Monday, August 31, 2009

Garmin Tales

I have no patience. Because of this, maybe me and the Garmin aren't going to get along.

Tonight I went on my club's Monday Night FootMall Run, which starts near the Watergate and essentially runs around the Capitol and back again. It's a bit longer than a 10K with a nice hill in the middle.

I ran over to the starting point from my office over near Union Station since I had to return to the office to work afterwards. That way when I ran to the top of Capitol Hill with the group I could cut over to my office from there and still get a 10K in, with the last half of the run being with company.

Except my Garmin wouldn't cooperate. I'm discovering its personality. It's temperamental.

When it spent more than a minute locating satellites, I took off while it was still searching. (They're in the sky, dummy!) It searched for a while more, then it asked me if I was indoors.

I started pushing buttons as I ran, trying to answer the question. There are seven buttons to choose from, none of them very well marked.

Finally the screen displayed big zeros across the display, 00:00:00. That looked like time, so I pushed the button labeled "Start/Stop."

It gave me time alright, but no pace or, more frustrating, distance. Those two display boxes stayed at zero as the blocks passed by.

The Garmin is in effect a very big wristwatch, so I thought that maybe it's sort of like a TV set. I gave it a good slap trying to free up those frozen boxes. No effect. I pushed more buttons. I reset the display. I cursed at it. Nothing worked. I had my Timex Ironman wristwatch on my other wrist so I already knew the time. I paid over a hundred dollars so I would get distance!

I ran by the White House mumbling imprecations against GPS. I passed through GW (George Washington University) muttering about technology, dodging hordes of freshmen clogging the sidewalks in their first week away from home.

I arrived at the Watergate without any information on distance. It was frustrating. I turned my Garmin off and turned it back on. It started looking for satellites again. This time I waited, stationary, while it "worked." Finally it gave me a display screen, after a few minutes.

The group was there and we took off. I hit the start button and the display screen on the Garmin jumped to life in all its functions. I had time, distance and pace readings.

It obviously doesn't like to be rushed. If you hurry a Garmin, it will mess you over. It will get in a snit and never show you distance. The thing is moody.

I practiced 9-minute miles running down the Mall with the front runner, Jay, while trying to get ready to be the 1:30:00 pace-runner at the Army Ten-Miler Race in five weeks. It was a cool evening, with the sky starting to darken. Fall is coming.

I said my goodbyes and cut off from the group early so I could run up Capitol Hill alone and really work it. My pace for the run up to that point was 8:51, but now it was too dark to see the unlit watch face. I pushed the pace up the hill and then the rest of the way back to the office. I finished the 3.82 mile run with the group (the last mile and a half was solo) at an 8:31 pace.

I'm going to have to get used to the Garmin. I'm certainly not in love with it.


Rainmaker said...

Patience young jedi.

If you don't wait, it takes longer to aquire sattelites. I usually turn it on while in the car (driving to a run) and leave it on my dash. Or if leaving from my house/office, I toss it into a windowcill and turn it on before leaving.

ShirleyPerly said...

That is exactly why I stopped running with my first Garmin (FR 201). It took like 5 minutes to acquire satellites and often lost signals through trees, clouds, tall buildings, you name it. The newer one I have (FR 305) seems to take much less time but still can be finicky. If it can't find satellites within a couple minutes, I turn it off and turn it back on and it seems to p/u the satellites quicker the 2nd time. If I'm driving to the site, I do what Rainmaker does to get it set early.

Mike Fox said...

I had some of the same issues with my Garmin 305. Before a morning run I turn it on and place it on my front stoop while I get my shoes on and do a few stretches. By the time I get outside, it is ready for me.

jeanne said...

this is why i love my timex.

Just_because_today said...

not very reliable during a marathon and can be very frustrating. Too bad, you had me almost convinced on buying one.
Ok, we'll stick to my ironman for now

Danielle in Iowa said...

JBT, I thought my Garmin was very reliable during my marathon!

It just doesn't yield to impatient people :-)

If it even finds the satellites and is just working on getting a good signal, you can start and it will figure it out (although it might be a little off on distance). But if it says "Locating" you need to let it be.

Petraruns said...

Give your Garmin some time - to find the satellite at least! my 405 is usually pretty good but you can always prepare by switching it on as others have advised. I use it in marathons but also have a simple stopwatch on (I know I'm a nerd) just in case I lose too much reception.. I would say, however, that the Garmin has really improved my training by making me much more accurate in my pacing..

Sunshine said...

I'll probably post about the knee after therapy on Tuesday. It is really a hypochondriac's dream (except I'm not one) .. Every time I run, something else hurts. Sigh.
But I am hoping to run the half in Denver on Oct 18.