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It’s more than just fun colors

by Meghann on June 15, 2012

It’s about the technology!

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After my SoulCycle class, I found Janae and Jenn back in our hotel gym. I ran a mile on the treadmill next to Jenn, then she walked me through part of her CrossFit WOD. It was my first taste of any sort of a CrossFit workout, and I’ll admit it was really fun. The routine reminded me of a bootcamp style workout with weights. Maybe one day I’ll actually get around to trying a real class in my area. ;)

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Our hotel lobby is home to Stumpton Coffee, an adorable coffee shop that more than a few of you recommended I check out while I was here. Before heading upstairs to shower, I stopped in for a cup.

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The place smelled amazing, and totally fit the hipster vibe of the hotel. The baristas wore cool hats and once again I felt like I wasn’t cool enough to be seen in a place as cool as this. I ordered a cappuccino and headed up to my room.

The cappuccino was delicious, but tiny. Three or so sips and I was done.

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Before my SoulCycle class I had 1/3 of a gnu bar, when I got back to my room I had another 1/3, and after my shower I had the last 1/3.

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I knew breakfast was going to be later than I’m used to (9:00am), so I tried to spread the bar out over the morning instead of eating the whole thing at 5:00am and feeling starved by 8:45. It worked like a charm. On our walk to meet the Brooks team I felt content – ready for a full breakfast, but not feeling hangry.

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When we arrived the Brooks team had a delicious spread of food waiting.

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I grabbed what I thought was a fruit bowl…

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But upon further inspection I discovered it was yogurt parfait with yogurt and granola hidden on the bottom of the bowl. Perfect.

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I also grabbed one of the mini quiches. I do love a good mini quiche!

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And then we were presented with INFORMATION OVERLOAD!

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Holy cow! A LOT of research and passion goes into creating all of the Brooks products that we know and love. The Brooks team experts (who flew in from Seattle – where the company is based – for the week) were amazing and spent hours reviewing every detail of the different product lines and answering every question we had. I was in runner nerd heaven. You could clearly tell all of the product experts truly love what they do and love the products they create. Their passion and enthusiasm radiates through all of them.

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One of the things I discovered about Brooks this week is they’re a running-specific company. They cater exclusively to runners and all of their products are created with runners in mind. This means they can focus all of their energy and resources on making the best possible running gear that they can.

Brooks product line can be divided into two main categories: apparel and shoes (what else does a runner really needed?! ;) )We had a chance to spend 45 minutes with each set of experts and reviewed the technology that goes into creating both.

Since we’ll have the chance to test some of the products over the course of the next 6 months, I’ll save the nitty-gitty product details until I’ve really had a chance to put the technology and functionality points to the test. Instead I’ll focus on some of the fun overall information I learned about the products in general.

We first talked with the heads of the women and men’s apparel lines.

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For all of Brooks apparel, the technical stuff comes first, fashion is second. Sure, being pretty is a high selling point, but if the pretty item isn’t going to do XYZ then you’re got going to wear it. If you’re not going to wear, then you’re not going to go back for more.

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Something that stood out to me: “We want you to just put it on and go, we’ll take care of the rest.” Which is true because, honestly, before today I didn’t really put that much thought into running apparel besides A) is it flattering B) is it pretty C) is it comfortable and D) can I run it. Sun protection? Water proof pockets? Reflectivity? Those thoughts never crossed my mind. As a consumer, I’m lucky that most of those points are a given now a days. As a product designer, those are just of few of the elements that they consider a priority.

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Some fun apparel facts:

  • Women view sports bras as their 2nd most important piece of equipment on a run (that’s equipment, not apparel).
  • Women tend to go back to their favorite sports bras (if they find something that works – they stick with it), so they typically only differ in color or print from season to season.
  • Every piece of Brooks apparel has a garment baseline of a flat lock stitch and moisture wicking technology.
  • It’s not the amount of reflectivity on a runner, it’s where the reflectivity hits in key motion zones. Those points of key motion zones are what makes the runner more visible on the road.
  • Sweat patterns for women typically start under the sports bra and in the lower back. For men, it starts in the back.
  • The sock’s job is to control moisture and aide motion.

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Florescent colors are where it’s at.

Exhibit A.

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There’s a lot of cool stuff in the Brooks line! I can’t wait to share more as time goes on. :)

Next, shoes!

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I thought I had all my shoes questions answered last night, but that wasn’t even the half of it. I think the keyword that I really took away from our shoe geek-out session was “experience. The range of shoes, and range of “experience” with each shoe, is phenomenal.

I’ve always been a one-shoe runner. I have my cushion-y Glycerins and that’s it. I found a shoes that works, why try anymore? Apparently I was wrong. That keyword I loved? Experiences? As in “the multiple running experiences” available with multiple shoes? Umm.. that’s what I was missing.

See, each shoe (ultra cushiony like my Glycerins, light weight and airy like the Ghosts, or ultra-minimalists like the PureProject line) offers a different “running experience” and – depending on what kind of experience a runner is in the mood for – a runner basically has a toolbox at their disposal with all of the options. Do I want to go light and fast on the track? Do I want to feel the power of the ground on my feet? Do my feet need a break in a little cushion? Those are all different “experiences” that different styles could create.

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The variety of shoes keeps it fun and exciting. It’s not about right or wrong, it’s about opening up the idea of choice. The shoes are bio mechanically the same, the preference is in the experience.

(Also, we had a very in depth discussion regarding the PureProject line and what went into creating those. I almost walked out with a pair this morning, but I’ll have to wait until next month to give them a test run and report back.)

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We more than exceeded our time limit with the Brooks crew today and – if we didn’t have to hurry back to the hotel and check-out before noon – we all probably could have stayed at least a solid two more hours just taking everything in. Seriously. Love this team!

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But, alas, we had to check-out and go about our merry ways. Thankfully Team Brooks all handed over their personal email addresses (!) so if you ever have any questions pertaining to any future Brooks product you see on this blog (or in life in general), I can send them directly to the experts behind the brand for the answers!

We had to be out of the hotel by noon, but my flight wasn’t until 7:00pm. I wasn’t 100% sure what I was going to do with my time, then Janae asked if I wanted to join her for a little meet-up she arranged at Grand Central Station. Of course!

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When she first told me we were meeting for lunch at the Grand Central Station Food Court I gave her a funny look. We’re in New York and having food at a food court?! What?! I was picturing your typical mall food court with Sabarros and random Asian food XYZ, but she assured me it was nothing like a mall food court.

And she was right –  it was better. So much better.

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The food court was packed and filled with fun NYC originals all set up and designed to handle the nearby lunch hour crowd and the heavy commuter crowd. A fun soup place, smoothie place, pita place, and crepe place – not a Sabarros in sight!

We met with 6 or so local running bloggers and readers of Janae’s blog (all amazing and super sweet girls!) at the front, then split up in search of food. Many of the girls recommended Two Boots pizza.

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Two Boots is famous for their cornmeal crust and original topping creations. Sold!

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I found the one that had the most veggies and ordered a slice for dine-in.

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Yep. Definitely succeeded on the veggie front – this slice was packed with nothin’ by veg. It probably could have used another minute in the pizza warmer, but besides that the pizza was great. I really enjoyed the chewy whole wheat crust.

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On our way to Grand Central, Janae spotted a Crumbs and demanded we stop on the way back.

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Who am I kidding? I was the one who spotted it and gently nudged her “Didn’t you say you wanted a Crumbs cupcake while you were here?” See… the trick is to make them think it’s their idea when it comes to agreeing on getting cupcakes or not. Hook. Line. And Sinker. ;)

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We decided to split the Key Lime Pie, a flavor neither of us stated we would order on our own, but sounded downright delicious when we were narrowing down our options.

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I really liked the Key Lime cupcake. The icing and cake were slightly tart, but not overwhelming, and the tropical flavor worked perfect in the summer time atmosphere. My only critique was the whipped white icing in the center. It was fluffy, airy, and – frankly – flavorless – it just didn’t mesh well with the tart denseness of the cupcake that surrounded it.

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How cute is pregnant Janae?

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The cutest!

We headed back to the hotel and I killed some time working on my laptop before my flight. When I got to the airport, I picked up a generic chicken salad from the very impressive JetBlue terminal and ate it at 35,000 feet.

I’m now back home and ready for bed. It’s going to feel good to sleep in my own bed with my own pillows and cuddle buddies.

Good Night!

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