Friday, March 9, 2012

Saucony Peregrine Review

Recently there was a discussion of sorts on the Tejas Trails page about shoes. I gave my opinion about the Peregrine and then realized that I had not completed my long planned review of the shoe. Being overdue I wanted to get this thing knocked out before the weekend. A little background... My first trail shoe was a pair of Fire Road IIs from The North Face. A jack of all trades type with traditional build qualities. Next I tried out the Iso-Seek IV from Pearl Izumi which I would call another all around shoe. After that I wanted to try something less structured and more minimal and picked up a pair of Brooks Pure Grit. You can read that review here. While I very much like the Grit, for me, it was lacking some beef for the more rocky terrain usually found around here. Which led me to beat around the bushes for something else to add to the stable. Based largely on this review at iRunFar I decided to give the Saucony Peregrine a shot. 

Saucony says the Peregrine (version 1) is built on the same foot form as their very popular Kinvara and is geared towards the "minimal" end of the spectrum with a scant 4mm drop (stacks heights of 18mm/14mm) and weighing in at about 10 ounces. It should be noted that this shoe was selected as the Runner's World Editor's Choice for trail shoes in April of 2011. 

My out of the box impression on these was pretty high. The fit was true to size in my opinion. I would describe them as being snug, in a good way, like a glove. There was not a lot of extra room in the toe box. Just enough to wriggle the toes around and not feel too restrictive. With the laces tied these felt locked on through the heel and hugged my forefoot. Likely the result of the synthetic upper having a nice looking overlay of synthetic leather-like webbing from heel to toe. The gusseted tongue was nicely padded and the laces appeared to be durable. There is an attachment loop to make these gaiter compatible. I did not feel any of the interior seams, the sockliner was very comfortable. The heel was cut low (no rubbing on the ankle) and well padded. The cushioning felt a bit on the firm side (compared to the Pure Grit). I would have to say that these shoes felt fairly stiff (again, compared to the Grit) both laterally and in the forefoot. But not in a bad way, these felt stable and protective, not restrictive at all. The midsole features both ProGrid Lite and SSL EVA to provide cushioning and reduce weight. The outsole has what Saucony calls an External Bedrock Outsole made of high traction and durable carbon rubber that doubles as a rock plate. This is one aggressive looking tread. I did notice that there were not any cut outs across the forefoot area likely adding to the stiff feel of the shoe. 

I have worn these shoes numerous times in varied conditions over the winter on different types of trails. The more I wore them the more I liked them. Whether on rolling, non-technical single track or rock strewn, technical stuff these performed great. Dry, wet, muddy... it didn't matter. Despite the gnarly outsole I didn't notice any extra mud getting picked up in wet conditions. The Peregrines performed well in two different races during wet conditions. At Athens Big Fork I experienced no issues despite several creek crossings, rocky terrain and an elevation chart that would make most have an "Oh $hi!" moment. Likewise, at the rain drenched mud fest otherwise known as Rocky Raccoon 2012 they did great. I can only wish that I had chosen to wear them from the start instead of switching after the second loop. When wet I have had zero blister issues and they drain very well. The grip is quite good in all conditions. The ride is light yet cushioned and stable. To date I have not found any real fault with the Peregrine. Honestly, at this point, I would have to say that the Peregrine has become my trail shoe of choice. 

Interested? A quick internet search shows the Peregrine selling below $60. I would assume this is due to the release of the Peregrine 2. From what I can gather the updates are aimed at the upper, making it more minimal. For anyone looking to step down, so to speak, from a more traditional or maximal type trail shoe to something more minimal the Peregrine is a great choice. I'm looking forward to getting a hands on look at the  Kinvara TR, a new more minimal offering from Saucony due out this summer. Here is a sneak peek from that also features a review on the Peregrine. 

Update 09/01/2012
I am now approaching 300 miles on my Peregrines. I have read a number of posts on the internet about the upper breaking down prematurely. I have not had an issue with this on my shoes. The overlay is just starting to show signs of wear where the upper connects to the midsole along the crease or "break" above my toes. A little bit of the stitching is frayed but otherwise intact. The rubber toe protector did begin to separate but a bit of shoe glue seems to have fixed that just fine.
I have to say that the outsole of these shoes has held up remarkably well. I am quite pleased at how well these shoes have performed for me under a spectrum of conditions. Over the last several months these have become my trail shoe of choice and I find myself using them more than the Pure Grit or Pearl Izumis. As I ramp up my training for some upcoming ultras this autumn I will not hesitate to give the nod for another pair of Peregrines. This time the updated and revised Peregrine 2 model that is now available. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

From the Kitchen & the Bar

Spaghetti squash, prepped and ready to bake

While I'm sidelined with my stress fracture I have committed to a couple of different endeavors. First is a 42 day challenge during my layoff to work on core/strength and the second is to work on my chef skills. Hopefully, this will help keep me in some sort of shape so that when April rolls around I won't be a total slug. My revised race schedule has me bypassing the Bentonville Half (but I will volunteer) and the Ouachita Trail 50 while I recover. So my next race will be the Joplin Memorial Half and then the Hobbs 50. I should end up having 6 full weeks of training for Joplin and 8 for Hobbs. And what a brutal time, emotionally, to be out with an injury given the great weather and weekends full of race opportunities. I digress...

The chef part of the equation involves two approaches. First, at least once a week I will attempt to prepare a meal featuring an ingredient that is new to us. Or at least an ingredient prepared in a way that we have never tried before. This is what I told the family: tell me something you want to try that you have never had before or something you tried but didn't like and I will find another way to make it. Simple, right? The other thing this will allow is a chance to try some recipes out for the Inca Runners Training Camp (Grand Teton) in August where I will be the resident cook. 

It really does shred up like pasta

So the first week found me staring at a spaghetti squash. And I decided to simply bake it and make like it was a big plate of pasta. I have never worked with this before. The recipe was easy. Cut it in half, season it, bake it and then shred it with a fork. Top it with a sauce and Presto! I even included Philip in on this one. He got a chance to shred up one half of the squash. I rounded the meal out with some grilled chicken, green beans, a salad and some fruit bowls. Carolyn chose to skip the sauce and topped hers with yeast flakes, salt and pepper. I tried that too but added a little Udo's Oil on top and it was good. There was quite a bit left as one good sized squash proved too much food for the four of us. Carolyn seasoned the leftovers with salt and pepper and used it the next morning in an omelet. 

Mini me in full chef mode

The next episode had me making a creamy carrot soup. I had eaten some once at a restaurant and it was the best bowl of soup I have ever tasted. Again, easy t make if a little labor intensive. In a dutch oven I sauteed some onions in butter, added some stock, a sliced potato and the carrots with some seasoning. Cook away until tender. Then it is into the processor, puree, and back into the pot with some heavy cream and a few more spices until re-heated. I didn't want this one too sweet but more savory. It turned out somewhere in between but not enough of either. The good thing is that way each person can season it as desired. Carolyn threw some Sriracha sauce on hers and poured it over her rice. Sassy. 

Carrot soup, stage 1

Finally I had a go at making sweet potato casserole (Ruth's Chris style). Yes, I have had this before as my mom makes a mean version, bit I had never made it myself. Previously I have made sweet potatoes for my family that didn't go over so well. We have tried them plain (bad idea) and I made some enchiladas with them once (not much better). Pretty straightforward really, bake the taturs till tender, puree them, add some mojo (butter, salt, sugar, vanilla and such), into the baking dish, sprinkle with goodness (for that sweet pecan crust) and then bake it until toasty. This one was a big hit with everyone, except my wife. Apparently she hates sweet potatoes. You would think after 20 years together I would have known this fact. I knew about the green peas but not this. Oh well, the kids and I enjoyed it. 

I enjoy the challenge of working with new ingredients and learning more about how different things cook, how to season and trying to find new ways to be more efficient in the kitchen. This week I'm at a bit of a loss. Any suggestions on something to try out? What's your favorite non-traditional dish or ingredient?

I can't get out of a conversation on food without including some beverage options can I? Here are a couple of recent selections and my thoughts...

Point Cascade Pale Ale out of Wisconsin. Nothing fancy here, just a good, drinkable beer with a little citrus and grassy taste, mild sweetness. Nice orange patina. Pretty smooth and an inexpensive option. 

Undercover Investigation Shut Down Ale from Lagunitas. Big hop aroma, nice head, rich copper color. Can taste the hops and alcohol, some bitterness and some sweetness, complex taste, creamy feel. 

A couple of fruity choices from Samuel Smith, Organic Cherry and Raspberry. I almost always find fruit beers to be very smooth and quite drinkable. These do not disappoint. The Cherry has a nice tartness to it. The Raspberry maybe had some chocolate tones to it? Couldn't quite figure this one out. Not bad by any means, different for sure. My preference was the Cherry with the twang it offered.