Friday, July 20, 2012

She Was a Good Old Girl.

You glide on the airYou swivel and turnFast beating heartWhat do I gotta learn
The Wailin' Jennys, Oh Swallow, from the album Firecracker
The other day my Garmin 305 died. I first noticed she was a little under the weather during the Fargo Marathon where she tuckered out and quit at mile 18. I felt like quitting too, so who could blame her?  It was the suddenness that surprised me. She gave no warning of poor health.  
One second she's cheerfully shining the light, counting down pace, cumulative time, distance, and about a dozen other functions that I have not taken the time to learn (she's way smarter than me, has more memory too). The next second she blacks out. I managed to finish the race without her, but it was tough not knowing the vitals. Running a marathon without a GPS is like driving in a rainstorm without wiper blades.

Her health slipped from this moment forward. Sure, she would greet me off the charger with a perky little beep, beep, let's go! In time though the eagerness fades.  In time I develop a Pavlovian response to those beeps... she beeps and I run, she beeps and I stop. I now realize she was putting on a brave face just for me.  It became clear that she couldn't sustain energy for long. Her beeps muted, her lights dimmed. She was dying. 

She flickered at mile 16 and faded out by 17, then 14, then 12... she died a little earlier for each additional run until one day, two weeks ago, she didn't wake up from her charge bed.  I tried to resuscitate her... hold the power button and start button simultaneously... or is it the mode button and power button simultaneously, or is it the power and lap button...shoot, why didn't I pay attention to those tutorials? No matter, no heroics were to save her, she was done, slipped away in dawn's early light.

She was a good old girl. She got me where I wanted to go through thick and thin, through rain, snow, ice, through 50 below didn't matter, she was always up for a run. Yup, she was a good old girl. Perky yet dependable.  We became friends me and her.  She annoyed the heck out of me with all that damn data, but she kept me honest.. no Mike that's not 6 miles, it's only 5.59, keep going, once around the block otta do it... She was a good old girl, an old friend really, and I miss her terribly.

Garmin 610 Forerunner with HRM
I started looking for a replacement and I was disappointed.  I looked at the the Garmin 610. It's nice, maybe too technical, but nice.  It's expensive at $399 (with HRM) and $349 (without HRM). It has all the features but it's touch screen and I hear from everyone that the touch screen is overly sensitive. I do like the idea of swiping and scrolling the screen, but people say it's a steep and frustrating curve. Those that love it though, LOVE it, so who knows?  The 610 has an audible or a vibration alert which to anyone who has run with a group and put up with dozens of chirps and beeps understands the benefit of a vibration alert.  I almost bought it for this reason alone! It's also very sleek and has a low profile (unlike the clunky 305).

Garmin 310 XT Forerunner with HRM
Next on my list is the Garmin 310 XT (with HRM). It comes in at $299 and resembles the 305 in size and shape.  They claim it has Hot Fix technology which locks on to a satellite much faster and hold the signal through denser terrain. Nice.  It also connect wirelessly to a computer. Again, a nice touch.  They claim the battery life is a whopping 20 hours (the old 305's have a 12 to 14 hour battery life). The 310 is a multi-sport device meaning it's easy to switch from your wrist to your bike in seconds (if you purchase the bike/ wrist mount). It's also waterproof to 50 meters so fogging shouldn't be an issue.   All in all, this looks like a good GPS and I seriously considered buying one until...

I seriously considered buying one until I re-read Running Fully Charged and got a pang of guilt.... more e-waste. Why not just change the battery?  I contacted Garmin and they directed me to Raytech in Quebec for an authorized repair.  I sent it to them, prepaid $85, for a battery change. Postage cost an additional $10 so I'm in to this for just under $100. Hmm, I could buy 1/3 of a new GPS for this amount... it better work!  

Several days later a package arrived in the mail. To my surprise, inside the package, right below the bubble wrap was a shiny new .... you guessed it... Forerunner 305! Brand new! My heart skipped a beat. There she was again, my old friend, as good as memory itself, better even. I slid her on the wrist and it felt good, like a new pair of Smart Wool socks on Christmas morning. We went for a little run together to reacquaint ourselves. It was awkward at first, you know, the customary small talk to build trust... how about those Jays... but soon we were best of friends again... almost like she never left. She beeps and I run, she beeps and I stop. It's a good old world and she a good old girl. I've got big plans for her, I hope she's up to the task!

Oh yes friends, it is a good day to be alive.  So good. So alive.  

Beep, beep!