Tuesday, 18 January 2011

A Forerunner to frustration, Breaking up with Garmin

Locating satellites ... locating
I think it's time to part ways with my Garmin Forerunner 305.

It's not a hate thing, it's not some feud going back several generations, it's a simple frustration arising from a piece of technology that has let me down too often, and in too many ways, and this time I just don't think our relationship is going to survive.

Like most relationships, my relationship with my forerunner started out well, and I was able to overlook those little imperfections such as the standing around for 3 or 4 or 10 minutes as it got a GPS lock at lunch time when I only had 40 minutes to go for a run.  Yep, it was a few weeks before those little glitches started to be more painful than endearing.

It was a few months into our relationship when the first big shock occurred.  Suddenly the heart rate transmitter stopped working, and no change of batteries, long late night discussions or other first aid that I could think to apply could resurrect its connection with the GPS unit. That part of our relationship was gone.

My boot camp instructor, who had also bought a forerunner 305 after seeing mine, had exactly the same problem with his heart rate monitor failing to transmit, so we decided that Garmin's sometimes just don't work the way we men understand,  and we gave up on the heart rate monitoring and just used it to measure distances and pace.

Then my Garmin stopped connecting to the computer, and then, well it just stopped, but mainly because I started spending more and more time away from it, as I retreated back to my old relationship with my more reliable Polar Heart Rate monitor which was always just there ready to go, and which started every time without fail after many more years of use.

But recently, after a couple of years in hiatus, I tried one last time to breathe a spark of life into the relationship,  as I wanted to get some  distances for some of the rides and runs I was doing, and I was also attracted to the idea of using its to race against on some of my time trial practice rides.

So it was that last night we set off together for for a short 30 minute sunset run to shake out the cobwebs after 12 hours of sitting behind a desk at work. I had my polar heart rate monitor on one wrist and my Garmin on the other.  As usual, my Polar faithfully started recording my heart rate and time as soon as I turned it on, but the perennial "Locating Satellites" message came up on my Garmin as I set off out my front gate.

Five minutes later it was still trying to locate those little satellites, and so decided it had better check a few basics with me: Firstly it popped up with a message asking me if I was sure I'm outside (Yea, pretty sure), had I moved more than 100 miles from my last location? Uhmmm, no. Was it really January 17, 2011? Yep ... but because I was running and reading and operating a watch at the same time, which is well a tad tricky, I accidentally selected "No" and happy in the knowledge that it was me, not it that had stuffed things up (after all I'm sure it knew it would find satellites if they were there and I had let it know the right day), My little Forerunner promptly stopped looking for satellites and just sat there staring at me like I was stupid.  It really was like having an argument towards the end of a long term relationship.

At this point I just felt like screaming that the little satellites are up there in the clear sky above me, and had been for the last five minutes.  Instead, I turned it off and back on again, and let it start again, but another five minutes later it again started nagging me about whether I was outside (yes), had I gone more than 100 miles from my last use (no, I've told you - about 5km) and whether it really was January 17 (YES!!!). Having gone through this repetitive process, and perhaps assured that it was all good, my little garmin when back into itself and went back to locating those little satellites.

34 minutes and one second after I started, I finished my little loop and stopped my Polar Heart Rate monitor.  I know this because it told me so.

I had to pause for a few moments before I turned off my Garmin ... I kind of felt guilty as over 34 minutes into my run, the faithful little thing was still searching for those satellites.  Then I remembered that it was supposed to be helping me, not me looking after it.  This was a relationship, not me carting it around on my wrist for others to see, so I took it off my wrist, sat it down and told it, well, I told it that it was over.

-------------- Epilogue - The Next Day.

Relationship breakups are seldom as clean or easy as you'd like.

The next morning, ever the optimist, I dragged the Garmin back out of the corner and put it out on the garden table and set it to finding satellites whilst I got ready to jog to work. 

It took me about 20 minutes or so to get ready, and then as I walked out the door and picked it up ... the poor little dear must have realised it was near the end of days as not only did it work all the way to work and back home again (OK, I did have to stand around for about 5 minutes waiting for it to get a new lock at work), after a reinstall of the software on my computer, for the first time in about three years it actually synched with the software and downloaded.

But (and I'll type this quietly so it doesn't hear) I don't think it's enough.  We're now in a marriage, this Garmin and I, we're no longer starry eyed lovers, and I can't overlook all of it's foibles in the hope that it is still the one for me, because it's a frustration, it slows me down and it's a down right pain most of the time.

So consider this the obituary of my relationship with my Forerunner, and on its grave I'll write "Forerunner 2007 - 2011, Bought in hope, departed in frustration".  Good bye.

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