Monday, February 16, 2009

In my footsteps

Hello! Well if you're still tuning in, then congratulations - you, too, have made it through another offseason. No, we're not into the fanatical throes of self exhaustion, discovery, and exploration yet while we traverse 70, 80, 90, 100 miles on a machine on the way to Ironman, and nor will we yet exalt in the triumphs of beating last week's 100 split in the pool by two seconds, but this cat, at least, is out of hibernation and it feels good. Commence a return to regular updates via the blog.

As usual, my foray back into the season has begun Not just shopping - I'm working out (pretty intensely, stay tuned, that's a whole other post) - but about this time of year I start planning ahead to all the stuff I'll need. Or want. Whichever. Some of it's practical - goggles, shoes. Some if it just kind of gets me in the mood - like the dual color (black and blue striped) Fi'zik handlebar tape I ordered the other day. All of it kind of goes into a pile with my triathlon stuff and awaits the sunshine's return. But it helps me feel like I'm preparing, organizing, ready-ing.

So last weekend I decided I should seek out my perfect training shoe to throw into my rotation. My usual ride is the Asics Kayano, and I'm presently about 1/4 through the life of a pair of Kayano 14's:

And, in time past, I'd just go into the store when I need a new pair and say, "I need these in a 12" and go on my way. Last season, though, I fell victim to folly, convinced by a helpful salesperson and his fantastical slow motion foot machine that I was a neutral runner, and not the slight under pronator that I thought I was. I spent most of the summer in a pair of lightweight Saucony shoes that were really comfortable, and once in awhile I'd run in my Kayano's or Newton's. I ran in the Saucony's during October's Twin Cities marathon. Probably it should have been pretty obvious, but it was really only into the offseason that it occurred to me that suddenly I'm dealing with plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis, and some IT Band drama coming out of the blue during the marathon (that kept me 2 minutes and 51 seconds from my 4-hour goal.) Well what changed? The shoes. So when considering my options this season, I was suddenly nervous about it. I'm doing all kinds of strength and flexibility training right now in advance of the season, and am doing all this goofy yoga and stretching, strictly to try and stay injury free. I don't want to sabotage those efforts by going to the wrong shoe.

I considered the new Under Armour Revenant - a stability shoe that I've heard some really good things about. But - they felt wonky, maybe a little too narrow or something.

When I tried on the more neutral shoe, the Apparition, they were ridiculously comfortable. But, running around in them a bit, there didn't feel like enough forefoot cushioning - they were noisy on my footfalls, kind of hard. I still may consider putting these into my rotation later in the summer, but they didn't cry out that they were the shoe.

So, I compared each of these to the update of my tried and true workhorse - the Asics Kayano 15:

This update has a bit of new cushioning with the gel inserts in the mid-forefoot area, which is good. They've gone to some crazy lacing strategy that's supposed to better support the bones of the foot or something - which is a change I've read mixed reviews on, and is either awesome, or an effort by Asics to outsmart themselves. Still, it felt great in the store. I tried one on the left while I wore one of the other shoes on the right to compare the feel, and even compared to my existing Kayano 14's, they felt great. But...I felt some apprehension. The Apparition's, even though they were neutral, had a bit of arch support that felt good on my left foot (still and probably going to be haywire with the fasciitis). Maybe I should try something new? Maybe a drastic change is just the thing? Maybe I look better in neon yellow?

So I left the store having not made any opinion, and content to still mull it over. Then I was struck with an epiphany - the Kinsei!

The Asics Kinsei is "the world's most technologically advanced shoe". I actually trained and raced Ironman 2006 in the Kinsei 1:

(Except mine were red...) They are without a doubt the most comfortable shoe I've ever owned, and today they're my general bumming around shoe (still marked with "531" on the back, my IMWI '06 number.) But in researching this year's model, I learned that they're heavy as hell. Who knew? Apparently they were in '06, too. Huh. (I now have a satisfactory explanation for why I didn't go sub 12 hours...) And did you know adding an ounce to a shoe is like adding a pound to your midsection when running? What? Plus, the Kinsei is mad expensive. Like, just south of $200.

So when I put all of this into the mental blender, I came up with: While other shoes look pretty, seem glamorous, and tantalize the senses with dreams of running fast as Steve in a Speedo, the Kayano's have been the steady, reliable, drama-free teammate. If I'm going back into battle this summer to forge another Ironman, I'll choose dependable.

Still, no reason - and it makes good sense - to add other shoes into my rotation if it's useful, so I'll keep my mind open to that. And, the new Kinsei 3 will be out late this summer - if it looks to be worth it's weight (ha!), I'll have another look.

Plus - I'm looking for a training shoe. Not a racing flat. My Newton's have served me well as long as I'm not trying to train in them everyday, and I likely won't be racing in these Kayano's at all. I just need something trustworthy to put the hundreds of miles under me on lonely Saturdays. There's a reason the Newton's are obnoxious bright green, and that's because the flash is for raceday.

So after much thought, I went with the Asics Kayano 15:

Hold up. Can we seriously do no better than Ugly Ass Gold for these things?

That's better. Should be arriving in a day or two. Fully developed impressions to follow.

Meanwhile, stay tuned for an update on my training, and some exciting Ironman related news coming sometime in the near future. Welcome back, everybody.


R. Jeffrey Davis said...

Great post as usual and yes, I have the "ugly ass gold" ones. Oh well. I don't race in them so it's not that big of a deal for me. I'm quite happy with my purchase.

xt4 said...

Laughing out loud RJD...I didn't mean to insult your color choice, of course - I'm sure they look smashing on you!

Lori (toughnoodles) said...

I loved that post! That is similar to how I think through the shoes thing...only I go through the process another four times before choosing. ;)

CznE said...

You really do seriously mull things over.... the treadmill, shoes. Do you ever shop impuslively?

marathon2tri said...

Good to have you back. I run in god-ass-ugly Ascis GT 2410s - - - but they do the job.

Alili said...

Shoe color is very important. My trail shoes must be the ugliest color combo in the store, whereas my road shoes must be 'pretty.' Preferably a shade of bluish purple. :)

Triteacher said...

Hey, hey - buying shoes means business. X is back indeed!

Pharmie said...

Speaking of gold things... Check out Steve's new bike (we didn't get to choose the color :)

Anonymous said...

Lord, and we thought this was easy!!!! You probably spent more time thinking on your shoes than I thought about having you! I am quite happy with the net result, hope you are too. You really don't want to just rest on your laurels huh? mom

Erin said...

Classic. Good to see you're back at it.

I have the ugly-ass root beer brown asics. They've long since been retired as barn shoes (b/c of the ugly-ass brown color) but got me through Ironman like a charm. I know it's not the color that matters, but I'm always secretly pleased when the shoe I need and a pretty shoe are one in the same. It doesn't happen often, but my new ones are silver and pink. Prrrreeetttty. :)

Scott said...

Comment unrelated to this post - but following up on your earlier rant- Did the music companies go through all the ironman videos people posted and get them pulled for using their music without a license? This is seriously affecting my motivation and training - all my favorites are gone for copyright violations. Do they realize these things are essentially a commercial for their music? I've downloaded 17 songs from Itunes based solely on hearing them in Youtube ironman videos. I think I got probably 7 of those from your videos alone. Would it be so hard to charge a nominal fee like $1-3 to cover the non-commercial use of music for people's personal videos on YouTube or other similar sites? Just irritating.

Still love the Becoming Ironman/Amazing mix -

Anonymous said...

Maybe the gold color is a sign that you will be 'lightening' fast during IM this year. Like Usain Bolt fast!

I just bought the Kayano 15s in the women's shoe and love them. They told me to look out for any rubbing along the 'new' seam on the big toe, but that doesn't seem to be an issue.

Looking forward to watching you at IM this year.