Since I wasn't able to determine the best shoe option last night on the treadmill, I tried it again tonight. I took 4 pairs of shoes, a pair of orthotics, and a pair of heel levelers. I wrote up a list of 6 options (on top of the 3 options I tried last night) and took it with me to the workout facility.
Option 1 = size 7.5 Pearl Floats with just the insoles (left insole was the from the size 7.5 shoe and the right insole is from the size 8 pair since I cut up the size 7.5 insole under the guidance of the 3RRC staff
Result = not bad - a little snug along the right foot toes, but not bad
Option 2 = size 7.5 Pearl Floats with insoles and orthotics
Result = could work - quite snug - definitely not a good long term solution; could work especially for shorter runs
Option 3 = size 8 Pearl Floats with insoles and orthotics
Result = didn't try this option tonight. Too tired, too many options, already know the shoes solve the shin splint problem.
Option 4 = New Balance 1064's with heel leveler, orthotics, and insoles
Result = Not terrible. Plenty of room in the toe. Wow - spacious!!! I think thicker socks would be a better choice in these shoes (tonight I wore toe socks). I think it will take a little time to get used to these shoes - not really a "break-in" thing, but more of it just seems heavy and the heel strike is just a little different than other shoes I've run in.
Option 5 = size 7.5 (regular width - B) Asics Nimbus 12 with orthotics and insoles
Result = My shins were hurting - they were hurting from the running in the other shoes so I'm not sure it was all these shoes. I really wanted this to be perfect, but it just wasn't working. Side note - this is the option I ran in on Tuesday with "C" when my blister got bad AGAIN!
Option 6 = size 7.5 (regular width -B) Asics Nimbus 12 with orthotics, insoles, and heel levelers
Result = Stepping up to the treadmill with this option on my feet, my shins were aching so badly that I just didn't think I could even take one step - but I was determined to either keep this on the list or write it off. One step, then two steps, then three, and within just a few steps my shin pain completely resolved - no joke!!! Shocker right! I walked at 3.5, then at 4.0, then I ran for 5 minutes straight at 4.5, then I ran for 3 minutes at 5.0 - no problem. It felt the best of all the shoes/combos I have tried. This is the option I'm going with for now.
Next? I will need to go a 3rd time to the treadmill to determine if the size 8 floats or the N-B are worth keeping or if the Asics Nimbus 12 are my only shoe for the future.
This Saturday I'm doing the Runners on Parade 5K and if I make the television highlights (doubtful!) - you'll see me sporting my awesome pink Nimbus 12's. Stay tuned for a report on how they work out. Fingers crossed!