best. shoes. ever?

Yep. Broke down and got new kicks. And, by god, it may have been the best decision I’ve made in a while.

The boy and I swung by the store this afternoon and picked up a new pair of shoes. We then proceeded to the beach, terrorized hermit crabs for a while, and headed home for hot dogs and a bath. After the kiddos were in bed, I strapped on the new shoes and headed out for a shakedown cruise. It was everything I could have dreamed it could be.

The weather still stunk – warm and humid. I’d say it was raining, but I’m not entirely convinced that the water falling from the sky was rain – I think it was probably just coming out of suspension as a 100% humid day cooled to a 100% humid night. Some 18th century Briton has a set of curves named after him that describe in detail how much water per unit volume air per air pressure per degree there can be until a saturated system is achieved – this was theory in practice, baby. I hadn’t worried any more about eating. And, I was just doing the recovery run programmed in – nothing special distance-wise.

But “it” was there – the stride felt good out of the gait (get it? It’s a pun!), breathing was happening – all of that. Even with a belly full of cucumber and hot dog. The most telling thing, IMO, was that I wasn’t having to concentrate to make my footfalls sound light – they just did.

So, 5 miles down, not quite at recovery pace. I’m happy. Think it’s the shoes, but we’ll revisit in a couple of months. I do know I was happy with my running up until I switched shoes from the last pair. The next two paragraphs are pretty much straight ahead consumerism – Runner’s World, if you want to use them, I’ll tell you where to send the check.

On the outside, the Gel Cumulus VII is a pretty serious overhaul from the Gel Cumulus VI. Most of the “flash” is gone, except for a toe and heel reinforcement that are a blue normally only found in science fiction movies. Cobalt, I think is the proper color. The asics crossroads are thinner, and seem to be kind of structural. My favorite part – they took the stretchy mesh that they used on the Gel Verdict series (now sadly discontinued) and made most of the upper from that. So when you lace them up, it’s kind of an even stretch. Verry, verrry nice…

On the soles, they left the cool see-through window into the gel at the heel, and added a window on the outside of the ball of the foot. They also did away with a bunch of the hard plastic on the bottom, which I think is going to make this a better trail shoe. At least in dry weather. The bottom of the soles looks a whole lot more durable – lots more carbon rubber, less just foam, and a whole lot less hard plastic.

So the functional part – the sole and cushioning – I think are unchanged. The upper, in my opinion (which on this page is king), is a vast improvement – better materials, less “bling”, more function. The contact surface with the road seems more durable – again, we’ll revisit in a while. And the most important part – the running – is still there.

worst. run. ever.

12 miles on Saturday completely blew.

1. Wet. Great gracious me, I thought I was back in Houston. Temps at the start of the run were probably mid 70’s at most, but it was darn near 100% humidity. I swear my shirt was soaked before I hit the top of the driveway. Couldn’t breathe, what being underwater and all.

2. Shoes. I don’t know that I can necessarily blame them – I did the 15 in my new-ish pair of New Balance 833’s last weekend and didn’t feel a thing but good. Today – my arches felt collapsed, my ankles felt twisty. Blech. I’ve been having foot pain off and on since swapping my Asics for these; think it’s time to go back to what works. Stupid $60 down the drain…

3. Nutrition. Left at 6 AM. Nothing to eat at the house. Usually, if I’m running in the AM, I’m doing it over near work on Jamestown or Newport, so I huff something (‘nana, blueberries, granola bar, coffee, coffee, coffee)) down before I eat. Although, again, I didn’t bother with that for the long run in Vermont. Saturday, I also took a PowerBar with me instead of relying on candy, etc. Ate the PowerBar at about mile 4, and didn’t feel quite right after it. Think it’s back to Swedish Fish for next week.

Regardless, the run stank. I probably walked 3 or 4 of the 12 or so miles. (Good! says Galloway – walk/run is a great way to prepare) If it weren’t for the great long run last weekend, over a bigger distance, and two decent runs last week, I’d be severely discouraged.

Instead, I’m psyched about new shoes and trying again this evening. Hope everyone else is avoiding the heat…