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September 11th, 2004

The Garmin Forerunner

When I think a “geek,” I think of someone who always has the latest technology. But at the same time, some of the most “geeky” people I know (and I mean that in the best possible way and sort of include myself in that group) are the ones that know about the latest gadgets but don’t always own them.

There are a few times I’ve bought something especially geeky and have used the hell out of it, making the initial investment well worth it. Like my old school Nomad… it’s on its second life with a 60 gig hard drive, but I’m still using the heck out of it even though there are smaller MP3 players out there. One of my recent purchases that I think will also fall into this category is the Garmin Forerunner 201.

See, while I’m a “sort of geek,” I also consider myself a “sort of runner.” That is, I’ve run more this year than I have in the rest of my life combined, but I’m still not a hardcore runner. I won’t allow myself that status until I can run a marathon. Now, I’m still working my way up to four miles. But the Forerunner’s helping inspire me to do it, and that’s when technology is at its best, when it’s inspiring.

Thanks to GPS, the Forerunner provides very accurate information about your distance, allowing you to more precisely time your runs. In addition, you can use it as a simple mapping device to see where you’ve been or go to a specific location (Geocaching, here I come!). There’s even a “virtual partner” which allows you to set a pace and run against that pace. A visual representation of you and your partner gives you something to race against, even when you’re running alone. Talking aloud to virtual partner is discouraged.

The Forerunner has upgradable firmware and comes with some basic software for logging your runs. The software can export data into an XML format, which you can then upload to a site like GPS Visualizer which will show you your course drawn on any number of different kinds of maps.

It’s a fun, but very practical, toy and has already inspired me to run more… this week I logged more miles than all of last month combined (which isn’t saying much, but still).

(I should also note the site that led me to the Forerunner and GPS Visualizer: Running for Geeks.)

Posted in Miscellaneous

FROM: Joseph
DATE: Monday September 13, 2004 -- 12:56:25 pm
I'm a retro geek. I like old but cool technology. I still like mechanical clocks, manual cameras (remember 35mm film?) and stick shift cars.

Recently I bought an old bicycle from a garage sale for $15 just because I wanted the really cool mechanical speedometer on it that was made in Holland to put on my bike--an old Swiss Army bike from 1940. There are some steep hills and I wanted to know how fast I go down them. I could buy a $10 bike computer that gives me all kinds of info, but why? I know what day it is, my watch (wind up) tells me what time it is, the speedometer has an odometer, so I know how far I went. So I won't know how many calories I've burned--no bike computer can tell me how many inches I've lost around the waist, which is how I measure exercise progress anyway.

But I'm not a strict old tech geek. I may look into this new-fangled forerunner have brought to show-and-tell today. I've considered jogging in the past, but frankly, I find it way too slow and boring. I like the bike because I like the companionship of the machine. Perhaps this Forerunner device is just the thing for when the roads get too icy and cold for the bicycle.

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