Shoe Review – New Balance Foam Fresh Zante

A long, LONG time ago (I’m talking when I was in college) — I tried to run/work out in New Balance shoes. I loved how they looked, my friends raved about them, and they got great reviews, but they were always too wide for my skinny/high arched feet – even the narrows didn’t fit right. It bummed me out and apparently shaped my shoe shopping habits for years to come.

Despite the fact that shoe styles change EVERY SINGLE YEAR, I have avoided New Balance shoes because of this. My brain equates New Balance to Wide Shoes. UNTIL NOW.

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I probably would have kept living in ignorance if I wasn’t given the opportunity to review the shoes. And now my life is much more fulfilled. And I’m pretty sure I have a new running shoe.

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Look! I ran! Really! Also – this was safe.

So enough about me…

The Zante shoe is a new addition to the New Balance family. Here are some of the features:

  • Breathable air mesh upper increases airflow during long runs
  • TPU tongue weld improves lockdown support <–I thought the tongue was weird at first, but it works.
  • Sock-like fit hugs the arch to allow toes to spread during movement <– THE BEST!
  • Fresh Foam midsole features a one-piece construction to delivers ultra-plush cushioning
  • Full ground contact outsole improves traction and flexibility

And it’s Specs:

  • Shoe type: Neutral
  • Heel-to-toe drop: 6mm
  • Weight: Women: 6.3oz, Men: 7.5 oz <– Holy cow, this shoe is so light!!
  • Price: $99.99

Running Competitor voted this the Best Road Shoe of 2015 — and I can definitely see why.

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I am the best photographer ever. Also – why is that vein in my wrist so big?

I DID have to buy a Men’s shoe because they didn’t have size 11s in the store (just another perk of having gigantic feet!) BUT that didn’t change my perspective of the shoe AT ALL (Bonus: I wanted black anyways).

When I first put the shoes on I actually thought – “Wow, that’s a tight fit.” I actually had to check that it was truly New Balance. After about a quarter of a mile in them though – they loosened up slightly. They really DO have a sock-like fit, bit it didn’t feel as stiff and constricting. That said, if you have normal-to-wide feet though, I recommend looking into a different width.

The foam part of the shoe felt weird to me at first. It makes the shoe SO light, it’s almost scary. However, they manipulated the shoe to include incredible arch coverage, so it doesn’t necessarily feel like you are running on foam. Now, I don’t know if I could run a full marathon in this shoe (not that I’ll be doing THAT any time soon), but I could definitely run in these for a half.

So…HELLO new running shoes!


Have I mentioned that I have gigantic feet?

The ONLY tough part about this shoe was that it was RIDICULOUSLY hard for me to find! I checked out Academy of Sports and Sport Authority before ONLY finding the Men’s shoe at Dick’s. However, Amazon, Road Runner Sports, and Running Warehouse all have them online — and bonus they have them in really fun colors. I’m pretty sure I need this pair:

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Have you worn the Zante? What did you think?

What color would you pick?

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, but all opinions are my very own! If the shoes sucked, I promise I would let you know.

Switching Shoes {A Continuation of the Mizuno Saucony Shoe Story Saga}

So, a while ago I bought and RAVED ABOUT Mizuno Wave Rider 17s.

SOAWESOME

I loved them. I PR’d in them. They were my jam. They made my feet happy!

1:54:14 (unofficial) #bestdamnpr @bestdamnrace

And then I started marathon training.

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Not only was I running more, A LOT more, I was running more in higher temps. You don’t have to be a genius to realize that in Florida, in the middle of the summer, that shit gets HOT and it tends to destroy things.

This did not make my shoes happy.

Or my feet.

And, especially, my knees.

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My shoes seemed to start wearing early (with less than under 150 miles). I thought, “eh, I’m sure this is normal.”

I kept running. I kept increasing my mileage.

A few weeks ago I reached a weird breaking point and I started wondering why the runs after my 20-miler felt hard. At first, I chalked it up to training just feeling tough because I was adding more mileage and feeling tired. Except, I actually took a cut week, so that didn’t make sense. Then my knees started hurting. And my feet — oh my poor feet were KILLING me. I would just wake up in the middle of the night with them aching.

Then I remembered to check out the outer soles of my shoes.

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A-ha! Parts of my heel and toe were missing – and there was a lot of mid-section wear as well.

I was sad.

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Then I calculated my mileage (I started wearing my shoes at the end of May — I had JUST hit the 2-month mark and maybe 250, if that). W.T.F???

Maybe I’m spoiled, but I’ve never burned through shoes THAT fast before. I felt like I had been cheated, especially because I really LIKED the shoes. The kicker — I didn’t even RACE in those shoes.

So, I did what every person would do when they are angry at a brand for reducing the quality of their product… I found another one.

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Meet my new shoes — Saucony Ride 7s.

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I did a lot of research on these things. I needed shoes that could carry me through the next 100+ miles of training and 26.2 miles on October 12th (OMG, THE MARATHON IS IN 6 WEEKS).

My verdict, so far, is that they run a little shorter than the Wave Riders – so I have to half-size up. BUT, I don’t feel like an old lady after I run. In fact I had one of my best long runs in MONTHS last weekend.

14-miler

They are the weirdest shoes in the best way possible – if that makes any sense. They are cushy, but not too cushy. They are light (around 8.5-9oz), but feel substantial. The outer sole is solid and from all of the 90878291 reviews I read – really hold up. I wear custom orthotics, so I can’t talk about the inner sole – but the one time I ran in them without my inserts, they were comfy and didn’t bother my ankle.

I’m hopeful. Which is a good thing since I just ordered another pair that will (if all goes well) be my Chicago Marathon Shoes, next month.

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Imagine these shoes with a TON of names written on them. Can’t wait!

TL;DR version… the running shoe love story saga continues because companies keep changing designs and quality. Or they just like to piss me off and keep things interesting (verdict is still out).

Will I switch back to Mizunos when I’m running half marathons?? Will I try Brooks again? Will Saucony become MY SHOE? Only time will tell.

Shoe love/hate… Which brand has disappointed you the most?? Which brand did you not expect to love/wear?

Current Running Essentials

Coming back from pregnancy, I figured it was time to try out new running gear. Some of the brands I’ve tried before and others I had been lusting at for month, not ready (or too pregnant) to pull the trigger. Since my opinions on products change frequently, here’s a few of my current running favorites…

1. Garmin 220

It's Florida cold (39 degrees), which means sub-9 minute miles and long sleeves...with shorts.

This was a big purchase for my hobby ($250), however, it has been SO WORTH IT. This Garmin is the Garmin I’ve wanting for the past 4 years. It’s light. It has zero problems finding satellite. It vibrates when I hit a mile/lap. I can turn on or off alerts. It’s purple. It’s awesome.

2. Oiselle Rogas – Short

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OMG guys. These shorts.

For the longest time I didn’t feel comfortable wearing running shorts. Weird, right? I only raced in my spin shorts. Running shorts just did NOT feel right. During marathon training, I wore them more often, but something about the ones I was wearing (Nike, C9 from Target, Brooks, etc) felt wrong.

During my pregnancy, running shorts actually felt MORE comfortable. Again, weird. It might have been because my ass and my legs were more proportional. Who knows. Whatever the reason, I wore the crap out of my running shorts. I also stretched the crap out of all of my running shorts.

So, what’s a girl to do? Go shopping of course.

I tried a few others – including the Oiselle Distance Shorts – and I still wasn’t happy. I actually really like the Distance Shorts (especially because I can through my phone in back butt pocket), but they are SHORT.

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These these are the distance shorts in Rhody.

I’m not sure what took me so long to try the Rogas, but it was love at first run. They are perfect for MY body type. I have: no butt, a straight waist, and skinny legs. They also have a 4-inch inseam in the crotch, which (in my opinion) is the perfect length. You know, as far as crotch inseams go.

Pretty sure I've finally found the perfect pair of running shorts. @oiselle Roga Short...I need about 4 more pairs

Not the best picture… but seriously, can I live in them?

I’ve only worn them a few times to the gym, and every time I get compliments on how cute they are! My ONLY complaint is that they only have one pocket – not big enough for my phone.Guess I need to find a new way to carry my phone! (Anyone have any armband recommendations??)

I now have 4 pairs. That’s how much I love them.

3. Mizuno Wave Rider 17s

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In case you wanted to see more of my legs. I swear I’m not vain. They’re just there…and make up 70% of my body.

Yep. I’m back to my old shoe. However, these are NOTHING like the old shoe. They are leaps and bounds BETTER and they are pretty much everything I need in a neutral shoe. I know this girl is pretty happy with them too, which is SHOCKING. We’ll see how they hold up this summer while I’m marathon training.

4. Moving Comfort Juno Bra

Juno

I have tried several bras and none are as AMAZING as this one. It’s support is impeccable. I especially like that it’s adjustable in the front and curved underneath so that it doesn’t ride up. My girls will probably (most definitely) reduce in size once I stop pumping in 3-4 months and I don’t think I can go back to the bras I wore before.

5. Nike Running Hat

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Baby approved.

I’ve been wearing this hat for a while now and it’s still my favorite. It keeps my bangs out of my face, absorbs my heat sweat, and it’s ultra light and comfy.

I need to find one in purple.

6. Clif Bar Energy Bars

CoconutChocolateChip

I feel like this is a just a stereotypical running/blogger thing, but I eat a Clif Bar (Coconut Chocolate Chip is my favorite) before every race and 10+ mile long runs. They stick with me and are great on the go. Plus, it’s like eating a cookie.

HOWEVER — There are a few running things I’m STILL trying to work out…

Gels – I like Clif Shots the best, but the consistency still kind of grosses me out. I am ready for some new flavors too!
Hydration – I like Nuun okay, but I’m open to new suggestions. I’ve been eying Skratch — anyone try it?
Fuel Belt/Vest – I like my vest, but I’m still not 100% comfortable in it (thanks to my boobs – sorry it that’s TMI, but it’s true). I think I will LOVE it this summer though. I used to love my iFitness fuel belt, but since getting pregnant with E it’s bothered me. I think it’s weird that it’s STILL bothering me, but it is.

What are some of your favorite things? Have any recommendations?

PS – None of these are affiliate links. Just thought I would throw that out there. They are just things I really, really like. Maybe even love.

Things I Keep Meaning To Tell You

Life has a way of sneaking up on you, huh. How is it already Halloween? Remember last year?

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Seriously, how has it been a year since that happened?

I miss blogging regularly, mainly because I enjoy getting all of my random thoughts out of my head  but *shocking, I know* I just don’t have time for it. Instead, you get this random post of things I keep meaning to tell you…

1. I might have to use this for my Christmas pictures this year… all three kids are looking at the camera!

Happy Halloween from my three locos.

2. Braeden is toothless for a 2nd Halloween in a row.

He lost his baby tooth a year ago – and a janky, snaggle tooth grew in it’s place (technically, it’s a supernumery tooth – an extra tooth). We waited and waited for it to fall out, but it didn’t (it wasn’t even CLOSE to being loose) and it was preventing other baby teeth from falling out. So, last Monday they pulled it. Your lucky that B  brought that tooth to school and then manage to lose it, or I would show you a picture of it. And it was pretty freaky looking.

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Before the tooth was removed… 

3. Speaking of B, I’m a proud mama!

First report card with REAL grades! #proudmama

This is his first report card with grades – and he got Straight A’s!

We had our teacher conference yesterday and this is the first year I didn’t feel like an awful parent when I left. It’s not that he’s a bad kid by ANY means, but I always feel like they are telling us things we already know. It’s like – hey — did you KNOW that your 7-year old BOY doesn’t like to sit in his seat?? *Shocking*

This year, his teacher acknowledged that he’s a) a boy and b) one of the youngest in his class. Yep. We did consider holding him back at one point — but he would be SO BORED. She agreed. She does think he has the potential to do more and would like to have him go to 3rd grade math – but he zips through his work too fast and REALLY enjoys being the class clown. Oh boy.

4.  I chaperoned Livie’s class field trip to Green Meadows Farm last week…

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It was ridiculous hot and I totally forgot about the whole pumping thing (my boobs haven’t forgiven me) – but it was really a lot of fun. It was nice to hang out with my girl for day! Plus I got to hold a chick and a duckling.

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I also learned all about zorses (did you know that there is such a thing as a zorse? It’s zebra + horse — so now you do) and I’m pretty sure I spotted ‘Lil Sebastian’s cousin.

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5. I bought red pants.

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This is totally outside of my comfort zone, but I love them. Now I want pants in all kinds of colors!

6. I am an IDEA Inspired Blogger!

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One of the reasons I blog is because I love to inspire and BE inspired, so I was happy to be selected. I hope that (once I break out of this new-mom haze) that I can continue to do so. Until then, you get rambling and scattered posts like this one where you think, “How it is that she’s POSSIBLY functioning??” (I am, somehow)

6. Have I ever mentioned I love running?? :) This shirt pretty much sums it up.

Love, love, love this shirt from @oiselle #truth

The weather has been amazing here lately and my runs have been SO GREAT. I can only hope it holds up this weekend for my 12-miler I’m hoping to run and in a few weeks for the Baldwin Park Half.

Speaking of that shirt… I just bought my first Oiselle order. Their stuff is pricey, for sure, but I’m tempted to just start wearing running clothes to work. It’s SOOOO comfy and soft. I don’t need real clothes, right?

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I guess you could say I’m now drinking the Koolaid. And apparently I like taking pictures of my legs.

7. I really need a new Garmin. Or a new GPS watch of some kind.

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Truthfully, I don’t really WANT to buy a new watch, but *sigh* My current Garmin is on it’s last legs. She (he?) beeps around Mile 3 now that it has a low battery. WTF, Garmin? I just charged you.

I can’t decide what to get to replace it. Since this one only lasted 3 years, I’m thinking of saving my $$ and just going the less expensive route and getting a Garmin Forerunner 10.

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THEY HAVE PURPLE!!

If you were getting a new watch — what would you get?? The new Garmin 220/620 is pretty sweet looking, but I really don’t want to spend that much. Anyone want to buy it for me?

8.  I wrote this post for ZOOMA… and even though it’s super cheesy, I really love it. So, you should go read it!

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9. My kids have been all about Family Game Night lately. We’ve played Trouble, Monopoly, Yahtzee, and Scrabble Jr.

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So far, every game has elicited tears from someone, but they keep asking to play. It’s like fun torture. I really don’t like it when Dan cries though.

Oh, and for the record, Livie REALLY does not like going to Jail.

Any game suggestions??

10. I hope you have a Happy Halloween!! I dressed up as a sane and well-rested mom.

My costume? Sane and well-rested mama. I don't think I'm pulling it off, but at least the kids are cute!

I know, I know, I’m oozing with creativity.

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OK fine, Evan… and believability.

How are you celebrating Halloween? What’s going on in your little world?

Zensah Compression Socks + Giveaway

Disclosure: Zensah provided me with a free pair of their Argyle Compression socks for this review. However, all opinions and observations are my own.

Woot! It’s my Friday!

It’s really been a hectic week for me and instead of getting better at this whole “getting out the door” business – I think I’m getting worse.

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Seriously woman. Get your act together.

But those complaints are for another post…. What was I saying?

A few weeks ago, Zensah contacted me about doing a review and giveaway for their Argyle socks

My high school self squeeeeed at this because back in the day – I LOVED argyle. Seriously, I had like 20 pairs of argyle socks. I still might have a small collection…

Unfortunately, the color combination that I originally wanted was out in my size (I have large feet, this is a common theme) so instead of the super cute pink socks…

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I got the almost equally as cute blue and green socks.

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Resting and recovering from a 4 mile run. Yes, 4 miles requires recovering these days.

So my review…

Well, the socks fit. So that’s a good start. I have compression sleeves from Zensah that are too short, so we’re making progress. As for the compression part — well, they’re not my favorite. However, I was wearing them post run for recovery and I like a thicker more supportive sock to well… compress.

They might be better to run in, but truthfully when it’s 90 degrees outside with 110% humidity – I’m wearing as little as possible – so I haven’t tested them out in those conditions. They ARE more lightweight than Pro Compression (still my go-to socks), which is a plus if you want to run outside and only need light support.

Another difference between the socks I’ve tested is that the sock portion of the Zensah are really thick. This is a feature that I really LIKE, but I like running with thicker socks on, so I think it’s a personal preference.

So my verdict? The socks are really cute, but lower on the “compression” side of things. If you are looking for something fashionable and lightweight to run in – these might worth trying out. If you are looking for a sock to recover in – these might not be your cup of tea. Anyone else have this same experience?

The good news is that, Zensah has offered to give one of you lucky (US Citizen) readers a pair of socks as well. Just leave me a comment telling me what color argyle socks you want and follow Zensah either on Facebook or on Twitter (added extra bonus points that I assume increase your chances if you tweet about the giveaway or follow me on FB/Twitter).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

So go forth and enter… I’ll pick the winner on Monday!

Disclosure: Zensah provided me with a free pair of their Argyle Compression socks for this review. However, all opinions and observations are my own.