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!
- 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.
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
Wish me luck!