Tuesday, August 31, 2010

It's about freaking time.

And ... it is!

I'd like to introduce the newest member of my family. Family? Meet Garmin:

Oooooh ... helloooooooo Garmin.

I have officially reached a new stage in my running. Today, I own a Big Girl Watch. Not that I had been putting it off. But really? My Nike Sportband worked juuuuuust fine. For the past year or so, I've been perfectly content with my bare-bones, no-nonsense Nike band. Behold:

Yes, he works fine. Light on the wrist and to see calories, time, pace ... I just hit a switch at the bottom. I also just plug that baby into my computer when I get home and it keeps a running total of my miles on the Nike website. But basic nonetheless. I call him ... Nestor.

But when Nestor tried to do Yasso 800s with me? He got a little flustered.

I was never good in math. It's been long enough since high school that I can now admit that I had to repeat calculus. All of my girlfriends were honor society who were like nine grades ahead of everyone else - but not me. I struggled through everything but my English and writing classes, all the time reminding myself that "once I become an adult, I will never have to use math again."

And then? I became a runner. Runners have complicated formulas for everything. They're obsessed with things like pace per mile and what their 5K PR is. They calculate what it takes to run a negative split race - the second half being faster than the first - using a complex breakdown of what their goal pace is at certain times. I'll admit that while I enjoy this kind of math, I also know my limitations. I know that when I stagger over the finish, barely able to breathe, I have way overestimated what my pace should have been. And it wasn't because I was feeling confident; it was all fuzzy math.

My lack of wicked math skills has also been accompanied by a natural shift in the calibration of the Nike Sportband (ahem, Nestor) as I've worn it more and more. So much so that as I would complete a full loop of CP - knowing that it is exactly 6.03 miles - Nestor would look up at me innocently, stating: "6.33." Nestor, perhaps wanting too badly to please me, would begin to grant me an extra 3/10ths of a mile every time I ran.

I was then thrown into a tizzy after the Napa to Sonoma Half when at a glance down at my wrist after the finish, Nestor told me I had just run 12.7 miles. Reminder: a half is 13.1 miles. What the what? What had I done? Was Nestor mad at me for something? Where did those other 3/10ths disappear to? I actually even asked an official if maybe the race organizers had quietly just shaved off a little. "Come on," I urged. "It'll be our secret."

Wait. I meant 4/10ths. See? I still suck at the most basic of math.

Alas, it seemed that Nestor was just a little off. Again. Recalibration did nothing but piss him off even more.

But I love him, so I put up with his erratic behavior. And when it was time on the schedule to get to Yasso 800s, I gave him a pep talk, telling him that he could absolutely do this.

For those of you not familiar with the Yasso 800s, behold from a fine running blog:


What are the Yasso 800's?

The concept is simple. One day per week for several weeks leading up to a marathon you mix interval training into your weekly run schedule. The intervals should consist of 800 meter runs. If you’re aiming for a 4 hour marathon finish time, then run your 800 meter interval in 4 minutes. Jog for another 4 minutes and then repeat by running another 800 meters in 4 minutes. And if you’re trying to run a 3 hour marathon then do 3 minute 800 meter intervals followed by 3 minutes of jogging, and repeat. Do this until you can do 10 total repetitions in a given workout at your marathon goal pace. After 2 or 3 months of Yasso 800′s along with your typical marathon training schedule you should be prepared to charge the marathon and complete it at your target pace based on the Yasso intervals. Easy and effective!


"Easy and effective!" Who wrote that? Obviously someone who never sat next to me in trigonometry. It took me nearly an hour, scribbling notes all the way, to figure out how to do this workout. I don't think it even required "carrying the 1" ... but my math did. Oh, and don't get me started on meters versus miles. I still struggle with military time (Add 12. I think.), so conversions are not my thing. In the end, this is what I gleaned from the Yasso 800s: I needed to watch my pace, my time and my mileage all at once. Nestor was dejected, knowing he would fall short. Pressing that little button on his underbelly to toggle between those fields was the only way to do it. And I am just not coordinated enough to do this as I am hauling ass.

We tried. We gave it our best shot. I still got in a good run, but to this day I have no effing idea if I did them correctly.

And Nestor knew.

So Mike surprised me last week with the sleek Garmin 405, which does everything but go to the bathroom for me - provided I can find satellites. You see, Garmin runs on GPS, which means I am - for once in my life - exact and correct when I am running. He beeps at me when I hit mile markers or if I fall off pace, and he provides me with a virtual running partner I can try to beat. (That option is way creepy so I doubt I'll use it.) Best of all, I have all of my numbers right there in front of me. No need to press buttons anymore.

And I think I shall call him ... Gavin.

Nestor is okay with the arrangement. He knows I may still strap him on my right hand for long runs, since I love seeing my Nike level increase and I am ohsoclose to the next one.

Ironically, this all happened the same week I bid adieu to my Nike wrap-arounds. Oh, you know them well:

Hmmm. It appears I only wear black tanks when I run.

More on point, I have the wrap-arounds everywhere I go. Even when I'm on the road, I pack them right alongside Nestor. (Oh, tragic Nestor!)

This? Not so effective:

I'm afraid the next Happy Running Cindy picture you see will star a different pair of shades. For now, I'll keep the broken ones sitting on my dresser, right alongside Nestor. Maybe they can reminisce about being important parts of my training, helping me to become the mature runner I am finally growing into. They can take pride knowing they were my training wheels, proudly watching as I roll down the street with Gavin at my side, a little wobbly yet unaided and steadfast in achieving my goal ... all on my own.

Or maybe because they're a watch and a pair of sunglasses, I'll just donate them to charity. Come on people, this isn't a Pixar film.


  1. Our Garmin is Matilda.
    But she is not young and spry like Gavin. She is strictly into riding in the car.
    Maybe Gavin will ride along with us....and Matilda some day soon.

  2. So jealous! But still loving my 305 even though it let me down by dying on me BEFORE my long run on Saturday. Man, I was stressed before I started and I felt naked the whole time. Then when I deviated from the planned route I had to come home to map it out so I could know precisely how far I ran. But he worked today so we are back in love! Congrats on your new friend!