I received the Garmin 310xt for my birthday Sunday and have logged 4 runs with it since.  This is somewhat extraordinary considering I haven’t worn a watch in two decades.  Fashion or sport.  I run based on how I feel using approximate time as a rough estimate of distance.  Not exact time since I’m not wearing a watch, but about a 30 minute run, an hour or so run – that sort of thing.  And that’s been good enough to satisfy me.  Running has been more of a hobby to me over the years than a fitness regimen.  The health benefits were consequential.  But that’s all changed now.

Not just because I have the Garmin.  Before receiving this gadget boy dream toy, I started to actually train.  I dieted for the first time in my life last year.  Registering for last September’s IPR put the fear of God into me and I got serious.  I knew that run would hurt, and I trained to minimize the pending pain.  And somewhere along the way I crossed the line back into the world of measurements.  And that’s ok, I’m in the mood for it.  Toys like this make it fun.

The coolest thing for me is that I tend to run trails or courses where I don’t have a good sense of the distance.  This changes that.  I’ve been running the East Boulder Trail for well over 20 years.  I have a 6 mile run, an 8 mile run, a 10 mile run, and a longer run that I’m not really sure of – 12 or 13 is my guess.  It’s an out and back run with the 12 or 13 mile route completing it trail head to trail head and back.  My first day running with the Garmin lead to somewhat of a disappointment as I discovered my neighborhood 4 mile run is only 3.5 miles.  And on Friday I learned my nearby 8 mile run is just 7.  I would have been super disappointed had my Garmin short changed my East Boulder Trail runs in similar fashion given my history with this course.  But it did not disappoint.

I always felt like the initial hill starting from the trail head up to the water tower was about a half mile.  Well it is – exactly.  I didn’t know that the flat top of the hill is a quarter mile – good to know.  It’s a nice recovery before heading down the far side.  I also know now that it’s a full mile to the bottom of the hill.  This side of the hill is such a bear on the return – and now I know it’s a quarter mile bear.  I also know the elevation of both sides – the Garmin doesn’t stop with just distance.  The run begins at 5308 feet, peaks at 5420 – the highest point for the entire trail – and drops down to 5289 at the 1 mile point.  This explains why running it on the return is so hard even though it’s half the distance, it’s both a larger elevation climb and steeper.  The elevation chart above appears symmetrical because it’s an out and back course.

The second mile occurs at the bottom of the sling-shot gorge.  If you run this trail you should know what I’m talking about even though I just made up that name.  I always run to the foot bridge over Boulder Creek for my 3 mile turn-around.  The Garmin suggests this is about 100 yards short of 3 miles, but that’s close enough to not upset me.  The run is still closer to 6 than 5.5 miles.  My 4 mile turn-around was about as close.  I know now that I need to cross Valmont and continue to the parking lot before turning to make an 8 miler.

Today I was going for my 10 miler, and to my surprise, I’d been running a good 100 yards farther for the turn-around than what the Garmin calls 5 miles.  Nice.  I’m of course extremely curious to map out the entire course, and I’ll do that soon enough.  I’ve always been somewhat irritated that this trail doesn’t have mile markers.  It’s a hugely popular running and biking trail.  But now I don’t need that.  I have my Garmin.