February 20, 2009

Mac support for Garmin Forerunner 50 and 405 released

Yesterday I received announcement from Garmin that the Forerunner 50 and 405 are now supported on Mac. Little later during the day there was a post on Garmin Blogs that explains little more about the level of support in this first release. As you may suspect there are some limitations. The current version supports upload of the workout results to Garmin Connect site. But it does not yet support updates of firmware from the PC to the watch and does not allow uploads of courses from computer to the watch. So the Mac support is there, but compared to PC users the 405 owners with Mac will still lack some critical features. The Forerunner 50 users will be happy with this release as the 50 does not have firmware updates or courses. Here is copy of the official announcement I received earlier:

Forerunner® 405 is now Mac-compatible

If you're a Forerunner 405 owner with a Mac, you'll be glad to know they are now in sync and you can transfer your workout data from the 405 to your Mac. The data transfer happens automatically via the wireless USB ANT Stick™.

Before the USB ANT Stick can start talking to your Mac, you'll need to download new software. Visit our "getting started" pages for the Forerunner 405, which will step you through the process.

Once you've completed the setup, your workout data will automatically transfer to your Mac and to Garmin Connect. On this site, you can store, analyze and share workouts with a community of fitness enthusiasts.

February 3, 2009

Few new HRMs from Garmin, Polar and Timex

This is just a quick post about some new HRMs that either already hit the market or will be released in upcoming weeks. There are some exciting new HRMs in the line-up of manufacturers that will make the 2009 season pretty interesting.

Garmin - leaving the GPS out

Let's start with the recently announced line of Garmin HRMs that are not sporting GPS capability. The FR60 that will come in mens and women version is HRM with ability to connect with ANT+ heart rate belt, foot pod, bike pod and cadence pod from Garmin. The watch will have standard set of features including ability to record up to 15 hours worth of workouts and capture 100 laps. Just like the Forerunner 405 this watch will connect wirelessly to your computer and transfer data to Garmin Connect site. According to the materials available on Garmin Blogs and Garmin site the watch will not support Training Center and programmed guided workouts. The watch should hit the market in Q2 of this year.

Polar - pushing the GPS to cycling

Polar just yesterday announced release of the CS600x cycling computer which is an enhancement of the flagship CS600 cycling computer. The CS600x integrates with the G3 GPS unit and captures the location information just like the RS800cx unit that was released late last year (and extensively reviewed on this site). The unit is sold in two packages - one with power and one without. It is very same packaging as with the CS600. None of the packages comes with the G3 sensor, but you can get the G3 sensor as an accessory. Other difference that I noticed from the comparison tool on Polar USA site is that the CS600x comes with the IR USB stick (just as the RS800cx). There are probably other differences, but they are not immediately apparent from the product description and feature list. Also I expect that Polar may make minor adjustments to the information on their website just as they did after the release of RS800cx.

Timex - focusing on the basics

Another addition to HRM line comes from Timex. The Timex Race Trainer Kit provides a good starting level HR monitor with ability to transfer data to ad from the computer wirelessly. What is interesting on this product is the fact that you are not only buying the watch, but also the access to the Timex Ironman online training site that is build on top of the Training Peaks engine. The watch integrates with the training site and according to the information available on Timex site there is ability to download workout data from the site to the watch and send the workout results to the site. Sounds like an interesting HRM for focused training. The training plans are designed by Dave Scott and Gale Bernhardt two large names in the triathlon world. You can find more details about this package on Timex site. Unfortunately I can not provide any more details on how well this package works as I have not used the watch or the Timex site yet.

February 2, 2009

Lehigh Valley Superbowl 10k 2009

Like every year this past Superbowl Sunday I lined-up with 500 or so crazy runners to do the Lehigh Valley Superbowl 10k road race. The race is held in beautiful Lehigh Valley Parkway, but due to snow and ice cover on the trail the race is run in the neighborhood above the parkway. And that means hilly course. This year the race organizers needed to make last minute change because parts of the regular route were still covered with packed snow and ice. The last minute change added two pretty good hills to the course in mile 1 and mile 5 (on the way back).

Last year I finished in the top 60 and ran the distance in little over 43 minutes. This year with much better weather, extra two hills and significant patches of snow and ice I clocked in just below 44 minutes. The course was more challenging because even tough I finished about a minute slower than last year I moved up in the overall ranking to 41st place out of some 475 participants. This year the top 100 finishers got a nice black Brooks cap. I'm sure to sport it when the weather gets better.

I'm happy with the race results even though originally I was aiming to better my last years time and hoped to keep 6:55 pace. At first I was little disappointed with the result, but then I had chance to look at the run log in detail (course profile, my HR and cadence). I was quite pleased with what I saw. Compared to last year I slowed down by about 7 seconds per mile, my average cadence was very nice 94 (thanks to Newtons I wore) and most importantly my average HR was 10 beats lower than last year.

Little explanation why that is. Last year I was doing weekly VO2max work leading up to the race - for 12 weeks to be exact. The VO2max work is now completely absent from my schedule so far as I am still in the beginning of base and focus on other limiters (like muscular endurance and technique). Being only few seconds slower and keeping HR significantly lower makes me look with promise to the rest of the season. Especially to time when Craig puts some speed work to the training mix as we approach the key races. This season I aim not to peak in February or March, but rather keep the peaking for the key races in July and November. I have full trust in Craig keeping me from messing up my season by early peaks (like I have done last year).

In case you were interested in the run log - here it is as a screen shot from Training Peaks - click on the graph to see interactive log on TP.com site.

I have met at the race with fellow Endurance Multisport athlete Leah and we did part of the warm-up together. We did chat after a race for a bit, but then Leah got little chilly (I hope she warmed up in her car on the way home). I also had a great chat with Craig after the race as we were waiting for the results (no love for me - I was way down in my AG somewhere between 6th and 8th place). But I may be adding some TT bike races to my season if they fit with the key races. Still need to look at how they are scheduled and which ones I can fit in considering family commitments and my key races for 09.