15 March 2013

road review - saucony kinvara vizi-glo

i've been thinking a lot (and in fact acting a lot) on the theme of quitting.  i know that it sounds all negative and stuff - but my friend (who is a great musician and olympic-level athlete) rosanna tomiuk has some insightful comments on that.  

but in terms of running, for me it's not about giving that up - but letting go of some good friends who have served me well ... the saucony kinvaras:

these shoes joined my stable in the late summer of 2011.  they were my second pair of the first generation kinvaras (i originally had a lime green pair that really stood out when i was doing training runs through rural romania), and were purchased for $39 thanks to a coupon and the sale at the running room outlet store.

at the time (and even still) the saucony kinvara was considered the crème de la crème of the new breed of performance running footwear - lightweight, low heel drop, suitable for training and racing.  i was excited to try them out - and i remember my first impression when i donned them for a road run:  it was like wearing socks that were shoes.

these kinvaras have seen me through several races and probably well over 1500km of running now.  why have i held on to them for so long?  here a few reasons:
  1. fit - the kinvaras had (more on this below) a great shape for my foot.  true-to-size, there was ample forefoot room and a nice feel around the heel.  as i noted, like socks to run in.
  2. lightweight - at 7.7 oz in a men's 9 (mine were a 10), they were definitely on the leading edge of minimalist shoes.
  3. colour awesomeness - while they did have a variety of plainer colour combos, the vizipro orange and lime green pairs that i had in my closet rocked.
  4. traction - featuring these great outsole 'pistons', the kinvaras have been in use year round, even on ice and deep snow runs.  i've never had a concern about tumbling in them.
  5. flexible - the mesh upper/sockliner design of these shoes mean that they conform nicely to my foot as it transitions through all of the motions of the footstrike.  plus these shoes have seen me move from a midfoot-strike to a forefoot-strike pattern and have allowed me to do so without any real hindrance. 
  6. drainage - connected to the comments above, i used the kinvaras in some triathlon work and the fact that they got my feet dry quick after T1 (i didn't have bike-specific shoes) was a huge bonus.
given all of these pluses, why surrender them now?  just a few thoughts:
  • upper wear - yup, they've split open at the point where my forefoot flexes.  probably a good indicator that i'm either landing on my forefoot or at least springing off well, but the rip is widening as well.  don't know how long they'll last that way.
  • fit across forefoot - what was once a positive is now not so much.  i've gone to the extent of even skipping the bottom two speedlacing eyelets to create a bit more room for splay and flex (in addition to removing the insole, as noted in a previous post).  i wonder if transitioning to forefoot running over the last 10 months or so has actually made my foot a bit wider.
  • midsole compression - this may or may not be just a psychological thing on my part.  i have always had these shoes in rotation with at least two other pairs, so they've had adequate time to decompress/expand between runs - but i'm sure that the seasons of rain, snow and salt have not done much to keep the midsole in pristine form.
  • not my prime shoe anymore - this is definitely a psychological thing.  if these shoes were newer, this would be a weak (and wasteful) excuse to part ways with them ... but now that i have my current favourite (merrell road glove) and new race shoe (skechers gobionic) to rotate through, it may be time to bid them adieu.
my first pair of lime green kinvaras were donated to the recycling program at my local running free store.  as these puppies aren't in quite as good a shape as the first pair were, they may just find their way into our local landfill (i don't believe in trying to pawn off trash to others).
i only wish that they were biodegradable ... that would have been a fitting tribute to bury these shoes alongside some of the roads that they have carried me down.  fare thee well, kinvaras, fare thee well.


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