01 December 2011

Have G.P.S. Will L.S.D.

When I took up running as a hobby/sports, one primary reason was the relative low monetary commitment I needed.  I already had some sweatpants, sweatshirts, tons of T-shirts, some khaki shorts, the usual guy clothes.  For winter running, I put on layers, usually a thick hoodie on the outside, plus whatever gloves I can come across.  The only big cost associated with the hobby is entry fees to the races the New York Road Runners organized.  As I got more into it, I spent money on tech shirts and compression shorts, tights, and such.  A few months ago, I started to stock up on energy gels, too, namely GUs.  Luckily they do not cost that much but it's still additional spending.  For the longest time I put off buying a sports watch. Some call it G.P.S. watch and many call it Garmin, kinda like how people Google even though they use Yahoo!Search or make Xerox copies using a Ricoh photocopier.  From now on, I shall call it a G-watch.

I ran fine without a Garmin, whether it be an NYRR event or out training on my own.  NYRR races are usually in Central Park and consist of at most 2 big loops, perhaps a turn somewhere to add a little distance to cover the length of the race.  DailyMile's map function works for me and I had a good idea how many Ks I cover during my runs, even if I always have to measure the distance afterward.

It was at the end of the (Inaugural) Brooklyn Marathon (BM) that I decided it was time to get a Garmin.  For the BM, I misinterpreted the direction for the course and was going to run a full third loop of the lower loop in Prospect Park.  I did not have a Garmin and thought I would need to run two full lower loops, six big loops, finally one more lower loop, in full, through Center Drive, then re-enter Center Drive one last time for the finish line.  Good thing I was told not to do another full lower loop and just walked through the finish line.  I was pleasantly surprised to learn that my undramatic finish was captured on camera. (www.backprint.com , Event = Brooklyn Marathon 11/20/2011, Runner # 207).

I took Monday off to recuperate from the BM.  On Tuesday, back to work, in Jersey City, I made a trip to the local running store, Runner's High.  There were few choices of GPS watch and they certainly did not have the $130 model, with squarish face, that a few runner friends told me about.  I settled for the $200 watch that was recommended.  I was a bit disappointed that the watch does not use a micro-USB cable so that I would not have to worry about losing a specialized cable.  I was afraid the watch would only measure distance in miles but luckily it can do both miles and kilometers.  Of course I went with km, as well as centimeter for my height and kilogram for my weight.  I unreasonably expected it to be able to pick up satellite signal, like how a cell phone appears to be able to, but like I hinted at, it was unreasonable expectation on my part.

Assuming the G-watch is correct all the time, it is great to be able to run almost anywhere.  So far I have not experienced losing satellite signal.  My running routine up to recently was x km out and back.  DailyMile's map tool has such a function, Out And Back.  I would click along the route to some point of return, then click the icon and my route is complete, double of what I already measured up until then.  With a G-watch, I am no longer limited to the few routes I stick to but I can turn wherever I fancy.  I just have to make sure I cover at least 8 km (5 miles) during the weekday runs, perhaps more on the weekends.

On Sunday I initially planned to run the Astoria Waterfront, taking the same route when I dropped off TOTA at LaGuardia during her last visit.  After parking the car, I decided to give the Triboro Bridge a try.  Armed with the G-watch, I was able to just run and not worry if I will run too far or too short.  The only factor I had to consider was the approaching sunset.  If it was not getting dark so soon on Randalls Island, I would venture about the island some more, especially its waterfront, but there was no time so I only ran from Queens to Randalls Island and then back.  I wanted to do 8 km but the trip to and from Randalls Island covered less than that so I simply went to the track at Astoria Park to run some more.  I ended up with 8.88 km, a number I am sure many superstitious Chinese think is a good sign.

Today, I thought about running to Kaiser Park but my feet had a mind of their own and took me toward the Aquarium instead.  On the Boardwalk, normally I would turn east to get to Bright Playground.  Not today, as I went west instead, at first with the former spot of Shoot the Freak as the goal.  When I got there, the G-watch said it was less than 4 km so I went further and turned around after I passed the Parachute Jump.  Even after I got back near home the total distance was not 8 km so I went a block or two more to reach the distance I wanted.

By the way, "L.S.D." means "Long, Slow Distance" in running lingo.  Runners do not do drugs!

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