First running event of 2012

Posted on February 26, 2012 with tags . See the previous or next posts.

Today I had the first running race of 2012. Well, actually, it was my first race in Switzerland ever… so double first.

And, if I have to be precise, it was my first run with a shiny new Garmin 910XT; while I had it ordered for more than a month, out-of-stock and other delays converged such that I received the new toy the evening before the run. After getting it, I walked around a bit to confirm it’s not DOA, read the manual, and hoped it’s not too different in basic operation to my old Garmin. So a triple first.

Also, (this is the last one, I promise!) this was the first time I ran with a foot pod (pedometer), so it was the first time I got actual cadence measurements.

The run

I went to the Bremgarter Reusslauf, which is an 11km flat run held in the woods near Bremgarten, a very very nice small town. I have never before visited it (even though it’s quite close to Zürich), and I was pleasantly surprised by it. I should go sometimes back and visit a bit more.

The weather was cloudy (and just a tiny bit foggy), a bit cold but not much. From this point of view, it was good running weather, but it detracted from the scenery. Otherwise, the course itself was very very enjoyable, I could have used a camera lots. At one point, in the middle of the (light, not dense) woods, the course passed beneath the arm of an excavator which was like a mechanical arch (in the middle of nature); at another point, we crossed the river, and the sight was so nice I had to stop myself from stopping and admiring the view ☺.

The course is marked as a ‘flat’ one, but I’ve read some blog posts saying that this is not entirely true, so I was prepared for ‘the worst’. Actually, I found it to be surprisingly well behaved; even though the finish was near the start, it seemed to me to be 60% downhill, 30% flat and only 10% somewhat-uphill.

Garmin 910XT

I didn’t quite know what to expect, upgrading from my Forerunner 205. I read the very nice review on dcrainmaker, but in practice I didn’t know what to expect (review awesome, but soo detailed). The new toy seems more stylish, so I expected worse UI or behaviour. On the contrary, it worked very well; much more responsive to changes in direction/pace (my 205 used to delays tens before adjusting the pace, the 910 is very fast), and new minor features (like auto-lap) were nice (I was able to track average speed on each 1KM lap, very useful). It’s a ++ on the upgrade, with the big downside that so far it doesn’t seem to work under Linux ☹.

It also has a barometric altimeter, but I didn’t calibrate it (explicitly); so while the absolute measurements might be off, the relative elevation changes were much more sane than with 205 (GPS is not too good at elevation changes, as far as I know).

One funny thing about the delays in getting the device: before the race, another runner asks me (note: the conversation was in German, accuracy not guaranteed):

— Is that the new Garmin?

— Yes, it is, just got it last evening.

— (showing me his identical watch) Ha! Me too, I got this only two days ago!

So yes, I think a few people were happy to get their new toy before the race.

I also have now a heartbeat sensor, but as I never used one before, I didn’t want to try it the first time during a race; so I skipped on that. The foot pod on the other hand is practically ignorable, so I took that along (sometime I think I run just because there are nice running toys ☺).

As to accuracy, it was quite OK; it measured 10.86 km instead of the official 11 km, but most/all of the difference was in the first km of the run (inaccuracy while starting to run? who knows).

I’ll have to see how the watch performs while cycling (uh, I didn’t do that in a long while) or swimming (…I didn’t do that in an even longer while), but for running it’s a good upgrade from my old watch.


My normal run pace is about 6min/km, which is quite slow. So I didn’t expect anything of the race, except to finish it. There were lots of people participating (> 2,600 in the main 11km category).

I started slow, because I know I usually start too fast and get tired quickly. This allowed me to not feel the first, and only, significant hill, and after that it was or seemed all downhill (literally, I mean, not figuratively), so in the end I had (for me) a very good time. By the Garmin, I run 10.86 km in 59:01, to an average 5.26 min/km. By the official results, I had 11 km in 58:56, with a pace of 5.21 min/km. I have never before run 10k faster than 5:30, so I was very very happy.

As for individual laps (1 km) as recorded by the Garmin:

  • first km, 6:09
  • second km, 5:35
  • third km, 5:42
  • after that, all laps were below 5:30 (except the 8th, 5:32)
  • 10th lap was 5:03
  • 11th partial lap was 4:09

On the overall ranking, I ended up 362 out of 394 in my category. Hah! I’ll try to remember this race simply for my own pace results, and ignore the ranking ☺. Honestly I’m not sure how people can run twice as fast… need to train more!

The foot pod gave me a cadence of 83 steps per minute (average, max 88). This was quite surprising for me, I expected to be significantly below the much talked about 90 steps per minute. But anyway, I have lots of work ahead of me to improve my running speed.

Overall, it was an excellent day, and I’m looking forward to the next races in/around Zürich. But I should be careful not to overdo-it, like I do whenever I get excited about something ☺.