Wednesday, September 15, 2004

New Toy

My new toy is a Garmin Forerunner 201 GPS. It is a device designed to be worn on your wrist that provides distance, time and pace data using GPS technology.

When I first opened the box, I was surprised at how small it was; based on the pictures that I had seen, I expected something larger. Yet when I wore it for the first time today running at lunch, it initially seemed larger than I expected. By the end of my run, I had got used to it and it did not seem like a brick attached to my wrist.

I was very pleased with how well it worked. All of the features that I tried worked great, including the distance, stopwatch and pace. I really like the feature of being able to glance down and see how fast you are moving. I used this feature to adjust my speed up and down over the course of the run. There are a number of other features designed to support training that I will layer on over the next week; today, I just used the basic functionality.

My lunchtime work course is an ideal track for using a GPS; it is wide open out in the middle of nowhere with no trees and few buildings. It will be interesting to see how the forerunner works on some of my other courses.

One of the features of the unit is that it can download the data to a log program on your computer. This log program can generate XML files that can be used by other programs. I used this process to create the map shown below. You can see the runways of the Mather Airport in the center and lower left part of the maps. One of the programs actually allows you to plot your pace on the map.

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