In Which Jenn Gives Her Running Shoes Funny Names

Gear tracker

My favorite feature of the Garmin app is the gear tracker. No more guessing whether or not I should replace a pair of sneakers – the app calculates exactly how much mileage each pair has! EEE! … I am easily pleased.

But then you may wonder – what if you, like me, have multiple pairs of the same brand and model of shoe in rotation at the same time? How do you differentiate? No problem – in addition to designating the make and model, you can give each shoe a name.

The easiest way is of course by color, but what if the colors on two pairs are similar? Also, what if you realize after a time that simply doing it by color is boring? Why not make like your own whacky aunt and have a little fun with it?

NO, nothing dirty… today. But I’ve had some fun ones, I think. P!nk, that one was easy, because I already had some shoes that were factory designated as Peach Frost (and the catalyst for discovering that going by color wasn’t a foolproof plan). Captain EO, for obvious reasons (not the same pair but the colors were similar). Blue Steel because I like to free associate and the shoes in question are bright blue.

(Bonus scavenger hunt mode: all but Captain EO can be seen in blog photos over the last couple of months.)

But the best name? Obviously the best name was the one YOU GUYS picked.

A couple weeks ago I threw up a Twitter poll asking you what I should name my new sneakers. They look like this:

And I gave you three choices: Naval Academy, Mr. Blue, and Threat Level Midnight. Well, I think we have some The Office fans in the audience, because Threat Level Midnight got 100% OF THE VOTE. Threat Level Midnight it is! I’ll think of you all every time I lace them up.

My new purple Nikes I’m naming myself, though. They’re called Princess Amethyst, because The Ordinary Princess is one of the best books ever. Read it! I’m sure you’ll be 100% on board.

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Brooks Ravenna Sneakers… Are Launches Now?!

I wrote a blog post a week or two ago. I was going to post it today, and it was going to go like this:

There are many reasons the Brooks Ravenna is my GOAT shoe, but none of them would be any help to me if they weren’t so darned consistent. My first Ravennas were model #4, and I have used every version since up to the current #11. Every version has been a winner.

But that doesn’t mean that there haven’t been any changes from iteration to iteration. In fact, I noticed a pretty obvious change between my old #10s and new #11s. Can you spot it?

Brooks Ravennas

Brooks sorts their running shoes into four categories, or “experiences” as they call them: cushion, trail, energize, and speed. For as long as I can remember, and per the insole, the Ravenna has been an “energize” shoe, defined by “springy and responsive cushioning.” But the #11s are now “speed” shoes, designed “for race day performance”! 

I’m still digging my pair, but I was curious as to why the Ravenna shifted categories. Naturally I asked Brooks Running’s Twitter account, and they delivered!

Brooks tweet
Brooks tweet

END OF ORIGINAL BLOG POST

Why? BECAUSE IT’S NO LONGER RELEVANT.

Why? BECAUSE BROOKS HAS ELIMINATED THEIR STABILITY LINE AND THERE ARE NO RAVENNAS ANYMORE.

WHAT.

All I did was try and go back and double-check the product page to make sure I hadn’t missed something obvious about the switch, only I discovered there IS NO RAVENNA PRODUCT PAGE ANYMORE.

Apparently what they’ve done is paired all their old stability shoes with their neutral lines, and you can get those shoes now either with or without stability guiderails. The Brooks Ravenna is now the Brooks Launch GTS.

REPEAT: THERE ARE NO MORE BROOKS RAVENNAS. Perhaps you think this is an awful lot of capital letters for such an announcement. But THERE ARE NO MORE BROOKS RAVENNAS. No more of the Brooks Ravennas I’ve been using since 2013. Somebody hold me. I’m scared!

I went back to Brooks for comfort:

No more Ravenna

(By the way, whoever runs their Twitter account is 100% on point. They almost always reply when tagged.)

I mean, obviously I’m going to try the Launch GTS. Who knows; maybe I’ll love it just as much and it’ll be okay. But in the meantime, I have two more brand spankin’ new pairs of Ravennas in my arsenal, plus a pair with less than 100 miles on it in the current rotation. I shouldn’t need a new pair for a year or so. Although they are $10 cheaper now, so that’s something I guess.

Thus I shall make the most of what time the Ravennas and I have left together. I hear it’s better to have loved and lost than never have loved at all, so… WE’LL SEE ABOUT THAT.

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn WANTS To Love UA Running Shoes, But…

Tape and sneakers

You know how sometimes you jump into a series of love affairs but just end up getting hurt? Yeah, that’s me and Under Armour running shoes.

Before we start, I want to make it very clear that I am not disparaging UA or their products. They make great stuff. I love my long sleeve Baltimore Marathon tech tee with the thumbholes and my polarized sunglasses and the pair of running pants I tragically tore a hole in. Pat likes my rain-resistant jacket so much he bought one of his own. But for whatever reason, I just can’t make the running shoes work for me – and what’s more, every time they don’t work for me, I turn around a try again.

Round 1: I get the original Sonic Hovrs. I LOVE THEM. They make me feel speedy! I get two pairs. But I notice after a 17 mile run that my inner knee bugs me the next day. Not the same day as the run, but the next day. Huh. It happens again after the National Capital 20 Miler. It is worse. I have a marathon coming up. I am nervous. I switch to my tried-and-true Brooks Ravennas and make it through okay, but it’s a close one. I sadly give up my speedy Hovrs.

Round 2: UA comes out with the Guardians, which are support shoes. While I have one neutral and one support foot and have run in both types successfully, I think – maybe the Hovrs were too neutral? Or something? Maybe their support version will work?

And maybe they do, but it’s hard to tell – I never run more than 10 miles in them, because I discover that after four miles I am increasingly at risk of developing a blister on my inside right heel instep (this is my neutral foot). So these seem to be a bit too supportive. In addition, the Guardians just feel kinda stiff and clunky to me. I am not a fan. I never run a race in them.

Round 3: UA debuts a NEW version of the Sonic Hovr – and they come in PINK! (They call it peach, but whatever; it’s pink). Perhaps this latest iteration corrected whatever it was about the first edition my knee didn’t like? 

I buy a pair and once again, I love them! So speedy! I run a race in them, and it goes pretty well. A couple weeks later, I start experience heel pain. Weird. Then I go visit family for a couple weeks. I’ve only packed a pair of the Ravennas since I don’t anticipate any long runs, and indeed never go above four. The minimized mileage, I figure, will let my heel… heal. Heel heal. Yeah.

It works! I come back home and do some long runs, several of which are in the pink Hovrs. The heel pain comes back…? I do a little research and it seems to be the dreaded plantar fasciitis. Weird – I’ve never had that problem before! It waxes and wanes, seemingly unrelated to mileage… until after an embarrassingly lengthy amount of time, I finally figure out that my heel flareups correlate to long runs in the Hovrs.

Damn.

They’re so cute, too.

Oh well. It was nice while it lasted. But I think I’m gonna have to break up with the Under Armour running shoe line. If you can trust me saying so – I’ve gone back on my word before. Heck, just a few weeks ago I said I wouldn’t be picking up any Nike Vomero 14s and now I think I might because I like to have at least two models of shoes in rotation. I hear it (ha!) helps prevent injury.

John Mulany

All the same, if you see me tweeting or whatever about buying some UA sneakers again, make like the other drunk girl in the bathroom and yell “DON’T DO IT!” I’ll thank you later.

P.S. I look forward to writing the post in the future when I say “I know I told you guys I’d never do this, but…”

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Plays Fast & Loose With Shoe Sizes

Running shoes

I’ve been a loyal user of Brooks Ravenna running shoes for around eight years now, but I like to sprinkle in other models into my routine just to give it a try. For a brief period I was running in Nike Air Zoom Vomero 10s, which I liked a lot, but when Nike released the 11s I fell out of love.

Still, the Vomeros have hovered in the back of my mind – those 10s just fit so beautifully. Sometimes I wonder – what about the newer versions? Would they feel good again? They’re on the 14s now, so I looked up some reviews. 

The Vomero 14 seems to garner mixed opinions, so for now I think I’ll hang tight and see how the 15s fare. But I did notice something interesting in the Runner’s World review: “The tongue stops at the top of the collar, so too-tight laces can cause irritation at the front of the ankle. If you tend to wear your running shoes tight, try a slightly looser fit with the Air Zoom Vomero 14 and let the new fit system do its job.”

This concept intrigued me – the idea of purposefully going up a size in running shoes. I mean, most of us wear a larger size in our sneakers anyway, since the foot needs more room to expand during our physical exertions. Indeed, a shoe fitter once told me that soccer players and dancers tend to wear their street shoes tight anyway, and as a member of the latter category I found that interesting. I was already going up a size from street shoe to running shoe, but what if I added an extra half size on top of that, for insurance?

So I did just that. My next pair of Ravennas I ordered in an 8.5 instead of my accustomed 8. I have a pair of size 8s that’s still in my training rotation, and they fit fine, but I wanted to see if that extra bit of room felt good or just floppy. Sometimes my toes get sore after a long run, and while I’ve never felt like my toes were bonking against the shoe, I thought some extra space might help.

Running shoes

And the verdict is: it feels good! I find I enjoy having extra room to spread my toes. I don’t feel insecure in the fit at all – no slipping or sliding. After all, a half size isn’t that much bigger, and there are other elements of shoe design that help keep the fit secure. I ran a 16 miler last week, and I haven’t noticed any toe soreness, either.

In short, I’m calling this experiment a success, and intend to continue buying a half size up in the Ravenna for the foreseeable future. I’m no fit professional, but if you’re having a bit of trouble with your shoes and you’re not sure what the problem is, maybe try a half size up and see how you fare. It might just be extra space you’re looking for!

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Flouts A Major Running Rule

Running gear

Hi, my name is Jenn, and I like to play fast and loose with an inviolate running rule. Which running rule, you ask? This one: thou shalt not use new and/or untested running gear on race day. Which you shouldn’t. If you haven’t tried it out thoroughly before, how can you be sure it’ll agree with you! You don’t want to find yourself fighting with your supplies during a race!

Oops:

Wine & Dine Half Marathon 2016: I purchase my first Minnie ears the night before the race. I think to myself, you know what would be cute? Running in my new ears. I did. They did. Worked out fine.

Baltimore Marathon 2017: Bought some new running capris the week before the race. They had a ZIPPERED POCKET. I was so enamored of this zippered pocket I ran the marathon in these new pants completely untested. Not a mile on ’em. Turned out fine. 

Wrightsville Beach Marathon 2018: Bought some new running capris a couple weeks before the race on clearance. These had TWO SIDE POCKETS. I think I did do a couple shorts runs in these but nothing in even close to marathon distance, which is a big chafe risk. I just really like pockets, y’know? Turned out fine.

Wine & Dine 10K 2018: Decided on a whim to run in my Cheshire Cat dress. Didn’t feel like braving the cold of Maryland’s fall to test it out in advance. Turned out fine.

Walt Disney World Marathon 2020: Wore the sports bra I used for only a handful of short runs. It was the right color for my Sally costume, okay? Turned out fine.

There may be others; the truly frightening thing is that this list is just off the top of my head. I’m sure I’ll pay for it someday, but so far, all my gambles have – wait for it – turned out fine!

Except for one, it it should have been fine – I ran the 2016 Walt Disney World Marathon with sneakers that hadn’t been tested past a 5K or so, but they were the exact same model as I usually used. Why this particular pair only bothered the tops of my feet so much is a mystery for the ages, but I had to stop four or five times to adjust them. Oh well, live and (don’t) learned.

In conclusion: don’t use untested gear on the race course, kids! But if you do, I trust that it will turn out fine.

Have you ever tempted the race gods with new gear on race morning?

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Takes The Cinderella Approach To Running

Last week I got a hot tip from one of my runDisney Facebook groups – the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon store was selling their themed tie-dye Launch 5s for $25!

Now a) I’ve never used the Launch and b) I’m not running a Rock ‘n Roll race this year (I did once and it was not my favorite). But for $25 bucks plus a five spot in shipping I was certainly willing to give it a shot.

They came yesterday and I was surprised how much they cheered me up. I mean, obviously as a runner and a girl-type girl I’m always gonna be jazzed to try a new pair of shoes. But the tie-dye just made me feel happy and excited to try them out on a run at a time when I have been experiencing, shall we say, a modicum of stress, sadness, and disappointment.

Perhaps you can relate.

If you’re still a position to run, I would encourage you to get yourself a hopeful running treat. Alas, those $25 Launch 5s are no more, but I’m sure there are any number of multi-hued sneakers available on this great internet. Or get a colorful new tee, or a fun headband. Maybe some patterned compression socks. Whatever floats your boat.

Anyway, I got up this morning and ran 7 good miles in my new tie-dye shoes, because we may not be able to race right now, but we can still train. We will keep our chins and our feet up. And when those registrations open back up again, WE WILL BE READY.

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Points Out A Glitch In The Running Shoe Matrix

Can we talk about the Brooks Ghost 10 for a hot second? Specifically THIS Ghost 10, in this color scheme:


I have them (see above). And based on observation, and assuming you are a woman who wears a woman’s shoe, I can only assume you have them too.

I have seen them on my home trails.


I have seen them at multiple runDisney races.


I have seen them in frickin’ Runner’s World magazine.


I am familiar with the conceit that once you become aware of something, you start to notice it more often, but I’ve never had this happen with any of my other running shoes. I feel like this one pink Ghost is EVERYWHERE.

Of course, the Ghost 10 has been replaced with the Ghost 11, and probably has its own new set of exciting color options. But man, those pink 10s seem to have had a moment.

Did you have them too? Did you see them everywhere? Or am I just suffering from one of those bizarre Number 23 things?

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Ponders What To Do In A runDisney-Mergency


I have this consuming fear that one day I’m going to go to the runDisney race expo, pick up my packet, and leave… then unpack my bag hours later and, in assembling my race gear, discover I FORGOT SOMETHING.

Walt Disney World is both wonderful and weird in that you can’t readily access the outside world when you’re there. In my nightmare hypothetical, my first instinct was to freeze and freak out, because if the expo is closed, where can I possibly go to get running-related items???

Five minutes calm thinking can lead you to what is probably the obvious conclusion to everyone but high-anxiety me: there are multiple potential solutions here, Captain Panicky.

First off, if Disney Springs is still open, you could hit up Fit2Run for more nuanced items like specialty running shoes, GPS watches, KT Tape, energy foods, and the like. Multiple clothing stores may offer gear as well.

If you can’t or don’t want to go that far but your need isn’t too dire, you could give the hotel gift shop(s) a go. They’re unlikely to have anything very running specific, but I’ve seen, say, workout clothes in the gift shops before. But I would highly recommend against trying to run in any of those flat-bottomed sneakers they offer…

Then there’s the ultimate panacea: take an Uber/Lyft to a Walmart or Target. A lot of them are open as much as 24 hours and while they may not have precisely what you want, if you wake up at 1am in a cold sweat because you just realize you didn’t pack a single pair of socks this will do the trick. And since they have such a huge selection, they’re bound to have a stopgap item.

Finally, if you happen to know somebody else who’s down for the run, see if they have something you can borrow! Heck, you could even hop on Twitter or Facebook and beseech assistance from your fellow running strangers. I find they’re usually pretty nice.

Above all, remember the wise words of Douglas Adams: Don’t Panic.

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Selects New Running Shoes (Small Giveaway!)

Hey, remember that time I went to Road Runner Sports for a shoe fitting and walked out of the store with the Nike Vomero 10? And remember how I wasn’t sure it was the right shoe for me after awhile? And then remember how I ended up loving it and using it anyway?

And then remember how Nike ruined everything by changing the Vomero 11 so much that it didn’t feel like my shoe anymore? 🙁 🙁 🙁

When your favorite running shoe betrays you, there is only one cure: a new fitting. In that spirit, I used my half-day off last week to head back to that same Road Runner Sports for a new go-round with their Shoe Dog fitting system.

The Shoe Dog process starts with a fitter asking you some questions about your goals, mileage, injuries, etc., and measures you feet. After that you run on a treadmill while a video records your steps (one thing that was different – last time they had me do it barefoot, whereas this time they put me in some neutral, basic sneakers).

A weird thing happened: after watching the video, my fitter declared that I had mildly flexible ankles and needed a support shoe. Last time my fitter declared that while I had some very slight flexibility in one ankle I was definitely neutral and he would never put me in a support shoe. So shoe fitting is not an exact science, I guess…

Anyway, with my new diagnosis in hand I headed over to the try-on area, where some employees brought me a bunch of shoes to try. There were several treadmills available, and I was left to pop a pair on and give a bit of running a try largely unsupervised (it was pretty busy and I guess I looked like I knew what I was doing?).

First up were some New Balances; I’m not sure what model as I couldn’t seem to locate that info on the box. Not that it mattered because the second I hit the treadmill I haaaaaaated them – they were so loud and clunky and stompy! I felt like a Clydesdale and not in a good, majestic way. Just a loud, clunky, stompy way. Instant pass.

Next I tried some Asics Gel Kayanos. I liked these well enough and found the gel interesting underneath my toes, so I stuck them in the maybe pile. One annoying thing, though: there was a tag attached to the laces, something informational about the gel, I think, and I was constantly afraid I would trip on it as I ran. Knock that off, Asics!

I also took shots at the Brooks Adrenaline and Adidas Boost Supernova, but neither of them really registered with me. I didn’t feel blind hatred a la the New Balances – I even gave the Adrenaline a second chance – but they both ultimately went into the no pile.

One thing I remember distinctly when selecting the Nike Zoom Vomero 10s was the beautiful fit. I specifically recall pulling them onto my feet and feeling Cinderella-esque comfort. I hadn’t been brought any Nikes, but I wanted to know if they could pull it off again.

I was initially brought a pair of Nike Odysseys, and they looked like the winner for awhile – essentially the structured version of the Vomero. But there was something slightly off. The fit wasn’t flawless; I felt my foot inside the shoe, if that makes any sense. I had accepted this in shoe fittings in the past, but after my transcendent Vomero 10 experience I was reluctant to do so again.

So I requested any other structured Nikes with medium-high cushioning they had – and when I slipped on the Lunarglides, I knew I’d found the one. It was that same incredible feeling of the shoe kind of… existing around my foot, you know? Bonus: they were $30 cheaper than the Odysseys and super cute. Score!

Did I make the right call? That remains to be seen. I learned from the Vomeros that sometimes you have to give your body time to adjust to change (I’m a slow learner). I’ve taken the Lunarglides on a couple runs now, and so far so good. Further updates as events warrant!

Mini-contest of sorts! My receipt came with a one-time-use $20 off coupon to Road Runner for a friend. Should work online, not just in store. (Sadly it’s for new customers only.) I’d be happy to give this away to anyone that wants it. If that includes you, reply to this post by noon Monday. If only one person replies, great! It’s yours. If multiple people want it, I’ll assign numbers and randomly pick a winner. And if no one responds by the deadline, the first person to ask for it gets it regardless of time lapse so long as the coupon hasn’t expired (September 30). Good luck!

Cannot be used on Nike’s latest release, the Ruffian (runs large).

When was the last time you had a sneaker fitting? What criteria do you use to make your selections?

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn’s Favorite Running Shoe Betrays Her

I was a Brooks Ravenna girl for a long time. I started with the Ravenna 4 and rode it out to the Ravenna 6 with no problems. Each iteration may have had some subtle differences, but for the most part they were unremarkable in that they continued to work fine for my feet.

Then, a little over a year ago, I was fitted for the Nike Vomero 10. It was a switch from a support shoe to a neutral shoe and that took some getting used to, but after a rocky start we found a groove. I’ve gone through many pairs of 10s now and thoroughly enjoyed the bouncy ride.

Once I’ve selected a shoe, to save money, I like to stay one model behind. So when the Vomero 12s came out, I knew it was finally time to take a crack at the Vomero 11s. I found a great post-holiday deal and they were mine.

I immediately noticed a difference.

Not saying which is which so that if I’m making up a difference you can tell me.

Look at that heel! It’s so thick. Weird! But squeezing it was pleasantly squishy, so I didn’t worry about it. Versions are never that far removed from each other, right?

A few weeks post-WDW Marathon I decided to take my new shoes for a test drive. Putting them on was oddly difficult – I had to loosen the laces and then readjust them to get my feet in properly. The toe box felt smaller, too, in that I could actually feel it. What drew me to the Vomero 10 in the first place was its incredibly comfortable box, like it was made just for me. I wasn’t loving this.

I took ’em for a test run just the same. They were okay, as it turned out. But the seam of my left sock rubbed a sore on my big toe, something that has never happened in the 10s. And I just didn’t have that Cinderella feeling that the shoe was made for my feet.

I’ve run in them again since then using compression socks instead of regular socks and they worked fine with no rubbing. I got the 11s for a great price and they do work for short runs so I intend to keep them. And who knows, maybe once I get through the break-in period they’ll be great. But I’ve ordered a pair of 10s off eBay for the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon in March, because I am NOT taking that chance.

For the future, I know Vomero 10s are going to get harder and harder to come by. I probably need to get fitted again. Maybe the Vomero 12s are awesome? Or something else is. I’ll stop by Roadrunner Sports sometime this summer and find out.

Have you ever been betrayed by a new model of your favorite shoe? How did you cope?

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn’s dailymile here and Moon’s dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!