Signed Up For The San Francisco Marathon

I have been itching to sign up for a marathon in 2017. I was debating whether to sign up for Oakland Running Festival Marathon, the San Francisco Marathon or Half Moon Bay Marathon. But in the end, I ended up choosing the San Francisco.

It’s happening on Sunday July 23rd. It’s about 6 months out. That should give me enough time to rebuild my long runs and get ready for another shot at completing the marathon around 3:40 target time.

The one thing that I’m looking forward to the most is running across the Golden Gate Bridge. I’ve rode my bike a few times across the bridge, but it was on the pedestrian path. At the marathon, I hear that they block a couple of lanes off from the traffic, and runners run on the lanes. That should be some experience.

Now I have a goal for 2017. Let’s get out there and train!


New Balance Men’s 490v3 Review

I replace my running shoes every 6 months with two pairs of shoes. One of the pairs that just retired as of December 31, 2016 was New Balance 490v3. It’s the first pair of budget running shoes that I got.

Up until 2015, I have been a staunch fan of Asics running shoes, and have been shopping my running shoes exclusively from Asics. On average, I was spending about $100 per a pair of Asics, and was replacing them every year or so. But since last year when I switched to four-pairs-of-running-shoes-a-year plan, I started to experiment with other brands and also budget shoes.

When I think of budget running shoes, I am thinking about a pair of shoes under $50 including tax. That means the shoes cannot be any more than $45 or so before tax.

Until I looked for budget running shoes, I didn’t even realize there were shoes available under $45. But surprisingly there were number of running shoes available from many well-known manufacturers.

New Balance 490v3 is one of such budget running shoes. I bought a pair from Amazon at $37.99 before tax on June of 2016. (My other pair for the second half of 2016 was Asics Gel-Nimbus 17, which retailed at about $100, which I wrote a review earlier here.)

Honestly I did not expect much from New Balance 490v3. It did not look to have much cushion even from the look of it. It had single rubber sole cushion that seemed like it will wear out after a few runs on asphalt. So I was thinking of 490v3 as my treadmill running shoes. My plan was to use Asics Gel-Nimbus 17 for all my outdoor running on hard surfaces, which looked to be much more durable and springier.

After putting on about 300 miles on both New Balance 490v3 and Asics Gel-Nimbus 17, I am not sure if I enjoyed running on Asics twice more than New Balance. If pricing is all the indicator, I should be feeling better after running on Asics. But I can tell you that it was not the case.

First, New Balance 490v3 proved to be quite stable on all kinds of surfaces. Even though it had single white rubber sole, it provided adequate and stable cushion. It felt light on my feet, yet gave me assurance that it would bounce back with predictable stability and quickness. Even after running on hard asphalt surface for miles and taking them out on easy trails, the cushions held up quite well.


Even on my right feet, which tend to underpronate, New Balance 490v3 bottom sole was showing a reasonable wear compared to Asics, as shown above.

Budget construction shows, of course. Shoe laces look rather flimsy to hold the shuffling feet in their places. Heel supportive grip was not noticeable when you put on the shoes. Cushion is not much to write about when compared to Asics. But hey, at half the price I think New Balance 490v3 was great training shoes whether you train indoor or outdoor.

One thing I must mention on 490v3: When I ordered my usual size of 10 4E (extra wide), I noticed that it was a bit too tight for my feet. I ordered size 10 thinking that New Balance will have uniform sizing (earlier I ran on New Balance 780 V5 size 10 4E, and felt that it was the right size), but I think 490v3 ran about half size smaller. I wish New Balance would be consistent with their sizing.

Overall, my first budget running shoes experience was positive. I would recommend New Balance 490v3 to anyone looking for budget running shoes. Just remember to order a half size larger pair.

Happy training.


Polar V800: Post-Review Update

Since I wrote my Polar V800 review last year, there have been a couple of updates, one bad news and one good news, and I wanted to share them with you. If you have not checked out my Polar V800 long-term review, you may want to check it out before reading this.

As I was saying in my earlier post, I bought my Polar V800 primarily for one reason: GPS tracking accuracy. My aerobic activity of choice has been running, and ever since I started tracking my training runs, I wanted to get reliable measurements of my distance and pace. For those measurements, Polar V800 has been my perfect running companion for just about a year.

But about 6 months into my ownership, it started to give me troubles while charging the watch. First it started out as slight connection problem that can be solved by trying a few different times to clip on to charging cable. Then it progressively got worse to the point where I had to use a binder clip to fasten the charging cable connector to the watch.

After about 10 months, it had gotten so bad that binder clip was not enough. I had to use the binder clip plus crushing pressure to the charging cable connector clip to create a stable connection to charge the watch. And soon enough, even that was not enough.

I had a perfectly functioning watch that I could not charge any more. The watch was as good as a prop! All because of stupid charging cable!

Or was it?

When my improvisational side of brain gave the way to the logical side, I started thinking about why. What was wrong with the charging cable? Could it be the watch?

Then I finally realized that my watch has been expanding. In fact, the reason why the charging cable connector was not clipping on to the watch was because the watch body expanded so that the clipper was not binding to the charging pins.


I suspected that it was the battery that was expanding causing the entire watch to expand vertically. In closer inspection, I could see the watch body was starting to crack because of what-seemed-to-be expanding battery (or something else).

Note that I did not wear my V800 under water while swimming. Only water exposure that it had was during shower a few times a week. Yet I could see the crust forming on the side and around the charging port.

So I did what any gear-loving runner would do. I sent it back to Polar for service request. Since it was under 2 year contract, I sent the watch back to get it serviced. I was hoping that Polar would honor their warranty and replace the battery and cracking watch body for free.

After UPS shipping the watch and a little over a week of waiting, I got a little package back from Polar. To my pleasant surprise, I found a new model of Polar V800 with a new charging connector, thanks to the warranty!


As you can see from the photo, the new Polar V800 has a cover on its charging port, and it has black body instead of chrome.

I had the new watch for little over 3 months. So far it has been charging like a champ, and haven’t seen any other issue with it at all. I hope that continues to be the case.

Happy training, everyone!