5 mile test: Encore Breeze & Waterpro Sable

Encore Breeze

I managed to get in two 5+ mile walks this weekend, despite abysmal weather on Saturday. First up was an after-work walk on Friday. Usually by the time Friday rolls around, unless I have plans, I'm so tired I just want to go home after work and veg out. But the weather just was too nice to do that, so I headed down to the mall and took a route around the Tidal Basin, down the national mall, and to Union Station.

I was wearing my Merrell Encore Breezes, and very curious about whether I could remotely approach five miles in these. They're my go-to shoes when my feet are sore from walking in other shoes, but they fit, well, like clogs, and I don't know that walking long distances with your foot rattling around in your shoe is a good idea.

It was an interesting walk. I started out at about a 17:30 per mile pace, which is usually way too fast for me to continue comfortably with my foot, but that was the pace I felt comfortable walking at. They felt great for about the first mile and a half, and then my left foot, which is my good foot, started getting oddly sore in places. At about two miles, both feet were sore, but then they didn't get any worse the rest of the walk, and I didn't have any trouble hitting just over five miles. And strangely, I finished at about a 18:30 per mile pace, which considering stops for traffic lights and taking pictures of my foot in front of the Washington Monument, was pretty good.

Waterpro Sable

I did another post-brunch walk on Sunday in what are probably my favorite walking shoes, the Merrell Waterpro Sables. Because I thought I'd charged my cell phone overnight, but in fact, hadn't, my phone was down to about nil battery power, and I had to keep it turned off. This meant no RunKeeper to track my distance, and no music to listen to.

So I set off for a quite boring walk, sticking to a route I knew, from yummy brunch spot Nage, which is north of Farragut North, down to the mall, back around the Tidal Basin, down the mall, and to Union Station. I knew the core of the walk was about five miles, but what I didn't realize was that with the extra walking down to the mall, I actually ended up walking about SEVEN miles (which I calculated with Google Maps Pedometer when I got home).

I had a little stiffness in my bad foot arch left over from the Friday walk, and an odd little pain in my heel that seemed to be sock-related, although I couldn't find anything when I stopped and did a sock investigation. But aside from that, the Waterpro Sables felt great the entire walk — it was more my post-bottomless bloody mary and mimosas self that was dragging, and even with that, it looks like I did about a 17:30 pace. They have a Vibram athletic tread, and the extra shock absorption makes a difference. I've also noticed that I don't feel so shin splinty when I wear shoes that have more freedom around the ankles like these do.

I'm not sure that the Waterpro Sables are meant for this much walking, but this is the farthest I've walked since I had the foot problem, so I'm quite excited. What they're really meant for, as the name suggests, is as a water shoe. I'm hoping to use them for that purpose on my upcoming trip to Greece — they seem like just the thing for pebble beaches AND lots of walking. Although Merrell doesn't make them anymore (added bonus — I got mine on clearance), the Waterpro Crystals look nearly identical.


5 mile test: Merrell Apure + Cambia

So many kites flying at the Washington Monument

I thought I'd try something new with this blog and do more reviews. See, since my previously blogged about revelation that Merrell's Q-form technology REALLY helps my feet, I've been starting to walk longer and longer distances in various pairs of Merrells I've bought — up to 5 miles fairly comfortably, now. I did get those orthotics, but found that they were super thick, and not actually as effective as straight-up Merrells.

So I'm going to try and see if I can get up to 5 miles in various pairs of shoes, and how it goes. Today's were the Apures, plus a Merrell Cambia shirt that I'd bought for travel. I took a post-brunch walk from Union Station, over by the Capitol, down the mall, turning around before the Washington Monument, and back to Union Station. I tracked my mileage using the RunKeeper app for Droid, which I love.

Merrell Apure

These shoes I hadn't worn very much before today's walk. The first day I wore them, the elastic band across the top of the foot was a bit stiff, and as a result, it was making my bad toe a bit uncomfortable. I tried them again, with thinner socks, and the combination of different socks and a bit of break-in seemed to do the trick. So I've probably worn them 3-4 times before today's walk.

They felt pretty good for about the first 3 miles. They have the same sole and a similar foot bed to sister shoes Parma and Brio, and all three shoes have always felt really good on the bad parts of my bad foot. You can really feel the air cushion and Q-form in all of them. By the fourth mile, they were starting to rub on my left pinkie toe and my right heel, but the foot support was still good. Approaching mile five, things started to fall apart — the back of the right heel (which now has a nickel-sized blister) hurt increasingly, and I was even starting to get a sharp pain underneath the heel when I stepped down.

Part of this might have been the thin Nine West dress socks I was wearing — perhaps with different sock material they would have rubbed less and all would have been well. I think they probably could have stood a little more opportunity to break in, as well. The leather on my more worn Parmas and Brios is nice and supple now and it really helps. But they did feel really good for about three miles, and at that point I was below a 20 minute mile, walking. Not bad for a pair of shoes you can wear to work, although I think I still prefer the Parma for overall comfort and the Brio for versatility.

Merrell Cambia

The Cambia I was impressed with. I liked the look of it online because it's a cute dress shirt that doesn't look like travel clothing — it looks like something you could, again, wear to work. The material feels thin and you can definitely tell it's quick-dry polyester when you're wearing it (but not looking at it), but for travel that's great. It's a shirt you can wear out to dinner and then sweat all over wearing it walking around a few days later.