Monday, January 20, 2014

Monday Wrap Up: My New Toy

Week three of Boston training is in the books.  And technically, it was 8 days long.  While I should have spent my Sunday running long, I instead spent it watching other people exercise at a squash tournament and then the Whiskeython, then eating pizza, then taking a nap, then doing one 1-minute plank, then watching 4 episodes of Scandal.  One 1-minute plank is almost exactly like running long...

Fortunately, today was a holiday for me, and in keeping with the grand tradition of using our nation's greatest leaders as excuses to delay exercise (when they're not being used by car dealerships as excuses to sell cars), I pushed my Sunday run to today, thereby extending week 3 by a day.  It's like time travel, except shittier because all you get out of it is additional sweaty laundry.

Keen-eyed readers will notice that's a new Garmin.  I've been using the 405 since 2010, but lately it's been taking longer and long to find satellites, and when it does, the routes it thinks I'm running have gotten jankier and jankier.  For example:

Despite what this map indicates, I try to run in straight lines, and never run back and forth in front of my apartment a couple times for good measure.

The 405 is a great watch that's treated me well, but it has the capacity to do infinitely more than I need it to do.  Having lost the guide book years ago, I can't even tell you all the things it does that I've never used before, but if any of them are more complex than "track time, distance, and pace," I assure you I've never used them.  

So sometime during the recent Polar Vortex, as I stood outside my building waiting what felt like eons in the frozen wasteland that is midtown in January for my satellites to load, I decided enough was enough.  I needed a new Garmin.

I did plenty of browsing on the Garmin website (using their nifty "compare" tool), but ultimately decided that the most basic Forerunner, the 10, would be good for me (also I ordered it from L.L. Bean because they have free shipping and I had store credit and also support Maine business, yo).  I was initially off put by the active battery life of only 5 hours (the battery life while in training mode, as opposed to when it's just being used as a neon eyesore of a watch).  But that's more than an hour and a half longer than I need it to last during a marathon (ahem, an hour and 41 minutes, here's hoping), and even with the 405, which boasts an 8-hour lifespan in training mode, I get a battery low warning shortly after 3 hours, so I haven't used it in any ultras anyway.  

I took it out of the box Friday night on my walk home from work and was horrified to discover that it took so long to locate satellites to set the time that it entered power save mode.  This would not be an adequate solution to my Garmin problem.  Luckily when I strapped it on this morning to get down to business, it found satellites in a few seconds, versus 2-plus minutes with my Garmin 405.

I didn't wear the two watches side by side on the run today, though in hindsight that would have been a good comparison.  I do have a general sense of where my mile markers are on this particular route, however, and the Garmin 10 was right on target for those.  It took me 3 miles to realize that, just like the 405, the 10 does indeed give you a little beep and display the time per mile at the end of every mile.  The tone is very faint compared to the 405, and even once I knew to be listening for it, I often missed it.  

There are several spots on this run that the 405 always got wonky, even when it was shiny and new.  The first is the southern most portion of the East River path, where the FDR Drive runs above you.  Often, the 405 would record an 11:00/mi followed by a 6:00/mi in this stretch, though I assure you I was running neither pace.  While I didn't check the Pace and Distance screen during this stretch, my pace at the end of each mile underneath this roadway was right in line with all the other miles.  Same goes for the path along the Hudson, north of the Sanitation Plant where you run under the West Side Highway.

The splits table, along with the GPS-produced route map and elevation chart, are all available in Garmin Connect, after syncing the watch via the enclosed charging cord to the computer.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover that all my activities are together in the same Garmin Connect account, regardless of which device I used.  (The DC Rainmaker review I linked to above indicates there is no elevation chart for the Forerunner 10 via Garmin Connect, but Garmin must have updated that feature since his review, since I assure you it's there.)

The 10 also captures personal records, based on your history.  Since today was my first run with it, and also because I am a badass, I set a lot of records.  My fastest mile was apparently a 7:26, though I'm somewhat confused by that stat, as there is no 7:26 mile listed in the table above.  I can only assume it happened in the middle sections of two consecutive miles.  Also captured was fastest 5k (24:46 - that's awkward...), fastest 10k (50:28), fastest half (1:46:40), and longest run (15.01 mi).  I don't care about any of these stats, since none of them are actually personal records for me, and can't imagine ever using this function, but I suspect it's targeted towards newbies (hence the run/walk option, which I also won't describe as I have never trained that way and don't plan to start now, but again, the DC Rainmaker review has additional details).  That said, I  have some concerns about establishing the idea that you should always be running to break records.  But whatever.

As I alluded to, I had my default display showing Total Time and Distance, which is what I'm most frequently interested in during my long runs.  My secondary screen had Pace with Distance, and until I realized I was in fact shown pace after every mile, had to manually push a button to check my pace a couple of times.  This isn't the most arduous thing that's ever happened, but it's mildly inconvenient, especially if you're holding a water bottle in your other hand, as I was.  Again, it wasn't an issue on this run as soon as I realized I could see my pace after every mile, but for something like speed work, where I want to know my pace over distances shorter than a mile and it actually matters what that pace is, I'll need to rethink my display options.

In all, I think this was a solid purchase, and at $129, it's not a big investment.  It's obviously geared towards new runners, but as I said, I don't think I really need all the features that come as a part of the 405 anyway..  (P.S. I paid for this myself, and wrote a review so that runner karma would reward me in the form of a 3:19:xx in Boston, not because anyone is making me or paying me).

If there's anything I neglected to address that you want to know about the Forerunner 10, hit me up and I'll try to find you an answer.  As for the wrap up...

Number of Miles Run Last Week (which was 8 days long, don't question my methods...): 36.  Beyond just the day off today, I knew I could finagle the schedule somewhat since the week ahead is a step back week.  I may lose a rest or cross training day, but with lower mileage, I'll be okay with that.

One highlight of this week was my first GMP run.  I did a lot of these on the treadmill last season because it's easy to lock in the pace and zone out, but this week I headed to the reservoir and was pleasantly surprised that I was perfectly capable of hammering the pace without a treadmill propelling me forward.  Also pleasant? The fact that I only had to do 2 GMP miles.

Number of Beers Consumed Last Week: Well I have one in my hot little hand as we speak.  I had another last night, and four on Saturday.  Friday I had one, to wash down some Excedrin Migraine (don't do that; your liver frowns upon it). Thursday I had one.  Wednesday I had two.  Tuesday I had two.  Monday is too long ago for me to remember, but according to Untappd, I didn't have any. How unusual!  That's 12, though I hope to have a few more tonight.

Types of Beers Consumed Last Week:  Brooklyn Lager, Captain Lawrence IPA (that the beer carts in Grand Central have stepped up their craft game has made going home to Connecticut all the more enjoyable, I tell you), Olde Burnside Ten Penny Ale (a local Connecticut beer I had with pizza and parents), Anchor Brekle's Brown, which my mom picked out for me because she's adorable, Lagunitas Hairy Eyeball Ale, Sam Adams, Bud Light, Yuengling, and a forgotten IPA over dinner Saturday night Red Hook Long Hammer IPA, which I only know because Thomas has a better memory and/or drinks less than me.  

Rumor has it the cold and snow is returning this week, so I'm extra thankful for a step back week.  I'd be even more thankful if I won Powerball and could go someplace non-polar to train for a few weeks, but instead I'm going to Chicago later this month.  So there's that.


  1. I also have the 10 and really like it. I got the pink because I am a girl. ;)

  2. I had the 405. I switched to the 10 (pink, because pink is the best). I didn't need all the stuff the 405 does. I just passed it off to my sister in law who did not have a watch of any kind to use for running.

    I heart the 10.

  3. nice run! and yay llbean and maine! :) i literally wrote "lovin my new toy" on twitter this am with a pic of my new 210, and thought man, this is something only runners can post haha. ive been using the 305... i never thought about wearing them side by side for comparison. that would be a good idea. i had thought about getting the 10, but i decided to train with HR this time around.

  4. I have the Forerunner as well. Funny you speak about Garmin connect... I have had it sense like September? and I just got around to using it... and now I feel like an idiot for not signing up sooner. I

    Yuelinging... Coming to MA in MARCH. :)