First Impressions of the New Balance 870v3

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Today I took my New Balance 870v3s for a test drive — probably my first-ever pair of American-made running shoes. My first impression was very favorable.

This past Saturday I went to a Crossfit BFit class (not even actual Crossfit) which kicked my butt pretty soundly. Later that day I went for my 12-mile run. Sunday morning I hurt. I complained to Jenny that I might be “grievously injured.” But I still went for my 8-mile run.

(Turns out I wasn’t grievously injured.)

I rolled my legs out with a lacrosse ball during my Monday rest day, which helped a lot, so I was at about 70% for my run this morning. Still some nagging tightness in my legs. I preface my impressions with these comments because I think it’s important to note that I wasn’t trying these shoes on my best day. Not every running day is going to be my best running day, so I think that’s reasonable.

Bottom line up front: I liked these shoes.

When I first laced them up, I really noticed that the interior wasn’t very roomy. I don’t have tall or high-volume feet, but I felt that the 870v3s short height-wise: sole up to laces (not short toe to heel, the length was good). The low interior volume disappeared during the run into snug comfort. I expect more roominess as the shoe breaks in. These shoes aren’t as plush as my Brooks Glycerin 11s, and I didn’t expect them to be, but they do boast a cozy and supportive upper.

Best of all: no pain, even with a creaky body and a probably messed up stride. I enjoyed smooth transitions and a soft heel. The Abzorb foam in the heel is mushy to the touch and that softness is felt underfoot. Nice and soft, not sloppy. The heel isn’t exactly a push-off zone in my stride, so I’m not worried about responsiveness there.

First shoe impressions often hold, but my opinion of the 870v3 may change when I put more miles on it. Check back later for a full review.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love Shoes

The title of this post is a play on the title of a Raymond Chandler short story collection. I majored in English in college and that sensibility will always be a part of me, even though I’m no longer regularly writing analytical essays.

I broke a cardinal rule of running and picked out a pair of shoes based on their looks. Well, kind of. I was aware from a little research that they were a cushioning-focused model, and I did try them on at Pacers, the specialty running store where I purchased them. But initially they piqued my interest because they’re sharp-looking kicks.

I’m talking, of course, about my beloved Brooks Glycerin 11s.

I came into the late summer/early fall running season with the goal of dropping my half marathon PR of 2:01:05 to sub-2:00. I stumbled in a hot Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach with a disappointing time of 2:01:43 and again in the Parks Half Marathon with a 2:12:29 while suffering from a cold (and having run two 5ks the previous day, one of them in my old Marine Corps boots…I really didn’t set myself up for success so I shouldn’t have expected any and I can only blame myself for that).

So I really wasn’t in sub-2:00 territory.

Fast forward to October 4, 2013. Pressed into service for a business trip in Lisbon, Portugal on short notice, I had to transfer my Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon entry to a friend (I was able to do the race anyway since it got moved to November 10, 2013 due to the government shutdown and fit in my schedule). As luck would have it, the Lisbon trip coincided with the running of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Lisbon Marathon and Half Marathon. The president of my company, also a runner, jailbroke me from my Saturday responsibilities so I could join him for the race. I hauled my swollen legs and a very patient Jenny along to packet pickup instead of touring the city. We were able to register for the sold-out race only because we’d traveled from outside Portugal, a lucky break.

Shod in Glycerin 11s I hadn’t yet done a long run in, and having been on my feet most of the previous day despite the swelling I experienced during my international flight, I really didn’t expect much from myself in this race. But I wanted to beat my boss; I knew I wouldn’t hear the end of it if I didn’t.

Given all that was against me (again, I can only blame myself), you can imagine my surprise when I felt not just good, but great on the course and cruised to a 1:53:30 — not just under 2:00, but under 1:55, too!

And I positively smoked my boss.

I thought that the time might be a fluke, but I improved on it a week later at the very difficult Baltimore Half Marathon, posting a 1:53:09. For the first six or so miles of the race I was simply not present; I later likened it to the probable mentality of a stripper while working: I just went somewhere else.

My Glycerin 11s have carried me through a number of performances I’m proud of, and I love them for it.

Including tax, I paid north of $150 for these beauties, so I was hoping to get 500-600 miles out of them. They’ve got less than 250 miles on them now and the sole has worn away completely in places, exposing the midsole. I’m not experiencing any physical issues, but this lack of durability is troubling. For both emotional and financial reasons, I’m not ready to say goodbye to these shoes yet.

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