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Shoe review:  Itasca (manufacturer) Fairview (model) $25 (sale price) / $45 (current price)
I haven’t done a shoe review in quite a while.  Mostly because I haven’t been jogging much the last couple of years.  The spirit has been willing, but the heart (and various other parts) have not been entirely cooperative.  Be that as it may, this is my review of the “Itasca Fairview” hiking / walking shoe.  It can be used as a “heavy” / off-road jogging shoe if you don’t mind a stiff and knobby soled shoe.  I don’t.  I purchased this because I prefer a hard wearing inexpensive shoe.
First, the price was very good.  It was on sale at my local Big5 Sporting Goods store.  I was able to find my size (14) and it was wide enough for my “dogs”.  I have “paddles” for feet (much wider toe than heel area), so normal running shoes, which tend to the narrow fit, don’t really accommodate my feet.  As I began jogging a few years back with a mid-sole strike, my arches changed and I became no longer able to wear many of my older shoes.  My left foot (arch) in particular bars me from wearing size 13 shoes and most size 14 slip-ons.
I found these shoes very comfortable for my slow and steady jogging style.  I started off with a 1 mile jog and by the end of about 6 weeks I was consistently jogging about 4 miles a day.  Enough to get my 10K steps goal on my Fitbit.  All in all, I would estimate I jogged fewer than 100 miles during the pairs use and, if you add in another 50 (generous) miles for cool-down walks, I’d say the shoes were blown out by 135 to 150 miles of use.  By way of comparison, a good running shoe will probably cost you about $80-$120, and it is recommended you replace them every 400 miles or whenever they feel like they’ve lost their sponge under your forefoot.  So, the price I paid was about 1/3rd of a running shoe and the use was about 1/3rd.  I guess that’s considered equal value for relative cost.
Another significant factor on the shoes use is that I am extremely heavy (350+lbs) and therefore very hard on soles.  That is part of why I look for stiffer shoes with heavier tread – they tend to take a beating better than normal running shoe models.  Of course, the trade-off is you have to jog less upfront when the shoes are newer so you can break them in without giving yourself horrendous blisters.

Fresh from the box

Fresh from the box

View of new soles

View of new soles

Soles After 150 miles

Soles after 150 miles

Tops after use

Tops after use

After use:  You can’t really tell from the image, but center forefoot is completely worn through to the sponge padding under the forefoot.  The tops, on the other hand, were practically without blemish.  From the start, the shoe felt like I was jogging with a pair of wooden slats under my feet.  Again, on the other hand, the tops were very comfortable (once broken in), even when tied tightly.  Had the soles lasted another month, I would say the shoes were a very good value.  As it is, the best I could say was these would be good value (at sale price) if you were either normal weight or were only going to use them for actual hiking / path walking on the odd weekend out and about.
If you look at the “Soles after” image, you’ll probably notice a lot of outer heel wear and some “tippy-toe” wear.  The heel wear is from the daily walking where I do a lot of heel striking.  The toe wear is because I seem to push-off a lot when I do my jogging.  I should clarify.  I don’t “really” jog.  I would describe it as slogging (“slow jogging”) – basically, a little faster than walking with a jogging / shuffle motion.  In general, my heels wear out on my walking shoes, my forefoot wears out on my jogging shoes, and the top wears out if I try to get the comfortable light-weight mesh uppers common to many true jogging / running shoes.
Final recommendation: reasonable value for the price (I paid).  I went back to Big5 to get another pair.  Like most “sale” items at this type of discount store, “my” store no longer carries this model.  I also looked on-line and Itasca no longer manufactures this model.  It turns out other Big5 stores in my area do carry this model, but the current price is almost double what I paid on sale.  At that price, I leave them on the shelf…  I can find “real” running shoes for that price.
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On This Day In:
2017 Unseen Here, Too
2016 Criticized Anyway
2015 Sometimes The Truth Hurts
2014 All Agreed, Say “Aye”
2013 Two Books, Two Movies
Just Because
2012 God’s Requirements
2011 Greater Purity
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Sometimes, but not often, you can hear the sound of perfection.  Sometimes perfection is felt.  More rarely (I believe), it’s both heard and felt.
I don’t play golf, but I do enjoy going to the driving range to bang out a bucket.  Every now and then – for me it’s about once every 100-150 balls – you can get a “perfect” drive.  The swing is easy.  The ball is struck cleanly and true.  You hear a certain “ping” sound that comes to your ears almost as much as it travels up the club and through your arms.  And the ball jumps away from you straight and far.  It doesn’t happen often (for me anyway), but it explains completely why some folks LOVE golf.
For other folks, it’s the sound of the ball/net when a basketball goes through at just the right angle to miss the rim but not get hung up in the net.  It’s a “swish” sound.  It’s not the “bump” sound of off the backboard or the “bong” sound when the ball goes in but catches a bit of the rim.  Sometimes, even, when the ball falls through, just so, there’s almost no sound at all.  But for me, it’s that “swish” sound that makes the “perfect” shot sound.
In running (or jogging), when you’re on a gravel track and you’re “floating” along in your run, there’s a certain “crush / squishy” sound your feet make.  It’s kind of like a cross between walking on icy snow (“crunch”) or autumn leaves (“crush”) on your driveway.  You can hear (in the background) your breathing and the sounds of anyone you’re running with, but it’s that “cooush, cooush, cooush” sound from your feet – coming up to your ears through your body as much as through actual sound – that makes running feel perfect.
By now you’re probably wondering what is the point of this post?  Well, today I went out and bought a couple of pairs of running shoes to reward myself for …  well, for nothing in particular.  If you know me, you know I buy books, books and more books – and occasionally – running shoes.  Anyway, today I picked up a pair of Reebok SmoothFlex Ride 3.0 running shoes.

My New Keds

My New ‘Boks

They are mostly greyish/black with a little bit of orange thread for trim.  Well, being a S.F. Giants fan, all things Orange and Black call out to me.  Soooo….
Lacing them up, I went out for a spin around the local schoolyard to break them in.  In honesty, I was not expecting much.  I’ve never owned a pair of Reeboks before and of late, the last five years or so, I’ve been kind of a “minimalist” shoe user.  I tend to buy cheap or garish.  The “cheap” shoes I use for jogging and working out in.  The garish shoes I wear as fashion statements.  What?  You don’t think old men make fashion statements? (LOL)  (By “minimalist” I mean “water” shoes, after a few goes with “FiveFingers”.)
Shock of my life!!  Within five steps I heard that “cooush, cooush, cooush” sound coming from my feet.  As I’ve not heard that sound in nearly forty years, my body kind of lurched with shock as I looked down at my feet.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I am no longer a “runner”.  Heck, I’m not even a “jogger”.  I consider myself to be a “slogger” – that’s a very slow jogger.  But, never-the-less, there was that sound.  I began grinning from ear to ear and just settled into that joyous feeling of remembering what it was like to be young (again).  I have NO idea how this sound is being created because I was jogging on asphalt, not a gravel track, but this shoe has “perfect sound” marketing for me.
I will try to do a fuller review after I’ve had them out for a few more jogs and then a final review after I’ve worn them out.  By the way, I picked them up at my local Big5 Sporting Goods store.  Still the best value for money, general purpose, sporting goods store in our area.  You can follow my attempt to get back into “slogging” by checking out my “Sweat Equity” page for the first quarter of 2014.  (And wish me luck…!)
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On This Day In:
2013 Still Waiting For Answers
2012 Informal Leadership
2011 A Little More Progress
2010 Bec’s Gone Again…

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End of week one. Weighed in, down 2 lbs. Morning at the gym – 5K (3.1 miles) 44:57. Roughly 15 minutes per mile, but the first minute I walk (so the first mile is the slowest); finished mile two at 30 minutes and the last mile and one tenth for the difference. Slightly faster for each mile… Progress… Slowly, slowly.
Drank 32 ounces of water during and immediately after the workout. No call from the doctor, yet. No heart palps today!! Hopefully, it was all just a passing phase.
Oh, and another “no-sock” jog in the test shoes (Body Glove Triton Socks). Slightly longer duration and distance – with no noticeable discomfort (toe-curling). It looks like I will be able to finish the evaluation afterall.
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So, in my last post – on 27 September, I said the third shoe review was DOA. Well, I had second thoughts after wearing the shoes with no socks. Sure there is that initial “slimey” polyester feeling, but once you get past that the shoes were very comfortable. To make a longer story shorter, I decided to give them another shot, but without socks. Lo and behold, they didn’t curl my toes (painfully) and I managed to do 2 miles (about 30 minutes) done in them this morning.
I would say they are not as comfortable as the Ahnu’s – without socks – but they are ok, so I’m going to try to finish the test period.
As promised, here’s photo of the Triton’s sole with wear after only 6 miles. I’ve included the photo of a new sole, so you can see the difference. Because the soles are such a soft rubber, I doubt they will hold up thru normal (full 125 miles) review.

My Triton's with the soles "wear marked" at 6 miles.

My Triton’s with the soles “wear marked” at 6 miles.

Body Glove Triton Water Sock - bottom view

Body Glove Triton Water Sock – bottom view

Two points to make: they are, in fact, comfortable; and, at 1/3rd the price of the Ahnu’s and 1/10th the price of the Vibram’s FiveFingers, they really don’t have to last as long!
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First a quick note on the total miles on the 2nd pair – 56 miles. Not quite half-way to the 125 I was hoping to do on each pair. As an aside, I wore the shoes for work and they were extremely comfortable for the whole day – so it’s just the running in them that blisters my feet.
Ok. Now, on to the third shoe review. This will be one of the quickest in history. The shoe is the Triton Water Sock, manufactured by Body Glove. The retail is $19.99, but I got them at what seems to be the regular price of $12.99. I say it’s the regular price because I’ve never seen them not at the “sale” price. They can be had at Big 5 Sporting Goods.
The thing about this pair of shoes (which makes the review brief) is they don’t fit. I checked out a site reviewing the shoe and it says it fits exactly as sized. GONG!! I am a size 12, but I normally wear a size 13 in most shoes because my feet like the extra room. I’ll even go up to a 14 if the shoe feels narrow.
I tried these on with no socks at Big5 and they fit perfectly. And they do… As long as I’m only walking or sitting. In fact, they are quite comfortable. The problem is that nagging issue that I purchased them as “near barefoot running shoes”. For that, they a fairly worthless. They have a rounded front which makes them seem “toe-comfy”. In reality, as soon as I began jogging my toes pressed into the front of the shoe and began curling and cramping. The shoes (at Big5) don’t come in a larger size so these are walkers from here on out.
It’s a shame, because they felt really good walking into the building from my car in the morning.
This morning I did 4.39 miles in 70 minutes. Another slow jog of medium duration. I don’t think I could have taken much more of a pounding on my curled toes, though.
The shoes did not wear well. I haven’t got a photo of the bottom yet so I’ll have to add one or two to the review later. The basic wear was conventionally POSE/Chi-running, but the loss of tread was quite surprising for ONLY a little over 4 miles. I seriously doubt the shoes would have made it 100 miles. That’s not to say I’m marking them down (too much) for the soft soles – they are also what make the shoes so flexible and comfortably foot fitting. In fact, wearing them to walk in reminded me of moccasins I once owned as a small child.
Anyway, I’ll add the photo of the wear later and just use these for kicking around – NO jogging.
The next pair up (number 4) is Hang Ten and are called the Belmont. Same deal as before, purchased at Big5 and retailed at $14.99. These were NOT on sale and I haven’t seen them on sale. Everything goes on sale at Big5 eventually, so I’m sure if you wait ’em out, you can probably get a pair for a ten-ner.
As a courtesy, I’ve included a link to the Hang Ten web site, but don’t bother clicking thru – it’s CRAP! On second thought, click thru – it’s good for a pathetic chuckle. Considering they’ve been around for years and have made some really great stuff in their day – it’s sad… Hopefully, the Belmonts are a lot better than the web site (that’s setting a pretty low bar).
For the record, test pair number one – the Ahnu’s are still the best of the three tested (although pricey at $40) so far.
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Abort! Abort! Abort!
Seriously, the first time I test wore the Speedo “Men’s Seaside Water Shoe”, I got a blister on the top of my foot. I wasn’t wearing socks, so I gave that a skip as down to my bad…
I’ve worn the shoes pretty consistently on short runs – 2 miles to 10K and they’ve been ok. Today, I wore them on a long, slow run (my second such in them) – two hours plus, and for the second time (on a two-hour plus jog) my right foot has blistered underneath! Maybe, I can blame the socks. Maybe, but I just don’t feel like it. The review is over for these puppies!
I’m only at 55-60 miles on them, but stick the fork in – it’s done. I’m attaching a photo of the bottoms so anyone who cares can see the wear pattern.

Wear pattern on bottom of shoes.

Wear pattern on bottom of shoes.

As you can see, the wear is on the outside of each mid-sole, rolling through the center of the ball, and then over the toe of both shoes. Fairly classic wear pattern for POSE/Chi running. Given the wear at just 50-ish miles, I doubt they would have lasted 125 to 150 miles. Still, they were only $20; half the price of the Ahnu’s.
Final recommendation: I don’t recommend them for “almost” barefoot running. They are NOT close to almost barefoot. They are very comfortable for wearing around the office – VERY breathable shoes. They are also comfortable for moderate walks – the crepe feel is different enough from regular shoes that they give your feet a different experience. They are “supposed” to be water shoes. Given you MUST wear socks with them, and wet socks are not comfortable for long days of wear – I can’t recommend them for their stated purpose. Finally, my first thought was the top draw string was a great idea. In fact, it does little to hold the shoe on. Mud or current would easily suck the shoe off. What it does do is make the shoe “feel” more snug across the arch of your foot while still easy to put on. VFFs tend to be either too snug or too loose to put on. This kind of draw string would make a reasonable addition.
By the way, today’s jog was in the morning, 2 Hrs 20 Min and about 8 miles. Like I said – long and slow. Depending on how my time goes this week, I’m going to try for another 55 mile week. It’s six months since my birthday and that was the week I last went that far. I will try to get a chunk of it done at the gym, but I will have to cut back on reading, blogging and hunch.com to get even close. I’m hoping today’s blister doesn’t end my effort before it’s started.
The two best things about mourning runs are the sky brightening and the birds singing. The worst thing is the progressive increase in heat.
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Today I went a bit crazy… I’ve been experiencing a mad desire to get new running shoes (VFF’s, of course), so today I went out and bought two pairs! Yikes!!
Fortunately, my significant other (the love of my life) remained calm and just let it pass. I’m sure I’ll have to pay the piper some other day, but for now, no Mt. Etna. Phew!!
Anyhooo, I got a pair of brown KSO Treks and a pair of grey/green Bikila’s.
I was so jazzed, I broke my shoe review rules and wore the Bikila’s out for an evening jog – 70 Min, about 4 miles.   Slow and easy.  My initial reactions were quite varied.  To start off, the shoes are very difficult to get on.  The are completely different from my black-grey camo’s (normal KSO’s).  Those are soft and extremely flexible.  The Bikila’s are neither.  They are stiff like normal jogging shoes.  They bend thru the sole easily, but the tops are quite firm.  They have a heel-back which goes up much farther than the KSO.  I have to really pull them to get them on.  They are size M47, which is the largest they come.  Once on, there is much less play in the heel than with my KSOs.  The Bikila’s have the “pad” effect on the bottom of the soles (see the photos).  This makes them feel much more safe (and probably durable), but it also makes it seem like you’re further away from the ground.  Oh, yeah.  One last observation – the Bikila’s reek coming out of the box.  They smell of man-made, petrochemical, funk.  I can already tell these are going to stink to high-heaven with a little sweat in them (if they stink this bad already).  The KSO-Treks, on the other hand, have a sensual swede / leather smell and touch.  They tickle your nose and your fingertips.
Out for the spin…
When moving the front of the shoe feels like a second skin.  As I started going, my heel seemed to drift away from the shoe-heel and almost felt as if there wasn’t any shoe heel.  I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.  I take it as good for now as it means no heel blisters while I’m breaking them in (and while they’re breaking me in).
After a few minutes, the pod/pads really started to annoy me.  I guess everyone’s feet are different and there’s no perfect place to put the pads.  They don’t seem to quite match up with my toes.  The ball of the foot feels fine, but my second toe feels like it’s going to blister.  I shift around a bit as I move and although I’m vaguely aware of the pads, they stop irritating.
I’m going very slow (only on my mid-foot and the balls of my feet).  After about 15 minutes, my calves start playing up.  Again, just relax and change the stride for a while and this too passes.  I’m reminded this is my first go in the shoes and I have to take it easy.  When I first started the POSE/Chi running style, I about crippled myself by trying to run through calve pain.
At just about the 1 Hr mark, the balls of my feet really start to hurt.  This is very unusual.  It’s very much like the next day foot soreness after a real long run, but it’s intense and it’s NOW!!  I’ve only got 2 more laps to go to 4 miles, so I decide to push through it.  At the end, I feel like if I go much farther I’m going to be limping for a week.
I stop.  Stretch my calves a bit and by the time I cross the street and walk in the house the pain is completely gone.  With ANY normal shoes, I would expect some residual pain and soreness – but there is none.  I sit on the floor and do a bit of leg stretching.  My feet have NO soreness at all when I stand up.  In fact, it feels like I haven’t jogged at all.
The only thing I can imagine is the pads/pods must be lying on some pressure points in my foot which were telling me “enough for one day but otherwise, we like these shoes.”
I’ve been up and down on my feet for a couple of hours now and I’m ready to go to bed and the feet still feel good to go.
Now that I’ve broken my rules for my sticking to the test shoe during the whole test period, I guess I’ll have to decide if I should continue to mix shoes and track the distance separately.  I’m only about 40 miles in on the 2nd pair.  I’m not terribly happy with them for jogging, but they are quite comfortable for just wearing around.  Still, I don’t want to wear them walking much as this will influence my end review of the shoe wear.
Oh, well, I’ll try to be fair, but will be, will be…
In case you’re wondering, we’ve been going through an operating system upgrade at work so I’ve had a good chunk of OT, which I splurged with to get these two pairs of VFFs.  Once again, I thank God to be working and able to afford these personal items, (when I should be paying down the credit card bill).  I guess someone’s got to keep the economy ticking over – might as well be me.
One final note, the images are from Vibram’s site (or from one of the various retailers that sell VFFs) and I make no claim to them.  I’m just a proud owner of their products.
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