A “New” Garmin Record

Simon is dead; long live Simon Mark II.

(For those of you new to my blog, or for those of you who may have forgotten, since it’s been so dang long since I’ve written about him, Simon is what I call my Garmin Forerunner.)

My beloved first running watch kicked the bucket last year. It was a slow death… taking longer and longer to connect to GPS, deciding he didn’t want to save the occasional run, acting erratically.

The final straw came at the QEOP10K last September, when I ran my first international race and was excited to have my run saved in Garmin Connect for posterity, only to have Simon basically give me a two-fingered salute after I crossed the finish line, crapping out without saving anything. Oh well.

I found a replacement – a bigger, shinier, fancier Forerunner 230 – on Groupon Goods a few months after The Bairn arrived, and have been wearing it on my very occasional runs.

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It turns out the timing for a new watch ended up being pretty perfect.

I feel like I’m almost starting over with my running post-Bairn. I didn’t run at all between said QEOP10K last September and the end of May, and since then have been getting used to a body that’s a bit different since pregnancy and childbirth, on top of getting my running groove back.

Last Sunday I ran a mile for the first time in who knows how long. That is, a mile without needing a walk break. It was awesome. It was a gorgeous fall morning, and I set out on a new-to-me route with the intention of just taking it easy and seeing how I felt. I made it a quarter-mile and felt good, so I decided to try for a half-mile. Made it to that no problem, and thought “what the heck?” I made it a full mile, walked a half-mile, ran another quarter-mile, then walked the last .25 for a nice, even 2 mile excursion.

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Now, hitting that mile felt like a huge accomplishment in itself, but as a bonus, Simon Mark II gave me a fanfare at the end of my run because I had run my “fastest mile.” At first I was a bit dumbfounded, thinking back to the glorious day when I ran my current fastest mile, but then remembered that I was wearing a whole new watch, with no memory of my blazing record.

As I work my way oh-so-slowly back to running regularly and rebuilding my base, having little moments of fanfare with digital bling makes the whole thing so much more exciting and motivating. Old Simon wouldn’t have given me any fanfare for running an 11:18 mile, and that’s totally okay. But the bonus props from New Simon gives me a little mental push to keep working at beating my new PR. And there’ll be “new” records to break too – longest run, fastest 5K, etc. It’s like having a clean running slate, and I think that’s just what I need right now.

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Reflections on a Half Marathon: Kit

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking since my half two Sundays ago, trying to figure out what worked and what didn’t – before, during, and after the race. Now that I’ve started to realize that I’ll likely run another someday (inevitable?!), I want to make sure I improve what I can, and stick with what’s tried and true.

This was originally going to be one simple post in which I outlined what did work and what didn’t, but – me being me – I rambled out of control, didn’t want to edit it down, and decided to break the post up topically. So it goes. First up:

What worked? My kit.

I debated with myself for a long time about what I was going to wear for this race! Part of me felt strongly that I should wear what I had been wearing for my long runs – long-sleeve tech tee and shorts with double-layer socks – since I was used to that, but I had actually hated dealing with long sleeves during those runs (I could roll the sleeves up when I got warm, but they tended to roll themselves back down and drove me crazy) and didn’t want to be driven crazy during my first half. I also really wanted to wear my run club singlet, but was worried I’d be too cold. I thought about a light long-sleeve tee underneath, but knowing how hot I get when I run, I didn’t want too many layers (see also: sleeve comments above), even though a light singlet over a light tee probably wouldn’t have been too much.

I tried to think about races that had gone really well and that I had felt comfortable during, figuring I’d replicate whatever outfit I had worn then. My mind went immediately to the Old Port 5K back in July, where I remember feeling fantastic:

My kit at the Old Port 5K

My kit at the Old Port 5K

Okay, brilliant. Sorted. But now the question came back around to the issue of sleeves and whether I’d be warm enough running in upper-40s/low-50s temps in that same kit. I toyed with the idea of arm warmers, but something just seemed silly about those… why not just wear a long-sleeve shirt? Then Colin brought up a good point when I asked him for advice – if I got too warm wearing the arm warmers, I could just push them down and wear them as sweatband-type-things, whereas a long-sleeve shirt would be way more difficult to remove if I got too warm. I figured I’d give them a go.

Now that that was settled, what about how to hold my crazy hair back? At the Old Port race – and at many other races this year – I had worn my Buff headband and it had done its job at taming my flyaway hair. I planned on rocking the Buff again, and bringing my sunglasses, until my FIL planted the idea in my head that a hat would be better at protecting my eyes from glare. (Fair point, especially since my cheap sunglasses aren’t polarized and I still squint when I wear them.) I’ve rocked a few different hats in previous races, but they tend to make me feel really hot and God knows I didn’t want to faint during my first half. I needed to be extra cautious! Enter Julie with her magic visor. It would block more glare, protect my face from the sun, but wouldn’t hold all the heat in. Perfect. Throw my new knee bands into the mix and I was ready to go:

Modified kit for the half

Modified kit for the half

It ended up being a perfect combination. It was kit I knew I could be comfortable in for shorter races, and turns out it works for 13.1 miles as well. Nothing bothered me, nothing chafed, everything stayed in place*, I didn’t get blisters (credit also due to Body Glide for this!), and I ended up being fine temperature-wise. I was questioning the arm warmers a few miles in but, despite being thermal, they didn’t make me too hot, and I was super glad I had them once the sun went behind the clouds and the wind started whipping off the lakes. I might have gotten too warm with a long-sleeve shirt on (an extra layer is an extra layer) so they were a great solution.

*I guess this isn’t entirely true. At one point my knee braces rubbed against each other and the velcro caught, loosening them both a bit. I stepped off to the side to re-tighten them and they managed to behave themselves for the rest of the race. So they stayed in place for the most part!

So what, exactly, was this kit? (I feel like I want to write something cheesy like “you, too, can have this look!”)

-Asics Core* singlet (bought through my run club… I’m unsure of the exact style)
-Fila Core Essential High-Impact sports bra
-Nike Racer Dri-FIT Double-Layer shorts
-Wrightsock Cool Mesh II double-layer socks
-Saucony Guide 7 shoes
-Nike Thermal arm warmers
-Shock Doctor Knee-Patella support straps
-Nike visor (specific style unknown)
-Sunglasses (brand forgotten)
-Garmin Forerunner 15
-Nathan SpeedDraw Plus Insulated water bottle*

*I gave this bottle a pretty negative review a few months ago, vowing to not use it anymore, and yet I still keep using it. I’m still not a fan, to be honest, but desperate times…. Anyway, I plan to write a follow-up review soon.

Do you fret over your race-day kit as much as I did for this one? (Please tell me I’m not the only one!)

What are your tried-and-true pieces of kit?