A couple weekends ago, I ran The Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon in DC. My training had been admittedly lackluster, so my goal was to finish. I had also just switched my shoes a couple weeks before, which, in the running world should be in the category of “unthinkable.” I had faith in these shoes, having done a few runs in them, they felt good. The Zante is the third shoe in New Balance’s line that has the Fresh Foam midsole, which boasts a soft and fast ride that was engineered by data to create a shoe that is responsive to the way you run. As a running nerd, I appreciated the science that went into the honeycomb texture of the Fresh Foam that would properly support my natural gait. As a runner, there was also the added bonus that they were far more cushioned than most of the shoes I’ve run in within the past two years (namely the New Balance WT10). The fact that the Zante had a 6mm drop was a huge draw for me, and when I first tried it on, I loved the fact that the upper conformed to my foot without feeling imposing.
But the tech specs mean less when you are running; for me, it becomes about how the shoe feels at mile 3, mile 7, and as I’m crossing the finish line at 13.1. If I could describe my ideal running experience, it would be that nothing feels as though it is interfering with my run. I am essentially asking for a shoe to defy Newton’s Laws of Physics, (which would tell me that every action has an equal and opposite reaction). I want to not feel that the impact - which is equivalent to 2-3 times your body weight when running, is being radiated back through my body with every step. The Fresh Foam midsole wrapped around the bottom of my foot, easily filling the space under my arch. These are both feelings that you could notice when you are just trying the shoe on for the first time, or in sunny running conditions. However, DC was not sunny on that Saturday, which lead me to the discovery of another remarkable thing: the weight of the shoe… or lack thereof. It was down pouring rain in DC, but the shoe never felt heavy. I knew my socks and shoes were soaked, but I didn’t feel weighed down; the upper never felt clingy as it took on more water. This, my friends, is what made my run perfect. I never felt as though my running was made more difficult by my shoe; which, in all my experience fitting shoes has taught me, is what we are all looking for in our perfect running mate.
And so you have the story of how on a very rainy and cold day in DC, I fell in love with my new, ahem, sole-mate.