Monday, September 21, 2015

Saucony Shoe Review

I recently realized that in the last year and a half I've had 7 pairs of Saucony shoes (5 different models total) and that I should write a brief review of the brand in general and a little comparison of the models I've worn.

First off, I'm sure you want to know how the heck you pronounce the name of this brand for real.  Here you go:

Saucony was founded in 1898 in Kutztown, PA.  The word "Saucony" comes from the Lenni Lenape Native American word "saconk," meaning "where two rivers run together."  Inspired by the original location on the Saucony Creek, the logo represents a running fiver marked by three boulders.

My experience with Saucony running shoes has been fantastic!!  I think they make a very high quality shoe and I haven't found one that I don't like yet.  As you will see, I've run the gamut of their neutral line from super light racers to full cushion pillow top trainers.

The Ride (Version 7, 8.5 oz, 8 mm drop)
The Ride was the first Saucony shoe that I tried.  I had been running in Mizuno Wave Elixirs and was devastated that they stopped making them!  I tried on almost every running shoe in TrySports before deciding on the Ride.  I had just signed up for Quintiles Wrightsville Beach marathon at this time and although there was a little more to this shoe than I was used to, I thought extra cushion might be a good thing considering the mega miles I was about to start running.  Turns out I was right - The Ride is a mid-weight, mid-cushioned shoe in which you can log some serious miles!  I wore out two pairs of these between training for Quintiles & some for Savannah.

The Cortana (Version 3, 7.9 oz, 4 mm drop)
I love love love these shoes!!!  As soon as I saw them I loved them and I loved the way they ran just as much as the way they looked!  They are very similar to the Kinvaras, however I think they have just a touch more cushioning and as per the website they have the slightest hint of stability.  To me, they felt like light-weight neutral shoes with just enough cushion for racing long distances.  I bought 2 pairs of these and used the blue ones for a lot of training heading into Savannah and then I saved the orange ones for racing and they ran me all the way to my sub-3 :)  

The Triumph ISO (9 oz, 8 mm drop)
After returning to triathlon and signing up for an Ironman, I decided to try Saucony's premium cushioned shoe to help save my legs from all the running & cycling I was doing.  This is the heaviest shoe I've worn in a while and by FAR the most cushioned.  At first I wasn't sure if I'd be able to keep running in them because they are SO soft.  It's like running on a trampoline and I felt like I wasn't getting the type of road feel and energy return that I usually like in a running shoe.  I was springing along on every run like a bunny.  However, I stuck with them and I didn't get injured while Ironman training so they served their purpose!  Another interesting thing about this shoe is that is has a seamless sock-like upper, which I like and felt very comfortable on my feet. 

The Zealot ISO (7.4 oz, 4 mm drop)
I like to say that the Zealot is the Kinvara on steroids.  What I mean is that like the Kinvara, it has a low drop and is very light!  But with a little bit more added stack height made from a super compressed foam it gives you maximum cushion.  This shoe is made to compete with the Hoka Clifton and it is indeed very comfortable and very cushioned (not quite as cushioned as The Triumph).  I honestly haven't run that much in it (for no particular reason) but I have worn it a lot around town and while traveling.  This shoe has the same comfortable, seamless sock-like upper as The Triumph. 

The Type A (Version 6, 5.2 oz, 4 mm drop)
The Type A is a true racing flat.  There is not, as intended, much to it.  I ordered these because I have been contemplating what shoes to wear at Chattanooga and I read a lot of glowing reviews about them online.  When I received this box of shoes in the mail I lifted it up and my first thought was, "Holy cow, it feels like there's nothing in here!!"  They are that light.  They are the least cushioned Saucony's that I've run in with the least amount of stack.  They do not want for ground feel.  When you put them on you just feel fast.  These shoes are narrower than other Saucony's that I've worn, which I like b/c I have a narrow foot.  It feels like the shoe is perfectly form fitted to my foot and the first day that I wore them I got 3 compliments on them.  I can't help but increase my turnover in these shoes; they make you want to go from jogging to running to racing.  I ran 10 miles today and felt good, but I'm not 100% sure if I should wear them in Chattanooga or not.  They are so minimalistic and such a departure from the Triumphs....are my legs going to want more cushion after 116 miles of biking?  How are they going to feel 18 miles into the run?  I'm leaning towards wearing them and stashing a more cushioned pair of shoes in my special needs bag just in case, but the jury's still out.  Lastly, to be clear, I wouldn't recommend these to anyone that pronates, is carrying a lot of extra weight, or has poor running form.

So I guess that about sums it up.  If you've never worn Sauconys before, I encourage you to give them a try!  Who knows, you just might #findyourstrong...

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Tour De Moore 100-Miler

Yesterday I rode the Tour de Moore with 18 of my closest Wilmington training buddies!  It felt a little bit bitter sweet b/c I knew it was the last ride I'd be doing with this awesome group of people.  But, thanks to Mike for reminding me that it's not my last ride with everyone, just my last ride before I move :)  For sure I will be back in Wilmington to visit family & friends and will be joining in on the good ol' Poplar Grove & 421 routes!

So the Tour de Moore started off with a bang ... literally.  We were all lined up at the start and it was very congested.  I was next to Erin when someone rode in front of her and she had to unclip unexpectedly.  She got one foot out, but unfortunately fell to the side that was still clipped in towards me and bless her heart she made sure not to fall into me - thank you!!  The crazy thing was that when she fell, her hip bone landed right on her aero pad and the entire thing broke off - like not just the pad, but also the piece attached to the aero bar!  Not the ideal way to start the race.  She & Misty had a delayed start due to this but they were able to eventually jerry-rig the pad back on and they caught back up with us later in the ride.

Back to the start of the ride ... it was rainy/misting out and the roads were damp.  It had been over a week since I'd been on my tri bike and there were a lot of people out there on course.  All of this made me a bit nervous to begin with.  I rode at the back of the paceline of my usual group.  They started off at 20+ mph and there was no way around it, the effort felt hard.  Too hard.  After 10-15 min of this, I decided that I couldn't maintain that pace for the entire century so I backed off and just did my own thing.  I rode at my own pace for the first 30 miles and over the course of that time I started feeling a lot more comfortable and confident on the bike.  And my legs were warming up nicely.  I caught up with my group again at the first aid station.

We got going again and this time I didn't have a problem staying with the pacemakers.  I even did a little pacemaking myself :)  I started really enjoying the terrain and the change of scenery!  The sun came out and the roads dried up.  It was a perfect day!  At 50 miles in I think we were all feeling good!

Once we hit the Pinehurst section of the course there were some pretty tough hills!  As opposed to Doug's big chain ring 40 rpm cadence, I used all of my easy gears and mostly spun up the hills!  This worked pretty well and I felt like I was climbing decently.  I was going up one of the hills and remembered that my horoscope for the day read "Any exertion you make today is effortless." I laughed to myself and thought "I wish!"  I will say though that Doug singing "Jesus take the wheel" on the climbs did in fact make things a tiny bit more effortless.  We rolled into the last aid station and Sami had made a new friend, surprise surprise, haha.  She said she'd been interviewing him for the last 10 miles and we were all like, "We know!  We can hear your voice a mile away!!!"  :)  Brian said that sometimes she builds up lactic acid in her vocal cords rather than her legs, haha!  Actually I'm super thankful for all the encouragement you yelled out Coach Sami!  And the smiling Yoda nestled in between the two water bottles on your rear hydration system was a nice touch!

Before we got rolling on the final stretch, we thought about texting Mark & Lindsey but we were all too tired to actually do it!  Erin warned us that the worst was yet to come and omg she was right!  The last 8 miles or so of this course was entirely uphill - nothing super steep, but just a long enough and insidiously graduated enough to make you want to cry.   In fact the last 2 miles were just brutal.  You hit 100 and then you have 2 more miles of pure pain to get through before the finish!  I wanted it to be over but I didn't want it to be over.  It was such a great day out there and riding with all of you who I've trained with this entire summer for IMCHOO was really cool!

After the ride, Mike & I threw on our running shoes and headed out for a short t-run.  We ran a mile out (all downhill) and a mile back (all uphill) and my legs felt surprisingly springy.  At the end of it all, I felt like my confidence was boosted for IMCHOO.  Erin says that TDM is more difficult than IMCHOO and I really hope she's right!  I also hope that my elbow finally fully heals before the race.  I rode on it today without any additional padding for the first time since the accident and it was uncomfortable.  By the end of the ride it had turned into a disgusting blood blister - sick.

I gotta give a huge shout and and thank you to the organizers and volunteers of this ride!   It was so nice to have support, rest stops, porta potties, and food out there on the course!  The course was marked so well I didn't look at my cue sheet once.  And at the end of the ride there was a lot of food and it was vegan!!!  Salad, rolls, veggie pasta marinara, & FRUIT!  Yum!  Cheers to a great day and to great friends and training partners.  I will surely miss all of you when I go to FL, so please make a point to sign up for IMFL 2016 ;)