New Toy … Grethe the Garmin … a story of Watches

28 09 2007

ONE OF MY FAVORITE SOUNDS in this world is that of a clicking metal stopwatch. Ms. Knowles had one of them.  So did Coach Stevens – always around his neck.  Knowles was my junior high school Physical Education teacher and probably one of the best athletic influences in my life.  She also had, I believe, another one that was more ‘fancy’ … but I remember the silver one.  You know what I’m talking about … and if you don’t … catch the title sequence of 60 Minutes!  Start with a Click … Tick-Tick-Tick-Tick-Tick … Hard Click to stop.  I think it’s reset with a twist.  Beating the clock …  

I’m a geek.  Now that that’s stated … I’m the goofiest geek you’ll ever read!  There are many toys that one can buy to keep track of what you’re doing when you’re walking/running/cycling whatever.  It’s another way of making what should be an inexpensive sport … well … not!

Athletic Watches – I have a ton of them … and they’re someplace around here.  On one of my surfaces is a silver metal Timex Ironman which needs a new battery and on another is a gift from a friend … a orange sherbet color.  My very trusty black Timex Ironman which made it through most of my college and studio work is in a drawer someplace … with it’s black Velcro band that picks up thread … and gives me something to pick at when I’m nervous.  It came in handy for advertising work and timing out sound effects … I don’t think Timex ever expected their athletic wrist watches to be used in the decidedly unathletic realm of radio advertising production.  Then there are the ones I’ve given to friends along the way.  I’d had one that was a heart rate monitor, radio, clock and pedomiter mix that never really worked for me.  When I started to think about running again, I knew I’d be doing this solo.  Let’s face it – I’m an info-pig.  I am also inherently lazy.

Years ago, my best friend laughed when I was starting biking because she would put on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt and go.  Me – I had the ‘right’ shorts, jersey, clipless pedals and the Polar that did everything but tell the time.  I would get lost in the details and forget to get out and ride! 

I made the decision not to run but to walk when I started looking into athletic watches again.  I’d looked into Timex watches with foot pods and pedometers.  Neither really did the trick for me as my walking gait is kind of … strange.  A friend of mine pointed to two watches he thought would work for me: Polar and Garmin.

I knew Polar watches.  I’ve got my road bike wired with a Polar S510.  It’s got cadence and a heart rate monitor function.  It’s blue … which I like … and it’s comfortable.  As I recall, the one thing it’s missing is a function to tell what time it is.  I also knew that in my last move, some 3 years ago, I’d mislayed the heart rate strap and would need a new one.  By the same token, I’d also mislayed the watch!  You know, I hated heart rate monitor straps.  A year ago, I was a lot heavier than I am right now and those blasted things made me feel icky!  They’re strapped right below the bra line and cut into the fat along my back I was trying to ignore …. nah … what importance was a heart rate monitor anyway?  I’m really good at getting my pulse at the neck and wrist … screw it. 

The Garmin is made by the same company that friends have been using for GPS (Global Positioning Software) information for years.  Ah – be still my geeky heart!  I’d played with hand-held units while getting myself somewhat lost and finding my way back. OOH! What FUN!  It turned out they’d entered the athletic arena with watches.  A friend had this oval shaped version and he wasn’t all that estatic about it.  I didn’t like the shape.  The 205, however, was more square, wrapped down around my wrist and was kind of cute with a big display.  Also, it was supposed to be better in the trees … and as I was leaving to take the Dog back to California to housesit … and I’d be getting to know my new toy in the Redwood Trees of Marin County … this was a plus … the cost … WASN’T!  BUT – at least it told the time … It only took me 2 months to figure out how!  

Just over a year ago, Eastern Mountaineering Sports was going out of business in Denver.  I poked my nose in thinking they might have a watch which would be big enough for blind old me to see when I was doing the Walt Disney World Marathon.  My geeky heart skipped a handful of beats before it started doing double time when I saw they had a Garmin on sale.  It was the last one and they were offering an INSANE discount.  For well less than the amount I’d put aside for groceries, I could have this potential coach on my wrist.

I had to think about it … I’m not made of money by any stretch … I read the instruction book … sitting inside a tent on a fairly comfy air mattress.  Ok – so it will give me distance, time and logging on the computer.  I can set pace and a range to keep within.  It doesn’t do laundry or clean the house, but maps out the funky paths I take in the dog park … and I figured I would be so far behind everyone in the Marathon, I could keep myself motivated.  I was also working at a job which afforded me very little in the motivitation department …

So … for less than what I was going to spend at the grocery, I got my watch … and had enough to pick up a few food staples … and I named it Gary.

Gary … not sure why.  I’ve not known many “Gary”s.  It was a G name and I figured a coach to kick my sorry butt into walking would probably be a guy.  Gary travelled to California with me and I started to figure out the functions.  My big blue watch and I walked the Turkey Trot in Denver and it was kind of neat.  I could see the display and it was pretty good.  Downloading was intersting and I was getting more information than I knew what to do with.  The problem, really, was I found myself depending it to beep at me to move faster or beep at me to slow down.  At Disney, he beeped away on my wrist at the beginning because I was moving slower than he’d been set for.  I’d also become so dependent on him that I was afraid at Disney that he wouldn’t charge up properly.  There had been an issue with this during some of my training walks.  I would drop Bailey off at the groomer and go for a specified amount of time v. distance.  Part way through, the battery died.  I thought I’d had it charged up right … but … POUF.  The photo at Disney is hillarious because I’m wearing this huge blue watch with a silver Timex Ironman next to it … just in case it died!

Check out the photo and look at my left wrist …

Disney 2007

A couple of weekends ago, I was taking Dave McGovern’s World Class Racewalking Workshop here in Denver. He mentioned bringing a heart rate monitor.  You didn’t HAVE to have one.  OY!  Here we go again!  This time, however, I realized I was already hooked on this sport and I’ve already admitted I’m an info-pig.  I really did search the house.  I found monitor straps that didn’t match watches … So – I trundled off after class and after a discount, I’m now the proud owner of a girly sized blue Timex HRM.  CRAP … I’m back to two watches … but …

Next thing I know, I got a call from a friend of mine.  How I got it was we went out for ice cream at Bonnie Brae as an early birthday present to me (smile). As I happily munched my triple scoop, she gave me a box and an envelope.  There was a $100 check for my Team in Training: www.active.com/donate/tntrm/teamshep and a box.  The note on the box was “So you don’t look like more of geek than you have to.  Inside was the Garmin Forerunner 305!  Seriously!  Something like a $300 watch/HRM set … and she was giving it to me … she’d bought it for her ex-husband … and thought I’d get more use out of it.  “Keep going, Shep!  You’re in inspiration!”

Ok … but what to name it?  When you’ve got a training partner … you’ve got to name it.  It’s red, black and silver.  Black and Silver make gray and Red and Gray were my high school colors.  I remembered a handful of years ago when I got back in contact with a friend of mine I’d known since grammar school.  It was right before his first daughter was born … and she had a bit of a difficult time in the beginning … but she’s now holding her own in a house full of three older and two baby brothers.  That’s the kind of coach I want!

So – My watch is named Grethe after her!   

You know … maybe as my present to myself after my next big goal … it’ll be a silver stopwatch … tick-tick-tick! 

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