It came down to the Garmin Forerunner 305 vs. the 405. From the feedback, everyone had positive experiences with the 305 and assured me that it would be all that I would need. As for the 405 it was a mixed bag — there was some feedback that it was amazing along with some feedback that included poor experiences. Through friends of mine I was able to see the 205, 305 and the 405 in person along with gain some insight on comparisons between the 305 and the 405.
As for the cost, I was able to find the Garmin 305 at an avg. price of $200-250 and the 405 was at $350. However, a friend of mine recommended I check Costco and I was able to get it for $159 (includes a $40 off discount until Jan .18) and it also included the heart monitor. It was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. The 5-7 day shipping was free, but I sprung for the extra $3 and got it in 2 days. I couldn't be more excited to try it out. A number of my running friends use the 305 so I will anxiously be asking them tips/questions. Hopefully, they don't ban me from running next to them.
The first trial will be Wednesday night during a run with Sports Basement. A post should follow later in the week since this will be my first run with Sports Basement and my first run with the watch. Thanks again for all the input — it helped make the decision much easier since it was based on reliable sources and experience.