Friday, April 15, 2016


Went for a lovely run last Saturday at Huron Natural Area in Kitchener, eventually meeting up with some others to celebrate an ultrarunner friend's birthday by getting muddy, smelly and out of breath while trashing my legs on innumerable hills and trying not to slip on the ice and snow.

Yes, still plenty of snow out there.

I don't really know how far I went, as all I had to track mileage was Endomondo running on my phone. There is a set of mapped loops in the park, but until I met up with the group of runners and followed them I had just been playing "ooh, this bit of unmapped single track looks interesting - let's run that."

Because occasionally even the mapped loops were a poor choice.

It was a fun way to spend around two and a quarter hours of a cold and windy but sunny day, though I ended up having to do some hiking in order to get up some of the steeper hills. This isn't something I usually do in training, despite it being an integral part of pretty much every single trail race I've ever run.

Because this qualifies as "mostly flat & runnable" in the ultra world.

I also tend to stick to less technical trails, mostly because I'm a dork about running for a set distance and most of the stuff that is more challenging than rail trail isn't mapped out. While I do have Endomondo on my phone (and always carry my phone with me on long runs in case of emergency), it's not the most reliable thing in the world. Apart from knowing for sure that it tracks at least 2% short, it occasionally just loses its damn mind.

I'm not certain, but I don't think I reached 32kph and flew over the river several times during that walk around the block.

Knowing that my upcoming races this year range from semi-technical to full-blown rocky, rooty ridiculousness, I've come to the conclusion that I need to train more like I race. So, perhaps it was finally time for me to break down and get even dorkier than I already am. I've run for so long with just a stopwatch and a web-based mapping tool, resisting spending any money on the toys that so many runners seem unable to live without..

However, after registering Sunday afternoon for something I have absolutely no idea why I decided to attempt (I'll let you look at my 2016 schedule and figure out for yourself what that might be), it became even more apparent that I'm going to need to put in rather more serious ultra training than I've ever done before. Thus, Monday morning I started looking for a GPS running watch.

Because all this crap isn't nearly enough gear, apparently.

After trying to find something fairly basic and experiencing some sticker shock, I noticed that's Deal of the Day was a GPS watch that seemed to combine the battery life and features of the ultra-dorky Garmin Forerunner 910XT (favoured by data junkie triathletes everywhere, at least until the release of the 920XT) with some outdoors-oriented aspects like a barometer, altimeter, digital compass, and data about sunrise/sunset. It also promised Live Tracking, which means that Tanker the Wonder Sherpa might have a little more peace of mind when I go disappearing into the woods for hours on end. The watch was on sale for $200 - discounted from $520 - so I decided to ignore some of the negative reviews and take the plunge on a Garmin Fenix 2.

Pictured here positively dwarfing my regular day watch.

It came in yesterday, and I spent some time getting it more or less set up. I took it out for a test walk, managed to get it to talk to my phone (despite having to run an Android app on my Blackberry in order to do so), and then ran with it last night. Hell, I even wore it in the pool, and discovered that it really does record quite well...when I manage to hit the correct button to pause and restart between intervals.


That 5.81km run? Endomondo said it was only 5.65km, and that's just running loops around my neighbourhood - nothing finicky like a switchbacked hill or tight turns in tree cover. So, I'm feeling pretty good about getting some better data out of this thing, and if it motivates me to suck it up and go do some running that will challenge me and make me stronger, then it'll be worth every penny.

Off I'll head tomorrow - in what is supposed to be absolutely gorgeous weather for a change - to see if I can't get lost in the woods for a couple of hours, and in doing so maybe find some of the fitness and strength that I'll so desperately need come summer. 

The Fenix should help with the "train heavy - race light" ideology..

Less than a month until my first race of the season, so it's time to get crackin' now that I've got something to do the trackin'!

Oh, and out of curiosity I decided to check back the next to see what had listed as the Deal of the Day - I had to know just how much of a coincidence it was that they happened to be offering almost exactly what I would want in a GPS watch for a ridiculous discount on the very day I started looking for one.

Tuesday's Deal of the Day? The box set of Dr. Quinn - Medicine Woman on DVD.

You can't make this stuff up, folks.


  1. I have the first Fenix, you'll love it

    1. Sweet - glad to hear you're happy with yours! I'm also looking forward to seeing what sort of data I can pull out of backpacking and paddling adventures in the backcountry!

  2. I too, it's absolutely great. Tested it in the pool myself this morning and except for the same problem of "pushing the right buttons" (LOL!) I loved it.
    Or maybe I love it because in the end it said I'm a better swimmer than I thought. Could be.

    1. Ha! I had a similar experience - I think I may have just discovered that one of the pools I use has a pace clock that runs fast!
      Congrats on your gadget, and thanks for reading!


Go on, have at me!