Friday, September 19, 2008

Test Driving the Nike Air Zoom Vomero+ 3 at the Draft Horse Classic 10K

My new shoes, ready for another lap around Lake Tahoe

Every year, around this time, it becomes harder and harder to buy my favorite version of the Nike Air Zoom Vomero. Last year, just days before SNER, I finally gave up and switched from version 1 to version 2, not sure what to expect. Apart from the fact that I needed to get a half size smaller (version 2 was quite a bit bigger), I instantly fell in love with the new version!

Earlier this year, when version 3 came out, I was, once again, worried that my favorite shoe would soon be impossible to find. I stocked up and bought several pairs of the version 2s, but eventually decided to try version 3 and guess what? They are fantastic!

Nike hit it out of the park with this new edition. This super-comfortable lightweight shoe is even more smoother (and lighter!) than the previous versions. To quote my colleague Ric who also bought a pair, "its like running on a rubberized surface." I took the Air Zoom Vomeros to the Draft Horse Classic 10K race to see how they would perform in some fast miles and they did not disappoint!

My plan was to go out easy and save enough for a final kick on the mostly downhill and flat last mile to the finish. The real competition was in the 5K today (Chris Badolato won, followed by Austin Violette and Larry Defeyter), so I knew I had a shot at winning this race, if I could stay ahead of Neel (V. Neelakantan) and Robert Warner, who practically lives on this course.

The course wound its way up and down through Grass Valley, partially on roads and partially on trails. A lot of runners were worried about proper course marking, but course designer Ron Gross had done a fantastic job of marking the course with chalk and signs. On top of that there were volunteers at all the major turns.

I stuck with my plan and just cruised for the first two miles. At that point the 10K course split off from the 5K and only Neel was close, about 40 yards behind me. Between mile 2 and 4, I just kept running a steady pace, but I could not shake Neel, even though this was his first race back after an injury--a great comeback!

There was a major climb between mile 4 and 5 and this is where Neel came closest, but I knew that I could put it in high gear on the downhill, and so, with lots of looking over my shoulder, I ran to the finish line. I came in first overall in 41 minutes and change (forgot to stop my watch) and Neel took second. I won a nice $25 Mountain Recreation gift card and picked up medals for overall and age group. Most importantly, I am back in the game now to get a top-three age group place in the Gold Country Grand Prix!

Troy, who was not feeling well himself, had given me a ride to the race and he brought some of my favorite, iced hibiscus tea that his wife had prepared. That made a great post-race refreshment drink (lots of vitamin C)--wow!

Summary of the Nike Air Zoom Vomero+ 3 Experience
  • Fit: Excellent. The shoe fits like the version 2 model and feels super smooth from the start. It also has great breathability.
  • Toughness: Good. The shoe is not super-protective, but the cushioning protects the bottom of your feet really well.
  • Flexibility: Excellent. The almost pillow-like cushioning is also very flexible.
  • Side-to-side Stability: Excellent. The shoe is very light but still provides the excellent side-to-side stability you can expect in a road shoe.
  • Grip: Good. The shoes handled great on the roads. I have yet to try them on some gnarly trails, but I am trying to keep the two pairs I own clean for the Super Triple next week.
  • Switchback Handling: OK. They handled fine on the small trail sections on today's course, but I have not taken this out on the trail yet. If they are half as good as the v2 on which I ran the entire 168-mile Tahoe Rim Trail in one go, it should be fine.
  • Weight: Excellent. This is the lightest shoe in my arsenal and lighter than version 2.
  • Price: OK. Normally $125, but I was able to pick up two pairs in my size (12.5) for $89 each at the Nike Outlet Store in Vacaville.
  • Overall: This is a fantastic shoe and a great update to previous versions.
Next up:
The Tahoe Super Triple--(26.2+26.2+72.2=124.6) miles in 3 days next week. This is my favorite race. After I ran my first triple in 2004, I was hooked. The big question this year is whether I will be able to pull off a hat-trick or not. My training has been good; no lingering pain from TRT and some solid road work with lots of
8% grade paved climbs in the last four weeks.
Wish me luck!

8 comments:

Chihping Fu 傅治平 (超馬阿爸) said...

Thanks for the shoe review. I'll keep it in mind and get one pair for old model on sale for a try.

Good luck next weekend. It'll be as exciting as, if not more, your TRT run.

Chihping

Sean Lang said...

Hey Peter, good luck on your super triple next week!

Currently I am running on the Nike Zoom Trail ($50 at the Nike outlet) and I really like the shoe, Lightweight and minimalist design, but sturdy enough to be the only shoe I needed on the CCC100. Previously I have been skeptical of Nike, buy it seems like they have some quality shoes.

Sean

Turi said...

Good luck with the Super Triple - give me a holler if you pass me by, hobbling my way through the single marathon...

SnowLeopard said...

I might have to try a version of Nike- I'd always been a New Balance girl, but switched to Aasics lately and love them even more! Unfortunately I can't make it up to Tahoe this year, :( but there is a new half marathon called the Fall Colors Trail that will be run in the Mount Rose foothills that I'm thinking about giving a whirl instead... (On 10/19 if you're interested- lots of Sierra "hills" I'm imagining!) Good luck with your triple!

saschasdad said...

One of your categories should have been "Cushiness", for which, of course, you would have said Uber-excellent! I absolutely LOVE the Vomero! That's what I wore at Crater Lake, and it's cushiness totally saved my legs from getting trashed. I'm not quite sure, though, if I'm wearing those or my Asics Speedstars for the little lap around Tahoe. But whatever I decide, the Vomero is awesome! (And for a cushy racing flat, you should try the Lunaracer in your next 10k or 1/2 marathon!)

See you at the lake!

Peter Lubbers said...

Good point, Sean. I'll add Cushiness next time and I will check out the Luna racers--they are hard to find though...

hao said...

pete, best of luck. you'll do great with the training and prep you've put in. have a great time this weekend.

cheers!

hao

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