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Garmin Unglued

September 27, 2011

On one of our last runs, I noticed that Garmie kept turning himself off during the run. It was inconvenient, but I figured something was amiss and I’d take care of it when I got home. I tried recharging the battery, but on my next scheduled run it did it again. I was really baffled, because the thing would stay on for hours on my kitchen counter, and then die promptly less than one-eighth of a mile into every run attempt. I tried running with several GPS apps on my iPhone, but to tell you the truth none of them were satisfactory–I guess when you’re used to something on your wrist, constantly feeding you information about your performance, nothing else is really the same.

Little G and I were getting ready for our long run Saturday morning by loading up our fuel belts, etc, like we usually do. I hadn’t even brought Garmie along. Though I hadn’t been able to diagnose the problem, I knew it wasn’t a simple battery issue. I was planning to try running with the Nike+ app on my phone and compare my splits with Little G’s 205 when the run was finished, just for accuracy, and to know what I could use for the rest of my training heading toward the race on November 13th.

My Garmin is a Forerunner 205 that I  got from the Boss in Christmas 2008, when I was training for my first half. It failed for the first time late in 2009, when it suddenly refused to hold a charge. After talking with Garmin’s customer service, I decided to ship it to them and let them have a stab at fixing it. They determined the unit was beyond repair and sent me a refurbished unit, which I thought was fair–I paid $70, all told, to repair a device that cost about $150, retail.

But now it’s the fall of 2011, and I’m not entirely sold on paying another $70 to receive yet another refurbished unit in the mail. I’m pretty sure I can get a refurbished unit, or at least a used one, for close to $100, through either Amazon or eBay, without waiting the 3 weeks that Garmin will take to try to fix my unit.

Which is why I was standing in the parking lot at Dunkin’ Donuts on Saturday, waiting for Little G’s Garmin to get a fix on satellites. And . . . her Garmin would not turn on. Seriously. It was a little weird, like her Garmie, realizing that its brother, my 205, had died a few days earlier, had decided to surrender its ghost as well. No matter which button she pressed, or in what combination or sequence, Garmie would not turn on. It was D-E-A-D. So we set off for our long run in relative pace silence. Nike+ was our only guide–and then we trusted it only for time, not distance, since the GPS was often spotty–and ended up having no splits because of completely inconsistent and unreliable time/distance readings. Thank goodness we run on A1A so often that we knew exactly where we had to go to hit our miles.*

In the end, being pace-blind seemed to do us good, since we completed 14 miles in about 2:04, our fastest-paced long run in the entire training cycle. But the concern remained for both of us: we’re still weeks away from race day, with plenty of speedwork left on the schedule, and with no track around us, how could we accurately mark off our distance, let alone our pace?

Little G reported to me later Saturday afternoon that updating the firmware on her Forerunner had fixed whatever the issue was on her unit, which was, by later that evening, resting comfortably in its cradle, recharging its battery. So on Sunday evening, I tried the same fix. I dutifully uploaded the Web Updater to see if a newer version of the firmware would wipe out Garmie’s memory and return it to a functioning state of mind.

Alas, all the moving around to install said firmware revealed Garmie’s true problem: after 2 years of training with me, through tough repeats, Florida summers, and probably one too many times of being slapped and called names (“beep already for the end of the interval, you stupid thing!”), Garmie was quite literally coming unglued. Yes, you read that right. The top half was coming apart from the bottom half.

I’m not sure why there isn’t something mechanical holding the top of such a fine electronic device down onto the bottom half of it, but there it is, in all its naked glory: there is not. Apparently, the only thing holding the top, screen half of your best training partner to its lower, buttony part is, in fact, adhesive. So I bumped around on the Internet for a little while and discovered that yes, other people have had this issue, and instead of paying Garmin $70 dollars to fix it, I could spend approximately $3 and fix it myself–and that’s just because every tube of crazy glue in my house was dried up and useless.

A quick trip to the store and a new tube of crazy glue was all it took to take care of this problem! I glued carefully around the separation (being very careful not to apply glue around any buttons) and gave the operation all evening to settle in. This morning, I did my speedwork with my favorite electronic training partner–no iPhone apps, thank you very much–and it worked like a charm.

About those intervals–the schedule called for 1 x 2 miles @ goal race pace (3-min rest interval), then 2 x 1-mile @ 10k pace (2-min rest interval), then 2 x 800-m @ 5k pace (2-min rest interval), with a 1-mile warm-up and cooldown. Here’s the funny part: I had little trouble with the half mary pace (about 8:15) or the 5k pace (about 7:45) but the 10k pace (8:00) killed me. How stupid is that? The 8:15, in the conditions I had today–pretty humid, too early in the morning, on an empty stomach–turned out to be about a tough tempo pace, and running in that “comfortably hard” pace isn’t that hard for me. I just stay comfortably uncomfortable; I know there’s an endpoint in sight, and I focus on the goal. And the 5k pace, though it’s a tough pace, is doable–hey, anything is doable for a half mile. But man, that mile interval–longest mile of my life.

And speaking of schedules, Little G and I have decided to back off the pure 3+2 schedule. We were weary of ending up hurt again by putting too much of our weekly mileage load onto our long run. So we’re adding in one other easy run into the week, and turning one of the speedwork runs into an easier, less structured quality run. We ran about 6 more miles last week than the schedule originally called for, and we’re looking to do between 6 and 8 more this week. Part of that will be added into the long run, which we’re also extending–the original schedule called for us to top out the long run at 14 miles, and we’d like to make that 18, so adding easy miles into the week will also help support those long weekend miles.

*Oh, yeah. About running without a GPS . . . a few of the extra miles we tacked on last week were unintended. We were supposed to do 12 miles for our long run, but I guess we don’t know the markers on A1A as well as we think we do. Did I mention we ran 14?

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