Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Review: New Balance Minimus



Do you remember your most favorite pair of shoes from your childhood? No? Maybe I was the only one who obsessed about shoes to the Nth degree. Physical Education class in 6th grade introduced me to community showers, spray deodorant, and quick changes. Back then, there were specialty shoes for different activities. I had softball cleats. I had sandals. I had some basketball shoes. Some of my friends were sporting the fancy Nike Air Max shoes. Me, well, I had Payless brand Fastbak (sp?) sneakers. They white leather shoes, that bordered the old school nursing shoes. Not attractive. Shortly into the school year, we were required to do these 20 minute runs. Essentially, the coach would start the clock and you had to run for 20 straight minutes. I remembered being so stressed about running for 20 minutes straight, until I actually did it and then it became a challenge to see if I could get 3 miles in 20 minutes. I became really close when I wore a pair of red slipper type of shoes that resembled a pair of TOMS. Less bulk shoe, the faster I felt. I had speed!

Fast forward 20+ years and here we are today. I'm still in pursuit of that perfect sneaker. Nearly three years ago I bought my first pair of Vibram Classic five fingers. Last year, to prepare for the triathlon, I purchased the Vibram Bikila. This year I was going to go for the Vibram Speed, but held off. The more I wore the Bikila, the more restricted I felt in them. They didn't "stretch" as much as my Classic. It just felt like more shoe minus the speed. I also had a pair of regular running sneakers that I HATED wearing. Every time I wore them, I felt like I was running in boots. Too heavy! Then, I heard about the New Balance Minimus with the Vibram sole. I'd been wanting these shoes for a long while. Well, wanting to see them, test them out, give 'em a whirl.


When I set off to rent another hybrid bike for my 2nd triathlon, I popped into the neighboring Run On! (Sidenote: I felt like such a traitor for not purchasing at Luke's because I'd been shopping there for the past 3 years!!!!) They had the shoe in stock and in my size. I slipped 'em on and boy howdy did they make me feel powerful! They were a bit snug around the middle of my foot and gave my arches a good hug. Let it be known, there is NO arch support inside of the shoe. There's a very light weight mesh upper with an AMAZING, gripping Vibram sole. I my toes stretched and flexed, my foot felt stable and I knew with time, the internal footbed would mold to every curvature. I was looking forward to taking them for a dance. I wore them around the remainder of the day running errands. No better way to break in a pair of shoes than to wait for the last day, right? That's sarcasm, by the way. DON'T EVER break in a pair of shoes the day before any race, ever, ever, ever! EVER. Unless your name is Bianca and you are a glutton for punishment.

5AM came plenty early. I threw on my outfit, laced my sneakers, and was excited about not having to worry about socks. Although, I did pack a pair just in case. When I walked out, the air was chilly. Seriously, I had a chill. A few days earlier, 5AM still had near 100 degree temperature. That day, it was right at 70. Wow! We arrived and immediately, I set off to the transition area to prep my bike, towel, and whatever else I thought I needed. I took off my shoes, and left the laces wide open to make putting the shoes on easier. And then we went to wait. No seriously, the race began at 7AM and it was 6:20. Again, I was towards the end of the start, so I didn't get into the water until 8:10. My swim time was much improved! I felt so confident with it that I think I could actually get my swimming time down to as fast as I run in the water! I came up to the transition area feeling loose and great. I put on my shoes, helmet, camelback (lifesaver!!!), gloves, and Tech WW jersey. Off I took, and an hour and 12 miles later I found myself in the transition area once again. I slipped on my race number belt, grabbed my phone, and took off running. Half an hour later, I was done. Good thing too because Tesla was hungry...and we packed the kitchen sink, but forgot to pack the bottle!*

No blisters on my feet. No tired feet! No aching knees. No aching hips. No threatening ankles. Mildly sore shins, but that was rollover from the last tri and other runs. I expected the pain to be far worse, when in reality it wasn't bad. Quite the opposite, actually. See how happy I am? Yes, those are fashion sunglasses on top of my head. That's how I roll! This is me with my sister. We are showing off medals and our "guns up!" That puddle under me is the spot where I'd just washed mine and Mari's hands. Why I didn't step away from it, I have no idea. I know it looks like I peed myself. ha ha! (Shoutout to Mom & Dad for being awesome! Not only did they cheer us on, but they watched the girls for us so we could compete!)

I was quite surprised how quickly these shoes "dried". I was still quite wet from my swim when I put the shoes on. I did try my feet, but there was probably quite a bit of runoff. I didn't have a bicycle cage for the rental. It was just a regular ol' foot pedal. As I biked, I could feel water flying out of the shoe. There were a few times that my shoe slipped off from lack of grip. I made a note to be sure to have some kind of cage/strap for my pedals. Also, you must double knot these shoes. Half way through the ride, one of my laces came undone and I wasn't about to pull over to tie it. The lace survived and luckily, didn't get caught up in the wheel! In the 2nd transition, I took the time to double knot both shoes. The run was on a parking lot surface, a sidewalk, part of a track, and ended on turf. All of those varying surfaces and not one single problem! I'm not sure how they would fare with socks. I've only worn them while barefoot. Even then, I don't have an issue with "stinky feet" smell in my shoes.

Hours after the race, we were off to a photoshoot with a very active set of 4 year old twin girls. I wore the shoes again. They were even more comfortable during the shoot. I seriously want to buy a 2nd pair of these just to keep them in my rotation. I highly recommend them if you are into minimal/barefoot running. They retail about $100. Now to find a fun pair of red shoe laces! :)


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*And Momma doesn't get a break. Baby is hungry, so here I am feeding Tesla a few minutes after finishing. I kinda wish Mae Burke would have appeared out of no where to capture this, but Don did pretty good with the camera phone. For the record, this is one of my most favorite memories!

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