Life, Running, & Medicine.
Notes on life as I see it.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Update: Out with the 101

Well, it seems my min review of my new Forerunner 101 got me thinking... and looking... and finding that the Garmin Forerunner 205 is on sale at Amazon after Christmas for $149.99 and qualified for free shipping and no taxes in GA.
Hmmm.... So after letting my wife know I had her get me the wrong gift I went and returned the 101 to Target and upgraded for $50 more to the 205.  The warehouse is in ATL so I got the device yesterday.
I just completed my first run (6.5mi) with it.
Here is a large review on the 205, so I won't reinvent the wheel.
Some of my own comments though:
- First off it is awesome.  Hopefully I can get a web app to publish my runs with.
- The more traditional watch shape fits better
- The GPS Receiver is supposedly far more accurate.  I have no way of knowing.  It was within .01 miles of what google maps said my route should be though.
- The included software, Garmin Training Center (GTC), had some sync glitches which required me uninstalling and downloading the newest version off the garmin site to fix.  No real biggie but annoying.
- GTC has a lot of limitations but does all of the basics.  Does NOT have good built in street level maps.
- The web-based account you get with the 205 is somewhat more useful for mapping.  I'm still playing with this now.
- Garmin says they will be replacing MotionBased with for the 205/305 in Jan 08.  Hopefully that means it will be feature-packed and easy to use.
- Elevation/Grade is pretty much way off except for long steady hills.  MotionBase fixes this somewhat by cross referencing position for known elevation data.
- There are some whispers that the 305 may have yet better accuracy, but so far the only upgrade I can find for the 305 is the free HR monitor and the optional footpod or cadence device.  For most it seems like that isn't worth the $80 extra...
Happy Caching!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Back in the Saddle

OK, my first real run in about 3 weeks.  I tried out the new Forerunner I got for Christmas - seemed to work great, but didn't have the auto-pause turned on so my virtual partner left me in the dust at the water fountain.  Finished with a 9:49 pace for 5 miles.  Also ran with the Nike+, calibrated it on the first mile but by the end it was still off by 6-7%.  I think the hills really screw it up, even though my average pace was the same.
Legs a little sore this morning.
Today is the last day of Holiday for me.  I return tomorrow, but after New Year's my schedule lightens up a bit.
I will begin training for the ING Georgia Half Marathon.  Was thinking of doing the full marathon but given my recent hiatus don't think its possible.  Will be fun to do the Chicago next fall as my first anyway (and still before 30 years).

New Toys: Garmin Forerunner 101 GPS

Ok, so Christmas from my wife this year brought the Garmin Forerunner 101, mainly because I saw it in Target for a $100 and thought it looked like a great deal.  Right now in my life (and slow poke training) I just can't justify the pricetag of the 305.  The 101 seemed like it had most of the key features and seems like a deal at cool Franklin.  I'll leave a quick review SO FAR of my experience, mainly as a resource for anyone looking to buy one of these training watches.
SYNOPSIS: This is a low-end GPS training "watch" that uses satellite technology to track the user's runs, walks or bikes.  Garmin is a popular namebrand of all things GPS.  This unit can display current pace, total pace, lap pace, distance, time, lap time, elevation and grade (pace can be changed to speed for bikers).  It will record pace/time/distance data for 100 workouts.  Like all GPS devices, it will not work indoors and needs a clear view of the sky to work "best".  Unlike pedometer style trainers, eg the Nike+, it will not work on a treadmill.
PRICE: This device is selling now for about $100.  There is a cheaper GPS trainer out there at around $50, the Forerunner 305 is the "full featured" Garmin trainer at about $250.  The Forerunner 301 is around $150 at Amazon and also has a includes USB connectivity and heart rate monitoring.
OVERALL: Seems like just the right device for the person not wanting to spend a ton but wanting a bit more accuracy and features than the Nike+ system.  Would consider the Forerunner 301 or 205 also.
- The biggest is twice now in 3 days it has not started up without me manually removing/replacing the batteries and then starting with the power button.  I don't know what causes this.  The data is not lost during this. The batteries are new.  This is most concerning.
- The 101 and 201 do not sync to a computer, so runs have to be manually entered if you want to blog your runs.
- Elevation is GPS-based, not a barometric altimeter, which means it is less accurate.  It does seem to display a changing elevation though.  I don't know if this is calculated in to the calories-burned algorithm.
- Elevation and grade data is not recorded, only displayed.
- Size of unit is much larger than a watch, but on par for these products.  I hate wearing watches but I'm not too bothered by this on my run.
- Very limited for "navigation", eg no street maps, no waterways, nothing.  So if you're in a strange land and try to return to your starting point you may be blocked by, say, the Mississippi River, another country, or the Pacific Ocean.  It is helpful and useful but far from full-featured.
- Battery life at 14 hours, but some out there are using rechargeable AAA's.
- Paula Radclife doesn't come on and talk to me.  And it doesn't play music.
- ACCURACY!  Of course it has some probs calculating your pace for the first 20 seconds or if you go under a bridge, but by and large this seems right on.  I was worried about some of the canopied roads I run on - it seems to work fine.  Probably as long as you are running fairly straight it can can get away with loosing the signal temporarily without any impact on your overal pace.  I run on a lot of hills and the Nike+iPod is notorious for being inaccurate (because stride length varies on the hills).
- Virtual training partner feature is simple but something lacking in the iPod.  Set your partner to run  at a 9:00 pace and it tells you how far ahead or behind you are.
- Pace Alerts.  You can set the Forerunner to beep at you when you slow down or speed up beyond certain limits (you customize).
- History feature.  Stores a synopsis of your run (but not all the location points).
- Navigation.  It is limited but will be nice when out of town, like at a hotel, and you want to just go get lost on a run.  Just "Set Mark" at the hotel, go run, and when you're ready to return just "Goto Mark" and use the navigation screen to find your way back.
- Has an auto-rest feature if you want.  If your pace dips below a certain customizable level the timer stops recording (good for water breaks).
- Counts your calories, allows you to enter your weight in your "profile".
- Turn down the screen contrast on the settings menu to lowest visible for longer battery life.
- Turn on the "auto lap" feature so it automatically records your lap data every 1 mile.
- Make a custom screen displaying Pace and Average Pace.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Reindeer Sightings

The wife and I made it out to OK just in time for a little snow on Saturday.  The temp never rose above 30 and the wind never got much below that.  So cold we had to go buy more warm weather gear.
The snowfall probably didnt amount to much more than  1 1/2" but all the wind made it kick around quite a bit.
We visited the OKC bombing memorial, a very nice place albeight all outdoor and FREEZING.  The we went over to bricktown for a bit of fun snow-tubing inside the baseball stadium.
Being Floridians at heart we tried our best to make a snowman but it barely stood 40" tall.  It lasted through the night (although the head rolled off) but was reduced to an "ice mound" by midday sunday.  It did manage to scare the dog off.
Today we fly back home.  Tomorrow will be spent exchanging gifts between the wife and the dog then heading up to Chateau Elan (resort, winery, hotel) for a Christmas buffet lunch with some friends.  Will be my first Christmas away from family of some sort and honestly am looking forward to the relaxation.
If I can get everyone awake here in time we're going to to the gym this AM.  I would run but the roads are a little icy and I don't know where any trails are.
Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Chipping for Par

Wow well my holiday vacation-thon started last Friday.  Began with (of course) another long day then the obligatory "night out" with my wife's friends, then my friends, all ending up at a common third watering hole in midtown Atlanta.  Somehow managed to stumble in around 1:30am just in time to get a little sleep before two solid days of Christmas shopping.
Sunday evening I drove down to north Florida to hang out with my family - our holiday time - as will be visiting the wife's family this year for most of the break.
It has been kinda the southeat's first cold snap and I'm maybe a little too wimpy to go out for run in the near-freezing temps.  Last night and tonight I did a hard 30 minutes on my fam's elliptical (450 calories burned, harder than my usual run); weak I know but more than the nothing I've been doing lately.  Really glad to see I can still hang given have taken off practically the last 6 weeks from any serious exercise.
Today the old man and I played golf at an unknown south Georgia course - Golden Leaf in Calvary, Ga.  A neat place because it was opened about 2 years ago by a farmer that worked the land for some 30 years before he designed and built an 18-holepar 72 course on it.  Granted you have to fight off his watchdog for the first hole and the tee-box markers are made of concreted Solo cups, it is a very interesting (and at times lonely) place to play.  The Tuesday rate is $18 for 18 holes and a cart - cheaper than the cheapest ghetto golf in Atlanta.  My game was further off than the norm - found myself in a situation to chip for par (from 50 yds or so) on almost every par 4 or 5.  Thursday am playing in Atlanta so maybe will be able to redeem myself.
Later this week am flying out to Oklahoma for the in-laws.  It should be a good time.  Have never been out there before and am looking forward to the BBQ (and hi test egg nog).
Joy to all.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Head Above Water

Wow the last few weeks have been a blur.  I'm barely able to find time to eat much less run.  I have managed to only run about 5 miles a week since mid november.  My schedule has been killer (granted not all work, some play, but still killer).

The last five days:

Wednesday I got in at the typical 5:45am, rounded on patients and spent the rest of the day in the operating room.  Around 3pm a friend called - an extra club level ticket to that night's hockey game - I accepted, forgetting I had about 200 pages of reading to do by thursday morning.  Got home at 11pm, read till 1:30am.

Thursday woke up around 5:15am and headed to work.  Did rounds, operating room, etc until around 8pm when finally made it home.  Was on call.  Got the obligatory call in around 10:30pm ("I'm sure this will be fast").  Yeah right, little kiddo had to go to OR for large parapharyngeal abscess that was obstructing breathing.  Got home at 2:15am.  Called back to another hospital at 3:00am for some total BS that I wound up yelling at them about.  Slept on the lounge couch 4-5am when I awoke and started Friday.

Friday was a full day.  I did manage to scrub out for 45 minutes for a nap.  Was at work until 7:30pm, picked up pizza on the way home.  Planning to go to bed when I got a call around 8:30 that our med student welcome party at a local bar was poorly attended.  So I left and went out to the bar until midnight.

Saturday got up at 7am because I was volunteered to entertain the med students during their interview and tour day.  At the hospital until 2:00pm.  Then headed home and took a 3 hour nap.  Saturday night had a dinner party with my wife's friends that kept us out until 1am.

Sunday morning up by 7:30 for a 9:15 tee-time with friends.  Played 18 holes, shot > 100 but was fun.  Worked on house chores that afterrnoon, finally got in a 5 mile run with the neighbor.

The week started again this morning with a 5:00 wakeup, home by 8pm tonight.  On call of course tonight then wednesday.

Light at the end is that vacation starts this Friday.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Daylight Comes

This weekend I'm on call at the big house.  Kinda the pits but its only once or twice a month.  My friday night was good - made it down to happy hour after work with "team" and my wife.  Managed to not get called in all night, but had the obligatory "every 90 minutes we'll page you about something we don't really need to ask you about." [incidentally I'm preparing a whole entry on stupid doctor phone calls]
I woke at four, then five, then five fifteen (to let the dog out), then six thirty, then finally seven AM to my alarm.  I got up and ready in the usual fashion but couldn't help but notice something...  it was daylight out.
I haven't actually seen daylight this week since last Sunday on the drive back from Florida.  (we'll maybe in the afternoon i had crossed the street at work in between buildings, but that hardly counts).  Most all the leaves are down too.  The wind blowing drifts of maple magnolia leaves across an empty Saturday morning steet is almost sureal; I'm instantly transported to last year this time.
It is my favorite time of year I think.
I did my rounding, caught up on some scut and was able to negotiate a 5miler in at work - running round and round a small lake at the hospital.  It was sunny and in the high sixties.  Perfection.