20 Miles and the Garmin

After running the San Diego half marathon I was feeling like I really wanted one of those Garmin GPS training watches.  The race taught me that running against the clock is a great motivation. Shocking, I know! During the race there was a digital clock at every mile marker ticking off the elapsed race time.  As I ran by I was able to calculate my last mile’s time.  Sort of like what Brian did for us during the Bix7.  The Garmin watches are not cheap so I put it off saying to myself, ‘Lets see how the next few weeks goes.’

I continued to run the mileage prescribed by the Runners World training schedule and used the microwave oven clock in our kitchen as a guide – 5:45am out the door, back at 6:49 – add in the walking to cool down and it’s a good pace for a 6-mile run!  As my running mileage increased I found it harder and harder to use another Runner’s World technique of saying, ‘Run to the next fire hydrant, then to the next red house, then to whatever the next landmark might be.’  The method was great for low mileage but when I got up to the 12’s, 14’s etc. or consecutive days of running 7-9 miles it kind of fell apart.  Of course all of these training miles were leading up to the first 20-mile run.  It was Sunday and even though a week had passed, I was still jet lagged from HK.  The project I was in the middle of came in right after my return so I hadn’t really gotten the proper amount of sleep or nutrition but was still compelled to make the run happen.  “It’s only 7 more miles than the half marathon,” I told myself.

When I returned 4.5 hours later I explained to Barbara that I made it about 16 miles and had to walk, jog, walk the rest of the way. I ran out of water, sports gel and motivation.  It was a lesson in what can happen if you’re really not ready – mentally or physically.  I was sore, exhausted, over heated and upset that after so many months of training this is where I had ended up.

I took a down day and then we shot for the next three so really had a 4-day break.  The shoot was much easier than HK – relatively short days – but they were the hottest of the year for LA, 107º our last day!  We all sweat like stuck pigs and probably didn’t drink enough water but got through it. Arising the day after (Friday) I went to run 6 miles but was really tired and as guilty as I felt, I took a fifth down day.

Forerunner 310XT

I was really depressed about my 20 mile performance but was determined to do better.  Looking for a little inspiration I opened my latest copy of Runner’s World and saw an ad for the Garmin GPS  Forerunner 310XT.  Maybe it’d help motivate me?  Running against the clock sure helped in San Diego. I drove to Phidippides Running Store and bought one.  It took me about an hour to figure out how it works with the Mac and on Saturday morning I ran what felt like a great 6 miles.  The watch beeped and vibrated after every mile and the large number display kept me on pace.  Things were going so good I almost kept going but knew that I had a 14 mile run coming up on Monday so decided to call it. After each workout the the software that comes with the watch automatically updates itself using wireless Bluetooth technology. Here’s my run:

Picture 3

On Sunday, I took another down day and drank a lot of water and kept my feet up.  I was really glad I did.  I was a little stiff when I set out for the 14 miler but once again the watch kept vibrating and beeping and the miles ticked off.  It might sound odd but it was exciting.  The timer added a race element and made it fun but also kept me on pace.  Instead of running to the next landmark I was racing against myself.  How long can I keep this pace, oops, slowed down a little that last mile better pick it up, etc.  Here’s the 14 miles – at a faster pace than San Diego!!

Picture 2

I finished the week with 38 miles and even used the watch for some interval training.  Now when I get back from a run I can’t wait to download it and compare it to previous workouts.  It wasn’t cheap but well worth the cost!!  The next 20 mile attempt is only days away…


tom lowe photo, llc

tacoma, wa 98406



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