I was very excited to track my friend, Renee, who was running the NYC Marathon this morning. Renee is the one who got me started running, and I've always looked up to her as a runner. She's always had a dream to run the NYC Marathon some day, and she finally got in a couple of years ago, in 2012. I even secretly bought a plane ticket to fly out there and surprise her for the race.
Then, the devastation of Hurricane Sandy happened. I made the decision not to go even before the canceled the race, but it worked out well for Renee to defer her entry until either 2013 or 2014, and she chose 2014. So, this morning, her long-time dream of running the marathon came true! I love that the live tracker had mile splits the entire course, so I could really follow along to see how she did. It was ridiculously windy today, and I haven't talked to Renee to see how she feels about her finishing time or how the race went for her, but she finished in 4:12:04. I know she was hoping for sub-4:00, and she's run a sub-4:00 previously, but with the wind today, I think everyones times were slower than anticipated.
Anyway, I got an email from Garmin about the foot pod. It's funny, I've been trying to get an answer from them for nearly a YEAR, and never heard a word back. Then I posted about it a couple of days ago on my blog, and suddenly, I get an response ;)
It's very long, but this is the general summary of what Garmin had to say: There is an accelerometer in the Garmin 620 and 220, which will give you the same info that a foot pod would; therefore, you don't need to use a foot pod. The accelerometer has to be "calibrated", which happens automatically once you do a couple of runs outdoors with GPS--apparently, the Garmin will "learn" about your running, and will give you an accurate reading. So, according to the email from Garmin, you don't need to use a foot pod because the built-in accelerometer will give you the same info--pace and distance--that you would get with GPS or foot pod.
So, if this is true, then my Garmin should "know" me VERY well, because I've been running with it for nearly a year now. If it just takes a couple of runs to calibrate, mine should be spot-on. I decided to test that today, out of sheer curiosity. Warning: This is about to get extremely nerdy and technical, so just skip to the page break if you don't care. Most people don't ;)
The only true way to test it out was on a measured track, so I went to the local high school 1600-meter track. I planned to do three runs: the first using GPS, the second using the foot pod, and the third using just the built-in accelerometer.
First up: GPS. I chose the same mark on the inner lane of the track to start and stop all my 1600 splits. Each lap is 400 meters, so I started the Garmin on the mark, and then stopped it on the fourth lap. I never had to change lanes or dodge people or anything, so I am 100% certain that I ran 1600 meters for all of the splits I did today.
Split one was done in 9:33. The GPS was very accurate, showing 0.99 miles at the 1600-meter mark. (For reference, 1600 meters = 0.994194 miles.)
Second: For this split, I turned off the GPS and turned on the foot pod (which I had just calibrated a couple of days ago, although I didn't have a chance to test the calibration yet). The calibration factor was 105.8%. Again, I ran four laps, starting and stopping on the same mark.
Split two (again, 1600 meters) was done in 9:16. The Garmin read 1.04 miles, which is 1673.72 meters. So, the foot pod showed me as going almost 74 meters farther than I had actually run. In pacing terms, my actual pace was 9:22/mi, but the foot pod showed a pace of 8:56. That's pretty significant for just a mile!
Third: For this split, I turned off the GPS as well as the foot pod, which activated the built-in accelerometer. This is what I was most curious about, especially after reading the email from Garmin. I ran 1600 meters, starting and stopping on the same mark as before.
Split three was done in 9:31, and the readout on the Garmin was 0.89 miles, or 1432.32 meters. In pacing terms, my actual pace was 9:37/mi, and the accelerometer pace showed 10:43. That's a minute and six seconds difference, per mile!
After I did those three miles, I still believe that the foot pod can be accurate when calibrated to the correct number. It's just hard to find that number! For a long time, I had it calibrated to my treadmill, and it was extremely consistent. So I think I just need to find the right calibration factor on the foot pod.
I went to the car, and decided to do the math to recalibrate it, and then go run another 1600 meters. It would have bothered me all day if I didn't ;) I got a calibration factor of 105.5, which wasn't that big of a change. After running the 1600 meters again (in a time of 9:30), the Garmin read 1.03 miles (or 1657.62 meters). Better than the second split by 16 meters, but still 57 meters too much. In pacing terms, my actual pace was 9:36/mi, foot pod pace showed 9:14.
I'm going to keep playing around with the calibration factor on the food pod until I can get it to give an accurate read. Then I'd like to experiment with it both on the treadmill and on the indoor track, just out of curiosity. But if there is one thing I learned with certainty, it's that the built-in accelerometer is not at all accurate (at least not for me).
So it has now been 48 hours since Halloween, and I've only had TWO pieces of my kids' candy! I had a fun size Butterfinger and a fun size Milky Way. Today was extremely difficult, because the kids keep offering me candy, and I truly want to just dive headfirst into the bag and eat it until I feel sick. I know that sounds terrible, but it's true! Instead, I've managed to continue counting my PointsPlus, keeping my goals in mind.
I'm really undecided about whether I'm going to run the Monroe Half on Sunday. On one hand, I really want to run it because it's my hometown race. I did it last year, and I LOVED it--I paced Stephanie to sub-2:10, and I felt fantastic. It's only about five miles away, so it's very convenient. Also, my friend Stacie is the race director, and I haven't seen her in forever.
|Stephanie and me after last year's race|
On the other hand, I'm totally unprepared to run a half marathon right now. I ran 10 miles on October 9th, but that's the farthest distance I've run since August 22nd! The weather doesn't look good as of right now (of course, that can change within the hour in Michigan). If I do the race, it would be solely for fun, and I would have to run very easy just to get through it. I'm sure I can finish, but it'll be harder than I'm used to. I'm leaning toward doing it--just nervous about it!