Fish Out of Water

Musings and observations about life from an East Coast native now living on the Left Coast in the California State Capitol since 2004. This fish has made her home in Madison, WI (7 years); Portland, OR (2 years); Las Vegas, NV (7 months); Middlebury, VT (3 summers); Marne-la-Vallee, a small town east of Paris, France (6 months); Middletown, CT (3 years); and Marshfield, MA, the fish's coastal hometown 40 miles south of Boston (17 years).

Location: Sacramento, California, United States


New Toy Gone

Back on July 7th, I posted about my new running toy, a Garmin Forerunner 405, given to me by my wonderful Mr. E as a birthday/Christmas gift. I was so excited to try this technology and be able to track my runs accurately, and all went well for the first few weeks.

But then... Things went downhill pretty quickly once we started to travel...

Well, actually, let's back up a moment, since the first problem happened here at home during a Sunday long run when the Garmin suddenly lost satellite contact in the middle of East Sac. Grr. Frustrating, but the reset was quick, so I didn't think much of it.

During my July month o' travels, the Garmin was just peachy in Buffalo. But back at home, it lost the satellite over near Old Sac in the middle of a common route that hadn't caused problems before. And once we hit the Pacific Northwest, it was all over. The Garmin didn't like any of the satellites in either Seattle or Portland, and let's not even mention the lack of reaction in Las Vegas. I had set the Garmin to "lap" after every mile, which it should have been able to do accurately based on the GPS technology, but when it started reporting miles at a 6:30 pace or faster, I knew something was quite wrong. Even on my best speedwork days on a treadmill, I've never pushed past a 6:53 pace, so there's no way that I could do a 6:30 on the road, especially given the way the runs were feeling (e.g. fine but certainly not speedy!).

So eventually I gave up and just used the Garmin as a timer to estimate my distance during our travels. But really, who needs a $350 timer??!!

Unfortunately, I was about 3 days past the 30-day return time limit at Fleet Feet by the time I was able to get back to the store. The manager suggested I contact Garmin directly, and the helpful Garmin agent took all of my information (after a verrrrry long wait), told me to try a full reset of the unit, and gave me a return authorization number in case the reset didn't work. A few days later, the Garmin gave it up again at the beginning of my Sunday long run, this time right in the middle of downtown on Capitol Ave between 16th & 17th. Arrrgh!!!

Now if the Garmin had been less expensive, I might have been willing to try to tweak it or make some allowances, but $350 is a significant investment in a running tool, and I expected it to work as all of the literature claimed it would. So I sent it back to the manufacturer and received a brand new unit in the mail about 10 days later. I was so hopeful!

But alas, 'twas not to be. On the third run with the new unit, the Garmin again lost satellite contact. So back to Fleet Feet, this time to exchange the Garmin for a different model in the hopes that perhaps another type of unit would be successful for me. I left the store with a Suunto and looked forward to better results.


The Suunto has a GPS pod to wear on your arm or clip onto your clothes. The wrist unit is smaller than that of the Garmin, since the Suunto GPS technology is in the pod rather than in the wrist unit, so it was nice to have something smaller and flatter on my arm. All went well on the first run, but then the next time, the Suunto GPS gave it up at mile 2.7 of a 6-miler. *sigh*

Another trip to Fleet Feet to return the Suunto, and at this point, I decided that I wasn't meant to have a GPS unit for running, so instead I left with a sporty Timex Ironman watch that will at least allow me to time my runs and keep track of my splits during races. This also meant that I had quite a bit of credit to use for other purchases, considering that the Timex was $65 compared to the original $350 for the Garmin.

Frankly, I think all of the difficulty with the various GPS units was me. Not in terms of user error, but purely in terms of physicality or electrical energy. OK, that probably sounds a bit strange, but I've often had trouble with automatic sensors on doors or faucets or toilets. I've actually walked right up to an automatic door only to have it not open. Likewise, I'll put my hands under a faucet that someone else has just used, and nothing will happen. And I've had those automatic toilets flush at rather inopportune times. So I'm convinced that something in my physical make-up just doesn't play well with certain electrical devices.

And since my Timex watch has been working just perfectly, that'll suffice as my new running toy for now.


Blogger Adam P. said...

GPS spaces on you? Auto doors/sinks/etc don't open/work? Did you sell your soul to Millhouse for five bucks? :)

In all seriousness... Sorry. That's a punch in the head. I know from reading your post that you were all excited for the wonderful toy the the wonderful Mr. E got you. To make up for it, I think that maybe I need to dig into my wine cellar and find a good bottle of wine for us all to share when we next meet.

Other than that, keep running and I'm glad to know that your out there doing what it is you do.

12:30 PM  
Blogger Adam P. said...

Ahhhhh, crap.
You're even. Sorry.

12:31 PM  

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