Years ago I got swept up in the runners' obsession that is Garmin. Almost everyone had one - they downloaded their cool looking graphs after every run and analysed this or that. They argued with race directors over the distance of races ("My Garmin says it was X, and my Garmin never lies). They set them to beep every kilometre during a marathon, causing me to endlessly ask: "Are we on pace? What pace are we doing? Are we too slow? Do we have time in the bank?"
So I bit the bullet, forked over my hard earned cash and ordered one. A lovely little green Forerunner 405 which I nicknamed Greta.
Greta and I weren't really friends from the start. She stressed me out. I didn't want to know what pace I was doing every single step of a training run - yet I couldn't stop looking. She was much bulkier than my usual Timex Ironman watch, which annoyed me. She didn't play nicely with my Mac either, and I had no end of trouble trying to get her to send her info across.
In the end, I simply gave up using her. Put her back in her box and left her to her own devices at the back of the cupboard.
Now, however, I have been forced to take Greta out of retirement and, I am pleased to say, her time in isolation seems to have done wonders for her.
The only reason Greta was given a reprieve was because my watches died. For more than six years I had a Timex Ironman watch which was fabulous. It kept going and going and going, and the only reason I went in search of another one was because it was starting to look a bit old.
I bought another Timex Ironman - a great looking one with flowers on the face. What a disaster! The first time I wore it in the rain the display stopped working. When it dried out it was fine, but from then any time it was raining or humid the display would fog up then disappear. This was certainly not appreciated during the Canberra Marathon, where I ended up running more than half the race without knowing what the time was.
The faithful older model was returned to service - especially in the pool because who knew what would happen if the rain-sensitive model went for a swim. Then, disaster! Both watches stopped working completely within five days of one another. Apart from being inconvenient, this saddened me a bit - these watches had helped me through some spectacular races. The old faithful had been with me the very first time I broke three hours in a marathon, and the (crappy) new one had been my companion on the journey (isn't that a song from Catholic school?) to 2:54:54 in Melbourne last year after my heartbreaking disaster in Sydney.
What to do, what to do? There was no way I was going to buy another Timex because, judging from all the reviews online, the water problem was common. I needed to find a different brand - and fast, because I had the Summer Run just days away.
To buy myself some time to research, I went to Target and bought a $16 digital watch. It did the job, but I wasn't sure how long it would last. (Turns out this cheapie is a machine. It's not sold as water resistant, but I decided to give it a bash and it handled 2.6k of swimming without a glitch!!).
I researched (yes I am a bit OC like that). Casio? Nike? Soleus? I couldn't find anything that was a/ the right size and b/ did what I wanted. I liked a Speedo watch, but I couldn't find anywhere to buy it in Australia, and I wanted to be able to return it if it broke, so overseas online was a no-no. Hence, out came Greta.
Maybe I have changed and I'm not so worried about my pace anymore. Maybe Greta has grown up and decided to become more Mac-friendly. Maybe I was sick of not knowing what distance I was running.
Maybe I have become a running geek. Because I really like Greta now.
Yes, she's still bulky and that annoys me. I definitely won't race with her, but it really is good to have some accurate statistics on my training runs. Part of me looks forward to plugging in the ANT stick and uploading the latest run. I've even worn the heart rate monitor a couple of times, just because I could.
So I am still on the lookout for the ultimate running (and swimming) watch. But I'm pleased to say Greta and I are now firm friends, and as long as she continues to behave herself, she won't be going back in the cupboard again...
Until I upgrade, of course.