Today I went out for a 3 hour long run that I've been planning for a bit. I was hoping to join the boys yesterday for their respective run, but alas, my retail job meant I had to work on the 24th. So, I ventured out on my own.
I had a good run, overall. Starting at Lester, as I usually do, I headed up and started exploring. The weather was perfect for running long, mid 30's with some wind, though I didn't feel that in the trials. The trails themselves were in pretty good shape to run on. With the snow we received the other day, it packed down nicely and covered up the ice that had made many of the single track trails virtually un-runnable.
I wore both my Garmin 405 and my new Nike SportWatch, hoping to see which one was more accurate. I've displayed my Nike results for reasons I'll state below. (you will probably need to use Firefox as your browser to fully open the link, it doesn't seem to fully open with Safari)
I'll start this off by stating that GPS watches are not 100% accurate and sometimes they're not even close. But usually, they're pretty darn good and it's a nice, though not necessary technology to use. Both Garmin and Nike, I'm told by my Nike rep, use the EXACT SAME satellites for their respective watches. I find this to be interesting, but I suppose it makes sense. I assume the Garmin and Tomtom (the system that Nike uses) simply pay for the rights to use the satellites that probably someone else owns. That being said, it would seem that both watches would display pretty similar information while on a simultaneous run. That was not the case.
A few minutes after starting, my Nike watch beeped. I had hit one mile. I looked over at my Garmin (I had the Nike on my right wrist and the Garmin on my left) and it read .87 miles. I felt like that was marginally acceptable difference, especially if I had been doing a shorter run, but I knew that I was going to be pushing 20 miles so that .13 difference over 20 miles would could be rather substantial. Was I really going to run 18.4 miles or 20 miles or 22.6 miles? Truthfully, I'm not the kind of person that gets too obsessed about that kind of thing, (you wonder why I even went through this whole experiment then? Honestly I was just curious) so I didn't worry about it.
I felt like the big difference, though, was in what the two watches said about my current pace. THAT was vastly different, as well. (It's to be expected, since the Nike watch had me reaching a mile before the Garmin watch did) The Nike watch said that I was running at a much faster pace, I believe it was nearly a minute per mile faster! To me, that's drastic because on these long runs, I want to make sure my pace isn't too fast, especially at the start.
So after a mile, I knew it'd be REALLY interesting to see the differences at the end of the run. And about a mile later, it all ended.
I nearly reached the top of Skyline, right at Hawk's Ridge, when I ran to the edge to check out the view from an overlook that I'd never been on. I looked down at my Garmin to check my elapsed time (The Nike watch only displays 2 bits of information at a time and I had chosen to view pace and distance and forgo elapsed time on that watch) and I stared down in shock at a blank screen! WTF? The battery had drained completely even though I had fully charged it. Ugh.
So according to my Nike watch, I ran a little over 20 miles. I assume that the elapsed time was accurate so I'll count the 3 hour 14 minute run as good. And my planned little experiment will have to wait another day. Now it's time to stuff my face with some amazingly good sugar cookies and chocolate covered peanut butter balls.