I have run in a lot of great running shoes this year, but none have brought the smile to my face the way the 361 Flames did this morning. The last time I had this kind of smile was when Sam W. let me try out his Nike VaporFly 4% back in May 2018. You can read about it here if you like.
The Flame is a running shoe that I have wanted to run in all year. Everything about it screamed that it should be a running shoe I would like. Cushioned, yet firmer than most of the other super shoes, a generous front end, and a bit more outsole than most — oh yeah, that carbon plate too.
I got them in yesterday as a surprise and took them for a walk last night. They felt awkward and noisy, although the fit was a touch longer than I would want, but pretty normal for how a TTS size 8.5 fits. So, I was somewhat disappointed about how they felt.
However, this morning I still wanted to see what the Flames would be like to run in. My plan called for an easy 3.0-mile run without a bunch of hills. So, I drove up to Waterville and headed out from the Hannaford parking lot.
The first few hundred yards or so were awkward, the shoe was attempting to drive me forward, and I was way back on my heels attempting to do an easy run.
These shoes did not want to do easy.
I struggled with them until I made the left turn and went down a little hill. Going downhill, I naturally picked up the pace and suddenly the Flames felt wonderful. It was like a hydrofoil on the water and once I got up to speed, everything smoothed out. I relaxed a little, picked up the pace, and let the body figure out how to run in the Flames. By the time I finished the first mile, I had this big old shit-eating grin on my face.
Then at the last minute, I decided to head over to Winslow and do the loop.
I’ve run this route several times in other “go faster” shoes while chasing my Strava segment across the bridge. I haven’t been able to get it in a couple of years, but not for a lack of effort. Today, I wanted to see how I did, chasing the segment in these shoes that were making me smile so much.
Once I got on the bridge, I wasn’t really thinking about chasing the segment, I was having too much fun bopping along and enjoying running — the way that it used to be, and isn’t all that often nowadays.
When I got to the turn, I figured that I would be about 30-40 seconds off the segment CR. After I got home and looked at Strava, I was pleasantly surprised that there was a shiny little gold cup on my activity for the segment. I am old and slow, so the pace is slow too. 🙂
The smile was still there going down the hill into Winslow. I had to keep reining myself back, this was supposed to be an easy run. When I stopped for a minute at Fort Halifax Park, the old body was telling me the running faster was fun, but it was done running faster. I haven’t been feeling great for most of the week, and bopping along, when I am used to about a minute per mile slower, had gotten my attention.
When I left the park, I purposely kept the pace slower to see how the Flames did, going at more of an easy training pace. This time they did fine running slower, it seemed that once I had tamed the beast and learned how to run in them, that running slowly was fun too.
Overall, the 361 Degree Flames were that big smile shoe that I haven’t had in quite a while.
Yes, they want to go faster, and I have to focus a little more on my stride when I run slower in them. The Flames were smooth, quiet, and comfortable. I didn’t have any issues with hotspots, blisters and was able to wear my Balega socks and little toe spacer without problems.
Their weight is comparable to some other max cushion carbon-plated running shoes. If I had to compare the Flames to other shoes, I have run in they would be a mash-up: the Adidas boost-like midsole (Tempo 9 — only more of it, lighter, and better), fit/weight similar to ASICS (Magic Speeds), have an upper similar Nike (ZoomFly SP) and the laces are too long like too many brands.
The only problems I had with the 361 Degree Flames were that it was too easy to run fast (for me) and that I am not fast enough or in good enough shape to do justice to the shoes — yet.
Oh yeah, I ended up doing 6.0-miles in the Flames and the left leg never really bothered more than a twinge here or there.
Now back to before the run.
What I am thinking about this morning?
Waking up to a bit of rain and clouds, after the forecast called for sun and nice temps, put a bit of a damper on the first-morning walk with Bennie. However, as I sit here looking out the window, the sun has peeked out a couple of times and the temps are starting to get into the mid-’50s. So, there is hope that it will be a great day.
I am feeling a bit better than yesterday, not nearly as fatigued or foggy-headed, but still not up to where I usually am. It was as though I was fighting something for the past few days and finally, whatever it was, decided it wasn’t worth the fight.
While I am planning on doing a shorter run, I got surprised yesterday with a pair of 361 Degree Flames (their carbon-plated racer/trainer that showed up via UPS). They are one of the running shoes that I have wanted to try all year, and that means I will get them out on the road this morning. It is only a question of which road because I am tempted to head into Waterville and run from the Hannaford parking lot.
In other words, it was a pretty good day, and tonight I am feeling the best I have all week. It’s gotta be the shoes. Hehehehe.