Monday, July 7, 2008

Garmin attempt #2—successful!

On Sunday morning I went out for a long run with the Garmin. As you will recall, on Friday I used the Garmin in the Yankee Doodle Dash 10K and successfully measured... time and distance. I had hopes of getting a little more detailed information next time around!

1. I successfully programmed it to measure 1-mile laps. That will be useful.

2. I learned how to stop and start the timer. I started it when I left the house. I stopped it when I went back into the house to get my forgotten water bottle. I started it when I left the house again. I stopped it while I waited for the light to change on Broadway. Okay, I think I've got start and stop down.

3. I ran. I noticed that the only screens I was showing were (alternately) the "virtual running partner" and calories burned. This was a problem. I did not want to constantly monitor calories while I was running. That would be the first step on the road to crazy.

Actually I'm wrong about that. Constant calorie monitoring is the second step on the road to crazy.

The first step is the "virtual running partner." Who, I must wonder, thinks this is a good idea? I know you can change the pace of the virtual running partner, but at the preset pace I was quickly falling behind. Pretty soon the virtual running partner was entirely out of the screen. Do I need yet another tool to tell me I am slow? Is not my actual time and pace enough for that?

4. I liked the way my time would pop up at the end of every lap (mile).

5. When I stopped at McDonald's to use the bathroom (timer stopped), I tinkered with the settings (and I didn't even have the instruction manual) and manage to change the display to show my total distance run, my distance in the current lap, and apparently my pace. (I say "apparently" my pace because every time I looked at the pace it bore no resemblance to the actual time it took me to complete the mile.) I even managed to switch away from the virtual running partner screen.

My plan for Sunday was to run about twelve miles. I had mapped out a course that was about ten and a half miles, and I figured I could make up the difference by doing loops at the waterfront. The great thing about the Garmin is that I would know when I had gone far enough (instead of guessing and then going home to try to measure it out).

It's kind of hard in Everett to do a unique twelve mile run, especially when I planned to stop before returning to my house (I was going to the Farmer's Market). It always surprises me how short the distances really are.

From my house I ran west and south through downtown, then over and up Rucker Hill. Then I cut over to Mukilteo Boulevard by Forest Park. My plan was to follow Mukilteo Boulevard as far as Harborview Park, then turn back.

On thing I'd kind of forgotten is how hilly Mukilteo Boulevard is. From Forest Park I climbed up, up, up... until it switched and I ran down, down, down. I was quite aware that I would have to come right back up this long downhill on my return trip!

I turned around at about 5.5 miles and amazingly, the return uphill didn't seem too bad. I seemed to go back downhill again pretty quickly. I felt like I was doing a pretty respectable pace.

Then I ruined it by turning to run through Forest Park. I thought a short loop would be a good way to add a little extra distance. But the uphill road into the park was so steep that it completely destroyed my pace for that mile. Then when I came back out the downhill was so steep that I could barely stagger down that as well. I was just happy to be on the main road again.

I wandered back towards downtown and then down to the marina, where the Farmer's Market is held on Sundays. I was meeting my parents there.

One of my plans for the Garmin was to measure the distance around the waterfront marina loop, so I would know once and for all how far it was. With some clever back and forth jogging, I managed to hit exactly eleven miles as I turned onto the waterfront path, and around I went. As I saw the watch reading .5 mile about halfway through, by Anthony's, I suspected that my past estimates of one mile would, in fact, be substantiated.

And that proved to be the case. Once around the loop—exactly one mile. I was so excited about my discovery that I reported it to a little old lady who was walking her dog. I thought she might like to know the distance of her walk! I was quite flattered that she commented on how fast I had made it around.*

That put me at twelve miles. According to my plan, I could stop now. But I decided to go halfway around again to the marina bathrooms. Then, when I was there, I thought I might as well finish the second loop, which would put me at... thirteen miles.

Thirteen miles? I couldn't just stop there. So I kept on for a few more feet and finished my half marathon at 13.1 miles. I stopped the timer, but didn't try to look at my overall results until I had the instruction manual in hand, just in case I accidentally deleted them!

I had passed my parents on the first loop around; they were taking a walk while waiting for me to arrive. I found them again and made them walk back to the bathrooms with me. Oh, the complaints when they learned that the only ones that were open were almost half a mile away!

After all that (the running, the complaining by my parents), spending much time at the market did not seem too appealing. And it was approaching noon and some of us were getting hungry. We took a quick turn through the market, bought some little beets (very tasty roasted in a hot oven) and apricots (low in calories, good for Vitamin A and potassium), then headed to Lombardi's for lunch. (They have food at the market—duh—but all the tables were being used by other people.)

Later on I successfully viewed the results on my Garmin and carefully noted them on a piece of paper. (I haven't downloaded the software onto my computer yet.)

I'm pleased and excited by Sunday's successful Garmin experience. I don't know that I need to use it for every training run (I didn't use it this morning), but I can tell it's going to be fascinating for races. However, my virtual running partner is going into retirement!

*It wasn't fast. My one-mile loop took a few seconds more than ten minutes. But I guess it seemed fast to a lady walking a little dog.

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