Monday, February 6, 2012

How much does your wrist weigh?

(I wrote this about a year ago for the NJ Trail + Ultra Runners web forum but, in an effort to re-invigorate my blog: I’m re-posting. So there! Enjoy!)
This is not a product review per se. It is more or less a commentary about product as it relates to running. 
The following is my own inner monologue as the events unfolded. True Story.
Thursday 20 January 2011
7:30pm - Good, the flight has landed. I can’t believe we got out of Ohio with four inches of snow on the ground. Private airlines rock! I might be able to get home by 8 and squeeze a run in before that storm hits NJ. Wonder how that wine and cheese will feel while I’m trotting around the hood. Oh well, can’t change that now. I’ll just consider that training for that first ultra.
8:00pm - beep - “Hi honey, it’s me. I’m going to be a bit late tonight. Shouldn’t be too bad. Love ya” beep...
Damn. Snow is coming at 9. Hope she gets home soon. Better get the lunches packed while I wait. 
8:45pm - Ok good, she’s home. Lunches are packed. If I gear up now, I’ll be out the door by 9. “Hi hon, glad you’re home (smooch) lunches are packed, homework is done, sorry I didn’t get the chance to cook you anything, just got home you know, can I go out for a quick run before the snow?”
8:55pm - Heart rate monitor strapped, check. Gear on, check. Gloves, hat, road ID, reflective stuff, headlamp, check. “Ok, bye everyone, see you in a bit” Out to the porch to grab some satellites. 
8:56pm - WTF is going on with my (expletive removed) Garmin! Why is the screen completely blank! I just charged it last night! Now I have to go back in the damn house, plug this thing in and see what the hell is going on (multiple expletives removed)
8:58pm - What the hell, I’ve been working on this thing for like an hour now. Why is it beeping like that. If the screen is going to flash and say Garmin with some fine print below, why cant it stay on long enough for me to read the fine print. That must be where it says how to fix this problem so that I can finally get you for a run this week. 
9:02pm - If my heart rate monitor were working, I’m sure it would be about 205 right now. I can feel my head starting to throb and why is she chewing her spaghetti so loudly!?! Can’t she see I’m trying to fix something over here! “What’s the matter honey?” she says innocently. “Nothing, I bark, just my (expletive) Garmin is dead!” “Oh, she says, sorry ‘bout that.” Heart rate - 225. 
9:05pm - Maybe I need to connect to the computer. Maybe there is some diagnostic. Ok, searching for devices...found Garmin405. Firmware update. That must be it. I’m running 2.5 when 2.7 is available! How can that be. Maybe 2.5 has a bug in it that crashes it out. And why is the damn screen still flashing and now beeping. what does the fine print say?! 
9:07pm- Firmware downloading... “Your firmware will take approximately 7 minutes to download.” SEVEN MINUTES! are you (expletive) kidding me. 
9:08pm - Maybe it’s really dead. What will I do if my Garmin is really dead. Oh the HORROR, the HORROR. How will I collect my data? How will I know how hard I am working? How will I know how many miles I’ve run, feet I’ve climbed, calories I’ve burned? And pace, how will I know my pace? What if I PR my GL figure 8 Countryside Drive loop tonight? What if I get 35:54 instead of 35:55? How will I tell my friends? What about my log? Oh god, what about FACEBOOK!
9:09pm - Get a grip on yourself man! Have you gone completely mad! Maybe, since it might be dead and all, now would be the perfect time to bring up a possible upgrade to the wife. After all, for a few hundred dollars more, the 310 has 20 hours battery life. No better not, she’s not a runner & its really cold outside. Don’t want to risk sleeping outdoors this time of year. The thing should still have a warrantee, just bought it a few months ago, but how many days will it be gone!
9:15pm - What does that mean upload failed? Why is it still beeping? What does the (expletive) fine print say! Guess I’ll try the firmware one more time.
9:16pm - Firmware downloading... “Your firmware will take approximately 9 minutes to download.” NINE MINUTES! what the hell! Last time it was seven! I’m outta here!
So, out the door I went; 225 heart rate and all with my monitor still strapped to my chest as a sad reminder of the past thirty minutes. I started to jog. GL figure 8 - Countryside Drive loop. My Night road course. Rolling warm-up by the high school, down the hill through the neighborhood to my nemesis. Countryside Drive hill. Children with bicycles fear it, dog walkers avoid it, a monster by day, evil demon by night. Slow flat climb at the bottom, evil-steep 2 inch stride mid-section, roll-off at the top, short descent only to climb again to that elusive PR back at the high school parking lot. 
How am I doing? I instinctively keep looking down at my bare wrist to see. I know this is usually about a mile here but, what is my time, what is my heart rate? Two miles, still looking for the watch every few minutes. Ok get a grip man, Countryside hill is coming. Got to relax. Got to drop the HR. But, what IS my HR? Ok, start the mantra. “Don’t let the hill swallow your head, don’t let the hill swallow your head.” Starting to get a grip on things now. Remembering that you can sense your heart rate by the depth of your breathing. Remembering the days I used to run without a watch. Not caring about time or distance, elevation gain or calories. Just running, in the dark and the cold, listening to myself. Here comes the hill. Relax, the bottom is deceiving. Look up at this hill, don’t let it swallow your head. Short strides in the middle, worst part is over, breathe. Stretch it out over the top, relax on the downhill & push back up to the high school. Done! 
PR? I doubt it. Time? Same as last time. Elevation gain? I went downhill and I went uphill. Facebook post? Eh, maybe.
Don’t get me wrong. I love technology and gear as much as the next guy. It is mind-boggling that we all carry these little devices on our wrists that communicate with satellites and provide us with great, useful and fun information to help us with our training, attaining our goals, bragging rights or whatever else you might use it for. But lets not forget why we are out there in the first place. To run. To be outdoors covering distance. To be fit and push ourselves to our own limits and beyond. To forge relationships with like minded people and create memories that last a lifetime. 
So I ask you, how much does your wrist weigh? Do yourself a favor if you haven’t done this before. At least one time in your life, take your watch off and go for a run. Get deep into the woods and listen to yourself. You might be surprised at what you hear.
Happy trails!
(Fortunately, my precious Gamin was working once again when I retuned home. Hard lesson, hard reset.)

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