Product Review- Coeur Sports

I tend to research the heck out of something before I buy it.  Jumping into the world of triathlon has definitely been a learning experience for me.  So many different products and possibilities can be overwhelming.  While some of the purchases happened early on to allow me to train, others could take place closer to my actual triathlon.

For a triathlon kit I knew I wanted a two piece outfit.  A self-professed hatred of one piece swimsuits and someone with an abnormally long torso, I knew I would prefer a two piece.  As I began to research the different brands I discovered that some of them were downright boring.  Every girl has a little black dress in her closet that has its place.  All black or nearly all black just didn’t cut it for me.  I wanted a kit that would stand out, allow my family to see me and that I would love in the pictures after the fact.

That helped me narrow it down and I continued to research a few brands.  The one that I was most drawn to though was Coeur Sports.  This was a new company, not even a year old at the time, making products in the USA, touting great customer service and quality products.

As I researched more about the company and the products I knew I loved them before I ever even placed an order.  Their entire company focuses on products for women only, I’m a big fan of companies who know to how become great at something versus being good enough at a lot of things.  They also make a seam-free chamois that the people writing internet reviews truly raved about.  In addition to triathlon kits, they make running clothes, bike jerseys and swimsuits.  Someday I’ll own their whole line of products!  Baby steps 🙂

Where they really won me over though was when they published an article talking about other companies, their competitors, doing great things.  This combined with how they supported their athletes and seemed to truly care about their customers won me over.

Ordering and Shipment: Finally near the end of the summer I placed my order: a triathlon kit, an extra pair of plain black triathlon shorts for training rides and a really fun #bikelove tank top.  I got immediate confirmation e-mails both when the order was placed and when it shipped that were very personalized and a nice touch.

When my shipment arrived, I even had a surprise in the package.  Since it was near the one year anniversary of the company, they included a free CoeurSports visor!

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The items did not disappoint.  The fit of the kit was amazing.  Despite my long torso the shirt covers everything, even in aero position.  The shorts are cute and comfortable.  The most amazing part though- the material.  As a runner I’ve had different qualities of clothes for working out, ranging from Target and Old Navy to much more expensive name brands.  Never have I felt material like from Coeur Sports.  Think of the softest thing possible, then imagine wearing it for a triathlon.  It is such a great fabric, I’m still in love with it every time I put it on.

As far as my #bikelove tank, I have gotten so many compliments on it.  I was truly sad when the last of the warm days left us here in the Midwest and I had to pack it away for winter.  Then I unpacked it, ha!  I’ll be finding excuses to wear it all year long.

My #BikeLove tank got me through a tough session on the indoor trainer

Now on to my dealings with customer service.  In September I bought a new bike on a whim.  My very entry level bike had gotten a lot of use over the last year and was causing me quite a bit of pain in my neck and shoulders.  My local bike store was offering a special on a bike I’d been eyeballing and I pulled the trigger.  The problem is the tri kit that I ordered was blue and purple and would have clashed mightily with the red and white bike I had just purchased!  I contacted Coeur and they said it wouldn’t be a problem to return my unused, never worn kit and exchange it for a different one.  So I exchanged for the Fleet Foxes kit, seen here.  The shorts in the pictures below are actually the plain black training shorts I had ordered originally.  When my new kit arrived, the shorts that truly went with this tank were too small.  Although both the plain black and the Fleet Foxes shorts were size Small, there was over 2.5 inches difference in the waist and hip area when I measured them.  I talked with Coeur about this and they said they had changed sizing guidelines through their first year and that is where the discrepancy came from.  Again, I could return the shorts without any questions or difficulties so no big deal.

My first 70.3 took me 6:16.  I had absolutely no issues with the kit.  Everything was comfortable, stayed where it should and I never gave it a second thought.  Except of course when other athletes were complimenting me on how much they loved it!  And there were lots of them, never got old though!

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Last .1 of my first 70.3. My face and my fists indicate how I’m feeling!

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Just last week I got the Chevron kit and cannot wait to race in it in 2015.

My cute new tri kit!

Again, sticking with my grading scale:

Quality:  A

Functionality: A-, the only criticism here is I’d like a little more padding in the chamois

Fabric: A+

Fit: A-, I wish the built-in bra lines didn’t show through on the tank.

Customer Service: A-, they do the right thing, just understand that it takes a couple days to hear back.

A new PR

A couple weeks ago I had my second half-marathon of 2014.  In April I set a PR by about 17 minutes, but missed my time goal by 47 seconds.  I had trained really well for part of the training for that race then took about 6 weeks off leading up to the race.  For no reason other than winter excuses.

This half marathon fell right in the middle of my big triathlon and my marathon.  The weeks prior to it I had been getting in long runs at a nice easy pace, as well as some easy paced weekday runs.  The week before the race I questioned whether I could go sub 2 hours and decided to push the pace for the last mile of our 12 mile run.  That mile was 8:10 pace.  A good sign that I could break 2 hours.

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Race morning arrived with a chill.  I sat in the car til it was time to get out.  As I fiddled with my freshly charged Garmin I became frustrated.  First it was completely frozen and wouldn’t move.  Finally I held the buttons in long enough and it restarted.  Then I went to go to training mode and the bezel would not work.  This race was going to be done sans watch.

Luckily, this race had a new feature this year- pace groups.  I buddied up next to the 9:00 mile pace leader and explained that I’d be by her side the whole race because I was without my watch.  After a few miles the pace leader and I, along with a couple other people had begun to chat about the race course, upcoming races, past events and we were moving right along through the course.  Every couple miles someone in the group would let us know how we were doing pace wise, we were always a bit under the 9:00 pace and were building a nice cushion.

I love this shot, the street signs, the old car, the Ford logo and of course our pace group!
I love this shot, the street signs, the old car, the Ford logo and of course our pace group!
9:00 pace group, getting it done!
9:00 pace group, getting it done!

The course was tough mentally for me.  It was an out and back twice.  Before you actually get to the finish, you run past the finish 3 times.  The last ‘out’ of our out and backs was particularly challenging.  Spectators were all near the finish line (and half way point) so when you left that area it was a few lonely miles before the turnaround.  In addition we were battling winds that were about 15 mph each time we were on our way out.  A big deflate to my attitude came when we passed a sign that said 8 miles when I thought we were already at 9.  You get so dependent on a watch to tell you your progress…..Once we got to the turn around to come back the final time I was able to relax a bit and feel like I could hang with the pace group the rest of the way now that the wind was at my back.

In the last mile of the race I began to enjoy what a great race I was having.  My first experience with a pace group had been amazing.  There were times where I was struggling and not contributing to the conversation but just having people there going through what you are was so helpful.  I had no physical aches and pains.  Aside from the wind being tough on the way out (and knowing it helped on the way back) the weather was ideal.  I love a chilly fall day to run in.  My husband was there cheering me on.  My kids had finished a 5K and were there cheering me on.  Along the course I knew all sorts of people and got to wave and say hi quite a few times as we ran past one another.  This was shaping up to be one of those races you compare future ones to.

Come on, this might be one of the most fun looking race photos ever!
Come on, this might be one of the most fun looking race photos ever!

As we got to the final half mile I gained the confidence to push the pace a bit more and finish strong.  The last tenth of a mile was on a gravel road with two turns which is really tough when you’re someone who likes to kick at the end…..Still though, felt like I had a good strong finish!

I'm in the background here, but this is at the end where I'm picking it up!
I’m in the background here, but this is at the end where I’m picking it up! Also love this shot because of my wonderful husband right there cheering me on!

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Shoutout to my pace group, my cheerleaders both off and on the course and my long run buddies who’ve helped me gain some endurance to make this possible!

Results:
1:55:19, 4th place in my Age Group (missed 3rd place by 4 seconds……ouch) and a PR by over 5 minutes!

Reflections on the race (AKA where the teacher in me really comes out)  

Training- B, I will do more tempo and interval runs before my next half marathon.

Effort- A-, I feel like it was a great race, but I’m sure I had 4 seconds in me to have gotten that 3rd place!

Nutrition- A-, I never bonked but didn’t overdo it to where I was only thinking of porta-pottys the last half either.

Course- A, flat and fast.  The wind was a little tough, but I think it helped enough when it was at my back to make up for it.

Pace group- A+, first experience with this really set the bar high!  I will definitely give the pace group in Huntsville a try in a couple weeks!