Monday, May 23, 2011

Running Without Satellites

It happened on a dark and stormy night. I met NC (the Cleveland Marathon Champ and recent Olympic Trials qualifier--HOLLAH!) for a tempo run the Thursday before the half marathon. As soon as we started running the black clouds rolled overhead and then the cool breeze blew in and then BOOM!! And the rush of cool water flooded from the sky. And I mean FLOODED! It was a deluge like I have never experienced on the run before. It was kind of awesome, but kind of insane. I had to weigh an extra 20 lbs within minutes with all the water in my hair, absorbed by my clothes and sloshing around in my shoes. Ol' Garmin Forerunner 205 (we'll just call her 205 after this) chugged along like a champ logging splits pretty close to the 5 @ 6:40 I was supposed to log.

After the run, I noticed a tiny little circle of condensation on the corner of 205's display screen but I didn't really worry about it. I didn't use 205 again until the race and she couldn't find satellites, but I figured that was because of the downtown Cleveland buildings and so I just went without since I was planning not to look at the pace settings anyway (since I use the GPS in training, this was a bad idea I think all things considered, but that is not the point of this post).

I didn't use 205 after the race until Wednesday when I ran 6.5 glorious muddy miles on the trails at the park by my house. It seemed to work fine telling me I averaged 8:24 pace, which would seem about right, although I hardly run on trails lately, so maybe it wasn't? It was an easy day so who cares.

Anyway, then Thursday as I was prepping to hit the road for my tempo ol' 205 was dead. Just dead. Well, her GPS was dead. No satellites. I managed to get my 5 x 6:40 tempo in by running 2 miles with a friend with a functioning Garmin in 13:24 (he had to bail because he was still recovering from the marathon) and then ran the 2 miles back in 12:57 and then ran 6:35 back over that 2 mile course and called it close enough. It was kind of exhilarating to be free of feeling the need to stare at my wrist and surprisingly the time on the run just flew by.

I am fortunate to have awesome friends and one of them, Triple H owns two Fleet Feet Franchises (if your local, check out FF Northfield or their new store FF Pepper Pike!) Triple H recently received a sample Nike-plus Sportwatch. She isn't using it so offered to lend it to me while I figure out 205's problems. I picked it up on Friday in anticipation of the 10 @ 7:10 on Saturday and 12 @ 7:25 on Sunday that G had in store for me. I knew I'd be on my own for these runs as all my running buddies are recovering from awesome marathon performances (and dance injuries!)

While the Nike sportwatch is really cool looking, I can't say it's won me over quite yet. On Saturday I went to run and the thing was dead and I couldn't figure out how to turn it on. There was a large training group at the park (part of which was celebrating rootsrunner's 40th birthday--Happy Birthday!) so I asked around to see if anyone knew how to turn it on and no one had even seen one before (I have since learned how cutting edge the thing is and how lucky I am to get to test it out!)

So, I just ran the same route I ran for my last 10 miler at a pace that felt like 7:10 and called it a day. The run was great and again I was amazed how fast it was over when I wasn't spending the whole run with my eyes glued to a tiny computer screen. When I got home from the run I did something smart and read the instructions and figured out what I did wrong. I was confident Sunday's run would be better.

The Nike watch was on the whole run, so that is a big improvement! However, it was WAY inaccurate. It had my first mile @ over 10:00 pace and about .72 miles and although it was closer from there by the end of the run it shorted me about a mile! Also, the pace feature is actual pace only and jumps all over the place. One minute it looks accurate and says 7:15 or something and the next it's saying I slowed down to 12:00 for 2 minutes. It was a very cloudy and rainy morning, so I am giving it the benefit of the doubt and will try it again.

When I came home and uploaded the run data, I checked the map of the run and noticed the GPS had me starting on a completely different street and then finishing pretty close to my house. I read that if it is not accurate when the run starts that the inaccuracy compounds. I also read that the gps accuracy tends to be spotty at first, but better after using it a couple of times. I'll report back next week with whether the accuracy has improved. Other than that, it's a very simple device and I like that about it. Plus, like I said, it looks super cool!

Anyway, back to ol' 205. After several back and forths with Garmin tech support, the technician believes 205 needs to come in for repairs. So, I'll be 205-less for at least 2 weeks. That's all right. It's kind of fun pretending to run in the stone ages.

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