Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A New Toy—Garmin 910XT

I have a Polar watch which comes together with a footpod and a heart rate monitor (HRM). I used it for some months for training. But after a while I stopped using it. I have come to realise that footpods are inaccurate. In fact, very inaccurate; even when worn by the same runner. For a distance of say 25km to 30km, the margin of errors may be up to a few kilometres. So in the end, I bought a cheap CASIO digital watch.

Then recently I came to know that my friend, Judy Liew, had a Garmin sports watch—the 910XT. Judy is also an avid runner, you see. But for a long time, I noticed that she had a weakness in controlling her starting pace whenever she runs marathons. She had the tendency to run too fast at the beginning, only to burn out too soon and then suffer the consequences at the tail end of the race. This is of course a common problem in many runners. I happen to know a number of runners who can run the half marathon in under 2 hours quite easily, yet when they run the full marathon, they can't do any better than 5 hours!

Well, the 910XT helped Judy during the recent Borneo International Marathon (BIM). She wore it to gauge her pace throughout the race. With it she was able to constantly check her pace. She ended up achieving a new personal best in the BIM and got second in her category.

I didn't really think very much of the Garmin 910XT, until a few weeks ago when I was running together with Judy on a Sunday morning. She wore the 910XT and was able to keep track of our pace. She was also able to tell me the distance covered. Having been through that same route many times before, I realised that the distance recorded by the 910XT was quite accurate. After all, it's relying on the GPS technology.

However, it is kinda bulky, especially when worn by women. Even on a man's hand, it is kinda bulky, but at least it's not too bad, since men's hands are generally bigger than women's. According to Judy, she's not a big fan of all these gadgets for running; she's only using it for the time being. She said in the long run, once she's learned how to control her racing pace, she won't wear anything when running marathons!

"Goodness gracious, Judy!", I exclaimed, "at least have the decency to wear a pair of panties and bras!"

Anyway, to make the long story short—even if that seems to be an impossible thing when it comes to me—I ended up buying a Garmin 910XT myself. It arrived yesterday afternoon by courier service. It came with a chest strap for a heart rate monitor, as well as a bunch of daunting user's manual in many languages. Then other accessories, e.g. the charger, pendrive and some other stuff which I haven't figured out what they are. I think I'll just put them all away in the original box, and one of these days when I have the time, maybe I'll investigate what they're all about.

This morning, I charged the battery and then tried to play around with it a bit. Learned a thing or two, but for the most part, I haven't a clue what more it can do. This evening, I tried it out at the Likas jogging track for a short run. Generally, I'm quite happy with it—it recorded the distance very accurately; and consistently. There was a mention of a "virtual partner", which I'm going to explore in the coming days—or weeks—but it seems very interesting.

According to the information on the box, the 910XT is designed for triathlons. Which means apart from running, it could also be used for swimming and cycling. Maybe by a stroke of miracle I would eventually learn how to use it for the other disciplines, but I doubt that it will be very soon. You see, I had originally planned to complete a triathlon this year, but I have developed a bit of problem with my ears which has rendered swimming out of the question for now. Then again, I've never been any good in swimming as reported here. So it seems like I will save 910XT's feature for swimming for later. But of course I can still explore its use for cycling since that has nothing to do with water getting into my ears.

Incidentally, I will be running the Standard Chartered KL Marathon next Sunday. So I'm gonna run with a new bulky toy on my hand for a change. Of course I won't be able to run as fast as Judy, so I guess I will miss the opportunity to see her running without wearing anything. 

Another week to go, bring it on!


Juin Yi Ng said...

So you're joining SCKLM as well? Good luck. I'll be joining the half-marathon, and since it's my second HM, I'm aiming to finish it sub-3. :)

Speaking of pacer, I'm still a student, so I can't afford fancy GPS pacer as such. I'm currently using Nike+ iPod as my pacer. But it's inaccuracy nearly drove me crazy: during the PJ Dawn HM, the pacer told me I've completed my run 2km earlier. I was of course aware of this error, but psychologically it wasn't helping. I was left frustrated throughout the last stretch that I kept asking the race marshals where is the finish line.

But I can't help but to admit that Nike+ website does offer a lot of fancy features that's irresistible even for a young adult. :/

Fan Teck Tsen said...

I've been reading up your blog since your BIM reboot post but I've never posted any reply on your blog until today. It's always nice to read up on your running experiences and equipments you are using for your training.

About pacer, I've been using my smart phone to track all my workout since about a year ago, with an app called endomondo. I think I saw you at Likas jogging track last evening, you overtook me and I just can't keep up with your pace.. haha..

Lastly, good luck with your SCKLM next week.

Cornelius said...

Juin Yi Ng,

I can say the GPS system is anytime more accurate than the footpods. But actually, there are many other features on the 910XT which I don't think I will ever learn! I'm just not born for this sort of thing, you see. hehe

Cornelius said...

Fan Teck Tsen,

I was kinda late to arrive at the track yesterday. So it was dark by the time I finished my run. You must excuse me, I very rarely run with my glasses, so I'm half blind, especially in the dark!

I don't think it's gonna be very different in KL when compared to the recent race in Singapore. The only difference is that I might be trying my luck with my adizero feather this time. Which means, I'm gonna take changes with lots of plasters before putting on my socks. I hope they will last the whole race. Otherwise, I'm gonna get horrible blisters! Will report again after the race.

Juin Yi Ng said...

Just a heads up: I've just completed Team Malaysia Fan Run, 7km. Event with well intention but lady luck was not on anybody's side. Check out the story here:

Cornelius said...

Thanks for sharing, Juin Yi Ng.

I'm not a big fan of the rain when running marathon. But on the other hand, I heard that KL is very hazy this lately. Between the haze and rain, I'd opt for the rain anytime. But it would be even better if we can have the rain the whole night before the rain; and then stop just before the race!

Cornelius said...

Oops!... I mean the night before the RACE

One23smile said...

Hi. Thanks for your sharing. Just wonder where can I get Garmin 910xt in KK? Order online? There is a shop in Karamunisng selling Garmin 910xt at RM1500. Is the price reasonable?

Cornelius said...

Yes, One23smile, you are right, there is a Garmin dealer in Karamunsing Complex. But I bought mine from KL (Multisports). I ordered it through email; RM1,370 including postage. Delivery, in my case, was within 24 hours after payment was made.

One23smile said...

Thks. Will be getting a garmin next week. Decision! decision! Buy here or KL. LOve reading your blog. Keep writting!

Cornelius said...


Thanks for your kind words. I've been neglecting this blog for a bit, but I'm so thankful that my readers are still visiting quite frequently. I will try to keep posting more of my rubbish!... haha!