Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Technology FAIL

It seems to me that technology is taking over my own life!  I'm pretty sure I can give up tweeting and blogging and checking email - Wildflower was a great lesson in being disconnected.  But workout technology?  I'm not sure I can live without this!!  We (I) have power meters, heart rate monitors, cadence detectors, flatulance suppressors, ipods, etc.  I've said it before....but does a workout happen if Garmin doesn't record it?  And who is this Garmin guy, and who gave him/her all the "power"?

In the past month I've had several technology fails - my power meter has conked out a few times where the data would have been nice to have (including Wildflower), my heart rate monitor has started spitting out bizarre readings - like average heart rate of 186 on an easy ride/run or saying I have no heart rate at all.  Both of which are quite disturbing if you ask me.

Today was an EPIC technology fail.  I had an MAF test at the track and it's been awhile since I've had one so naturally, I have been looking forward to it.  The forecast for today looked like crap but I figured the weather people had it wrong like usual and it wouldn't be raining/hailing/snowing/windy for my run.  Unfortunately, they got this one right.  I woke up to snow.  Yeah!  The kiddos were off to school and I kept waiting for it to clear or at least give me some indication (like SUN) that I would have a 1.5 hour window to get my work done.  It didn't happen.  It was heavily misting and after consulting with PIC (I asked her if I was completely crazy to run outside), she suggested I find my inner Seattle-ite, and go for it.  As I got out of my car and walked to the track, I was already getting wet.  I stepped in a puddle and now my feet were wet.  Awesome.

My warm-up was good, I wasn't cold and I was feeling pretty nice.  But then I looked at my Garmin. (evil music here please)  And it was showing my heart rate was 170.  Crap.  Not today.  Not now.  I need an accurate reading for the test!  How can I do this workout without the data?  Crap.  So I adjusted the chest strap 100 times.  Now the heart rate monitor said I was dead - no heart rate whatsoever.  Except I wasn't at the beach so I was pretty sure I was still alive.  I took the strap off and made out with it.  Again.  (wetting the electrodes)  I turned the darn think off.  Nothing.  I couldn't get a good reading.  Dang.  Now what?  I decided to continue on - I was already here ready to run and I was already wet.  How was I going to do my workout?  Well, I decided to be my own heart rate monitor and use perceived effort (gasp in horror).  My goal heart rate wasn't all out and it wasn't all easy - it was somewhere in between.  It was time for me to use my own intuition and see what I could come up with.

I turned on my ipod (no way I'm running without music today) and tucked it into an inside pocket since I was already 50% soaked.  The stopwatch still worked so I was off running.  It was raining/snowing/hailing and windy.  It was wet.  But I just ran.  I hit lap when I was supposed to and checked in with myself at least once around the track.  Self, where do you think you are at?  Self, are you pushing too hard?  Self, dial it down just a bit - you are breathing too hard.  It turned into a conversation  with nice music background.  At some point during mile 3, the hail picked up and I was getting hail-whipped in the face.  It kinda hurt.  And then technology fail #2 occurred.  My iPod decided to not work.  Noooooooo!!!!!  Great, I'm thinking, it got wet and I have just ruined yet another iPod.  Apple loves me.

At this point, my gloves were soaked, my hats were soaked, my feet were soaked.  And no music.  Things were just not getting any better.  But I continued on.  Surprisingly (ha), I was the only one at the track so mid-way through I turned around and ran the other way.  I kept checking in with myself and as expected my mile splits were getting slower but not too bad. After mile 7, I called it quits even though I was supposed to go to mile 8.  I was done - I was wet and I was getting cold and my foot started aching a bit.  I walked to the car and started stripping off my wet clothes in my front seat.  Probably not a good idea in the parking lot of an elementary school but I haven't been arrested.  Yet.  And then I got cold.  No surprise there either.....time for a hot shower at home and some hot soup.

To be so dependent on technology is sometimes just frustrating.    And I just got to thinking....with all this technology are we ignoring our own best monitor - our intuition?  Perceived effort?  I think I was pretty close to my numbers today - probably within 5 beats either way.  But more importantly, I got the work done.  Maybe I was a bit high maybe a bit low.  But I can still put this run in the 'ol training bank - heart rate monitor or not.

Now on to budget for a new ipod.  And budget time to get to REI to exchange that stupid Garmin for a new one.  Intuition and perceived effort are great internal indicators but I want the numbers!!!!


Michelle Simmons said...

I can totally imagine how frustrating it would be to have an MAF test when your HR monitor isn't working. GRRRRR. But what are you gonna do? (Get a new HR monitor!)

Meredith said...

My HRM strap has been giving me fits too. I thought it was the battery so I took it to the watch shop to have it replaced and he said the battery was fine. I think my problem is that I've gotten so skinny that my strap doesn't fit anymore. I switched back to the old plastic one and although it doesn't fit, it seems to read a little better.

Hey, if Mirinda Carfrae runs only by perceived effort, then it's good enough for me too.