Thursday, July 30, 2015

XX2i Optics USA 1 Review

XX2i is committed to producing the best possible eyewear for outdoor enthusiasts and stand behind each product they produce with integrity and pride.  They want to insure that you are completely satisfied, no matter what.   XX2i sunglasses are not available in stores from what I could find, but they offer the best warranty that I have seen, anywhere.  You can try them for 365 days and if you don’t like them, you can return them and get your money back.  Also, they have a “no questions asked” lifetime warranty, even if you scratch or break the glasses.

I was very pleased with the France 2 sunglasses when I reviewed them on my blog in June (click here for the review).  They were a great pair of shades for a great price.  I got an email from the rep at XX2i about testing out the USA1 and was excited to test them out as well.

Again, the USA 1 sunglasses start at $59.99, but you could choose to purchase sets with additional lenses for $99.99.  They showed up with a hard case, soft microfiber bag, and a sunglass cord.  The hard case had spots for the sunglasses and separate spots for the lenses as well.  It is the same case setup that came with the France 2, which is one of the best cases that I have received to date.

They wanted to send me the Crystal Clear sunglasses with green temple tips and the Flash Green lenses.  While some people (including my wife) might not care for the color scheme, I really liked it.  If that color scheme doesn’t work for you, they have other colors to choose from.  The USA 1 has anti-fog cutouts, which the France 2 did not have. 

XX2i Optics calls their lenses 4k ultra high definition, a marketing term that refers to Advanced Chromatic Filtering, High Scratch Resistance, Impact Resilience, and Lifetime Warranty.  The lenses were great; clear and did not distort anything.  You can get polarized lenses as well.

Very light weight material
Great Value (Starting at $59.99)
Great fit, doesn’t move around or bounce while running
Unbeatable warranty

Not available in stores

The France 2 sunglasses fit really well, but the USA 1 fit even better.  These are a premium sunglass without the premium price.  They only cost $59.99, fit great, and have the best warranty in the business.  It doesn’t get any better than that.  Grab a pair today!

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Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Hoka One One Clifton 2 Review

Hoka One One was the first company to release an oversized foam midsole running shoe in 2010 and the trend has been gaining popularity ever since.  Now most companies have some variation of a highly cushioned shoe.  The founders of Hoka One One wanted to create a larger sweet spot, much like on oversized tennis racquets or skies.  There have been statements both for and against these highly cushioned shoes. 

While they might not be for everyone, there some benefits that the shoe companies are claiming.  They claim that the extra cushion provides a softer ride, which you cannot disagree with.  They also claim that the extra cushion lessens the impact on your joints and can reduce the amount of recovery time needed after long or higher intensity runs.  Another claim is that the extra cushion provides an increase on energy return, meaning that the shoes will provide more of a spring than lesser cushioned shoes. 

I have reviewed the Hoka One One Huaka in 2014, which is still one of my favorite cushioned shoes (click here to view my review).  When I read about the Clifton 2 coming out, I knew I had to get my hands on them. The original Clifton has won multiple awards and despite only being out a month or so, the Clifton 2 has already won the Summer 2015 “Editor’s Choice for Best Ride” from 

Let’s first look at what made the original Clifton so popular.  It provided tons of cushioning (24mm front and 29mm back) with a 5mm heel drop, which puts your foot and body in a better alignment than many of the shoes with larger heel drops.  It weighed in at a miniscule 7.7 ounces and Hoka claimed that it might quite possibly be the smoothest-riding shoe on the market.  It also had a no sew ultra-light weight upper.  Why am I talking about the original Clifton?  It’s because the Clifton 2 is very similar.

The Clifton 2 took everything people liked about the original Clifton and made changes based on people’s feedback.  They added padding to the tongue to help avoid foot pain and added more structural overlays to make the upper more durable.  While people said that the original Clifton was a little sloppy, the changes with the Clifton 2 took care of that problem.  The Clifton 2 is more stable, especially at higher speeds and going down hills.  They added about 0.6 ounces in the upgrade, but it is still amazingly light at 8.3 ounces. 

I really like this shoe.  I was really worried when I first got it because the toebox is a little narrow.  I have average to narrow feet, and my big toe was touching the side of the shoe.  My biggest concern was getting hotspots or blister from the rubbing.  I only felt this touching when I was standing in the shoe.  As soon as I started to run in it, my foot settled back in the shoes and it never even crossed my mind.  Many people describe running in Hoka shoes like running on clouds.  I definitely felt this way with the Clifton 2. The outsole is extremely durable and provides plenty of grip on the dirt and road.  This is one awesome shoe!

This will be one of the shoes I heavily rely upon when I start my first full marathon training next month.  It has plenty of cushion and I felt like I could just focus on my run.  I have had some heel issues lately and the extra cushion definitely came in handy.  I am really impressed with this shoe and definitely see why both the Clifton and Clifton 2 are winning awards.   I would definitely recommend this shoe, but as with all shoes, they will not work for everyone.  Check them out at your local running store and let me know what you think.   
Winner of the Summer 2015 Editor’s Choice for Best Ride
5mm heel drop (still somewhat low)
Very light 8.3 ounces
Plenty of cushion for all types of runs
Great price ($130 Hoka One One website)

They are a little narrow in the toebox

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Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Things I learned during my last half marathon.

Let’s just start off by saying that I am about 7-10 pounds heavier than I was earlier this year.  I have spent a lot of time doing strength training, especially legs.  I have also have been indulging in pizza and ice cream more than I should, so some of the weight is due to poor eating habits.  I do great during the week, but the weekends kill me.  I followed the Hal Higdon Advanced Half Marathon Plan.  It was challenging, but I feel that it did a great job of getting me ready for the Davis Moonlight Half Marathon, which was last weekend.

I set my half marathon PR at the Davis Lucky Run in March of this year at 1:50:20.  I knew that I would most likely not be able to beat that time because of the heat and my added weight, but I was excited to see what I could do.  I had been doing all of my long runs on a hilly bike trail and was diligent about my interval sessions.  Here is what I learned at the Moonlight race.

Starting off slow (about 30 seconds slower than my goal pace for the first 2-3 miles) really let my body warm-up and perform better for the entire race.

My Achilles tendon started to tighten about one mile into the race and I knew that if I slowed my pace just a bit and toughed it out, that it would eventually go away, which it did around mile 4.  Not giving up in my training sessions when I wanted to walk played a big part in hanging in there long enough for my tendon to loosen.

Training on hills really helped me not only power up hills during the race, but helped me recover more quickly once I made it to the top.  If you don’t do hill work, I would strongly recommend giving it a try.

Really pushing hard in my interval training taught me to never give up, even when my legs were ready to quit.  During the race, I would sprinkle in some small surges.  I would pick a person about 100 feet ahead and would make it my goal to pass them.  Through small burst of speed (only speeding up my pace by 20-30 seconds) that lasted about a minute long allowed me to gain some ground and then I would settle back into my normal race pace to recover.  It also makes the race fun and takes your mind off of the fatigue.  It is a huge mental boost to catch that person and pick the next target.

I had Gatorade Prime Energy Chews at 4 miles, 8 miles, and 11 miles.  I took them right before I hit an aid station so I could wash it down with some water.  I find that gels and some of the gummies can be hard to eat and still breathe properly, but the Prime Energy Chews were easy to eat and didn’t upset my stomach.

I would slow down (walk) when I grabbed my water at the aid station.  This allows me to get some of the water in my mouth instead of spilling it all.  I would drink half of the water and would pour the rest on my head, then take off again.  This is the first time I had ever poured water on my head (while running) and I feel that it really did cool me off. 

I was keeping pace with a guy for about 5-6 miles and while we didn’t talk much, we did ask “How’s it going?” and tried to motivate each other by saying stuff like “Keep it up!” it really made me realize that having someone with me did keep my mind off of the fatigue.

I always listen to music when I run.  It was always my assumption that I would get bored without some tunes, but about 8 miles into the race, my music stopped playing.  The funny thing is that I actually was able to just focus on my breathing and where I was going.  The time went by some much quicker than if I was listening to music.  I am going to try and eliminate music from most of my runs and see how that works on more of a permanent basis.

I finished the moonlight last year in 1:59:02.  This year I finished in 1:53:48.  I felt good and am ready to start my first full marathon training in August.  I am hoping to finish the California International Marathon in under 4:00:00 this December.  It will be a wonderful journey and I can’t wait to share it with you.

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