Posts Tagged ‘Garmin Forerunner’

Am I the only lapsed Catholic who still eats like a pig on Easter? It’s my favorite culinary holiday… My Two Matts sent me wine-related links over the past 24 hours. Digger sent me a red wine rec, and Dump Runner sent me this article with the note, “Hope you don’t mind. I thought of you.” I prefer to think he thought of me as clever, not a problem drinker… Something that’s occupied my thoughts during my runs lately has been sorting out possible answers to the question, What will I do with myself now that I won’t have a marathon to train for until June 2011? The endless array of options get me very excited (what’s that expression? Variety is spicy?). One that was recently suggested: a 100-day running streak! Ooh I love it, what are the rules? At least a mile a day? Must develop this idea further… The first bit of my morning was spent in a flurry of calling up alternates for my Green Mountain Relay team. I got four out of five vacated spots filled, one with this fabulous woman. Auspiciously, today is her birthday… Foot Locker opened its first store solely dedicated to runners, RUN by Foot Locker. Right off Union Square on 14th Street, it looks pretty good to me, though it’s got some stiff competition from Jack Rabbit, Urban Athletics, NY Running Company, and others… The track in Central Park will be dedicated to Alberto Arroyo, the Mayor of Central Park, on Monday April 12 at 6:30 PM at the south pump entrance to the track. It is open to the public if anyone wishes to attend, and there will be a plaque unveiled…  Robyn was a GMR teammate last year, but this year she can’t run with us as she is traveling around the globe and writing about her runs in exotic locales in a newspaper column. Lucky us she’s also posting it on her blog… Look at this, after making their GPS-enabled watches as sophisticated as possible, Garmin has dialed it back and is unveiling the Forerunner 110 at the Boston Marathon Expo in a couple of weeks… I once nurtured a small, short-lived dream of moving to San Francisco. Usually, I am sure I was right to abandon that dream but every so often a bit of evidence will surface and scratch at my nostalgia. Ah, The Loneliness… When I clicked open the email alert for “The Best Free Running Event of the Year” my heart left to my throat and I started clapping and laughing in giddy delight. I am going to run the London Marathon!!!! People, it is GOING TO HAPPEN!!!!… Here’s a photo of Abdi Abdirahman speaking to a crowd at the expo for the NYC Half-Marathon. I forgot to post this last month… A week ago, I met a cookbook author who has run many marathons over the years, and who maintains her practice even now as she enters her mid-60’s. She told me about this symmetrical delight, I’m very tempted to sign up myself just for the “perfect 10” of it all… A few months ago the very nice folks at Topricin sent me a bunch of samples, which sat in my drawer until several weeks ago when Betty flared up. Well, I keep forgetting to mention it here but truly, the anti-inflammatory pain relief cream worked its magic on my angry Betty. The pain would keep me up at night, but the Topricin numbed the pesky adductor brevis enough that I could sleep and work without distraction during the two weeks I was recovering. I recommend it not as a cure but as a tool for temporary relief… and lastly, I feel compelled to once again point out how my professional life (publishing) and passion project (running, duh) intersect. An author I’ve worked with tells the tale of how he came to writing from his first career as an FBI agent:

I completed my first novel in 13 weeks. Prior to that, I had run a marathon and trained for that for 13 weeks, so I thought, [writing a novel] is like training for a marathon. During those weeks, I wrote 5,000 words a week–600 words each night and 2,000 words on the weekends.

Yeah, but what I really wanna know is: how many miles was he running when he trained for the marathon?…

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The super runner and blogger at Races Like a Girl asked me the other night how deeply I loved my Garmin Forerunner 405, as her older model kicked the bucket recently (R.I.P.) and she is looking to upgrade. 

I’ve never posted a full review of my handsome green training partner, mainly because I feel like I’m still plumbing the depths of all he has to offer. So, I’m not sure this review will be as comprehensive as others you may find on the web, but it will be earnest. 

Let me start by saying that my primary attachment to Little G is sentimental, since he was my reward for breaking 2 hours in the half. Every time I buckle my 405 onto my wrist, I remember the exhilaration of meeting that goal and the pleasure of getting the corresponding reward.

But, sentiment only gets you so far in training, and the features my gorgeous Garmin has to offer have to take it the rest of the way. 

Things I like:

  • The design: color, size, shape, the way the wristband is formed, the way the charger bites it like a gentle alligator.
  • These features: autolap, lap button, wireless sync, heart rate monitor, GPS (as a tracking tool), ability to switch time zones,  uploading to Garmin Connect to see my route and stats (although the site itself sucks; see below)
  • Their customer service team. Vern!

 Things I haven’t used yet:

  • Workouts
  • Heart Rate Training
  • GPS (as a navigational tool)
  • This informational video will fill you in on what I’m unable to opin

 Things that annoy me:

Satellite, Anyone? In some parts of New York City, it is impossible (or takes 5 minutes or more) to for Little G to locate a satellite. Thankfully, I get a signal outside my office, but conversely I never get one when I head out from Paragon with Nike Speed.

Drunken Runner? Similarly, there are moments when the signal will get wonky, like over the 59th Street Bridge, under the West Side Highway, or even through Sunnyside on a cloudy day. The Forerunner 405 has reported that I have run certain miles in 6:45, simply because its signal is zigzagging when I’m running straight.

Renegade Bezel! The bezel frequently switches-on its own-to Virtual Partner or Heart Rate screens when I’m running. This was a major annoyance during the final miles of the NYC marathon when I’d glance to check my pace and I’d see my heart rate, or “1 Minute Behind.” I’d have to spend several seconds futzing with Little G to get the timer screen back.

Incorrigible Button. The lap button does not always catch when I push it. This sucks when, for example, I’m doing hill repeats and I’ve been at the top of the hill for 5 seconds or more still trying to record the end of that lap.

Weak Ticker. The battery lasts not even 24 hours before Little G needs a charge. It’s aggravating when the “Low Battery” alert pops up and covers the autolap notices, so I can’t see my mile splits.

Garmin [Dis]Connect. This “sharing” site claims it has social networking functionality (you can post the workout to Facebook or email it out) but there’s no way for members to maintain an open profile and invite “friends” on Connect so that others can just log on and review and compare your training and others’ training. Also, there are no mile markers on the maps that are created from your workout data. The site is very slow, and frequently down. Only this past week they released the Mac platform–which 405 users have been waiting for since the end of April 2008 (at least). I realize there are other online options for crunching my Garmin workouts but I am not tech savvy and without written instructions from the manufacturer am intimidated. 

I can’t compare the 405 to any other Forerunner model, unfortunately, as the 405 is the only Garmin I’ve ever had. I saw it during its launch at the Boston Marathon Expo and it was love at first tap of the bezel. For me, the primary benefit of Little G is the way it (mostly) accurately tracks my mileage and organizes my workouts. Autolap is an excellent tool, and I am getting used to Virtual Partner though I don’t rely on it the way some of my running buddies do. 

As I re-read what I’ve written, I know it seems like a litany of complaints-but honestly, it’s going to take a lot more for me to throw over Little G. 

How does everyone else out there feel about their Garmins, 405’s or otherwise? Sarah–I know you have it bad for your Garmy. Brother? Laminator? Ansky? Please comment away for our friend Julie.

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Dear Vern,

I’ve never met you, but if I ever do, I’m buying you as many drinks as you care to consume in an evening.  Please let me know if you are ever in New York City, because unfortunately I won’t ever be coming to Olathe, Kansas.

Vern, you listened to me when others downplayed my issues. You sympathetically clucked with dismay when I told you how Little G just pooped out during my run a week ago, even though he was fully charged. You wondered aloud why my Forerunner 405 would have jammed, inexplicably. My green Garmin’s been having a rough several days, but you kept your cool, Vern, and doled out the practical advice and step-by-step instructions that cured him.

I told you about how the battery cover on my heart rate monitor strap had gotten jagged from when I replaced the battery, and was scratching me so badly during my runs that I now had a perpetual scab right in the center of my torso, on the soft skin right beneath my…, well, you got the idea. Was there any way I could buy a replacement battery cover? No, there wasn’t but you, Vern, you showed your resourceful side by taking one off another heart rate monitor the folks at Garmin headquarters “just had lying around,” and mailed it to me! Free of charge!

Today was the first time I ran with my new, smooth battery cover. Ah, what a relief! No more pinchy-stabby-scratchy. No more bleeding. And soon–when the old ones heal–no more scabs (and hopefully no scars). Vern, with every non-uncomfortable step I ran this afternoon, I thanked you and your employer, Garmin, for helping me fix Little G (three times!) and my heart rate monitor strap.

Sincerely yours,


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Tonight was a special run, one I’ve been anticipating for weeks. I took the 225 bus from Lafayette to Boulder (listened to Road to Ensenada by Lyle Lovett and read part of a novel in manuscript about a female ultramarathoner–stay tuned for more), and met Brother (initials: IK) near where he teaches middle school history. First, we went to REI where we were going to pick out his birthday gift–he’s 19 months younger than I am, and just turned 34 on Election Day. I told him, “Gear!” and he said “Heart rate monitor!” After much comparison shopping (Suunto or Polar?), we zeroed in on the Garmin Forerunner 50, which comes with a footpod, unlike the other brands. Sold! And gifted. And oh yeah, I got some new SmartWool socks (my favorites), and tried on about 10 pairs of sunglasses, but ultimately couldn’t commit.

While we were at REI, I used one of the power outlets behind their customer service desk to charge little G. He’d gone dark about 10 minutes before I was supposed to leave for the bus, so I grabbed the charger and brought it with me, banking on some Boulderite goodwill. I really wanted little G to record the run with my brother so I could have the route mapped, and our splits charted, more for sentimental reasons than for training purposes. As suspected, the trim, fresh-faced women behind the counter were eager to help, and even cooed, “Ooh you have the 405? We love the green!”

Finally, though, IK and I were off and running up the well-known and exceedingly popular Boulder Creek Path, with a pocket plan of 5 miles total. It was dark, so all I could see of the scenery was the full moon, which glowed white, and the solid black mass of mountains rising in the west. Brother told me, “The way you love running in sight of your city’s skyline, and over your bridge? That’s how I feel about what surrounds me when I run on this path.” Because of the altitude, I couldn’t really hold up my end of the conversation, so instead I listened to his training and race plans for 2009, which include at least two triathlons, several stroke and strides, and at least one marathon (NYC with me, and he’s already trash-talking).

My shins bothered me again, they were both throbbing and making it painful to bend my ankles. My breathing didn’t really get comfortable until about 3 miles into the run. (My red gloves were not helping my cause the way they had on Monday.) By this point, however, my brother had taken a wrong turn somewhere, and we were seriously off the path. Like, so off the path that we’d begun cutting through parking lots, plazas, and up and down a lot of curbs to get back on track. We were never lost-IK knows Boulder so well-but all of the cutting left and right, curb-jumping, and running on an angle across driveways aggravated my recovering body. Somewhere around Mile 4 my left leg began hurting in its entirety, and by the time I most reluctantly stopped little G and cut the workout short (after 4.39 miles in 43:23), I was limping. This truly bummed me out, not only because I was hurt but also because I wasn’t ready to end my run with Brother. There were so many more things I wanted to ask him about, to catch up on before we headed home. But something tells me that even if we’d run 15 miles, I’d have still wanted more time to run shoulder to shoulder, and talk heart to heart, with my little brother. 

Once we were back at the house, we did have a lot of fun setting up his new toy, though. My sister-in-law laughed at us and called us total geeks as Brother and I confirmed all the features our Garmins have in common, sorted out how to calibrate the footpod, and determined that in fact he can’t take advantage of the wireless synch (he has a Mac, and Garmin’s system is only PC-compatible).

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It’s been a long time since I’ve run a race without a goal, without the intention of giving it my best effort. But, this Sunday’s Poland Spring Marathon Kickoff 5 Miler had a purpose even higher than a PR–it was the eighth of my nine qualifying races for guaranteed entry to 2009’s NYC Marathon. (This year’s NYC will be my ninth; I already did my Plus-1 volunteering back in March.) 

I wasn’t well-rested (Joan Osborne), and I skipped breakfast. Five miles, come on! No eating needed before five miles. Got to the start, got my bib and tee-shirt (oh no, this means I have to take one out of the Drawer), and as I found my corral, my TNT buddy RK shouts my name. He flies down from Toronto to run his qualifiers, visits with his girlfriend, and calls it a weekend. Even though Sunday dawned sunny and clear, Saturday had been rainy all afternoon. RK’s flight was turned back twice before they landed at Laguardia. Ultimately, he spent six hours on a plane, and this is after he ran a 20-miler in preparation for the Honolulu Marathon this December. Runners: we are a special, special kind of crazy. 

So, we were off. I wanted to try out the Virtual Partner feature on little G, as it had been suggested to me that it could be a tool to keep myself on track at next week’s event, but after a couple of miles I realized it’s not how I think about my pace, and I went back to the stopwatch/distance/pace screen. Most days, I’m a negative split runner, so my pace changes from mile to mile. Even though ultimately my pace averaged out to faster than what I’d set the VP (let’s run nice and easy 9:30’s), in the beginning I was 40 to 20 seconds slower, which was discouraging for me. Who needs that? 

Also, my calves and shins felt like columns of cement the first three miles. It took a certain kind of TK-stubborn to keep lifting them with each step until finally they loosened up. I blame the taper. Lesson: stretch double this week, TK. Check! 

I finished the race in 46.43, nearly 4 minutes off my PR. Got my bagel and water and went directly to the office, where I put in a solid eight hours of clean up, catch up and set up.

Race day cannot get here fast enough!

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The green sweater I’m wearing today. The green bracelet and earrings that decorate me. The green Maruca purse I’m carrying. 

The goal that I met when I broke 2 hours in the Queens Half-Marathon. But doubly, and most fabulously, today G is for my brand-spanking new Green Garmin Forerunner 405

It’s rare that as an adult you’ll ever (or at least, that I’ll ever) have as much fun unpacking a new toy as I did when I was 8 years old on Christmas morning, but last night I sat with my pristine Garmin and fiddled and browsed until I looked up and it was well past my bedtime. I’d plowed through my day and evening with this one moment in mind, Get it all done, TK, so you can hang with G later. 

I love how the charger is like a little crocodile jaw that gently takes the watch in its teeth to power it up. I love how the bezel ring clicks, and the menu trills, and the screen flashes greetings and updates at me. I can already tell, my G loves me back, and is on my side. 

If I needed additional positive proof of how well we’ll be getting along, I got it this morning on my five-miler (which should have been a jiggity-jig last night but I won’t get into that as I’m trying to be relaxed today). You see, G told me that the loop I’ve always thought was 2 miles is in fact 2.2 miles. This potentially means that I’ve been running 10% more on every single Sunnyside Loop workout I’ve done for the past five years. It may be a little premature to make a blanket statement about the loop’s distance–I want to run it a few more times with G to see if it always throws down the same distance–but this first run holds promise. Can’t wait to see what my Garmin tells me about my 10-miler tomorrow. This could very well be the beginning of a long romance between me and sweet green G.

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Has anyone registered for the 5-mile NYRR Anniversary Run in Central Park?  It’s on June 4th, at 5:30 in the morning!  I’m definitely running it, in fact I’ve already signed up.  Here are five reasons (one for each mile) you all should, too:

  1. It’s a NYC Marathon qualifying race.
  2. It’s free to register. (FREE, people!)
  3. Five miles before work!!  Five miles of superiority!!
  4. Celebrating our [club’s] anniversary together.
  5. Another chance to prove what a crazy runner you really are.

The Anniversary Run is a weekday race.  There’s something very summery about weekday races, as they are official, on-the-clock indications that our recreation has pushed its way out of the weekend window, and is now filling in the extra hours of daylight we all get during the week.  Corporate Challenges, the AHA Wall Street Run, Media Challenges… I’ll race ’em all!

Home from work today in under 30 minutes (29:53; 8:32 pace, 3.5 miles) for the first time ever.  Kind of a landmark event.  I’ve been waiting for it to happen, I knew it would come.  Of course, I was helped along by leaving work as late as I did — there is considerably less traffic at 7:20 PM, I probably saved 2 minutes not waiting at intersections. It still means, though, that rather than my goal being to get home under 33 minutes, I’ll now be shooting for under 30.  In the scheme of a runner’s world, I’m still not fast. But, I can feel myself becoming less slow.  My successes here, whether quotidian or personal bests, are a treasured consolation on a bad day.

All this without regular tempo runs, speed workouts, or hill training. Naughty, naughty me. Let me pull down my old Runner’s World magazines… I’m looking for the issue that presents Ryan Hall’s half-marathon training plan, as adapted for mere mortals. Here it is, on the top shelf, August 2007. What I like about this plan is that the weekly mileage never exceeds 46 miles. And oh yeah — I also like that Ryan Hall did it (or something like it).

If I follow the 10-week plan for the July 27th New York City Half-Marathon, I’ll have to start this Tuesday with Week 1. However, I don’t yet know if I’ll get in to that race through the lottery.  Really, I was planning to use this training program for the Queens Half, in August, but a quick scroll through the NYRR race calendar shows that it went from scheduled (8/23) to not even on the calendar.  WTF. By the time Staten Island Half rolls around in September, I’ll be waist-high in training for the NYC Marathon.  Considering all of this, I’m going to stick with Plan A and expect the Queens Half sometime in August, and train for that. 

On my run home today, my wandering brain took me through the following scenario.  I meet my running goals for the year (complete the Half-Marathon Grand Prix; run a sub-2-hour half; run a sub-4:30 NYC) and buy myself the self-promised Garmin Forerunner 405.  It’s a crisp November afternoon, and I’m heading home, on a recovery run.  My Garmin happily tracks my every move from midtown office to Sunnyside coop.  And what do I discover upon my arrival? The route I thought was 3.5 miles, for years, from my tracks on gmap-pedometer, is actually 3.3, (or worse, 3.1 miles) and all the “fast” runs home suddenly convert to chump runs.  For sure that would suck.  But, how bad could it be, because if that Garmin is on my wrist, it means that I still ran at the right level to meet my goals, even if my jiggity-jigs weren’t quite as jiggy as I thought.

How bad could it be, indeed.

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