Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Running update: Just try not to be bored by this.

Hi. Are you bored of my new watch yet?


Good thing.

Although, you may be by the time I get done here.

I guess I managed to arrange my spells in the right order because my hocus pocus has finally resulted in all devices involved (Mac, PC, various softwares, watch, USB stick, The Internet) working together in harmony.

Harmony being the watch tells the USB stick which tells the software on my computer which tells my Garmin dashboard on the Internet what the hell it is I think I've been doing on my runs for the last few weeks.

What? That's not what you consider harmonious? Well, you should hear the watch beeping during this process. Now, THAT is harmonious.

But what do I know from harmony, anyway? Not much.

What I do know are charts. And graphs. And anything spreadsheet related. If you're just learning this about me right now, feel free to get a whiff of this character flaw from my garden tracker. And if you still don't get it, let me just tell you that I manage our household finances by way of a spreadsheet that dates our expenditures back to 2001 and comes complete with Pivot tables and trending graphs.

See? I'm a loser.

I'm not sure why I'm trying so hard to make this point.

Anyway, let's embrace our inner spreadsheet nerd and look at some of the fancy soul-crushing data that's now available to me with the Garmin.

First off, there's the dashboard, which is sorta the summary of all your runs.

The beauty of this is pretty self-explanatory, but when filtered, lets you compare similar runs side by side.

That's kinda fun. If your idea of fun involves scrutinizing personal failures as you approach race day. (How, may I ask, is it possible for me to gain 306 fewer feet when I'm running the same course while running nearly a full minute slower?)

But really, how fun are just plain old numbers and letters? Not. I like pretty pictures and buttons to push and sorting abilities and lots of little rollovers that let me zero in on the minutia of my slow ass running career.

Oh, and so you know, you can view this map in map mode rather than satellite mode, but I don't necessarily want to be publishing my exact running route for the whole wide world to see, so instead of street names, you get vague gray shapes and the red outline of my path over a Mysterious Route. Sorry.

What you may notice from the jumpy graph at the bottom there is that the AutoPausing feature of the watch, which automatically stops the timer when you, say, encounter a stoplight, takes pride in totally hosing my overall average by continuing to run for a few seconds after I stop and then generously adding a 20:19 minutes per mile pace to my overall average.


I guess it is vaguely satisfying to look at the timing graph and be able to pick out where the three stoplights are on my regular morning route. What's not satisfying is realizing that three very slow (because I was stopped - come on, now) pace times are being added to my overall average.



To cheer myself up after this realization, I go fuck with the Player. That's the thing that shows you the map (again - satellite, no stalking!) and your route and when you click the play button, it runs along the map showing you, concurrently, your elevation, pace, distance and total time.

You'll notice I chose to highlight a moment when I was not standing at a stoplight with a 20:19 mm pace, thankyouverymuch.

I also like that I appear to run off a cliff about 2/3 of the way through my run when the road drops off into the never-never and I plunge 600 feet to 24 feet below sea level.

I have no explanation for this series of events because in all my running of this same route for three years, I've never encountered this cliff nor have I suffered the agony of careening nearly 700 feet to my death.

There are apparently a few things about elevation charts I don't understand.


Let me change the subject to something fun and happy. First, hearken back to the dark days of the inception of my Supah Technical Training Schedule when I referred to a paper calendar printed on the back of an old Amazon receipt to tell me how far to run and when.

Go ahead, hearken...

Now, think about how that might look if technologically advanced space aliens were in charge of my Supah Technical Training Schedule and could not only tell me when to run and how far to go but also how far I've gone this month, how fast I went and could then link me to all the information about those runs.

Think no more. It's here. And it's called the Calendar feature.

Groovy, yes. It fulfills the list checker-offer inside of me who likes to feel fulfilled and satisfied with life by way of viewing lists of fully checked off items so that I can feel productive and like I haven't been a lazy lump in recent documented history. Such as this, a calendar month of "Hey, I did that!"

Granted, I haven't had the watch running on all my outings, and the first few were fucked due to the locating of satellites and my own learning curve, but I see good things from this.

And on the, not-perfect-this-month-but-wait-till-next-time note, you can also look at a summary of your progress and feel good about all the calories you burned, miles you traveled and hours you spent running around rather than, I don't know, contending with the laundry piling up in the closet.

If you're wondering how I managed a 5.6 mph pace, well, that's because I was trying to teach myself how to use the GPS while I was driving through San Francisco, so, you know, it's a *tad* faster than my usual running pace given I was in the car and, for once, there wasn't a ton of traffic on 19th Ave.

It was cool to see the pace read out at 2:25 though. THAT is fun.

And before you abandon me forever because of boredom and boredom, I'll show you this fun nugget where you can set up goals (in this case, miles run per week) and see how you're tracking as you go.

Right now this looks sucky because I'm only 15% of the way to my goal, but after my 12er this Saturday, I'll be at 100% to goal and that is a very satisfying thing if you're an A/R list checker-offer like I am.

OK - that's it.

You're free to go.

I promise to talk about more riveting things soon. Like how I thought I was having an actual heart attack and how Bubba tried to sever his own arm while I wasn't there supervising.


  1. Oh the invisible cliff of death! It sounds like there's a missing data point in your elevation data (I can easily out geek!). Basically the elevation data is collected from a series of points (either from a laser on an aeroplane or by using surveying methods) or by comparing different stereopairs of aerial photography and then stitched together to create a surface. In this case a point (or two...) were incorrectly entered or one or more aerial photos were incorrect reference to the surface of the earth.

    You really didn't want to know... But I had to share! Keep up the running - I'm using your experiences to gently goad me into actually doing some rather than just thinking about it!

  2. I dunno. Looks to me like just one more thing to make you feel guilty if you DON'T run.

  3. Wow, some amazing analyses going on here. I didn't realize you could do all this with the watch.

  4. If Jeff is a very very good boy, I may have to buy him a Garmin one of these days.

  5. holy frig... that thing is space age!!!

    and I am a total list checker off-er...

  6. Well, I think I should say that the first step of recovery, is admitting you have a problem. :)

    And I beg to differ- having people on the side of the road tell you that you are a slow fat ass- very motivating. I mean, shit- not only do I keep going, but I'm so pissed by the time I come home that I actually clean. I expect my husband and kids to drive behind me in the van. HAHA!!

  7. Crafty - OH OH! I did want to know! I love that kind of geekery. Now, to find out how to get it updated where ever it's input so that my runs look right. Thanks!

    Kris - It is that, too. I mean, looking at that calendar I was all pissed that it didn't have all my runs because it looks like I'm not sticking to my all important schedule.

    Junie - Oh, there's more. I haven't gotten to it yet because WHO HAS THE TIME but I prolly will. Someday.

    Wendy - Make him be really REALLY good. It's worth it.

    Trailing - It's like space aliens made it, right? Crazy this technology.

    Sara - If someone calls me a fat ass while I'm running, I'll just trot right over to their face and kick it. I don't need that kind of feedback. And I won't be doing any cleaning, unless it involves *their clock*.

    You know.


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