrow to test the waters again. When I got home I had a post-workout breakfast. I cooked 1/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill 10-grain hot cereal with 3/4 cup water in the microwave and topped with 1/4 cup trail mix, coconut milk, and a sliced apple.

this is good

this is good

Considering my beloved Minneapolis is currently a -2.2°, the day definitely called for a warm breakfast.

TC Running

I mentioned in my previous running post that I have been struggling with a little bit of an injury. Starting about five months ago, my knee would occasionally hurt after a run. The pain was always fairly mild and only lasted a couple hours before disappearing. About a month ago, the pain started staying around for longer and spreading into my IT band and hamstring. After an 8-miler left me in discomfort for a full 24 hours, I decided to go see a doctor. It is my personal belief that athletic injuries should be looked at by sports medicine doctors and not general practitioners – in my experience the sports medicine folks are the only ones who really get that “just take some time off” is not an acceptable solution to my problems. I want to get better WITHOUT taking time off! I’m tough to please, huh?

Anyway, my above prejudices led me to TRIA Orthopedic Center in Edina. I had been to TRIA last February for an ankle injury that they were extremely helpful with. This time, I was informed by the doctor that all my issues were stemming from weak muscles and I should attend a few physical therapy sessions to start doing regular exercises to strengthen my glutes. Booty camp it is!

I had my first physical therapy session this week at Institute for Athletic Medicine. I saw a trainer named Melissa, who seemed incredibly knowledgeable and carefully explained a lot about what might be happening inside my leg and how we could fix it. Her number one recommendation was to get new shoes by going to a running store with staff who could really evaluate my feet, stride, and what type of shoe would be best for me. Melissa’s first suggestion of where to go was TC Running in Eden Prairie. Not one to pass up an order to buy new shoes, I went as soon as I could this weekend.

You know any store with their own travel bus is the real deal:


The exterior of the shop is definitely unassuming…


…but the inside is a wonderland!!!

this is only a small sampling!

this is only a small sampling

In addition to several large walls full of shoes, TC Running also carries an extensive supply of running clothes, accessories, and fuel. When I walked in, I was immediately greeted by a staff member who offered to help me find what I was looking for. He patiently listened to my running woes, examined my current running shoes, and brought out several types of sneakers for me to try on. For each sneaker, he evaluated how my foot looked standing and walking and then brought out new options that might work better for my foot.

During the process, I learned that some of my problems may have been caused by wearing over-supportive shoes. I have extremely flat feet and had previously been told that I needed a highly supportive shoe to compensate. I also, however, wear customized orthotics in my shoes. The problem is that supportive-shoe models are meant to provide the same correction as orthotics, so by wearing both I was – in fact – overcorrecting the problem, resulting in my feet rolling to the outside. There’s no way to know if this was directly related to my injuries now, but it certainly seems possible!

After trying about seven pairs of shoes, we finally settled on the Nike Pegasus. Extra bonus: they are purple!

look at those beauties

look at those beauties

*modified, 1/22/13: Unfortunately, turned out these sneakers weren’t so hot. I brought them to my next PT appointment to get the okay from the trainer. Turns out they really did not offer enough support, and I was told to return them and ask for a shoe with a stronger medial arch. Bummer…I really liked the purple.