Friday, July 19, 2013

A Year of DNS

I decided not to pursue Limberlost this year. I wanted to go and in retrospect I should have gone but I didn't. Perhaps it was some low self-esteem brought on by the hot weather and my inability to adapt to training in the humidity. Perhaps it was the thought of a race without much of my core group in attendance to rally me on. Most likely it was memories of last year's race that was the icing on the proverbial cake.

Limberlost will continue to be my "white whale" and next year, I will succeed at it. One way or another!

My ultimate goal this year was the 24 hour race at Dirty Girls. I love this race and I was mentally so pumped up for it. Everyone in the running community who I know and love will be there racing. I was going to bring my boys and they were already talking about watching me meet my ultimate goal.

However, like three of my planned races this year, Dirty Girls is not going to happen either. I found out about two weeks ago that my youngest son's baseball playoff weekend is the same as Dirty Girls. I have to admit, I actually thought for a split second of handing him to his father for the weekend and still doing the race. But as I said, it was a split second of a personal emotional response. Of course I'm not going to miss my son's play off weekend! He's worked so hard with the rest of his team since May and I want to see him succeed!

I've been lucky in the past few years because none of my kids' activities have overlapped one of my races. I knew eventually it would happen but I couldn't have imagined that it would happen over one of my "starred" races. Yes, it does sting a bit but I'm human. As I've told the kids countless times, "You're O.K. Just shake it off and move on".

This will be number four "Did Not Start" race for the year. Not quite how I was expecting my year to go. But that's o.k. I'm just going to shake it off and move on and continue to train. Constant forward motion.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

First Product Review! The Timex Marathon GPS Watch

After running for just over a year, I decided it would be nice to know exactly how far I ran when I left the house. I had a general loop that I measured out by using the odometer in the car but I wanted more.  I would strategically call “running friends” to run with.   A friend who had a GPS watch.  A friend who would run with me who had a GPS watch. Sure, it was a cheap way to get the distance calculated but I’d end up catching up on gossip and they’d get a good kick at watching me huff and puff up hills. A win-win for everyone. This method was great unless I couldn't find a friend.

Then I realized I could download an app on my smartphone that would allow me to use the GPS that already existed and calculate all the fun stuff like pace and actually provide a map of where I ran. But that turned into extra weight and having to dig it out from a waist pack to glance at meant stopping. And I hate to stop while I’m running except for things like cars and trucks and the odd skunk.

With that in mind, I finally went searching for a GPS watch. I thought that I would be embarking on a relatively simple exercise. How many GPS watches could there be out there? They all pretty much do the same kind of thing, right? Score one for the tech geeks and all the possible running technology one could fit in a watch.  So after spending three (yes, three) days reviewing all possible watches with gizmos, attachments, heart monitors (which for me is hilarious because my heart is either beating while I’m running or it isn’t and if it isn’t, a watch isn’t going to save me) and such, I narrowed my choice down but then I had to contend with price.

In the end, I decided that all I needed was a basic GPS watch that could give me a relatively accurate distance measurement, calculate my pace, my overall time, and even splits if I ever wanted to attempt them.  If I could find a watch that was under $130, then that was an added bonus.

At $99, The Timex Marathon GPS watch isn’t fancy but has all the features in a basic GPS watch. It doesn’t have seven different alarm settings or beeps at you when you’ve slowed off your pace.  It doesn’t have a massive screen so that your watch doesn’t just sit on your wrist but most of your forearm.  It IS a TIMEX, which to me has always been a trusted name in watches. 

The watch face itself is smaller than many of its main competitors and that works for someone like me who has child-sized wrists (the circumference of my wrist is 5 1/2"). The display on the watch is quite large (but not too large) so I don’t have bring the watch too close to my face and miss seeing the tree roots which seem to make sudden appearances on trails. There are only six buttons divided equally on the left and right side of the watch which is great for instant feedback.  The stop/pause button is great when you hit a red light or need to make an untimely pit stop.

The GPS itself does take a minute or two to receive a signal but that seems to be the norm for many GPS watches on the market. And apparently walking around in circles while holding your watch to the sky, does not in fact help.   Once the GPS link has been established, it only takes a one button push to instantly start the system and you’re off.  The one display will show your total time out, distance/pace, and total distance.  

The battery life of this watch is extremely dependable and when the GPS is being used, the unit will hold its charge for at least eight hours. When the watch is simply being used as a watch, it will hold the charge for months. Charging this phone with the included usb cable is easy and fast but a plug-in adapter is not included.

As with most Timex watches, the Marathon GPS also has the classic Indiglo backlight and is water resistance up to 30M. Not many GPS watches have the water resistance feature but after a long run there is nothing better than jumping into a pool or lake without worrying about taking off your watch.

Although this watch is marketed to the running community, it does have a bonus feature for cyclists and can measure km/h by a simple button push from minutes/km.  It is also possible to measure in miles for those south of the border or old-school marathoners. The watch can also be used for indoor training using the basic chrono mode.

One of the clear disadvantages to this watch is that in Canada it comes in two distinct colours: black and hot pink. I’m assuming the hot pink is for guys (chuckle, chuckle) but in fact I chose hot pink not only because I’m a girlie-girl but because I have two sons who find it necessary to use and then lose all my cool stuff and pink is one colour they will not touch.

Besides the colour factor, the Timex Marathon GPS watch is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a basic GPS watch with pace features, by a trusted name in watchmaking.