At the Runner’s World Half Marathon last week, I used my Garmin for the first time ever during a race. You may recall that I’m the one person on the planet that is not a big fan of the gadgets, but because I’ll be pacing a group at an upcoming Metric Marathon, I’ve had to suck it up and get used to it. I thought a race was an ideal time to put it to the test and make sure I have all the Garmin nuances down pat before my pacing gig.
But I’m going to categorize using a Garmin in a race as a big ‘ole fail for me. I just didn’t like it, for a couple of reasons: The biggest is that I race my best by finding the right pace and then holding it. I am as consistent as they come when I just tap into my body’s desired rythymn. Using a Garmin throws that off entirely, at least for me. I would look at it and adjust my pace time and time again. Too fast? I’d slow it down. Too slow? I’d speed up. There was never a consistency to my paces. I find resting and surging very hard on my legs.
The other thing I didn’t like was the fact that the Garmin gets so far off the actual mileage simply because no matter how hard I tried, I was clearly not hitting all the tangents. So mid-way through the race, my watch was beeping miles long before I got the mile markers. Mentally I found this tiring–I had to keep reminding myself that the only thing that mattered was the cumulative time on the race clock.
Did I find anything good about it? Yes, I do think that for the first mile or two, having an indicator for how fast I was going before the mile markers was good. Going out too fast can wreck races (at least for me), so I liked being able to keep myself in check early on.
All that said, I have decided I won’t use a Garmin for my marathon. I’m going back to my favorite system of a plain old Timex Ironman and the mile markers. My one issue, however, is that I’m going to have to change to a bigger, male model so that my poor, farsighted eyes can read the numbers. Sigh. The problems of the elderly runner!
So tell me–am I the only one who prefers to race without a Garmin? What do you like/not like about using one in a race?