I have been a fan of minimalist shoes for a few years, owning, let me count, 4 pairs of Terra Planas. I waited a long time for a dedicated running shoe, but the Evos were a disappointment. They were too sneaker-like - had all the disadvantages of a regular loafer (heavy and plastic) without the leveraging comfort of gel. I tried my first pair of Five Fingers at the Berlin Half Marathon Expo this spring, and later bought the Speeds (the best for folks with high-arches which I learned from your blog), in June.
Walking in the Speeds was like a dream, they are quite stylish too, but running, for the first three months, was painful. Although gain in speed in the Speeds was significant, after each run (I managed to do only 8K), I felt like someone just hammered down two rusty nails into my hamstrings. I got lucky with the NYC Marathon lottery, but almost gave up the idea of running in VFFs, occasionally glancing back at the Lunaracers, which now felt swampy and unstable. Another irritating thing was using my Nike+ sensor with the pouch attached to the Speeds - never quite really managed to calibrate it, which was frustrating. Then something happened - I downloaded Nike+ GPS app for an iPhone, and went for a run. It was shockingly precise (no buildings around, just running up north the beach in Tel Aviv), and it somehow liberated my stride. I did the 12K in a bit more than an hour, and two days later 20K, then 30K, and between that "wow" moment in August and NYC Marathon I did 350 KMs, calf-pain free.
More importantly, the usual suspects - back-pain, hip-pain, knee-pain - were gone, as Dr. Romanov promised in his familiar Slavic accent. The moment I forget about owning bone-structure is liberating. Running in regular shoes, asics-gel for example, makes you very conscious of having backbone, and hips, and knees, because you hit the ground while having a bad posture. And running on your bended knees, landing an BOF and keeping legs below the center of gravity, as Dr Romanov and his pose method taught us, makes you cushion your bone structure with your leg muscles, not the false protection of gel. After the run you might have a muscle pain, which recovers quickly, but no more back-pain, or knee-pain. That's my experience. Hence the term: it makes you forget, it makes you stop being conscious of owning a bone structure. And it's liberating
At the NYC marathon expo I got a pair Zensah sleeves that everybody was talking about (mainly because it was to be freezing on Sunday), and they worked well. I did the race in 3:47 which is now my PB, and crossing the line acted like a sales-rep for VFF (note to the Vibram people - future discounts, please!). I had to fight against urban legends, like that you can't run in VFFs for more than 10K for example. Also Americans dug the lace-style, I'm not sure why you can't get the Speeds over the pond, you can get it in Israel.
To sum it up - accept for the birth-pains of getting back your calves in shape, you will run fast and gently, they will make you forget about pacemakers, HR monitors while putting physiotherapists out of business. Speeds made me run like I always wanted to do, without stretching, warm-ups, intervals, just hitting the road to make my mind about more important stuff.
Michal, congratulations on your race and success with the Five Fingers Speeds. There are certainly a lot of folks who would like to be able to buy them here in the States. We will keep hoping Vibram gets the message.