Who is Ted?

I'm the father of two beautiful daughters and an amazing wife. For fun, I enjoy the long hours of seemingly endless suffering that endurance sports (mostly running, cycling and triathlon)provide. During my "down time" I'm an avid beer snob and self-described gourmet chef (in other words I like to burn things on a stove or grill).

Saturday, January 4, 2014

New Toys

My big Xmas present this year was the acquisition of a new GPS/ HRM watch.  For the last couple of years, I've been using a combination of a forerunner 205 & 305 (given to me by my brother).  However, given their age, the batteries have started to fail and after much deliberation, I decided that a new watch would be the way to go, as I knew I would get a lot of use out of it.  As part of this acquisition, I also wanted to get a Cadence/ Speed Sensor for my bike so that I could get more accurate data on the trainer, which will be the primary location of my cycling this winter.
As a frequent reader of DC Rainmaker, I knew that would be my first stop when looking at watches as he conducts extensive reviews of different watches and monitors.  In essence, if you want to know anything and everything about endurance sports technology gadgets (watches, power meters, software, etc.), this is the place to go.  Over the last few weeks I'd looked at several possibilities including a new release from Adidas that looked very promising with a built-in music player, but all of the devices seemed to be lacking in one area or another.  Finally, it came down to two choices: The TomTom Multisport, or the Garmin 310xt.
The TomTom Multisport watch had a number of features that I really liked including the fact that it was super fast when connecting to satellites.  I also liked the idea of a device that was bluetooth enabled for connecting to HRM and Cadence sensors.  In fact, if money were no object, I would have likely gone with this set up.  But to get the watch and accompanying items, I was looking at a price of around $300.00, which was a bit more than I wanted to spend at the moment.  Another consideration (albeit a smaller one) was the 10 hour battery life on the Tom Tom device.  While it will be extremely rare that I'd want something with a longer battery life, the reality is that I do hope to do an Ironman or another Ultra at some point, and while I'd be pleased with a sub 10 hour time in either event, that is highly unrealistic.  A longer battery life was something that I'd have to consider.
Sensor comes with everything you see here. . .
With that in mind, I turned to look at the Garmin 310xt.  This watch was a precursor to their 910xt and while it lacks some of the features, it still seemed like a good option.  Since I already have a Garmin HR strap (thanks again Brother!), this also knocked a pretty good amount off of the total cost.  It's also a slightly less expensive item and so I was able to get a decent deal through Amazon (about $165). So early on Christmas morning, I pulled the trigger, and with a free trial to an Amazon Prime membership, I was even able to select next day shipping for less than $10, meaning that my package was set to arrive on Friday night.  I could hardly wait!  Perhaps you heard the stories about UPS and Fedex being behind schedule this holiday season?  Well, I can verify that they are true.  It was in fact, Monday afternoon before my items arrived (Amazon kindly refunded my $10 next day fees, although I canceled my trial to prime membership anyway).  My toys were here, and I was psyched to get started playing!
Good speed, but too much post run pain!
However, only a few minutes before their arrival on Monday afternoon,  I'd decided to go for a short run.  I hadn't been for a few days, and I was eager to take advantage of a beautiful afternoon.  I set out from the house and decided some half mile intervals would be fun.  I wound up having a fairly intense workout.  Too intense it turns out.  I awoke in the middle of the night to experience an extremely unhappy calf muscle in my left leg.  Having previous experience with strained calf muscles, I knew that I had pushed a little too much, so any opportunity to run with my new toy, was on hold for the time being.  That did however, give me an opportunity to install the speed/ cadence sensor and try that out a bit.    The installation was relatively easy and I had it installed and paired with my Garmin in a matter of minutes. Still being mindful of my calf muscle, I decided a short 30 minute spin was the best option.

Perhaps you've had the opportunity when flying to get an "upgrade" to first class.  Or maybe when you checked into a hotel room they were able to "upgrade" your room to a suite with a balcony.  Or an even better description might be when you've purchased your first new car, and pleasantly discovered that the heater, air-conditioning, and stereo all work perfectly.  Such a difference compared to what you were driving before, no? That's how I feel about my new watch. It's been a great upgrade. From the moment I first began setting it up, it has been, well, just better.  Faster than what I had been using by far.  Both in terms of finding satellites (it's even finding them when I'm inside), connecting to HR strap and sensors, and certainly downloading data.  In fact, while testing the speed and cadence sensor downstairs, it even transferred the data back upstairs to the computer where I had left Garmin Connect open.  When I went to upload the data into my BT training log, it was done in a matter of seconds.  I used to have time to go get a cup of coffee while waiting for an upload.
The data has also been great to have.  Prior to this, my trainer results have been merely a best estimate of my speed and time.  Our Tri Club is currently participating in the USAT national challenge and because I've been stuck on the trainer, without specific data, I've been required to count each hour as a total of only 15 miles.  While this has been a fairly close estimate, it's nice to get a bump of a mile or two now that I have more accurate results.  I also like the fact that I can now get information on my cadence and I look forward to using that further with some of the Sufferfest videos (Strava Premium has also added 3 videos in the training section which will be awesome to use as well).
Being able to track Heart Rate is probably the thing I most excited about however.  Through the first part of the year last year, I used Heart Rate as a key training component.  Without a viable option for this the last several months, I've relied more on RPE (rate of perceived exertion), which is helpful, but harder to analyze from a data perspective.  Between Garmin Connect, Strava, and BT, there are endless ways to analyze the numbers more.

To be sure I've only scratched the surface with the watch, and I know that I will want to try some other things with it, as I get more workouts logged in.  Until then, I will continue to enjoy my upgrade!

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