First impression: running in the New Balance Zante v2

Better watch out Kinvara!

Today’s run (street): 4.9 miles

It’s so annoying when business gets in the way of running, but that happened this week. I missed my Friday morning run because I had to go into the office for a meeting. I did run on Monday because I was home for the Labor day holiday. I don’t know if that counts as part of last weekend’s activities or it it’s part of this week’s. I’ll have to look in the rulebook to get that answer.

One other thing I did on Labor day was order a pair of New Balance Zante v2s through the Shoekicker site. It was just about a year ago that I got my Kinvara 5s the same way. In both cases I got significant discounts. I have no affiliation with Shoekicker, but I recommend it if you are confident enough to buy a shoe without first trying it on.

I picked the cheapest shipping option and didn’t expect to get them for at least two weeks. Last night, in the middle of dinner, Mrs. Emerging Runner said, “Oh, I forgot to tell you, your shoes came today.” Here’s the thing about me and running shoes. I like them a lot. Especially new ones. I couldn’t believe I’d just wasted the past hour having dinner when I could have been trying on my new Zantes. I hurried through the rest of my meal and then scoured the den in search of a box from Jackrabbit Sports.

I purchased the Zantes because my beloved Kinvaras were getting deeply worn on the medial side of the heel.This is the curse of the pronator and, due to the type of shoes I favor (blown rubber out-soles) I tend to wear them out after 500-600 miles. It was the exact reason why I’d replaced my Virratas with the Kinvara 5s last year. Years ago, I ran in less minimal shoes like the Brooks Adrenalins that had EVA and carbon rubber in high wear areas. They were heavier, but I could get over 900 miles out of them.

I’ve had shoes sent to me by manufacturers to review or mention in the blog. Due to a possible conflict of interest with my day job, I no longer do that. I wasn’t paying for those shoes, so I didn’t particularly care if they fit me well. When I’m paying, I’m very concerned. There’s a moment of truth when I first try them on because there’s something at stake and a decision to be made whether to keep them.

Once the Zantes were unboxed, I began to gather impressions. Lightweight, but not as light as the Kinvaras. Nice, breathable one piece upper. Slightly higher drop than the Kinvara, but similar stack height. I’ve always liked New Balance shoes, but did not like their Minimus models that I felt ran too narrow and had a pronounced bump toward the forefoot. The Zante v2 is very new school, similar to Saucony and Asic’s newer, less structured models.

I tried on the Zantes and my first impressions were mixed. The toe box is roomy. That’s something I like due to the shape of my foot. However, I was concerned that I ordered them in too large a size. I have to be careful about sizing. I normally wear size 11s and run mostly in Saucony models. The size 11 Zante felt a half a size larger than the Saucony size 11. Due to that, I was concerned the Zantes might run a little sloppy. When I cinched the laces, the upper wrapped securely and held my foot well. A few quick steps around the house and on the treadmill confirmed that they were keepers.

I went out early this morning because I needed to finish my run in time to make an appointment. I also wanted to beat the heat, but there was little chance of that. At least the sun was low and mostly hidden by cloud cover. It was humid but still runnable. I paid close attention to the feel of the Zantes as I took my first steps from my house. They felt stable with no issues with the fit. Toe-off was smooth and responsive. The forefoot was supportive but not overly firm. I felt a little more cushioning than I get from the Kinvara. To be fair, the Kinvara has 500 miles on it and the Zante is brand new.

Just shy of 5

I moved along well and my run felt faster than the numbers indicated. The Zante’s mid-sole promotes a rolling gait and the overall firmness gave it a fast feel. I wasn’t tracking my mileage but in the almost five miles I ran with them, I could tell that this would be a good distance shoe. I picked up the pace on my last mile and got some decent speed despite the increasingly oppressive humidity.

I’m looking forward to my next run in the Zantes. I decided to get them after reading a review in Runblogger that suggested the Zante as a strong competitor to the Kinvara 7. I wanted a change and I was curious to see what New Balance had to offer. So far, it’s an offer I can’t refuse.

Another Kinvara for the ER

This color was $52, the rest were more expensive

This weekend’s runs (street): 8 miles total

This is the last weekend of summer before the kids return to school so we took off for some R&R. Due to that, I was limited in terms of running options. But between today and yesterday, I was able to cover a total of eight miles. The not so good news is that the upper thigh discomfort that I experienced as part of my ruptured disc has come back. It’s not actually painful, but I feel it in every step and it’s affecting my stride.

I’m doing some massage exercise to help deal with it. Fortunately, this discomfort only happens while I’m running. I ran with my Saucony Triumph ISOs today and it was a little better than with my Virratas that have pronounced heel wear on the lateral sides of both shoes. I’ve been researching shoes to replace the Virratas (my main shoe right now) and decided to go with the Kinvara 5.

Thanks to ShoeKicker, I was able to find a pair online for $52 with free shipping. I should see them sometime next week. I adored my original Kinvaras and the K3s have served me well for far longer than I’d deserved. I made the mistake of reading lots of user reviews that planted some doubt about the K5s.

The concern was mostly due to the Pro-Lock feature that the Triumphs also have. The K6 Pro-Lock is supposed to be worse, which is why I elected to get the 5s. I figure that everyone’s foot is different and some people will always be disappointed. Despite some negative posts, most reviews were overwhelmingly positive, I’m hoping mine will be too.

ShoeKicker finds finds running shoe bargains

http://shoekicker.com/

Today’s run (street): 3.5 miles

Back to the run today. I’ve been non-stop all week at work and getting home a little later than I’d like. Due to that, I wasn’t able to fit in a workout last night. This morning I kicked off my weekend of running with a few loops around the neighborhood. The humidity was down, my energy was up and I thought I was really hammering my last mile. No such luck, but it was my fastest of the day.

Our plans this weekend may interfere with both my running and blogging so I’m glad I got out today. If I have time, I’ll continue my search for my next pair of running shoes. The guy behind a new site and web app called ShoeKicker contacted me recently. That was timely, since I’m in the market for a new trainers.

ShoeKicker is a clever idea. Put in the shoe that you want to buy, plus your size and gender, and it quickly returns the best price on the web. There’s a button to take you directly to the lowest offer, along with alternative sites that sell the shoe. The feedback I gave him was to add more capabilities to the site to bring people back more frequently. I also think it would be good for the app to provide some contextual information to help educate the user or provide an opportunity to price alternative models.

I miss the (defunct) Runners World shoe app and ShoeKicker could be a good, modern alternative. It has a clean design, easy to use interface and tells you how much you save in fun non-monitory terms. Dave, the guy behind the site, seems very interested in providing the best possible experience to his users. Check it out. Once I decide on my next shoe, I’ll probably use the site to buy them.