Shoes: Brooks Ravenna 3
Shoes. Let's talk shoes. I have a little secret. And it's somewhat embarrassing because I like to consider myself low maintenance/no frills type of person. Except that I'm currently rotating 5 pairs of running shoes. Actively. And I have another 2 pairs waiting to swap in. All different. I feel like this is very much excessive. But (a) I love a good deal, and (b) running shoes appear to be a serious vice for me like some ladies with handbags.
The Mizuno Mezamashii Project was floating around blogland last month and while I entered a couple giveaways, I decided I would just go enter my name directly with Mizuno and if it happened, great. They only ask for name, zip code, and email, so I'm pretty certain the blog had nothing to do with it. I don't have enough notoriety for any random Mizuno employee to know who I am by name and zip code. Lo and behold, I got an invite. I sent my extra invite to a non-blog runner friend. So that's pair #6. I also have a pair of the soon-to-be-defunct Brooks Launch sitting in my closet waiting to be taken off the bench. Number 7. WTF.
I think, unless you want to be reading for the next 2 hours about all my shoes, I am going to make this a series and do a short right up on each of the pairs.
Let's start with my what was once my go-to-shoe and now is my "can't wait to hit 300 miles and retire you" shoes. Very sad.
Brooks Ravenna 3
I have run in all three versions of the Ravenna. My first pair were the original Ravennas - I picked them up on whim at the Road Runner Sports HQ clearance backroom. They felt light and hugged my foot nicely. I said, what the heck? $70 is a decent deal for new shoes and a current model. I logged 420 miles on them. Got another pair for $50 at RunningWarehouse, put 320 miles on them. Tried on 4 or 5 shoes and still picked the Ravenna 2 and put 320 miles on those. Ran two marathons in them. I liked the 2nd edition even more than the 1st! I have never been so loyal to a specific shoe in my 19 years of running. I was like a damn Ravenna Evangelist which made me a Brooks enthusiast.
Enter the Ravenna 3.
I tried on about 6-7 different shoes at RRS. None felt "awesome" including the Ravenna 3. But with the track record I had with them, I figured it would probably live up to or come close to it's predecessors. It was a safe bet.
They are light for a stability trainer (approximately 9 ounces) and have good cushioning. They also look pretty good too - not flashy, but not boring either. They have a heel-to-toe ratio of about 9mm. Not too high, not minimalist either.
The first few runs, I was convinced I had made the right choice. No blisters or breaking in period. Nice toe-box room, etc. However, the more I wore them, the more I found myself wishing I was wearing the 2s. I wore them for 2 out of 3 of my Ragnar ltra legs and the last run, I got some gnarly blisters under the toenail of the second toe on both feet. If found myself gripping with my toes because my midfoot wasn't hugged by the shoe.
I laced them up differently so I could tighten the arch/midfoot but leave the forefoot loose. This was better - enough to keep my toes from blistering and my midfoot from feeling like it was moving around laterally. But not enough for me to love them.
Interestingly, I tried to leave a 3-star review (i.e. “average”) on the Brooks website, citing my concerns with the shoe updates from the 1st and 2nd model. It was not accepted/published. A month or so later, I went to RRS, left a 3-star review for the Ravenna 3 there and a 4-star review of the Brooks PureCadence. Not surprisingly, the 3-star review was not posted. But the 4-star was. So, take shoe reviews with a grain of salt because they seem to be mostly biased to the 4 and 5 stars (not exactly objective or a good sampling of opinions). I have to wonder who is doing the filtering – seems like it’s possible the shoe companies.
I have 200 miles on the Ravenna 3s as of today – they have some pretty good wear on the forefoot outsole, so, 300 will definitely be the max for me. Honestly, 100 more miles seems like an eternity to cover. Hopefully it goes fast. I definitely will not be buying another pair of these. When the 4 comes out, I'll certainly give them a chance for redemption. But I am actively seeking out a long run replacement shoe (interestingly, the Mizuno Elixirs I just tried this evening felt like a million bucks... but can't call them my new go-to yet...).