Sunday, November 10, 2013

New Garmins Are Coming!

D -  One of the most useful tools in my running kit has got to be my Garmin 310xt. It's a big orange buddy who lets me make up running routes at will, let's me know when I'm slacking, and tracks every step I take. I've only had it for a year (I opted for an older top end model over a newer lower end model), but I would have a lot of trouble switching back to manually tracking my runs, mile markers, creating new routes figuring out my splits.

Not surprisingly, my enthusiasm has rubbed off on C and now she's starting to want one. Surprisingly, this morning I got an email from C letting me know that the new Garmins are coming out (the FR620 and FR220). They are beautiful, and from what I've been reading, pretty cool devices.

Here is a summary of the research I did on the device this afternoon:

At $450 the 620 is more than I would think C needs to be spending (and would be willing to) on a Garmin. The 620 has some cool additional features (wifi, multi-sport, Vo-M and virtual partner) but for 200 dollars I think they're features she can live without.

The 220, going for $205-300 is feature packed, and meets all the criteria I set out when I originally started looking for a watch for C, but didn't find anything that met the criteria.

Criteria for C:
Battery life: A descent battery life is a must for both of us. Forgetting to charge the watch shouldn't mean not being able to use it. And, if/when we start running marathons, it has to last 4 hours of the race and be able to be turned on an hour in advance in case the GPS takes synch time. At 10 hours anticipated battery life (by garmin) this watch will handle marathons... or two.

Night Visibility: C runs at strange hours and weather, so she needs a watch that she can actually see and use. With a color screen, the 220 goes beyond any watch I've read about yet.

Multiple Information Screens: I know that during a race, C is not going to want to scroll through or wait for an auto scroll to be able to check distance, time and pace. The 220 can actually handle this. So, the important info can all be on one screen - distance, time and pace.

Ant+ compatible: C has mentioned wanting to use a heart rate monitor for training. If she starts using a treadmill, the footpod compatibility is nice to make workout logging that much easier.

Waterproof: If you can have a sports watch, and have it not be waterproof, you're not working out properly. Garmin upped the ante, from the "sweat-proof" to a more legitimate 50m waterproof. No need to take it off for post race swims. 

Size: This has been the toughest challenge - finding something light and small enough with the above features. This is still going to be the huge question-mark on if she wants one too. But, for her sake, I've put together a quick comparison to give an idea of its size.

310xt (My watch)
Width: 2.1 inches
Depth: 0.7 inches
Height: 2.2 Inches
Weight: 2.5 ounces

FR220 (the one I'd recommend you get)
Width: 1.8 inches
Depth: .5 inches
Height 1.8 inches
Weight: 1.4 ounces

So - it's literally half the size (cubic inches) and barely over half the weight. 

Stuff it's missing:
the "go home" feature: I love on mine. If I get lost, the 310xt, 910xt has a screen that shows an arrow (where I am) and a line so I know generally where I've been and how to get home (just keep the arrow on the line). It even vibrates when I approach a turn. I have the ability (but haven't done this) to plot a course and upload it to have the watch tell me where to go as well.
Unfortunately The 220 or 620 do not appear to have this feature.
The mutli-sport modes: on the 310xt you can select different modes (Running, 3 biking modes and an "other") it's fun to record random data (like skiing for instance) but it was useful to separate out my biking from my running on the watch. You also loose the ability to switch between minutes per mile and miles per hour. 
The 220 and 620 lack this feature. However, they can still record the data, and it can be marked later as biking. This will mess up the watch's PR settings - so if you want the watch to congratulate you when you beat your best... it'll think that 1 minute mile you did in your car was better. Of course, if the watch is only used for running, this doesn't matter. 

Random Stuff they Added:
Blue Tooth: There's an app for that. Garmin now has an iphone app that allows you to upload workouts to your phone... while you're working out. Your phone can upload them to garmin's site, and people can follow you as your race. 
Wifi: The 220 doesn't have this, but the 620 can upload directly to Garmin's website when it has a wifi signal. 
Color Screens: Totally not a useful thing - but pretty cool none the less. I'm sure this will be technology better utilized when Garmin watches start to integrate road maps - but they haven't done this yet. 
Pre Synching of GPS: You can tell your watch where you are going to be. In theory this will allow the watch to synch with satellites faster when you travel to a new place, up to 7 days in advance.

Final thoughts:
Between the Garmin site, Amazon, and most importantly, DC Rain Maker, the 220 really does look like what C has been looking for. As long as it fits (and that is a big if) I don't think anything it is missing should be a deal breaker. C isn't in the habit of doing runs that would get her lost (unlike me) doesn't seem to have triathlons as a goal, and doesn't own a bike currently. I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for some final reviews, but so far, it seems like an awesome leap forward for Garmin.

The review that has me pretty excited about the watch: 

Dc RainMaker amazon link (buying through here helps to support the best running equipment review site ever)



Monday, November 4, 2013

Run For the Parks Recap

10k Race Results and new PRs
D: 45:42
C: 46:28

On Sunday we had a much needed successful race in DC. PR (Potomac River Runners), which is an amazingly active running store/running club, put on a race, Run For The Parks 10k, through a scenic section of DC's monuments. It was flat, felt fast, and well organized. With the much needed drop in temperature, I was able to push my pace much more than I have in a while.

The morning started off with an Uber (phone-app car service) ride to the start (a great way to not have to carry a wallet to a race). The driver had just taken a woman to the start, who was in a bit of a panic. She needed to be there in "nine minutes". We thought, maybe she was late for volunteering at a water stop, was an elite, or something else. Then I realized, It was the first day of day lights savings, and the Uber driver hadn't set his clock yet! - she probably hopped in the cab, saw his car's clock and panicked.

Instead, we arrived at the race with an uncharacteristically calm C, with plenty of time in our wonderfully warm new sweatshirts and paced around trying to ignore the very cold wind.

C had laid out her race plan for us the day before. 7:24 per mile would break our PR by about 2 minutes, so we were doing 7:24s. Usually we spend a bit more time thinking about pacing options, but, I didn't question it and instead set off at a slightly faster pace (C had taken off at this point, as she tends to do in races).

Right in the first mile, I settled into a comfortable pace that happened to be about 7:08s - 7:20s, with a small group of guys who all had the same pacing in mind. One was a seasoned marathon runner, so I attached myself to him until the half way turn around, when he started to kick in and take off.

In the end, I had a wonderful PR, held a respectable 7:22 pace (for an arbitrarily, morning of the race chosen goal pace of 7:24, I was surprisingly close) and felt wonderful doing it. I found a wonderful focus on this run, to the point, I couldn't tell you a thing about the scenery, but can recount the outfits of almost every person who passed me, and that I passed back....  Like the guy in orange who kept slowing down on the corners....
Me (bright yellow on the right) cheering C (in blue on the left)

C hit a PR too, less than a minute behind me.

Best of all - the race put up the photos on Flickr instead of those ridiculously over-priced sales sites (Great find C!) - so we were actually able to include race photos this time around!