2014 Victory for Victims 5k Recap

So how does one follow up a Marathon PR and Boston Qualifier?  How about by running a 5k!?  Doesn’t sound very logical, but that’s exactly what I did and it worked out pretty well for me!

Following the LA Marathon, I recovered quicker than I have after any of the previous 6 marathons I’ve run.  Chalk it up to improved fitness, chalk it up to improved nutrition, you can even chalk it up to running a smart race.  Whatever it is I felt pretty darn good a week out from the race.  I decided to take advantage of that and move forward with doing more running and focusing on speed.  I noticed some unexpected fitness gains.  It was weird to me to feel so strong at shorter distances so soon after the Marathon, though the feedback I received from other experienced runners is, this is not abnormal at all!  In fact, it happens often.

I decided to take advantage of this and shoot for a new 5k PR!  What race would I run?  I decided to return to the “scene of the crime” of the only official 5k I’ve done.  The Victory For Victims race which I ran in 2009 (and won my age group).  At that race I set my official PR of 19:37, though that wasn’t my primary target!

Cats Vitory

Going into this race I had an A goal, B goal and C goal. My A goal was a sub 18 min 5k. My B goal was sub 18:30 (to beat my boot camp 3 mile time), My C goal was simply to PR in the distance (beat 19:37).  The sub 18:00 time had some significance.  First, has to due with my Marine Corps background.  Runners under a certain age who complete the 3 mile run portion of their physical fitness test (PFT) in under 18 minutes are awarded the max allotted points.  Even though, at the age of 34 I would not be held to that same standard, and a 5k is technically .1 miles longer than the 3 mile distance.  The other significance was something I read on the website of The Los Angeles New Years Race.  Male runners who run sub 18 minutes are eligible for “Sub Elite” status.  Though I don’t consider myself “Sub Elite” it would be pretty cool to get that treatment at least for a day!

Anyway, I made it to Lake Balboa / Woodley Park bright and early at 6:30 am to pick up my my bib and t-shirt, and to meet up with some familiar faces (and some new ones).  I met up with Jeff from Runnergy Sherman Oaks who was meeting up with The New Basin Blues Running Club.  I had run with this group a lot in the past, especially on trails!  I caught up with some “long lost” friends and made friends with those I didn’t know so well.  Its definitely a nice way to start a race day morning with some great company!

Pre Race Blues

For a local 5k it was a well organized event and we had plenty to do at the start.  It was an expo set up with vendors, food (Panera Bread supplied pre run Bagel Bites) and swag giveaways (I got a Brooks Mustache Keychain).  The Laker Girls were on hand to motivate the runners before the start, though I don’t remember them leading a full warmup as they did in previous years, but I may have been pre-occupied.  Olympian Raefer Johnson was on hand as an annual staple to this event.  He spoke before the race kicked off and stuck around for the award ceremony post race.

V4V 5k Start Line
At the start of the race everyone was jockeying for position, I told a much older woman to be careful standing right at the start line as some faster runners may try to push her out of the way. When the horn went off I fought a little to get my space and I was off like a bat out of hell. With all of the adrenaline (and a little bit of caffeine) I was flying!  When I looked at my watch I realized it was not a pace I could maintain for the entire 5k and came to my senses a bit to avoid blowing up completely.  I gradually settled down and followed up the 5:35 first mile with a 5:53 second mile. All the while I was competing with a runner named Rene Canizales.  Rene is a New Basin Blues Team Member whom I met before the race. Very nice guy, but who says nice guys ain’t competitive?!  We took turns passing each-other at different parts of the race but neither of us was ever too far behind from the other.  The final mile plus was tough! I felt like I was just hanging on at this point, but I was still giving my all!  This is where my one gripe with the race comes in.  The course, at some critical parts was not very clearly marked, and in the final mile it really made a difference! I nearly missed a vital turn but quickly recovered.  Thankfully there were some volunteers to show the way… at the last second!  I also had to dodge some on-coming runners from the back of the pack.  They were coming while I was going.  The final obstacle was a pedestrian tunnel which dipped down and then back up ending back at the park for a final right turn on the grass to the finish line.  Though I was slightly ahead when we got out of the tunnel, Rene out kicked me from there, and I had no answer!

V4V 5k Finish
My final time was 18:07 with Rene ahead of me at 18:03.  After the race we congratulated each other, I then found out Rene was not even in my age group!  He’s 37 and I’m 34, nonetheless, it was motivation that pushed us both and we were both appreciative of each other for that purpose!  I finished 9th overall and 1st in my Age Group. Rene was 8th overall and 2nd in his age group. It felt great to know that I gave it all I had out there! No doubt the friendly competition helped! I am thrilled with my new PR and still have a sub 18 minute 5k goal within reach!

Results 2 Results 1

Post race festivities were great with hot food from El Torro and Ice Cream cones from Ben and Jerry’s. There were free massages available for runners as well!  The awards ceremony was great as every age group winner were called up by name to receive a medal presented by Raefer Johnson.  For this race there are no finishers medals for all participants, so if you want to leave with “bling”, you have to place in your age group!

Age Division Winners Men

Finally a nice bonus is the race pics which were made available online for free!  No, not the type with the big bold PROOF stamped on it, but a high quality race pic that can even be personalized with your name and finishing time!

Post Race Group

Post Race Thoughts: I guess with the 5k, there isn’t as much to pick apart with such a short race.  I definitely think I could tweak my strategy a bit and run more even splits, but that’s pretty much all I would change.  I wore my New Balance Minimus 20v2 for this race and they performed wonderfully.  I didn’t feel them, or at any point did I think abut them which is great!  This also shows that I was running with good form, since in these shoes you you feel it when your form is not right!  I’m not sure what’s next for me.  I’m eyeing a Fall Marathon but will likely run a 10k, Half Marathon, or both before then!  I hope to keep the PR streak going!

Happy Running!

New Basin Blues CATS Team

 

2014 LA Marathon Race Report

An epic race weekend deserves an equally epic race report!  The 2014 LA Marathon will forever rank high among my favorite races I have run. Just an incredible experience from start to finish from the expo to the finish line!

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Expo Day:

Being a part of an Official fully organized and supported training program for the first time has been amazing.  It also created such a huge build up for this race, so much so that I nearly blew my training!  On the final taper week, I thought it a good idea to run an 8 mile fartlek workout (7 with my friend Marko) I reasoned that we’d take it easy, but no chance of that happening!  Competition being what it is, we hit some blazing fast speeds that day.  Thankfully that was on Monday and I still had some time to recover before Sunday.  But first, the Expo!

Sarah Kenton Expo

Nutribullet is both a premium LA Marathon partner and sponsors of the Health and Fitness expo.  Since I am a member of Team NutriBullet I was invited to take part of some festivities!  Since those festivities started at noon, I decided to volunteer at the Ventura Marathon booth to help race director Josh Spiker.  I ran the inaugural race in 2013 and had a great time so I would have no problem promoting it!

Eddie Ventura Booth Expo

I really enjoyed working at the expo booth and having some great conversations with people about running!  Not to mention I got a Ventura Marathon t-shirt and hoodie out of the deal!  Thanks Josh!  While I was working the booth and helping get runners signed up Meb Keflezghi was taking the stage as a featured speaker!  I just had to take the opportunity to listen to my favorite elite Marathoner share the secrets to his success!

Meb Keflezghi

After that boost of motivation I finished up my work with Josh and prepared for the NutriBullet Festivities!  Nadia Ruiz Gonzalez was a featured speaker to share her success of running over 100 marathons!  During the presentation we had some Nutribullet giveaways and motivated the crowd as they answered Marathon questions for prizes!  After all of the fun we took some group photos and I eventually made my way out.

Expo Photo1 Expo Photo2

So I thought I was done at the expo when I see the Asics Treadmill Challenge going on.  I figured I’d watch for a little bit.  “Oh”, I thought. “That guy is pretty fast.  Actually he kind of looks like Ryan Hall!”  Well that’s because it was Ryan Hall!

Ryan Hall Expo

Ryan, the fastest American Marathoner was holding a conversation on the treadmill at about 4:40 pace.  Answering questions and asking some back to the crowd!  I answered a few questions myself but took off before it got too late.  He had been on the treadmill for 15 minutes by the time I left and I later heard he stayed on for an hour!  At 4:40 pace!

I got home, found something to eat and started preparing for race day.  As this is my 7th Full Marathon my routine is pretty set.  I laid my clothes out, prepared my morning meals and tried to go to bed at a reasonable time.

Race Day Outfit

There was a lot threatening to go against me on race day, the weather, the early morning, the time change.  I didn’t let any of this get to me though, somehow I was just confident that everything would work out!

Race Day:

Race day morning (If I could even call it that) was crazy.  Crazy as in, why would you do that if you are about to run a race?  I woke up at 1:30 am, gave me 30 minutes to get ready before my friend Mike picked me up at 3 am.  Yes, you heard that right!  No my math it not off.  This was due to daylight savings time, and the clocks going forward.  Yay, exciting stuff!  For breakfast I had some oatmeal with chopped apple, and 2 whole grain pancakes which I carried with me in a container.  I also brought a pre-made Nutriblast!  I spaced out my eating, starting with the oatmeal.  Since our shuttle was at 4 am I ate the pancakes and left the container in Mikes car.  I brought the Nutriblast along on the bus to drink when we got to Dodger Stadium!   We arrived early and I took advantage of no lines for the porta Johns.  I also picked up a banana and a bottle of water for some extra nutrition before the run.  I met up with my fellow Team NutriBullet runners prior to our 5:45 am festivities.  The fun was about to start!

Pre Marathon Party!

Prior to the Marathon there was a DJ on stage, NutriBullet Dancers hyping up the crowd, glow sticks, thunder sticks and loud party music!  Wait, did I sign up for a Rock n’ Roll Marathon?  Nope this was the new LA Marathon and NutriBullet was getting the party started right!  Team NutriBullet was asked to get out in front of the stage and do the twist while a video played in the big screen of us doing the same after one of our long training runs!  A video collage of the Team Nutribullet training season was also played on stage, and I have to say it felt pretty good to be a part of this group for the LA Marathon.

All of this was both getting me hyped up for the race, but also calming my nerves about the race at the same time.  Usually during a Marathon you have time to sit around and get nervous, with all of the festivities, no such chance!  Before heading to the corrals I made one final stop at the porta john to make sure nothing was going to throw off the race!  I met up with my friends, Team NutriBullet Coach John, Luis, Marko in the B corral and had my first GU about 20 minutes before the gun went off.  Game time!

The Race:

My strategy for the LA Marathon was to start the race at an easy pace and run negative splits.  Original plan was first 3 at 7:30 pace, next 3 at 7:15 the bulk of the miles at 7 minute pace and then try to pick it up after the VA.  After receiving some solid advice from Crispin Lazarit I decided to study the course map a bit more and plan to run certain miles based more on effort with my pacing plan as more of a guide.

Miles 1-6: (7:36, 7:12, 7:10, 7:17, 7:38, 7:18)

Since I was planning to run the early miles easy I figured I’d have some fun with it!  I ran with John whose plan was to run with all of the Team NutriBullet runners at some point of the race.  I purposefully went easy in the first mile since I knew we were hitting a downhill that could cause us to go out too fast.  Dodger Stadium was rockin’ and I was the voice of reason keeping our small group in check.  First mile slower than planned!  Mission accomplished!  There’s so much to love about the early miles!  When I ran this in 2010 I didn’t run through Chinatown or Little Tokyo so the course change since then was great!  Then there’s familiar favorites like Disney Concert Hall and those amazing Drummers!  Echo Park also brought fond memories!  Through it all I was engaging the crowd and feeding from there energy, so by that logic… Run slow to conserve energy + extra energy from the crowd = energy surplus!

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Miles 7 – 12: (6:54, 6:56, 7:01, 6:48, 6:48, 6:49)

After mile 6 is when I started my focus on Marathon Pace.  John and I ran about another mile together and then parted ways, me to run my race, and him to support his trainees.  This is also where I really hit my stride and clocked some of my fastest miles of the race.  I just went with it and made sure my effort was on par with my pacing plan.  I really enjoyed Silver Lake as the mural on Sunset has always been a favorite of mine during previous training runs.  I also came across the groovy 70’s Funk Soul group which prompted some high 5’s!  I saw a pretty funny sign on this stretch of the course that read “Smile if you pee’d a little”  It was so unexpected that I couldn’t help but laugh!  I knew that I’d be entering Hollywood and with that i’d get a huge energy boost!  I ran into Michael Blackson around Hollywood and Vine entertaining the crowd and having fun!  I ran over and gave him a high 5!  I think that glitter glove sprinkled a bit of magic on me because I only got stronger from then on!

Miles 13 – 18: (7:13, 7:15, 6:44, 6:49, 7:02, 7:00)

After the turn on Orange I got back on Sunset Blvd and all I could think about was Nutribullooza!  I was very hyped up thinking about it!  I remembered from last time that West Hollywood had a lot of energy from the crowds so I was feeding off of that as well!  When I made it to Mile 15 I took my gel and had my eyes peeled for those NutriBullet Shirts!  I heard the crowd calling my name and looked back to see Nutribullet T-Shirts!  I looked ahead to see our Fitness Trainer Monique cheering me on!  I also saw Jeremy our camera/production guy and gave him a huge high 5 as well (are you seeing a theme yet?)!   The great thing about the LA Marathon is that there is never a dull moment!  Beverly Hills was a welcome sight as its always fun to run on Rodeo drive!

NutriBalooza

Miles 19 – 22: (6:50, 6:57, 7:06, 7:25)

Going into Century caught me completely off guard!  I had heard about “Cheer Alley” but didn’t expect what I ran into!  Cheerleaders from all sides, I felt like an NFL player running out to the field before the start of the Superbowl!  It was insane and granted me yet another energy boost!  At this point of the race I was still going strong and feeling great!  I knew that the VA was coming up but I also knew what to expect!  I was sticking by my plan to run the VA Hills by effort.  My pacing had been great so I knew that 1 or 2 slow miles weren’t going to break me in any way!  While entering the VA Grounds I saw Cynthia from LASP cheering on!  She spotted me and yelled out some encouragement which is just what I needed before the toughest part of the course.  Indeed, this was not easy but at least my legs had some life to them.  While running through the VA I kept in mind my cause (raising money for Veterans) and yelled some encouraging words to the crowds!  I grind-ed my way through it and got a little emotional when I saw San Vincente!  I was 4+ miles away from reaching my goal!

Miles 23 to the finish: (7:04, 7:07, 6:36, 6:56, 3:05)

The final 4 + miles (My final total was 26.45 miles) was all about focus and determination!  I put my game face on and the gloves literally came off!  I knew from 2010 that just because I was on San Vincente didn’t mean that it was going to get easier right away, or that I could start relaxing.  Nope!  My legs were feeling the toll of so many miles by this point, its to be expected!  I knew that if I just held things together I was going to be very happy at the finish line!  I clocked my fastest mile of the entire race at mile 25 (6:36) and once I hit ocean I was overcome with emotion!  I cruised in at 3:06:38 gun time (3:06:24 chip time!)  I ran a 6 minute PR and my first ever BQ!  Boston 2015 here I come!!!

Eddie San Vincente

Post race:

I got my medal and some water but the most welcome sight was an ice cold wet towel handed to me by one of the race volunteers!  It was heaven!  I walked way to much after the race, since my phone wasn’t working properly.  When I finally got a call from my wife I was ready to go and get some food!  Would have been great to meet up with Team Nutribullet post race, but my body simply wanted some food and rest!

Congratulations to all of the 2014 LA Marathon finishers!  Though I beat most of the heat, I heard about the hot conditions.  I hope everyone was safe during and after the race, you all have my highest respect!

Happy Running!

Eddie D

LAM Bib Medal

CamelBack Arc Quick Grip Review

CamelBack Arc Quick Grip

Its no secret that runners need to hydrate.  Sometimes drinking enough water before a run is sufficient, but for long runs, or runs in the heat, carrying water can become a necessity!  In my years of running I’ve had a love/hate relationship with different types of water bottles and hydration packs designed for runners.  While I was in the Marine Corps, I often used a Camelback Hydration Pack similar to this to stay hydrated on hikes and long runs.  I’ve also used a camel back hydration belt with a single bottle.  The Hydration Pack worked pretty well, though it added a lot of extra weight to my back, it was pretty evenly distributed.  The belt with the single bottle, not so much.  I liked that I didn’t have to carry a bottle in my hand, but the belt moved around much too much (causing chafing) and the bottle would move around and dig into my back (not pleasant).

Carrying a bottle in hand has always been a “last resort” option.  First, I don’t like having extra weight in one hand.  Second, I don’t like having to grip something while running, this often times causes some cramping or discomfort in my hand.

This brings me to the Camelback Arc Quick Grip.  I won this bottle in a twitter contest from @runchat.  You can read all about it in my #RunChatHunt Blog Post.  I was excited about winning this prize because, aside from my previous reservations about carrying a water bottle, this one in particular looked like it would change my mind and make for a great running experience.  Did it?  Read on to find out!

Impressions:

The Camelback Arc Quick Grip is a lightweight bottle made to fit snug on the hand during running.  It’s essentially a Camelback Arc water bottle with a “Quick Grip” accessory attached.  So, the bottle can be easily attached to a Camelback belt if that is your preference.  For me the “Quick Grip” attachment is the best feature.  The reason I feel this way is because I can slip it on my hand, let my hand relax and it will still be secure.

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The fabric on the bottle attachment that “grips” your hand is actually breathable and moisture wicking, so no need to worry if your hand sweats during the run.  There is also a strip of fabric which can be pulled to tighten the grip, as well as a quick release hidden under the pouch to loosen it up again.  Finally, there is a pouch on the outside of the grip which can be used to store keys, id cards/credit cards, gels/gu, shot blocks/gu chomps, and other small items of your choice.  There are 2 pockets on the pouch, 1 which can be velcroed closed, and one that can’t.  There is also a little tab on the pocket with a small reflective strip.

As for the bottle itself, it is a 10 oz bottle which is a standard Camelback Arc form factor.  As I mentioned, this can fit in other Camelback accessories including various belts.  The top of the bottle has a locking mechanism which keeps the water in, though even if the lock is open, the “spout” of the bottle will only release water if it is bit.  Think of the spouts on the end of the tubes on Camelback Packs, but on a bottle.  It is quite simple and not messy at all to get water during a run, though it does get a bit tricky when the bottle is very low.

Likes: There is a lot to like about this bottle, so much so that I have actually considered carrying this in my hand during a Marathon.

  1. Lightweight – The light weight means no arm fatigue during running.  This also allows for natural arm and hand motion, keeping running form in tact.
  2. Comfortable – The grip is extremely comfortable on the hand and can be adjusted as well.
  3. Built in storage – This makes it easy to bring some essentials along during a run.
  4. Secure – The locking mechanism on the lock keeps the water in, the secure spout allows you to drink without making a mess!
  5. Compatible – Can be used with different Camelback accessories.
  6. Quality materials – The quality of the bottle and pouch doesn’t feel cheap at all.

Dislikes: My dislikes are mostly areas where I feel the Camelback Arc Quick Grip can be improved, but doesn’t outweigh my positive impressions.

  1. Small bottle – The bottle being small contributes to its light weight, but it also limits how much water you can carry to 10 oz.  This is not much during long runs, unless you are able to re-fill along the way.
  2. Small pouch – While the pouch is big enough to carry many essentials, it is much too small to carry a modern day mobile phone, iPhone or Android.
  3. Reflective? – The pouch only had a tiny strip of reflective material; could use more.

Final Thoughts:

The Camelback Arc Quick Grip is a great bottle for runners who don’t mind holding something in their hand.  While some runners may prefer to wear belts or hydration packs, they are not for everyone.  I love that this bottle doesn’t restrict my range of motion in anyway and doesn’t weigh me down.  The pouch is an added bonus but the real selling point is how comfortable it is.  I can run miles with this bottle and completely forget its on my hand.  While 10 oz of water isn’t much on, lets say a 16 miler, its perfect for shorter and middle distance runs and on long run routes where there is ample opportunity for a refill.  If you’re going for a longer run on trails especially in hotter weather, you may want something more substantial though.

Happy Running! 🙂

New Balance Minimus Road 20v2 Review

Less than a month ago I got my first pair of New Balance Minimus shoes, the “ionix” 3090v2.  After 75 miles of different runs of varying distances and surfaces including road, trails, and even track, I was sold!  I knew I’d need at least one more pair of shoes for my rotation during my Marathon training, so once again I looked at the New Balance Minimus line.  Next up, the Minimus Road 20v2.

First Impressions – The minimus road 20v2 is not a lot of shoe, the minimal overlays, super low to the ground soles and  4mm drop all scream minimalist running.  The 20v2 handily beats the 3090v2 in the weight category, 5.6 oz!  Yikes!  I must warn that with all minimal and reduced running shoes there is an adjustment period.  Running in such a shoe can put added stress on your feet, calves and achilles  if you’re not used to running in them.  This is because minimalist shoes tend to promote a more forefoot/midfoot strike.  I experienced that transition period with my first pair of Kinvaras and a couple of Newton test runs.

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A Caution on Minimus Shoes – Though the 20v2 are very different structurally from the 3090v2’s there are similar elements that create the “Minimus” experience.  While these are both very light, flexible, low profile  shoes designed to promote forefoot running, they are also not as much “shoe” as your traditional Neutral Cushioned Trainer.  With both I’d advise a gradual transition if it is your first time moving into this category.  Added stress on the foot, calf and Achilles, is a real thing!  Buying a reduced or minimal shoe will not fix all of your gait problems over night.  The great benefit is combining proper and efficient running principals (Proper body alignment, a balanced mid-foot strike, and avoiding over-striding among others) with shoes that promote this running style.  A heavy shoe with a large padded heel is the complete opposite of what you want to run in if you want to improve your running mechanics and efficiency.

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Fit and Comfort – The toe box on this shoe is very roomy and allows for natural toe splay.  It’s also less round and pointy shaped as other shoes, and more shaped like your actual foot.  I also felt secure in the heel as well.  One thing I’d say about the 20v2’s in particular is they seem to run a bit larger.  I usually buy my running shoes a full size larger than my casual shoes, but in this case a half size larger would have sufficed.  Still, I don’t mind the extra roominess and at no point did I feel that my foot was slipping around.  This is because the actual foot bed is pretty narrow in comparison to other shoes.  Speaking of the foot bed, its extremely minimalist and without a sock liner at all.  It also has a sort of microfiber or suede feel to it which is good if you want to run barefoot in them.

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One of the elements of this shoe that helps the foot feel both secure and comfortable is very subtle.  The lacing system used on the 20v2 is just the slightest bit asymmetrical.  I’ve noticed some more aggressive lacing systems and tongue designs with some other Minimus models as well.  This one is a bit less in your face, and although I don’t know quite why such a small thing works well, it just does!  On a related note, the laces themselves, stay tight better than most shoes I’ve used.  Seriously I don’t have to worry about a double knot, when I pull the laces tight, they just feel secure!  Not sure what it is, but they do feel a little more “stretchier” than other laces.

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Build and Construction – The soles of this shoe is also very different than the “ionix” 3090v2.  The 20v2 uses an ACTEVA™ LITE midsole and Vibram® outsole.  I don’t know the exact stack height (both shoes are 4mm drop.  But the 20v2 gets the runner very low to the ground.  I must admit, when I saw these shoes with my own eyes I thought “What have I gotten myself into?” and “Maybe I’ve bitten off more than I can chew”.  Well, I’ll get to that later, but I assure you that as mimimal as these shoes are, they do provide protection!

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The Material on the upper of this shoe is an interesting choice.  The mesh on the “ionix” 3090v2 feels durable yet very breathable.  The upper on the 20v2 does feel durable, but not so much on the breathable.  I wonder how this will affect me during longer runs and runs in hot weather, but so far it hasn’t been an issue.

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Running in the Minimus 20v2 – My first run in the Minimus 20v2’s was very similar to my first run in the “ionix” 3090v2.  I ran my local bike path route which allowed me to open up and run fast.  Oh yes, running fast in these shoes is definitely NOT a problem.  As I cautioned, wearing these shoes demands utilizing proper running form.  It was easier to stay on my mid-foot/fore-foot with the super light weight, low profile and flexibility of this shoe.  My foot did not take a pounding as I feared, the Vibram outsole did a great job of protecting me where it mattered!

My second run in the 20v2’s was speedwork on the track!  I immediately thought these shoes would be great for track workouts.  I noticed that the track runs in the 3090v2’s caused some extra wear on the “ionix” outsole.  I hoped the Vibram soles would fare much better.  I had no problem running fast splits in these shoes.  I was able to hug the curves of the track well and open up in the straight away.  Yes, the Vibram soles held up well after a 6×800 track session!

My third run I decided to take advantage of the comfortable foot bed and go sock-less.  I was concerned early on just walking barefoot because there were some spots on the bottom of the lacing that didn’t feel so comfortable and rubbed on my foot a bit.  It wasn’t a big problem during the run but I did notice some marks on that part of my foot after the run.  I also ran some hills during this run, just to mix it up a bit.  Definitely felt good on the uphills though a particular steep downhill felt a bit “out of control” My foot was slipping a little and I couldn’t control my foot landing as well.

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Final Thoughts –  The New Balance Minimus 20v2 is a great addition to my running rotation.  They promote the more efficient style of running that I’m gravitating to, and are a great shoe for faster workouts, tempo runs, fartleks, and track workouts.  I will likely limit their use to “shorter” runs in this training cycle. I may try to go up to 9 miles in them but that would be the most for now.  I still need to get used to the super low profile and 5.6 oz is the lightest shoes I’ve ever owned or run in.

While there’s a lot to like about this shoe, I wish they had a more breathable upper, and it’s not completely comfortable to run sock-less in due to some minor irritation near the bottom of the lacing system.  Like any shoe this light it remains to be seen how durable they will be for me and how many miles I can get out of them, but I am hoping rotating them and limiting their use will help them last longer.

Happy Running!

Gear Review: Garmin Forerunner 10

Running is a sport that doesn’t require much spending to get started!  One can get on the road with a pair of shoes,  shirt, and shorts (socks optional).  This is a good thing because many people who are looking to go from couch to 5k have enough to deal with building the courage and motivation to get out of the door!  All this said, runners LOVE their gear!  New runners and experienced runners alike can lose themselves with the wide selection of gear, gizmos and gadgets that are available to them!

In my opinion one of the better purchases a runner can make is a GPS watch.  Before I got my first Garmin, I was using the old Nike+ foot pod system.  It was great for what it was, but nothing beats the accuracy and function of a GPS watch.  I was overwhelmed with my first 2 GPS watches, the Garmin 301 and the Garmin 205, but I managed to focus on the features I needed and ignore the ones that I didn’t.

Garmin 10

At long last, this brings me to the Garmin Forerunner 10.  At about $129, The Garmin 10 is a budget friendly, simple to use GPS watch.  Definitely on the lower end of the price spectrum compared to other Garmin offerings such as the new $399 Garmin 620. But what do you actually get for your money?  And will it be worth while for you?

I personally don’t require a ton of features, but there were things I really liked about this watch and others that were left to be desired.

Likes:

  • Quick connection to GPS Satellites – I have not had any issues connecting to any GPS satellites.  Compared to previous models I’ve used where I had to leave my watch out for at least a few minutes to grab the signal, the Garmin 10 picks up the satellites in a snap!
  • Accuracy – This kind of ties in with my first like.  Once the signal is locked its pretty accurate and I have not had this watch drop signal on me unless of course I go in-doors.
  • Size/Comfort – I like that this watch is small, what I like even more is that it’s comfortable!  I have a pretty small wrist so its perfect for me!  I have the Black/Silver Garmin 10 which is 0.81” x 0.77”, however Garmin offers both Orange/Black & Black/Red slightly larger at 0.98” x 0.94”.  I can keep this watch on all day without bugging me!
  • Wrist watch functionality – A huge perk about this watch (and other recent Garmin models) is that it also functions as a stand alone wrist watch.  Meaning you can keep it on your wrist all day!  The Garmin 10 is so small and unassuming that it actually functions well in this role without looking awkward!
  • Simplicity – Even though the Garmin 10 has the least options/functions of all current Garmin models, this aids in one of its perks… simplicity!  The 4 button layout works surprisingly well and is extremely fast and easy to pick up on.  Button 1 is the Power On/Off button (a feature I’ve yet to use) and also turns on the back light w/ a short press.  Button 2 turns on the GPS, selects menu options/functions, start/pause, etc.  Button 3 is simply a back button, which also serves as a manual lap/split button (when the feature is turned on).  Finally, button 4 is used to scroll through menu options, and change display during the run between 3 screens: Time & Date, Run Time & Distance, Calories & Pace.  Simple and easy!
  • Pause Display/Mile Feedback – Ahh its the small things that I can appreciate!  When the Garmin 10 is paused it scrolls through stats related to your current run: Time, Distance, Average Pace, etc.  On the same note mile splits are displayed on the watch after each mile!  Its just so convenient and a good way to check to see if you are on target with your workout!

Dislikes: 

  • Functional Battery Life – According to its website, The Garmin 10 can last 5 Weeks in “watch mode”, but only 5 hours in “Training Mode”.  I have yet to attempt a 5 hour run, and may not unless I decide to run an Ultra, however the thought of the battery only lasting 5 hours during training is quite disappointing!  The Garmin 10, with it’s simplicity is great for beginners and 1st time Marathoners; however a good number of them will likely need 5 hours or more to complete 26.2! To put in perspective, that is an 11 :27 pace for an event where 12:00 is a popular pace for beginners.  (okay my rant is over!)
  • Charging Limitations – As far as I could tell, the only way to charge the Garmin 10 is by using its nifty USB cradle and plugging it in your computer.  This works well for me as I like to sync my runs and post them to Daily Mile, but I can think about other situations where this limitation would be a problem.  The Ragnar Relay, for example, where you are running multiple times in a day, etc.  I’ve never seen this limitation with any previous Garmin’s so why start now?
  • Timing Out – What do I mean by timing out?  Well, lets say you are going for a run up a hilly trail.  You may want to pause your watch to stop and admire the scenery when you get to the top!  You may even want to take a picture with your running buddies.  Well during this time its likely that the Garmin 10 will time itself out.  On the plus side, it auto-saves your workout.  But its just annoying!  I don’t like to split up my run if I don’t have to, that makes me have to post multiple runs and explain how they’re all part of one big run… annoying!
  • No Elevation Displayed on Watch – This may just be nit-picking for some but sometimes I want to know what my elevation gain was after that intense hill.  You cannot view this information on the Garmin 10.  You can however sync your watch with Garmin Connect and get your elevation stats.  However if viewing elevation changes on the fly is important to you, look for another model.

While I have had The Garmin 10 for a few weeks there are a couple of functions that I have not explored yet.  I will list them here and update once I have tried them out:

  • Virtual Pacer™ compares current pace to target – *Update* I tested the Virtual Pacer™ feature on a recent run and it works pretty well.  Aside from alarm alerts to tell me when I was on pace, behind, or ahead of pace, there was also a custom view on the Garmin which displays this info for you, including your current pace.  It did effectively keep me on my target pace, however I have a couple of gripes.  #1. I can set a target pace, however, I am not able to set the thresh-hold as to when I am notified that I am running either too fast or too slow. #2.  With the already limited active battery life of the Garmin 10, I suspect the Virtual Pacer™ feature would shorten it even further with all of the alerts through the course of a long run, although I ran some hills when I tried this so maybe my pace was jumping around more than usual.
  • Run/Walk feature with planned breaks – *Update* I don’t expect to use this feature, but after using the Virtual Pacer™ and some of the other notification features available on this watch, I can gather an idea of how it works.  If anyone does use this feature, or thinks it would be beneficial to them, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Garmin Forerunner 10

Conclusion:

With the Garmin Forerunner 10 (and its $129 pricetag) you get a lot of bang for your buck!  The watch combines a strong GPS, with style, simplicity, easy to use functions and thoughtful features.  It does all of the basic stuff very well!  Also, it is easily the most comfortable GPS watch I’ve had the pleasure of wearing and it also works well as an every day wrist watch!

The Garmin 10 though, is not for everyone.  Those who need more features and functions out of their watch: Tri-Athletes and Ultra-Marathoners etc. should look elsewhere, as well as runners who want real time elevation feedback.  In addition, because of its relatively short functional battery life, it may not be suited for runners who expect to be on the road or trails for 5 hours or more.

Have you used the Garmin Forerunner 10?  Have it on your wish list? Prefer a different model? I’d love to hear from you! Leave a message in the comments section below!

 

**UPDATE** Shoe Review: New Balance Minimus “Ionix” 3090v2

Runners have a special relationship with their shoes.  Running shoes carry runners through many miles of training and races; they are the 1 piece of gear that all most* runners cannot do without.  When a runner finds the perfect pair of shoes its a beautiful thing, likewise the wrong pair of shoes can be disastrous!  For the past couple of years I have run in Saucony Kinvaras (2’s and 3’s) as my primary shoe.  I tried to add the Saucony Fastwitch 5 into my rotation but despite some positives, it didn’t stick.

For a while, I’ve wanted to try a pair of New Balance Minimus shoes, though I never pulled the trigger.  This year for Christmas my parents got me a pair of running shoes (a surprisingly excellent choice of shoe considering they are not runners)  They managed to pick the same shoes I had been considering buying on my own, the New Balance Minimus “Ionix” 3090v2.

First Impressions

When I first laid eyes on the m3090v2’s I have to say I loved the look.  I’m usually function over looks when it comes to shoes but I can appreciate a good looking pair!  The second thing I noticed when I held them in my had was how light they were.  Weighing in at 6.55 oz. based on size 9, these are the lightest shoes I’ve worn yet (beating out the 7.2 oz Mizuno Wave Ronin 2’s)

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More first impressions, The shoes were very comfortable almost felt like putting on a comfortable pair of slippers, especially given that the forefoot is seamless.  The My feet felt snug and comfortable in the shoe, yet the forefoot was a bit wide to allow for toe splay.  My feet also felt very secure in the shoe with the shape of the heel cup really locking my foot in place.

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Another unique part of this shoe was the structure of the sole.  New Balance used a unique pattern for the soles which resembles the structure of a molecule.  This pattern allows for rubber on the critical parts of the sole without the extra weight.  On the negative side I could see this becoming an issue with rocks and pebbles and other debris getting stuck in the sole.

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First Run

I took the m3090v2’s on a 7 mile run along the local bike path.  Walking around in the shoes before the run gave me a better impression about just how light and comfortable these shoes are.  During my first mile I noticed a few more things.  First, these shoes were absolutely effortless to run in.  Although New Balance recommends a slow transition into these shoes, it was a natural next step from the Saucony Kinvara’s (both 4mm drop shoes).  These are one of the few new pairs of shoes I’ve run in that didn’t require a break in, and I ran a fast (6:30) first mile without really trying.

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The second observation I made while running in the m3090v2’s for the first time was the flexibility on the shoe.  This definitely led to a more natural and more responsive running experience.  Finally, while the shoe was very light and low to the ground my feet did not take a pounding.  My foot felt no fatigue during or after the run.  It was very easy to run fast in these shoes, but more importantly it was easy to run efficiently as I didn’t have to obsess over my foot landing during the run.

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Final Thoughts

Although the New Balance Minimus “Ionix” 3090v2’s have all of the ingredients to be a great addition to my running shoe rotation, 1 run is not enough to get a final impression on a running shoe.  At the very least, I know these shoes can hold up well on a Tempo Run!  Tomorrow I will wear these shoes on my group run to see how they feel at a slower more casual pace; I will be back with more impressions and I will continue to update as I increase my mileage on these shoes to see how they hold up!

Happy Holidays and Happy Running!

***Update***

I just completed over 11 miles of running in the m3090v2’s today and I have some more thoughts to share:

Likes: 

These shoes seem to adapt well to different conditions.  Today I ran uphill, downhill, roads, trails, rocks, etc. and had no problems!  Even running at a slower pace on semi tired legs I had no problems.

Dislikes:

One annoying thing I noticed while running in the m3090v2’s was in relation to the tongue of the shoe.  Maybe it was the socks I was wearing, but the tongue did not stay in place very well during my run today, it slid down a bit on one foot, and bunched up a bit on the other foot, adding the slightest bit of discomfort to an otherwise very comfortable shoe.

Second, as I thought the Ionix soles caught some small rocks on the trail and I had to kick them loose, not such a big deal to me though.  I’ll probably use these more as a road shoe anyway, but just thought I’d let you guys know the deal!