Thursday, September 04, 2008

My Garmin Contradicts Common Sense

Wherein I question the omnipotence of Garmin while providing a One Mile Virtual Race Report.

If there is one thing I have taken for granted, it is the infallibility of Garmin (praise be thy name). In fact, when saying or typing “Garmin” (praise be thy name) you’ll notice that I often include ‘praise be thy name’ afterwards. Re-read the first two sentences if you suffer from poor attention span. You’ll see this in action twice. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Moving on. I bring this up as, you might expect, I’ve had reason recently to question Garmin (p.b.t.n). It pains me to say it but here are two examples within the past few runs.

Here I am merrily running along on a scheduled 9 miler last Thursday. Periodically, I glance down at Garmin (p.b.t.n) to see if somehow I’ve transcended time or, at least, to take note of pace. At some point, I was at 3.13 miles. A few minutes later, I glance down again but now my distance is at 2.84 miles?? That’s odd. I’ve actually run backwards in time. At first, I’m thinking this is pretty cool. Like Marty McFly, maybe I’ll end up seeing myself take off on this run and can warn myself to avoid the swarm of gnats that I sucked down my throat. Next, I thought, maybe Garmin(p.b.t.n.) is punishing me for my relaxed pace and I should pick it up a bit.

As I kept running, I noticed the distance going down steadily until 2.00 miles and then it started over at 2.99 miles and counted backwards again. I’m pretty sure the distance is supposed to go UP as you run even if you run backwards, which I rarely do anyhow.*

I put the little fella on the charger when I got home and chalked it up as a fluke. He might have been a little tired. Sometimes we runners forget that training can be difficult on personal global positioning systems as well.

The next occurrence of potential Garmin(p.b.t.n) fallibility occurred this past Tuesday evening as I decided to incorporate Reid’s Virtual One Mile Race challenge into my scheduled 5 miler. After a 1 ¾ mile warm-up to the local high school track, I marked my starting time and distance with the Lap button and took off for 4 laps. Everything I see and read tells me that 4 laps roughly equal 1 mile. In fact, if anything, one true mile might actually be a few steps past the 4 lap mark.

I’m cruising along feeling real good. I had no expectations going into this one mile virtual race so I was feeling loose and relaxed. I thought I’d come in around 5:30 minutes for the mile. Garmin(p.b.t.n.) surprises me by beeping as I’m entering the last turn about 100 meters from my lap line which is just outside of this turn. That’s odd. Again, I’m wondering what is up here. I ran in Lane 1 along the inside painted line so, really, I couldn’t have added much extra distance to each lap.

The time? 5:16.

Now, I’m thrilled if that is the actual time. Garmin (p.b.t.n.) says it is so. My basic knowledge of a standard track tells me I needed to complete 4 full laps though.

I tried to take a picture of my Garmin(p.b.t.n.) display – along with my favorite ice cube** – but haven’t mastered the finer points of Garmin (p.b.t.n.) photography. It wouldn’t develop clearly.

So, I’m tentatively reporting a mile of 5:16 according to my expensive, normally infallible g.p.s. device. However, my unofficial 4 lap track time was closer to 5:35.

I think I’ll need to try this challenge again to see what Garmin(p.b.t.n.) decrees the next time.

If I can’t trust Garmin(p.b.t.n.), who can I trust?

Happy trails.

* Incidentally, is anyone else annoyed by the scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off where the wacky kids decided to “roll back” the odometer on the rich kid’s dad’s car by putting the car in reverse with a block on the gas pedal. Eventually, the car bursts through the back of the garage to its destruction. Before that, however, the crazy kids are surprised to see that after supposedly an hour of trying not one mile rolled back. In fact, the miles were rolling ahead. Did anyone think to verify what was happening with the odometer before, like, an HOUR went by? Stupid kids.

** I’ve had this ice cube for years and it’s really adorable. I wanted to get a photo of it for all of you to see but, now that I think of it, did I get it back in the freezer?

36 comments:

Vava said...

Man, I will have to treat my Garmin better from now on! Although I've only had this thing a short while I can't imagine running without it. Your experience would frustrate the hell out of me and I'd mope around the house in a funky mood until the problem was fixed. A speaker cutting in and out can do this to me, so a Garmin snafu may make me beserk! If you are brave you might want to run your next mile with the Garmin and another watch as backup, though this may only serve to confirm your worst fears. Perhaps ignorance, no matter how annoying, is still bliss... I look forward to your post about the problem/solution on the Garmin front.

Tammy said...

Garmin (p.b.t.n.) could never be wrong!
You must have actually been running backwards through time.

If you figure out how you did it, let me know.

Vanilla said...

Perhaps your Garmin (pbtn) is on it's last legs and needs to be replaced. Perhaps with a newer sleeker 405 model?

Marcy said...

Sounds good to me. I mean really, what's a 100 meters, right?

Man, now I hope mine goes off at a quarter of a mile :P

Wendy said...

That is very upsetting. How dare the Garmin (p.b.t.n) be inaccurate.

Either way, GREAT time!

Nat said...

Ok, I would say your Garmin was sick. But mine did the same thing during speed laps on Wednesday morning.

It got to the four mile mark. Stopped, slowed to walk for a bit... ran down the hill, and whoa... I was back to 3.5 miles. By the time I got home my little buddy claimed I'd only done 7.2 miles. (It was definitely, at least 8.)

Last week it added mileage. I reckon maybe it's making up for it. Anyway, I updated all the software and dropped the prophets and Garmin an email. I wonder if it's a satelite issue?

Kristina said...

That's wack, but not outside the realm of possibility for what I now refer to as the most expensive sweatband ever invented. If you get a new one, I suggest you not get a 405. I don't know anyone who considers it an improvement over the 305.

Jeff said...

No way is the Garmin wrong. Maybe you were too close to your flux capacitor.

joyRuN said...

NOOO! Don't tell me this as I eagerly replace my sportband for a Garmin! I look forward to your next post when everything is fixed & working as it should.

Jess said...

Sounds like maybe Garmin is going through some of the stages of old age...maybe time to replace.

Either way, awesome times!

Chad Aaron Sayban said...

I blame it on all those people in Washington. Like everything else, it has to be their fault.

tfh said...

Maybe Garmin is demanding a human sacrifice or something. (Apologies for the no "pbtn" as I'm a Garmagnostic.)

Even if the Garmin was wrong, I bet you would have run the 5:16 without the massive weight on your wrist. Very nice!

Marlene said...

You crack me up!

Hopefully Garmin (p.b.t.n.) will stop playing tricks on you soon.

I celebrated the one-year Birthday of my Garmin (p.b.t.n.) last month (try running with a Birthday hat strapped to your wrist!) and then she (mine's a girl) started acting up. Every so often she just won't turn on... :(

*aron* said...

LOL backwards?!?!? i dont know what i would do if i saw G counting down.

i always believe what G says... so awesome job on the 5:16 mile!

Roisin said...

I blame the gnats.

The Mandapants said...

One day, Garmin (p.b.t.n.) will beget a son, and he shall bring about a plague on the gnats.

And the gnats shall be no more.

And then the runners shall be protein deficient.

(Ew. But -- Lord, I hate gnats. Especially mixed with Gu.)

Viper said...

You'd burn me at the stake like a heretic if I posted my comments on the electronic running aid that shall not be named.

MissAllycat said...

You couldn't take a picture of your Garmin (pbtn)? Perhaps it is a vampire??

Fun Guv said...

Maybe the battery is starting to fail like Mike's did (after only 18 months of use). The only solution to that is give them a credit card number, they charge you $99, you send it to them and they send you back a refurbished one (not the same one you sent in).

How long does this whole process take? I have no idea, ours is still sitting here waiting for something to be done with it. Meanwhile I hear pissing and moaning after each run because it is without the almighty Garmin.

Ms. V. said...

Uh. I know some kids like that.

Ferris: I'm so disappointed in Cameron! Twenty bucks says he's in his car right now debating on whether or not to go out.

Cameron: [Cameron's in his car] He'll keep calling me. He'll keep calling me until I come over. He'll make me feel guilty. This is - Alright I'll go, I'll go, I'll go, I'll go, alright I'll go. Shit!


PRICELESS

Meg said...

The going backwards thing is really odd...I'd buy a sattelite/triangulation problem as a reason for the short mile, but backwards distance doesn't make any sense.

I thought about Ferris Bueller before I read your asterisk. I also remember the parents did that in the book Matilda and even as a little kid I didn't understand how you could run the wheels backwards and have the odometer go down. Silly!

seejessrun said...

Thank you for this post. It's discouraging me from spending way too much money on a Garmin.

Pokey said...

Thanks for corraborating what I felt during my Virtual Mile: Garmin can't be trusted!!!

Whew....thanks for perpetuating my theory...LOL!!! AND for running twice as fast as me ;)

Dr. J said...

I use GPS all the time! With flying, not with running!

If your Garmin was measuring the distace as a straight line from your starting point, the distance could go down as you circled around the point. But that's probably not it :-)

Xenia said...

I have enough malfunctioning electronics in my life, so I'll pass on the Garmin and stick with my trusty little sports watch.

Sweet mile time!

audgepodge said...

Say it isn't so!!! I've always believed in death, taxes, and the almighty Garmin (pbtn, indeed!)

It's like you said, if we can't trust big G, what can we trust???

Brianna said...

Only problem I've encountered with mine is total user error: not recharging the batteries after one run and trying to use it for a run the next day. 2 miles in - bu-bye statistics, hello blank screen. To give it credit, it did give me a sad little trill of a warning before leaving me. *sigh* That was a sad day, BUT I did learn my lesson - recharge after every run. Water and snack for me, electric juice for G.

theloosemoose said...

My Garmin (Cursed by thy name) is a real piece o' crap. He ('cause it's a dude and his name is Vic) works only sporadically, which is incredibly frustrating. Sometimes I'll go weeks with no issues, then he'll take leave of his senses and start racking up the miles like craaazy, indicating that I'm running like 13 second miles. In Vic's defense, we did buy him used, and I'm a sweathog. But still...

Reluctant Runner said...

I think I might be losing faith in the Great Garmin (pbtn, just to be on the side ... I guess I'm an agnostic). It's always spotted me 100 metres or so on any race, plus it doesn't work under a canopy of trees (either that or trees make me run slow) and it crapped out on me mid-18K last Sunday despite being fresh from the charger. I'm probably going to hell.

Lily on the Road said...

Maybe you are begining to experience time traveller syndrome...this is only the begining, next your watch hands will start to spin backwards...be afraid, very afraid.

Scott said...

I love when I'm in an all out sprint and I glance down to see the Garmin reporting a 12:15 pace...

Ovens2Betsy said...

The issue is quite obvious: at 3:13 p.m. you had run 2.84 miles. Garmin (p.b.t.n.) NEVER lies.

Big said...

I have not had the running backwards problem but my Garmin (pbtn) has recorded some amazing elevation spikes, including two instances where I supposedly ran over 300 feet of changed elevation in less than a tenth of a mile. Unfortunately, I have no recollection of such massive hills, but Garmin (pbtn) cannot be wrong so I must have wiped such awful hills out of my memory.

Russ said...

How dare you doubt the veracity of the Garmin! The Knights of the Virtual Partner are on their way to convince you of the error of your ways. Long live the Garmin.

sRod said...

Wow, that is some serious speed there. But can't you use a regular stop watch/chronograph/wristwatch if you're just doing the mile on the track?

Non-Runner Nancy said...

Wow. You be speedy. Garmin don't lie.