Many thanks to Rachel for actually answering my desperate plea for a deal on a Garmin 305. Turns out, she had one she was about to sell after about 6 months of use and helped me save valuable $$ by selling me hers.
Heartrate and speed definitely registered more consistently than my old 301, and it also picked up the satellite signal a lot faster. Did a quick 4 mile run to celebrate and it worked like a charm the entire way. Thanks again!