Thursday, August 27, 2015

My First Competitor Column is in Print! Garmin Vivoactive Slim Stylish Smartwatch

My first monthly column in Competitor Magazine has published! Subject is the fine Garmin Vivoactive GPS watch. I previously wrote about this watch on RoadTrailRun here.
Happy to answer any questions about the Vivoactive via the comment section here.
Competitor September 2015
If you would like to buy the  Garmin Vivoactive it is available in black or white from Running Warehouse here or from at the link below.
Any of your purchases at Running Warehouse or via these links support RoadTrailRun.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Outdoor Retailer Summer 15: Pearl Izumi E:Motion Refined-Road N0v2, N2v3, and M2v3

Pearl Izumi did not announce any totally new shoes at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market but instead introduced  carefully thought out and executed refinements to its E:Motion line for this fall and Spring 2016.
The racer Road N0v2 $100 November, neutral trainer Road N2v3 $120 February 2016, and stability Road M2v3 $125 February 2016 are called out as "New. Weights remain close to current models.
Pearl Izumi E:Motion 2016: left to right N0v2, N2v3, M2v3

These new shoes will share:
  • 3-D Seamless Print Upper Technology. Instead of heat applied and glued overlays, the entire upper is laid flat and screen printed. The technology allows varying thickness overlays from 0.3mm to 1.5mm( thickness of many traditional synthetic overlays), on the same upper with different textures, and eliminates the use of adhesives while reducing waste. Aesthetically the shoes have 360 degree design flow. Pearl Izumi pioneered the seamless upper about 10 years ago and I think continues to lead with beautiful, superbly fitting uppers.
    Pearl Izumi EM Road M2v3
  • A highly reflective tongue mesh as well as heel accents. Very cool as seen using flash photography below with a claimed sight distance under headlights of 800 feet. Pearl Izumi is applying research done years ago in "bio visibility" from shoes to their new clothing to increase night time safety on the road.

Pearl Izumi Road N2v3 Reflective tongue (flash picture)
  • Instead of the usual solid "Strobel board"a fabric soaked in adhesives to connect the upper to itself and midsole while on the foot shape form, and located below the sockliner, Pearl Izumi has lightened the board by making the center mesh, reducing the amount of adhesive and material. The result, according to Pearl Izumi, is not only a more environmentally friendly approach but a softer more flexible, smoother feel under foot. My knock of the E:Motion Road line has been its firmness and stiffness and this should help. The N2v2 improved the ride over the N2v1 but still was on the firm side for me (review here). In addition to the more minimal board the softness of the 6mm heel 1:1 Energy Foam in the N2 and M2 is softened from 52C to 45C. Otherwise the midsole and outsole constructions remains the same as far as firmness and configurations. 
Pearl Izumi Road N Series Mesh Strobel Board
Pearl Izumi: Road N0 v2 front, Road M2v3 pinkmiddle, Road N2v3 rear

Pearl Izumi Road N2 v3 outsoles
Pearl Izumi Road N0v2 front and middle, N2v3 rear

Pearl Izumi E:Motion 2016 Flash photograph of reflective tongues
Other models including all trail E:Motion,the Road N1v2, as well as other E:Motion road shoes now on the market remain unchanged for Spring 2016.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Captain Bluetooth's Week in Running: Life Beam hat, NB 1600, Topo Magnify, Clifton 2, On Cloud Crusier, Altra Impulse, adidas miCoach Smart Run

I say Captain Bluetooth as I am now testing all kinds of wearable electronics for my Competitor Magazine columns. This week's Bluetooth fun the Life Beam hat, the heart rate sensor is in the sweatband and transmits to your BT watch, app, etc.. So far works perfectly. You will also note my wrists festooned with adidas miCoach Smart Run, Apple Watch,  my trusty Garmin Vivoactive  (review here) topped off with the Life Beam hat..

Captain Bluetooth: All Wired Less Up

 I ran 40 miles in a bunch of different shoes this week...

From 11 o'clock clockwise:
New Balance 1660, Altra Impulse, Topo Magnifly, Hoka Clifton 2, Salomon X Series. Life Beam Hat in center

I started he week in Park City where I had a fabulous 9 mile trail run in the Salomon X-Series. Kind of firm on the road especially the forefoot the X shines on trails. Incredible upper (review here).

Then back to home base in NH where the running is flat... I ran a road interval workout in the New Balance 1600.
New Balance 1600v2
I thought they would be a bit too light for me but was delighted in the snappy cushioned ride, snug upper and superb road feel.  Very surprised at the amount of cushion from the 13mm forefoot. Have a pair of 1400, a slightly more cushioned (heel only has more stack) cousin of the 1600 on order, might be my next half and marathon shoe. Will be comparing these 2 in a review shortly

Topo Magnifly
I ran the Topo Magnify on the road this week.  I have been hugely impressed on how this road shoe  performed on  trails in Utah. A very nice roomy toe box yet with an extremely supportive  yet light single layer mesh upper makes this a great trail shoe. So far at slow speeds.on the road, I am finding them a bit soft/low in the heel, likely due to relatively soft heel rubber  They almost run like a zero drop Altra even with their 5mm drop. At speed and more on the mid foot I think they will run differently as the forefoot has very nice full coverage rubber.

I ran in the On CloudCruiser, very smooth just the right firmness but quite heavy.
ON Cloud Crusier

Altra Impulse
After a run in the Clifton 2 I  ended up the week in the new Altra Impulse. Again a surprise as the combination of "support" features under the arch, the asymmetrical lacing and full contact harder rubber and Stabli Pod in the forefoot had me feeling for the first time that I could regularly run an Altra. No sinking missing heel as I have often felt with Altras. Altra calls this a support shoe and usually I can't stand support shoes but I think this lighter support is more gentle guidance and stability in stride than hard posting.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Outdoor Retailer Summer 15: Best of Packs and Hydration-Salomon S-Lab Peak 20, Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 3.0, Ultraspire Velocity, Hyrdapak Soft Flasks

Salomon S-Lab Peak 20 Set
i have been a big fan of Salomon S-Lab race vests and my current go-to vest is the Sense Set, reviewed here. With Salomon's elite athletes increasingly going on multi day fast packs and summit attempt,s the S-Lab line needed a greater capacity high performance pack that mirrored the fit and utility of its race vests. Thus, the 20 liter Peak 20 Set at $225.
This pack immediately caught our eye at the Salomon booth. As we stood admiring it we noticed Max King, a multi time Olympic Marathon trials qualifier, World Championships steeplechase and cross country team member and Salomon athlete nearby. He gave us a delightful tour of the pack and showed us pictures of a recent 3 day fast packing trip he took with the Peak 20. What a nice guy and great champion. Here he is modeling the pack.
Max King models the S-Lab Peak 20

S-Lab Peak 20 Set

The Peak is a derivative of the S-Lab race vests in that it has the same vest fit, multi pocketed front and super light weight. The rear "pack" area is expandable with a series of bungie cords to synch it to and up on the back as needed. It has 2 pockets for Salomon Soft Flasks up front as well as 2 zipped front pockets and 2 shoulder expandable pockets

Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 3.0
What more can I say. Scott Jurek wore his signature vest for every step of his Appalachian trail record. Ultimate Direction told us that based on trail feedback Scott received new prototypes as he hiked, FedEx somehow finding him. The result the 7 liter SJ Ultra Vest 3.0 will have  more accessible storage and about half the weight (6.2oz without 2x500ml Body Bottles, 8.5 oz with) of the 2.0 version.
SJ Ultra Vest 3.0 

SJ Ultra Vest 3.0 

Ultraspire introduced the Velocity, a 7.75 liter race pack with roomy front pockets, 2 elastic back stash pockets, a secure zipped back 2.4 L back compartment, room for a 2L bladder(not included), and 2x550ml UltraFlask "softer" bottles. The UltraFlask is somewhere between a soft flask and a traditional water bottle, very body conforming and very easy to squeeze. The Velocity has Ultraspire's MAX02 Sternum strap. Breathe easy, adjust once, lock it down with vest removable without undoing.
Ultraspire Velocity

Ultraspire Velocity MAX02 Sternum

Ultraspire Velocity
Ultrapire 550ml UltraFlask
Hydrapak is the manufacturer of soft hydration flasks and bladders for many pack manufacturers including Salomon. The sell their own branded products as well.  We found 3 nifty items we have samples of we are already trying on the run.
UltraFlask XL (left) Park City UT

Hydrapak left to right SpeedFlask, Stash 1L, Ultra Flask XL
A squarish 300 ml soft bottle, the Speedflask that's easy to carry in hand and stash in pockets.
The UltraFlask and UltraFlask XL (450 and 600ml) soft flasks with an adjustable straw, ideal for totally hands free drinking from race vest front pockets, the way I like to drink.
The Stash 1L and 750 collapsible bottle. When combined with their Watergate drinking insert a great way to carry your daily water bottle and stash in your pack when not needed. The Stash is also compatible with water filtration systems so is also a solution to filtering and filling other bottles
Hydrapak Stash 1L

Interested in other shoe brands, packs, illumination introductions at Outdoor Retailer? All our coverage at RoadTrailRun's summary page here

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Outdoor Retailer Summer 15: Altra Introduces IQ, a Shoe with Live iFit Feedback Technology, Fitness and Activity Watches, Impulse Stability Shoe.

Altra Running is a scrappy Utah running shoe company on the rise. All Altra shoes have Zero Drop and a marvelous FootShape toe box. Launched during the minimal craze, Altras now has a wide range of shoes for road and trail: more minimal, conventional levels of cushioning, maximal levels, stability, and neutral models.

Altra was recently purchased by ICON Health and Fitness which among other brands owns ProForm, makers of the official Boston Marathon treadmill and Tour de France training bikes. Icon supplies fitness equipment to homes and gyms worldwide.

Altra introduced the IQ sensored shoe and associated iFit app to great fanfare and effect at Outdoor Retailer. Altra substituted their traditional Pro-Form uphill treadmill challenge races, which always draw a crowd, for a choreographed presentation of runners on belts above the booth. The runners demonstrated IQ on the run, every half hour, for 3 days. I heard some of the performers, who included road and ultra elites, logged 20 miles a day!  What a way to get your miles in during the long indoor show. The small booth was packed and the "show" was a huge hit.
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