San Francisco Marathon Weekend Is Here: Am I Ready?

This Sunday is the 40th anniversary San Francisco Marathon. I’m reading that there will be +27,000 runners and many other spectators and staffs will be at the event.

I picked up my bib after work today at Fort Mason, and I could already feel the energy surrounding Fort Mason. As I was driving by the Crissy Field, I seemed to notice more runners on the trail that thousands of fellow runners and I will be on in two days. I am very much looking forward to exploring San Francisco on my pair of snickers along with many other runners who invested time preparing for the race.

Am I ready?

I’m not too sure how much I am. I built up my miles, but haven’t done too many long runs to date. The longest run that I did was about 15 miles. Far too shorter than what’s recommended. Oh well, I’ll just have to take it easy.

Looking at my running index calculated by Polar, it looks like I’ve made a modest improvement since January.

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It looks like I started out at about 56, and moved up to 61 as of my last run. Considering I was at about 58 a few weeks prior to Napa Valley Marathon, I think I’m just about at the same place.

Since I’m not too confident that I’m well prepared, here’s what I plan to do:

  1. Take it easy in the first half: I think the mistake that I made at Napa Valley Marathon was to go out too fast in the first half. I should target my mile split at about 8:30.
  2. Carry water: With 27K runners on the course, I think it will be difficult to stop for water especially in the beginning. I’ll carry water and gels to get hydrated as needed.
  3. Enjoy the scenery: I am really looking forward to taking running tour of San Francisco neighborhoods. I should keep in mind that this is a rare opportunity to enjoy and explore San Francisco.

30 hours to the starting line.

Wish me luck.

-Jae

New Balance 870 V4 Review

My second pair of running shoes for the first half of 2017 was New Balance 870 V4. I bought my pair right after 2016 Thanksgiving day from Eastbay at $74.99 excluding tax. It was the more expensive pair of running shoes. (The other pair was Asics Gel-Contend 3, which set me back $39.23.)

When I ordered the New Balance 870 V4, I was attracted by the discount. Normally they sell for more than $100, and I must have thought that it was a good deal at the time.

New Balance has particular numbering scheme for their shoes. The last two digits signify what type of shoe it is. For example, 70 means that the shoes are designed to have light stability. The first digit signifies how much technologies went into manufacturing the shoes. In case you want to browse what each number means, you can find the list here.

After ordering I remember thinking that they must be high-end New Balance running shoes because of price tag, and 870 number. It only goes up to 900 range, so the second best must be pretty good, right? I tried New Balance 490 and 780 earlier, and they were pretty good shoes, I thought.

The shoes had good stable feel to them. According to Strava, I have put on 345 miles or so since January 1st, 2017. It almost felt as though they were full-on stability shoes. They gave me controlled gaits, and each step felt as though they are getting planted with solid rolling resistance. But when it comes to cushioning, I felt it could have used a bit more in the mid-food area. During initial break-in period, I had to remind myself that this pair was almost twice more expensive than Asics Gel-Contend 3, and there must be something that I was missing from my initial break-in.

After running 300 more miles on them, I still couldn’t find that something that made this pair more special than $40 pair running shoes. I thought I would get a bit more lighter steps with more bouncy feeling. Maybe it’s just New Balance’s way of designing light stability shoes. They are more geared towards stability shoes, than being light.

Don’t get me wrong. They are good pair of shoes. But given what I know about how good $40 pair of running shoes can be, I don’t think I would fork over twice that much for features that didn’t translate to how it felt on the road.

One thing that I did with this pair of shoes that I did not do was to run on the trails. I had a good fortune of living close by single track trail near Lake Chabot, and I wore my New Balance on dirt road quite a bit. I must give some credit to how well it held up.

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As shown in the picture, it lost treads outer edges of shoes due to my supination. However, they were able to take the punishing rocky trails of Lake Chabot hills quite well.

My verdict? I think New Balance 870 V4 is really a pair of stability shoes. If you are looking for high performance running shoes with cushion, control, and stability, you’ll probably walk away not completely satisfied.

Happy running, everyone.

-Jae