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April 10 2012 / Emily

10 Days without Garmin: The Stone Age

On Tuesday March 27, I went out for a run.  Actually I went out for two runs, one before work and one after.  Aside from the daily double not being a normal part of my routine, it was a typical run.  But on Wednesday March 28, the unthinkable happened (cue menacing music)… my 6 month old Garmin Forerunner 405 died.

Okay, to cut the drama, I’ll admit my Garmin merely fell into a coma.

The following evening, Wednesday March 28, I went out on the front porch to let the Garmin locate satellites while I put on my shoes and socks.  But it said the bezel was locked – and I hadn’t done that, and could not undo it.  Many frustrated button-pushes later, I tossed the Garmin back inside and went on without it.  Later that evening I found instructions for a soft reset of the device, involving 10 seconds of pushing both buttons and waiting for it to blink off then just pop back to life.  Well, the screen didn’t revive.  All I had was a blank screen.  I tried the reset button combo again and was rewarded with a single line across the screen and a beep when I released the buttons.  Hard reset instructions were found, and the only reaction was the same line and beep.

A number of web forum posts had other Forerunner 405 users reporting the same problem.  Some had just sent their watches off to the Garmin headquarters for servicing, but others mentioned spontaneous resuscitation upon complete battery depletion.  With just a few weeks before the next marathon, I put my hopes on the spontaneous resuscitation and set the Garmin on my mantel to drain its remaining battery charge away.  Periodically I would try the reset button combo again and get the line and beep.  I’ll admit a couple times to plugging it into the charger to see if it might just revive.  A friend told me I needed to just send it in, because it wasn’t going to get less dead – but he was wrong!  That’s why I called it a Garmin in a coma, not a dead Garmin.  There’s that positivity again – this was still during Lent, after all.

But woe was my running during that time.  The dead Garmin kept me in bed in the morning – “why bother running if I don’t have splits?”  I did, of course, do some running, but my Garmin-in-a-coma was a convenient excuse when I needed one.  I wore my old watch, which is just a watch.  It felt so small and light on my wrist.  At the approximate first mile of my runs, I felt myself straining to hear the BEEP! of the completed lap.  On the first run, where I didn’t even have a watch on, I involuntarily looked down at my big wrist freckle to see if it contained my split time.  It didn’t.

quarter past a freckle? oh wait I'm a wrist, I can't tell time.

So I just ran without splits, without average pace, without a fun Garmin Connect batch of data to play with upon returning home, to see that my pace had actually increased going up that steep hill, or to look with amusement at the big spike in slow pace at a turnaround-on-a-dime point.  I had to run routes I already knew because I’ve become so needy for round number distances that going for a 4.87 mile run would be really aggravating. Give me a nice round 5 miles, please!

Originally, I put off getting a Garmin running watch for some time after they were commonplace because I didn’t want to become reliant on it.  After witnessing a friend practically scrap a marathon (okay, over-exaggeration for the sake of example) when her Garmin couldn’t find satellites in time and she was almost half a mile off the mile markers, I told myself that would never become me.  But I see that it has, to an extent. I finally caved last fall and requested a Garmin for my birthday, which I was lucky enough to receive.  So that little green monster has been strapped around my wrist for nearly every run since early October 2011.

I took my iPod out on my Garmin-less 20 mile run so I would have some technology to keep me company.  I survived the run and it was actually a comfortable 20 on a marked and measured route, without the frustrations of being alerted to an obvious slow mile to mess with my rhythm.  Math is not my strong point so once I’m running anything that’s not a 10:00 mile, it’s hard for me to accurately calculate splits, which can be a good thing.

Flash forward to Friday April 6.  I’d tossed my Garmin and charger in my suitcase when packing for my trip to Maryland, after one web forum member mentioned that traveling some distance had seemed to jar his Garmin from its coma – different satellites perhaps.  Then I was frustrated to discover I’d forgotten my functional normal watch, and was preparing to race Saturday’s 5k with no concept of time.  One last ditch effort – I plugged the Garmin into the charger and *beepBEEP!* it came back to life.  “Battery 0%.  Charging.”  Like the coma never happened.

So, I’m really not sure what got the young Mr. Garmin into such a tizzy, and why it just conked out on me.  Maybe technology was trying to tell me that 2-a-days aren’t a substitute for consistent training.  But now I have zombie Garmin – it is back to life and hungry for brains.  Or miles.  Hopefully not brains.

Did I learn a lesson?  Take anything from this experience?  Well I learned I’m more dependent on my Garmin than I want to be, that I can run a nice 20 miles without it, but that I so much prefer having it available.  I should say “now I’ll try to run without it more often” but I can’t say I see that in the cards, at least not right now.

the little green monster



Leave a Comment
  1. hinsone / Apr 10 2012 9:17 PM

    The lesson is you should have gotten a Garmin 305……. I jest, I jest…. It’s funny a coworker of mine who is a runner was envious of mine.. I was like “My parents got me a Garmin 305 for Christmas” and she was like ‘NO WAY.. GET OUT!”… “That is so cool”…. I love mine. I didnt care for the splits because they were all over the place, but now I’m getting more steady, like my 3 today was 12:48, 12:40, 12:51… when it used to be oh sure, 13:30 average, but one mile 12:30, one mile 15:14, one mile 13:10.. etc etc. But mostly I love being able to track distance which means getting off the damn treadmill. Pre garmin i was 100% treadmill so I could measure my distance.

    • Emily / Apr 11 2012 2:20 PM

      Seeing that consistency is really encouraging! I used to map my routes using either the Map My Run or DailyMile mapping features, but really enjoy the freedom that Garmin gives me to just run any direction and know how far I’ve gone. Definitely far better than the treadmill! Glad you like your 305 – I looked at that one and was interested since it was cheaper than the 405, but I tried on both and the 405 is smaller and fit my wrist better (though it still feels massive).

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