[149] Pacing

If I am serious about qualifying for Boston, pacing is an area of preparation that will require intense focus. In order to finish the marathon strong, I need to make sure I am familiar with the pace I must hold for the duration – no matter how good I’m feeling on race day I can’t go out too fast and risk breaking down near the end. On the other hand, if I go out too slow I could face an insurmountable deficit in the last few miles.

However, I feel a little helpless and lost when it comes to pacing. You see, unlike many (most?) serious runners, I don’t use a GPS watch. I’ve been using my trusty Timex Ironman watch for almost six years, timing my runs and certain splits (by hitting the lap button at landmarks along the way) and then mapping it out on MapMyRun or Daily Mile when I get home. As much as I love running, I’ve never felt like I was ready to go out and spend $200+ on a GPS watch. I already spend enough on shoes as it is (four pairs of Kinvaras in the past six months).

But to hit my marathon goal, I can’t just go out on race day and wing it. Looking at my paces after the fact won’t help at all. I’ll need real-time feedback to make sure I’m hitting my marks. And in the next nine weeks I’ll need to make sure I’m training at the same pace I’ll hope to match during the race, logging mile after mile at 7:15 so, hopefully, my body becomes comfortable and familiar with that effort.

*rant* Complicating matters is the fact that Shamrock is not offering pace groups for times faster than 3:15. I’ll try to contain my growing frustration that a major race that touts its status as a Boston qualifier doesn’t offer pace groups for all qualifying times. It offers a pacer for 5 hours, but not 3:10 or 3:05, the two fastest qualifying times?? Worse yet is their refusal to respond to multiple inquiries by email and on their Facebook wall. Other runners have also inquired about the pacing situation on the Shamrock Facebook page and there has been no response. Even a simple acknowledgement might make me feel a little better. *end rant*

In any case, I am in possession of a somewhat hefty gift card to a bicycle shop and am prepared to use it toward a GPS watch. I may be wrong, but I see the watch as one of the more important tools to help me toward my current goal. But the more research I do, the more helpless I feel. How do I know which model to get? I first looked at the bottom-of-the-line Garmin 110 but noticed that it doesn’t provide current pace. Once again, I would be analyzing my runs after the fact. Other watches have more features but are, predictably, more expensive.

So I’ll pose it to you – What model of GPS watch do you use? Would you recommend it? Are there features you wish you had but didn’t? Thanks in advance. I’ll consider your input and hopefully make a decision within the next week.

Bike: 20.5/130.1 miles
Run: 16.1/105.4 miles
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15 Responses to [149] Pacing

  1. David H. says:

    You can still get good deal on the 205 or 305, but that has “first generation” satellite technology. I’m surprised the 110 doesn’t have current pace … I’ve read that in a couple of reviews that is the one thing missing from it. I’ve heard good things about the 210, which you can find cheaper through Holabird Sports or even Amazon. I know a couple of people who have had the 410 and really don’t like it. Good news is you can get a GPS watch for less than $200 these days.

    • traintotri says:

      Yeah, without current pace the 110 isn’t much better than my regular old stopwatch. I’ve been happy to find several models for pretty reasonable prices, although I’ll probably end up paying MSRP since I’ll be buying from the bike shop (but the hit to my wallet won’t be so bad since I have the big gift card).

  2. revveduptri says:

    I use the Timex GlobalTrainer and absolutely love it! If you’re familiar with Timex already, it will be a super easy transition. I can’t say enough positive things, either, about the TrainingPeaks system that Timex works with. The data available is amazing.
    I do have friends that love the Garmin 110/210, though…I honestly don’t think you can go wrong with the currently available tech.

  3. Nicki says:

    I have a Garmin Forerunner 305. I have had it for about 15 months and it has seen me through training for two marathons and a bunch of PRs. I don’t know what I would do without it when I am trying to pick up my pace.

  4. Yes, the Garmin 205 or 305 are still good options, and price-friendly (though you’ll likely get it cheaper at Amazon.com than at your bike shop). I had the 205 and upgraded to the 310xt last summer for the waterproof factor (it’s pricey, but I cashed in Discover card dollars. Free!). OK, the GPS doesn’t really work in open water but it’s still nice to be able to wear my watch. You can find deals on the 405 sometimes, but I’ve heard some complaints about the touch bezel. Read reviews on Amazon to get a feel for what users like. On the larger-screen 205/305/310 you can add up to four metrics to track (I like time, pace and distance for general use, and sometimes add in heart rate).

    • traintotri says:

      Wow, I’d say you got a great deal on the 310xt! Lots of people have recommended that model because it’s a little more triathlon-friendly. It might still be a little too expensive for me, but something like the 305 might be in the right range. Thanks for your comment!

  5. Michael Sally says:

    I have both a 310xt and a Timex Global Trainer. My go to watch is the Garmin, but I do like the Timex — given its price (I believe it was $123 on amazon, that included the watch and the HRM strap) it was just too good of a deal to pass up. I can share the Timex HRM strap between the Garmin and the Timex strap is actually nicer than the Garmin HRM Strap..

    But why is the 310xt is the go to watch? I like it because large face and the vibrating feature to alert you versus a watch alarm that isnt all that loud (Timex). Since you are into tris, the 310xt is probably a good choice, but, Garmin has recently upgraded the watch and come out with the 910xt – you might want to check that out.

    • traintotri says:

      The price may end up being the deciding factor for me. So many people have great things to say about both the Timex and the 310xt, but the Timex is a bit less expensive. It seems to have a lot of great features, except for the vibrating alerts that you mentioned. Like you said – it may be too good of a deal to pass up! Thanks for chiming in!

  6. steena says:

    That is really annoying when race organizers won’t respond to a simple question like that.

    I have the Garmin forerunner 305, and I’m pretty sure I couldn’t train without it. It shows current pace, distance, time. It’s big so I can read it. It works. I’ve had mine for over 2 years now, and it still works, rain or shine.

    It’s one of those purchases that you’ll think “How did I run without this before?”

    • traintotri says:

      People really seem to love their 305’s! I’m interested to see if/how my training changes with a GPS, since I’ve been running so long without one. I think I’m going to love going through all the data after every run!

  7. Mark Bare says:

    Jeremy,
    The absolute go-to source for reviews on any kind of training gear is DCrainmaker: http://www.dcrainmaker.com/
    He provides INCREDIBLE in-depth reviews of the 305, the 310XT and the Timex, among many, many others.
    I have owned the 305 and now have the 310XT. They both work very well, for both running and triathlon. The biggest complaint about the 305 is the touchy bezel. Garmin is coming out with the 910XT any day with improved swimming features (metronome, lap counting), but it will be even more pricey. I can’t remember if you could swim with the 305. You can with the 310XT.
    I would suggest buying the 310XT if you can possible swing it. It’s like buying an iphone 4 when the 4s is already out and the 5 is around the corner. If you think the 305 is pricey, buy it now and buy an upgrade in a couple of years. I also have a Garmin Edge… 😦
    As for your rant, my guess is that very few people who are as fast as you want/need a pace group, so it’s kind of a compliment. Shamrock should respond, though.
    I don’t know how people paced themselves before GPS technology, but they did. The 2011 Shamrock Half was my best running race ever. I negative split almost every mile, and the last 5K was as fast as any stand-alone I’ve done. Perfect day/race. Couldn’t have done it without my Garmin.
    Email me if you want to check out my 310XT sometime.

    • traintotri says:

      Hey Mark! Thanks for the comment. You’re not the first peson to recomment the DCrainmaker site, and I can see why. Those are some great, in-depth reviews that I just haven’t found anywhere else. Very helpful stuff.

      It crossed my mind that they might not have faster pacers because those runners might not need it as much, but I checked out other major races and many of them have pacers down to 3 hours or 3:05. In any case, I was just growing more frustrated that they wouldn’t respond to any queries from me or others about the issue.

      Hope your training is going well. Are you stepping up to the full 140.6 this year?

      • Mark Bare says:

        No on the 140.6. It’s about .6 too long for me, I think. 🙂
        Seriously, I want to really race a half before stepping up to a full. Just so much nutrition/hydration/pacing stuff to get dialed in first. So at least two more half-irons first.

        I also wanted to qualify for Boston, at the Richmond Marathon in November. I missed it by 4:22, and lost it in the last 5K. I had knee problems during the last 2 months and only got in 3 long runs, spaced far apart. I got the knee addressed in the last 10 days, but too late for the training. I came out of that wanting to try again at Shamrock, but it just didn’t fit into the rest of my training. I’m afraid they’ll lop off another 5:00, but I think I can run it 11-12:00 quicker if I stay healthy.

        Good luck at Shamrock. I’ll be there doing the half.

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