Friday, August 28, 2015

Garmin 920XT - another unnecessary yet satisfying running-related purchase

I just upgraded from the Garmin 620 to the 920XT.  This might not have been particularly well-timed, as there's a broad expectation of a 620 upgrade at some point around the two-year post release of the original.  But I felt like that by the time that model released and there are sufficient firmware updates issued to make it usable and eliminate annoying bugs, there will be snow on the ground around here.

There are five main reasons why I upgraded now:

1) Longer battery life.  The 620 is reliable for about 6 or 7 hours by this point.  I'm sure part of the reason is battery abuse on my part -- full discharges, infrequent charges -- both which wreck havoc on lithium battery capacity over the longer term.  But the 920XT seems to have at least double that, putting me in a comfort zone over longer ultra-length runs and races.

2) Better contrast and larger display.  My eyes are starting to go, and I found that the 620 display was not that easy for me to read in low-light situations.  The 920XT is much easier for me to see on the move.

3) Enhanced GPS features. While I haven't had major issues, I have had dropouts in wooded valleys and city streets.  Hopefully, the receiver on the 920XT will be more reliable. Says DC Rainmaker:

The FR920XT contains new GLONASS satellite capabilities, which are typically used in conjunction with existing satellite systems to improve GPS reception.  In my testing, the FR920XT consistently performs as the most accurate Garmin GPS device I’ve seen, and certainly on par and usually better than other brands with recent models.

4) Garmin ID.  I like the idea of being able to download additional doodads onto the watch from the Garmin app store.  The only one I found so far that I liked enough to do so was BigWeather, but I hope I'll find more.  Another potentially useful piece of data.

5) Enhanced features TBD.  I just discovered the back to start feature, which can get Mr. Magoo back to home base when he's running in unfamiliar places and gets lost. I'm sure there will be more to discover regarding the mapping features, but this will be way helpful to me.

So far so good. I'll never wear it during the workday, as it's mildly hideous looking, as are most Garmin running watches in my opinion. But it serves me well in its running functionality, which is all I really care about, and something I have found the Forerunner series to deliver since I first bought my first Forerunner 205 (speaking of hideous).   

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Osprey Rev. 1.5

I bought this pack for hydration purposes on the trails, but have been relying more on handhelds for that use this summer.  I don't like the sound of water sloshing, and find I drink too much causing upset stomach with a giant bladder on my back.

But now that I'm temporarily in a one- car family, and not fond of being solely reliant on RideOn/WMATA, and the fact the weather is getting a little less unbearable for a hilly 6-9 mile one way run, I'm returning to run commutes for some of my travel back/forth to the office.  So: what to use?  Spi-belts only go so far...

I pulled the Rev 1.5 out of my running equipment box and used it on the run in today.  It was extremely comfortable - the chest straps don't rub or chafe, and it doesn't constrict my movement at all.  With the phone pocket, it provides easy one handed access to a phone so I can do work from my field office on the sidewalks of MD/DC.  

And there's enough room in the hydration pack area (I removed the bladder and tube) for a shirt, underwear, socks, wallet, and keys.

At $70, the price is right.  Here's an Amazon link.

You can see where my Nexus 5 fits in the blue pocket on the left side of the vest (for the wearer).

Not a ton of room in the main compartment, but enough for some clean clothes - even a long sleeve dress shirt + undies.

The tie system in the back is handy for cinching a jacket in the outside webbing.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Helping prevent running-related cancer

"Saving lives? She's one step above working at the Clinique counter."
"Dermatologists. Skin doesn't need a doctor."
"Of course not. Wash it, dry it, move on."
- George and Jerry, in "The Slicer"

I didn't put skin cancer on the same level as things like pancreatic or lung cancer.  Even Seinfeld made fun of it.

It took me a long time to come around to her regular use of sunscreen; it really didn't sink in until I sat in a waiting room for a dermatologist who specialized in treating skin cancer. It kills almost 10,000 people per year -- less than the 30,000 who die from prostate or the 40,000 from breast cancer, but much more easily avoidable through a couple of simple steps.

Why should we as runners care?  Marathon runners are far more vulnerable to skin cancer than control groups who don't run.  And there's gear for this, which is why I'm writing about it on this very sunny, very runnable day.

I used to use a visor when I was in direct sun, along with UV protective sun glasses (not religiously, but regularly).  But as I'm getting older, I can see where damage from sun exposure during outdoors activity is occurring - in spots not shaded by the glasses/hat.  

I've started to wear a uv half Buff bandana to keep my head and forehead covered, and using sunscreen to cover ears, face, neck and arms.  Balm to cover lips.  And  I wear tech shirts (not singlets) to keep my shoulders covered - a particularly vulnerable spot.    

I know it seems extreme, but take a look around at races at some "older" runners who don't take precautions.  This damage isn't reversible.  

And it's a matter of life and death, not just vanity.   

PS: While it happens to women runnersmen are more vulnerable than women to skin cancer.  So take some care, dudes.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Saucony Breakthru top ten first impressions

I got these bad boys from Running Warehouse on my dime. I wanted to patronize my local Pacers on 14th St., but not only did they not carry these (or the Zealots), but the guy there didn't hear about the Breakthrus nor did he believe that they'd be carrying them.  

I'll probably have more to say, but these were my out of the box impressions from wearing them on a walk and on a 5K training run this am.  I plan on wearing them tomorrow for a 13.1 where I hope to be near my course record time but nowhere near a PR.

1. The Breakthru is in the general ballpark in terms of weight vs the Zealot in size 13. Listed at 8.6 oz vs 8.3 oz for the Zealot.

2. Not as flexible as the Zealot, but it isn't very rigid.  I felt enough give as I rolled from heel to toe.

3. More cushioning than the Mirage 3 but less than the Zealot or Triumph. I'd describe it as firm yet cushioned vs. the firm/hard feel of the old Mirage.  More rubbery than foamy.

4. Enough forefoot space for me.  Didn't seem like there was any areas of discomfort or constriction. Happy toes.

5. The tongue is nice.  

It looks similar to the puffy mesh material in the Brooks Launch. They laced up very easily and have very even pressure.

6. I like the feel of the upper - locked down but not too locked down for me.

7. They are a jack of all trades, like Runblogger said. I could see using them in a 5K race up to a marathon, and for training.

8. I barely noticed the 8mm drop of the Breakthru vs the 4mm drop of the Zealot.

9. My foot seems to have the most pressure below the ring toe on the ball of my foot under my toes.  That is a good place to be (better than on the inside of my foot -- under the second toe).

10. They didn't impact my form much - but it felt easier to run faster than with Zealot.  I definitely can run faster with firmer shoes (The tread seems identical  similar to Zealot, so don't think that is a factor but there is more rubberized tread on the Breakthru. (More of that thin, durable black rubber vs. only the small amount of red rubber near the toe and the outer edge of the heel.  Plus, the yellow rubber is denser than the red puffy rubber nubs under the toes down to the heel on the Zealot)

Edit: this seems to have been corrected on my second version of the Zealot, below: more durable black rubber where the first version had the puffier, less dense red rubber.

Very possibly I think in part, the a faster feel may be related to the lower ground clearance - 15 mm in the forefoot vs 21 mm in the Zealot.)

Update: Just finished a 13.1 race with them. They did a great job protecting my feet and also helped with maintaining a good stride and cadence. Enough shoe for a 13.1/26.2 but not too much to get in the way. A strong contender to be my go to shoe for fall halfs and Marine Corps Marathon. 

Review of Breakthru 2: