Sunday, May 8, 2016

Pearl Izumi N2 v3 Road review

I have had an off and on again relationship with Pearl Izumi shoes. I ran in the N1 v1 road for a while and loved them, but it coincided with ongoing foot pain so I ditched them. Turns out that the foot pain continued for a year afterwards, so I'd be that they were not related. 

I also ran in the N1 v2 trail shoes for a while, but found the toebox a little too narrow for trail running, and like with other PI models, the tongue tended to slip down to the side during running. 

But with both shoes, I really enjoyed the fit of Pearl Izumi for my foot. The upper is generally very breathable and has some give to it - no hot spots. The E: Motion rocker has worked well - I have found it very well thought through, and helps rather than hurts my running motion from heel/midfoot impact to toe off.

I decided to try the N2 V2 for a couple of reasons.
- Positive reviews on the webs, including from The Ginger Runner.
- Loving my Saucony Breakthru 2s, but looking for a little more structured shoe for longer runs.
- I like the 4-8 mm heel to toe drop of this shoe.
- I think I do better with firmer shoes, especially during races, particularly with a fairly rigid heel cup which this shoe has.
- I like having a couple of models that work at any given time. Since I plan on doing more road running, I needed something else in addition to the Breakthru 2. I checked out the Kinvara 7, and it was too soft for me to race with. And the Ride 9 was too narrow.

Of course, the best time to try out a new shoe is on race day! JK. But I did.

I wore the shoe on a half marathon course today for the second time. Yesterday I did a brief 5K run, and it felt great, so I decided to risk it. Since I wasn't doing a "race" - I just wanted to have a good time and not hurt myself because I haven't been doing a lot of longer running over the past month, and I have two more in the next three week.

The shoe came through big time. Even though it was pretty sweaty for me, I didn't have any hotspots or discomfort. The firm heel held my foot down nicely through the impact to toe off. And the firm midsole (about as firm as I could possibly tolerate - maybe a 3.5 on a softness scale of 10 being softest) worked well for me, keeping my legs feeling good the whole race and allowing me to pick up the pace at the end pretty easily.

Some key takeaways about the model:

- The 3D printed upper is about as good as I've tried in any shoe. It has plenty of room for my toes and forefoot, yet my foot doesn't move much. That's exactly the kind of fit I love.
- The upper is very breathable.
- The tongue stays in place, and laces stayed tied for 13.1. It's a little thing but drives me nuts when they don't.
- The outsole is quiet yet provides decent traction. I didn't feel any slipping on some wet pavement at race-like pace (for me).
- I like the reflective fabric on the tongue and on the shoe's upper.
- It just looks good.

This post would suck without photos. Note: the color washed out a bit in the sun for the second and third photo - the red turned a bit orange - so one and four are more true.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Elevate HR monitoring on Forerunner 235 (2.6 sensor hub firmware)

I have had good results with the current 2.6 sensor hub update of the 235.  A few thoughts on my experience:

- There is not a lot of monitoring going on overnight. It takes a reading every couple of hours at most. But these readings seem pretty steady although not the lowest resting heart rate in a 24 hour period. 

- My low resting heart rate takes place in the first hour or two after I wake. In previous versions, it took place an hour before waking until waking. (You can see the stretch to the left of the little alarm clock - my reading around 54 throughout sleep through waking. The resting heart rate low of 42 took place around 10 am.)

- Resting heart rate averages are amazingly steady from week to week.

- The HR reading jumps to 90-100 when I start walking, even if when I take a manual HR read my pulse is still in the 60-70 range. I assume this is a false reading based on my walking cadence which is around 100. (The peaks below are during a half hour treadmill walk at a low speed; you can see it drop down immediately to a low resting rate once the walking stops.)

- The HR readings during exercise are extremely accurate. I'm not seeing a lot of false reading or dropouts like I saw in the previous firmware.

I have had the same problem on occasion that some other users have had - no HR reading at the start of an activity. I do check to see if the HR reading has started before the activity is begun - if not, I exit out to the main screen and restart the process. I haven't had this issue of late - but according to the forum that Garmin maintains, it is a known issue and they are working on it.

Also: I am having some unusually low resting readings - 39 is common, when a manual read is more like 46. I think Garmin has tweaked the algorithm productively, but still needs to do a little more with resting heart rates, particularly after exercise. 

Additional postscript 5/8:
The update has killed vo2max readings on Garmin Connect. This is a known issue on the Garmin 235 forum.

Saucony Ride 9 thoughts

I ordered a pair of the newest version of the Rides - the 9 - and returned the same day. Some quick thoughts:

- Definitely narrower in the toebox than I remember the Ride 7 being
- Footbed/arch has a feel similar to the Breakthru 2s, but a little more lift on the outer heel.
- The upper was a tighter material than I remember the Ride 7 being, and definitely stiffer than the Breakthru 2.
- I was surprised to find the midsole relatively firm, not super cushioned. If I give the Breakthru 2 a 4 of 10 - 10 being most cush, I'd give the ride a 5-5.5 of 10. Nowhere near the Triumph in terms of cushioning.
- The tread on the left shoe wasn't glued properly, so the rubber outer piece was coming off the shoe (out of the box). I don't know if this is an outlier or if there are more general quality issues on the first run of this shoe.