Garmin Time

Back at home, at least for a couple of days.  Getting next week off turned out to be a pipe dream, new plan has me catching a United flight back out to California (LAX) on Monday morning to work Tuesday and Wednesday.  Hoping that this frees up some days down the road, but I seem to keep hoping this but the craziness never ends.  Looking back, I have spent the better part of 10 of the last 11 weeks working, and the one week “off” was spent hacking up a lung in Albuquerque.  Not the ideal program for your health (would be nice to sleep like humans were meant to – at night – for more than 3 days in a row) or sanity, let alone trying to establish any sort of running continuity.  Hopefully my kids will recognize me when the dust finally settles (assuming it ever does), and that I don’t develop the ability to turn my head all the way around and start to “hoot”…

Past couple days…  Wednesday was Omaha day, quite possibly the most miserable run I have had since Christmas.  Found a path along the Missouri River – Nebraska on one side, Iowa on the other, gale force winds right down the middle.  Not Enola-style “gale force winds”, but the real deal.  At certain points I could barely move forward due to the headwinds – kept on going but was not having fun.  Didn’t really pack for this sort of thing either, so with one glove and a baseball hat I forged on despite the windchill probably ranging in the low 30’s.  Managed to get in 6 miles, considered that a major accomplishment given the conditions.  Was then greeted with a message from my scheduler upon my return to the hotel – merry christmas, not going back to Memphis Wednesday night as planned, now scheduled for Thursday morning.  The hits just keep on coming – this pushed back my arrival home almost a full day, always nice to have your personal life in the hands of a nameless, faceless puppeteer sitting in dark room in Memphis.  I just do what I am told though, so Thursday morning it was.  Got home to PA Thursday night, took the day off for multiple reasons (logistics, rest, bad attitude).

Friday was a spin/HydroWorx double day.  Spin class was spin class, early and sweaty.  Hit the pool after lunch, thought about going out to the high school for some easy 200 striders but opted instead for something underwater.  Long warmup (20 mins), then 10×30 seconds hard with 30 seconds rest – essentially the 200’s I was going to do outdoors.  15 minute cooldown, 45 minutes total.  Attitude improving slightly…

Saturday is here, taking the day off again I think.  Going to race tomorrow, cannot think of any good 4 easy miles are going to do for me at this point.  Have put in a pretty solid last 2 weeks, figure if I am going to drive 4 hours to run for 2 minutes I might as well show up rested and ready to make it worthwhile.  2 minutes is for the 800m of course, hopefully I stay around for another 9 minutes or so and stick to my plan to run the 3000m as well.

Have been meaning to “product review” my Garmin for a while, several developments have delayed this big event.  I probably got the unit about 2 months ago now, and have really taken to it.  I purchased the Garmin Forerunner 210, which is essentially identical to the Forerunner 110 except for an extra feature or two.  I’ve been looking at the Garmin line of watches for several years now, but haven’t seen one that jumped out at me enough to spend the money on.  Since I spend so much time running in unfamiliar cities and places, I like knowing how far/fast I was going – easy at home, not as easy in Laredo.  When I got to play with this model I liked what I saw and finally took the leap.  So far so good….

One thing that doesn’t need to be said here anymore is that I am an idiot, especially technically.  Not only that, but like any self-respecting guy, I refuse to read directions – if something doesn’t come “out of the box ready” we are going to have issues.  Garmin read my mind – the designers of the Forerunner 210 must have had a picture of me on the wall with a sign under it that said “Remember engineers, lowest common denominator”.  The watch doesn’t even come with directions – just a 4 page pamphlet called the “Quick Start Instructions”.  Pure genius!  If you want to know how to use all the fancy features you can go online and get the owner’s manual.  Maybe one of these days (maybe not)….

Out of the box, turn it on, off you go.  The first run I did was out at Stoney Creek – went out 4.0 miles, then back to the truck.  Finished up at 8.00 on the button – pretty amazing that there was no drift error.  Default setting was for mile “laps”, so every mile it captures the time and stores it in the memory.  Heart rate monitor works great, can be displayed if you opt out of the total time mode – some earlier, bigger watches could display both at the same time, this one is one or the other.  Distance and pace are always displayed.  If I wasn’t already tickled with the ease of use and information at my fingertips, I definitely was when I got home and tried the upload feature.  Plugged it into the computer, created a username, and the stuff just appeared on my profile like magic.  A mapquest display of my route (even running off the roads) popped up, then every mile and it’s split, graphs of my pace, heartrate,  and altitude, and calculated averages of everything.  You can label the run, it automatically builds you a calendar, and stores it all online (not your hard drive).  Crazy!

Some of the drawbacks (there’s always something…) – the system to hook the watch up to the computer could use some work.  An “alligator” clip hooks on to some leads on the back of the watch to make the required connections.  Rarely works the first time, usually takes some wiggling and a couple re-tries.  #2 – Can’t wear it in the pool – bummer.  #3 – As I said above, you can only see “three” things at a time on the watch display – always pace and distance, then you have to choose between total time and heart rate.  Not a big deal, but older versions could show it all at once.  #4 – One of the biggest things that could be considered a drawback is that although the 210 has an “interval” function, it is more for going on a fartlek through the forest instead of 10×400 on the track.  This is not a stopwatch!  When I hit the track I will wear the Garmin on one arm to get distance and heart rate info to archive, but I need my old faithful Ironman on the other to get my splits.

Garmin advertises this unit as a simplified version of some of their previous models – easier to use, does all the basics well.  I think they did a great job.  As a numbers junkie with an attention span like that of a 7-year-old, to have everything at my fingertips as I knock back the miles has added a new element of ‘fun’ to running.  Then to be able to go back and see all the details online is icing on the cake – the more workouts you collect the more you can really see trends develop that may be able to help you tweak how and what you are doing on the roads or track.  Two big thumbs up for the Forerunner 210 – as a traveling, data loving simpleton runner, this thing is heaven-sent!


About Nick Berra

I am a 45 year old masters runner from Central Pennsylvania. I have been participating primarily in track events since turning 40 in 2009. This season has produced marks that I have not run in several years, I believe primarily due to starting a strength and flexibility program here at Elite Athletic Performance - I've felt stronger and faster than I have in a long time. That, coupled with lots of underwater running, has kept me healthy and fit - at this age those are things I no longer take for granted... I run USATF events with a team out of Philadelphia, the Greater Philadelphia Track Club. They are a great group who have played a big part in making the sport enjoyable for me again. I also run local races for HydroWorx Track Club, supported by HydroWorx here in Harrisburg PA. Their underwater treadmills and training center has proved to be a crucial part of my training, rehabilitation, and recovery programs. I set personal records in the 800m (1:56.06) in 2010 and in the 1500m (4:02:63) and mile (4:23.48) in 2011. Despite the fact that I am not getting any younger, I nearly PR'ed recently and set the M45 indoor world record in the 800 meters at the New Balance Armory in New York City. I ran 1:56.10, besting the 9 year old record by less than a second. I feel like there are still more big things to come... I am married and have two daughters. I am an assistant XC coach at my alma mater, Cumberland Valley High School here in Mechanicsburg PA. I am also a 1991 graduate of the US Naval Academy, currently working as a pilot for FedEx after serving 10 years on active duty flying in the Navy. Beat Army! Beat Army!
This entry was posted in Aquatic Fitness, Cross Country Running, Hydrotherapy, HydroWorx Exercise Pool, Running Products Reviewed, Training for Runs, Water Running and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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