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5 Random Things I Did This Weekend

A gadget packed weekend is in the books!  Here’s what I was up to.

1) Putting in trainer time

2017-02-17 17.22.36

I kicked off the weekend with a bit under an hour on the trainer.  Nothing fancy, no apps or other complexity.  Just an ERG workout.  I was using the Edge 1000 to control the Tacx NEO via FE-C, simply setting the resistance levels manually.  It’s nice that Garmin fixed this back a few months ago (after months of being broken).  But I can’t help but continue to think that the way Wahoo does the trainer control mode is just so much better in terms of easily being able to increase/decrease wattage without going through a bunch of menus. Unfortunately, Wahoo still doesn’t support FE-C trainer (despite saying they would by last fall).  So that’s a non-starter here.

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From a power meter standpoint, I was testing the Quarq DZero unit, which also had a pair of PowerTap P1’s attached to them.  And of course, the Tacx Neo too.  So really only three power meters on this setup.  I might add in a left-only unit like a Stages or 4iiii, but honestly it wouldn’t really add a whole lot because being left-only the data would be slightly skewed.

The only downside to the ride?  On an outdoor ride a few days prior I managed to somehow rip a portion of my cleat while filming something (standing, not riding), which was making me constantly pop-out of the right pedal.  Of course, I had totally forgotten about this by the time I got on the trainer.  High cadence drills were a bit of a mess.

Oh well.

2) Tunnel Testing

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Friday after my trainer ride I headed outside for a short run to validate how a handful of units performed in a tunnel.  For many marathons and other longer distance running races, tunnels are a fact of life.  It’s therefore important that any GPS device you use can handle going through a tunnel without totally screwing up.  My goal for success here is multi-part:

A) It should correctly ‘drop’ satellite at the entrance of the tunnel (not some point 100m away)
B) It should then fail over to accelerometer/footpod based data while GPS is unavailable
C) It should correctly ‘regain’ satellite at the exit of the tunnel (again, without misplacing the locale)
D) It shouldn’t double-down on any distance (i.e. add accelerometer/footpod distance to GPS distance)

Note that I fully recognize that anytime you lose GPS signal and failover to an accelerometer based situation, that accuracy will be slightly variable.  And that’s OK to a degree.  But it should still be within a few percent for the duration of the tunnel, which would then be barely a fraction of a percent once considered for the entire length of the run.  I also don’t expect the unit to handle any large curves in a tunnel from a data track standpoint.  Just connecting the two dots is reasonable.

Luckily I’m able to easily run to two solid tunnels not far from the DCR Cave.  One is shorter, about 200-300m long.  And the other is longer – about 1,000m long.  I like the 200-300m long one for testing though because I repeat it many times easily, and because it’s perfectly straight.  The other one is curved.

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I should probably point out this tunnel is closed to traffic these days, again making it even better.

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In my case, I ran the tunnel six times, with me going about 125-150m beyond the end of the tunnel each time – thus ensuring the unit had a chance to regain satellite signal. Ideally, of course, it does this in far less time, but it’s hard to know that mid-run.

While I will get to various results down the road for the numerous devices I was testing, I will note that the Suunto Spartan Ultra with its latest GPS-focused firmware update did actually perform the best of all units I was testing.  It beautifully executed the entrance and exit of the tunnel every single time…almost perfectly:

image

Exactly where I ran.

Nifty.

3) So much unboxing and cleanup

There was a lot of unboxing over the past few days.  And honestly, still a crapton more to do.  Some things I can show now, yet most you’ll have to wait for later.  On the ‘show now’ front though, I’ve got SHFT Run:

DSC_7401

It’s a running metrics device, that also transmits running power too.  I’ll talk about that in two sections from now.

On the cleanup front, I spent about 2 hours down at the Cave on Saturday afternoon to try and get a bunch of stuff all cleaned up.  That included my god-awful cycling shoe cleat situation:

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The powder was also on the cleanup list.  That came from the ceiling after drilling holes in it to attach a secondary DSLR camera for higher quality unboxing videos.  I hadn’t gotten around to cleaning that up yet.

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Thankfully, the cleats came off far easier than I expected, and was soon good to go!

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After that, it was back to mundane things like deconstructing the giant piles of gadgets that amassed going into CES in early January, and carried through to Australia for the rest of January.  I think I need an unboxing intern. Hmm…

4) Friends in town

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While there was plenty of sports tech happening this weekend, there was also some non-sports tech happenings.  Our friends David and Lillian were back in town for the weekend (after being relocated this past summer).  We’ve been on countless trips and events with them, such as a bunch of ski trips, Rome, the masked Versailles Ball, and many more I’m forgetting.

So Friday night we all got together at Zia (that’s the restaurant of another of our close friends).  That’s one of the great things about owning a restaurant/space/etc – it makes for a great locale for private events that don’t quite fit in your house.  We’ve done that a bunch of times at the DCR/Bertie’s Cake Studio.

IMG_7393

For the most part, it was enjoying the evening for a number of hours in potluck style, so nothing too extravagant.  Though, The Girl did break out a test dessert for folks to try.  It was a dark chocolate tart with a Speculoos crust and salted caramel topping.  Nom!

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Suffice to say, the dessert passed the test for sure!  Albeit there was about 35 minutes of discussion on exact portion sizing and weighing and calculators broke out to figure out pricing per slice. Though by the time all that was done…the tart was gone.

5) Running the Eiffel Tower Metrics

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Last but not least, we’ve got a Saturday run around town.  It was beautifully sunny out, so I strapped a crapton of stuff on my running shoes and headed on out.

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By ‘stuff’, I mean, a lot of things, specifically:

1) RunScribe running pods (dual left/right)
2) Stryd running pod power meter
3) Kinematix Tune insole based running metrics
4) SHFT running metrics/power meter (dual pod setup)
5) Milestone footpod with advanced running metrics
6) Garmin HRM-TRI running metrics
7) Four GPS watches
8) One GoPro Hero5 Black action camera
9) One iPhone

So…check.  I was well monitored.

DSC_7415

As is often the case, I was testing out numerous things, but of particular interest to me on this run was how the different running metrics compared.  After all – many of them measured the exact same metrics.  Things like: Vertical Oscillation, Ground Contact Time, and even cadence.  Plus a few of them also measured running power too.

My run was rather simplistic – mostly steady state with virtually no stopping across the entire thing – perfect for validating how they compared.  As many of you saw in my tweet though… I was less than impressed:

I think the above tweet mostly says it all.

Still, tomorrow I’m going to expand out the metric and dive into all of the data sets a bit more.  Part technical dive, part rant, part mystery theater.  Or something like that.

In the meantime – thanks for reading – and have a great week ahead!

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82 Comments

  1. Steve Edney

    Well, I’ve got a tunnel here that goes from the mainland to the island where I live. I don’t think there’s any watch that can manage this one :-) it’s about 1.8 km long and goes down to 90 m below sea level before it comes up again on the island. You’re welcome to come and try sometime! Flekkerøy, Norway if you’re interested. I must admit… it’s not fun cycling or running through that !

    • Wow, the weather is actually much warmer than I expected there.

    • Steve Edney

      Yeah, it got warm about a week ago and all the snow has been washed away by the rain. Also, up in the hills there is a slight shortage of snow at all the ski resorts. The only bright side of this is that I don’t have to shovel snow off of my driveway any more :-)

    • Paul S.

      What, you’re going to move to Tahiti? Winter’s only 10 months away :-)

      It’s still February. Around here (central PA) March snowstorms are not uncommon. Even though I’m going out on the mountain bike today (6 weeks earlier than usual), I still have some hopes of getting some more cross country skiing in before winter is over.

    • At least if I move to Tahiti, it’s still kinda-sorta a French territory.

    • Paul S.

      From what I’ve read, there’s no kinda-sorta about it. Tahiti (and every other former colony that France still has) is France, every bit as much as Paris is. Just hasn’t been France quite as long as Paris.

    • Patrick Utrecht

      Funny, I immediately had to think about the tunnel to Vardøya, which turns out is almost as far from Flekkerøy as you can get, while still staying in Norway.

  2. Johnny Lau

    There will be a result of the tests with the three power meters?

    • Yup, that’ll be part of the Quarq D Zero power meter review.

    • thebucket

      I’m thinking of buying a Quarq dzero today. You saw on you testing anything which should make me wait for the in-depth review?

    • Nicklas Eriksson

      I have the same question as thebucket. When do you think the full review will come?

    • Not this week or next, but likely the week after. Overall it’s looking good. I’ve got a minor Zwift BLE thing I’ve gotta track down that I saw while testing Zwift…outside, but I need to validate it wasn’t just something weird with that setup, so need to check inside.

    • Tom

      DC – Not sure if helpful on your Quarq Review, but I got a unit around 3 months ago, all was well, but it intermittently flashed the boot loading light, and after some weeks of troubleshooting myself, I called it in, spoke at length first by email to Quarq in the US, and the took a call with a service guy here in Oz.
      It didn’t make sense that it was intermittently going into boot loader mode. So he talked me through reseting the unit, and placing a magnet to force it into boot loader mode, it was hard to place the magnet, as it kept getting pulled to the magnet on my frame!
      That was the problem, and one that dumbfounded all at Quarq. Like many others, having used a magnet on the previous generation of power meters, with it puttied on, I had forgotten about it. If the unit had gone back to be looked at, it would have been ok too! An hour with a small pick and the putty and magnet were gone from my frame, and a PM that is awesome and flawless. (Sorry it was longwinded, but no quicker why to explain)

    • Interesting. To be clear, I’ve had zero accuracy/reliability issues on the D Zero outside or inside.

      The specific oddity I’m referring to is that while riding Zwift outside, via Bluetooth Smart, I saw significant lag/stickiness in the power number on Zwift from the D Zero. I typically don’t use BT otherwise for power, and inside I typically pair to a trainer and not a power meter. Hence something I need to double-check inside again.

  3. James

    Do I also spy the girl wearing a 5S? (This may just be my eyesight!). Can’t wait for the full review :)

  4. Nighthawk700

    Definitely looking forward to the full tunnel write up. The Detroit Free Press Marathon / Half Marathon is on my “dream” list, and goes through the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel (about a mile long), so I was wondering how the GPS watches would hold up in that type of condition.

  5. Mr. T

    “For many marathons and other longer distance running races, tunnels are a fact of life. ”

    Huh? I’ve been a runner for 30+ years. I have ran hundreds of races. I’ve never once encountered a tunnel. I think it’s pretty rare. Rare enough that I wouldn’t base a watch purchase in it.

    Seems odd. I’ve ran under bridges, through covered bridge and deep in the canyons of major cities. Those are more of a concern

    • Ingo

      If you come across tunnels probably depends a lot on how much you’ve come around in this world. Running through tunnels here in Asia for example happens more often than not. Just look for example at the map of the Hong Kong Marathon a week ago with some 74,000 participants (link to hkmarathon.com).

      And I hate to say it, but when looking at overall recorded distances on Strava for the that race the Garmins and Polars often showed things closer to the 42.195k than the Suuntos.

      The Mt. Fuji marathon in Japan I did before also crossed two tunnels (link to fujisan-marathon.com). Heck, even my regular 10k house loop has a tunnel! So yes, tunnels at least for me are a fact of life and the main reason I am still looking for a foot pod for my Ambit 3…

    • Indeed, tunnels are pretty common in some of the largest marathons out there. NYC, Paris, Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle, all come to mind without much thinking.

      Even Boston and the Marine Corps Marathon have brief sections underground that can be impacted. It doesn’t honestly matter much low ‘long’ the tunnel is, once GPS is lost…it’s lost.

    • Dr. D

      Chicago is a challenge as when you exit the tunnel (I thinking is it very close close to the start line) there are tall buildings all around too when you exit

    • Dr. D

      meant to read…(I am thinking it is close to the start line)…

    • Don

      Four tunnels at the Rim Rock Marathon in Colorado National Monument in Grand Junction Colorado, but beautiful scenery. I’m typically riding through them about 3x a week on my road bike, so GPS tunnel behavior is of interest to me. My Edge520 seems to handle them pretty well.

      link to rimrockmarathon.com

  6. Scott E

    It will be interesting to see which running metric device eventually turns out to be your baseline. Pretty clear what HR, camera, watch and cycling power meter is the primary reference device for testing and use.

  7. Ivan

    Which chainrings do you have on quarq and what parts are the rest of the drivetrain?

    • They’re SRAM. A compact crank at 110BCD, with 50/34T. The rest of the drive train is actually Shimano 105, nothing fancy at the moment on that bike.

      I bought a SRAM RED eTAP kit to go on that bike a bit before Christmas (I have Shimano Di2 on my other primary bike, my tri bike), but I just haven’t had the time to outfit it onto the bike. I figured I’d get the Quarq D-Zero data largely captured before I dorked up my drive-train, just in case something went wrong there I wouldn’t be short on data.

    • ivan

      Any informations about relasing quarq for new dura ace 9100?
      I have a new dura ace 9100 gruop on my bike and i want to buy quarg power meter, will it work whit sram chainrings or its better to pair it whit shimano ultegra or dura ace 9000 chainrings

  8. Remco Verdoold

    The tunnel is interesting, and I hope you will make a list of devices tested. In Amsterdam there is the DAM-loop which passes through a 1.2 km tunnel. That time my 910XT with footpod had no troubles doing the entrance and exit and distance in tunnel. Additionally this tunnel was not straight so the exit was not in line with entrance. That would be interesting to test too. (same for bikes, though easier). Will you?

    • PhilBoogie

      I kinda sorta dislike that race: I never seem to be able to be first in line and get myself an entrance ticket! Seriously always sells out in two minutes flat.

      Dam tot Damloop. Just looked it up on Wiki, and it doesn’t start at the Dam anymore, nor does it end at the Dam in Zaandam. Oh well, “What’s in a name”

      link to nl.wikipedia.org
      link to en.wikipedia.org
      Aha: 45,000 participants.

  9. Bachulator

    Really waiting for Stryde pod review, it all the claims the put is true it might be one innovative product.

    P.S. I recon it is rather hard to stay in proper feeding mode when your significant other has such a MAD bakery skillz. Chapeau to Bertie, this thing looks amazing.

  10. gingerneil

    Having all those devices in different places will surely screw up the measurements? You don’t even have the runscribes in the same place in each shoe, so can’t be sure of consistency between just those….

  11. gingerneil

    Looking more closely, the runscribes are on the same laces….

    • “Having all those devices in different places will surely screw up the measurements?”

      Ultimately, that’s somewhat my point. ;)

      One puts RunScribe pods on your shoes, while the Garmin HRM-TRI/RUN is meant to affix to your chest. And the SHFT does both of those.

      Yet they all claim to measure Ground Contact time. Thus, that time should be pretty darn close to identical, no matter which solution you use. After all, my GCT hasn’t changed no matter where I put the pod. It’d be kinda like saying that an optical HR sensor gives you twice 50% more HR, but that’s OK because it’s in a different place.

    • simon

      I agree it’s silly they all give different measurements but I’m not sure that even if they agreed that it would be useful. If you stick to the same device and it gave consistent results then you could use it to measure ‘something’. A bit like having a power meter that was 50% out…as long as it’s always 50% out then you could use it to train.

      For me the bottom line is what are you supposed to do about these extra metrics ? Should you train to decrease your GCT ? how ?

      Does it matter if your CGT is higher or lower than Mo Farrar ? Is that because he runs faster than me ?

      I have running power meters and garmin devices and I am a data junkie but still don’t know what to do with it – basically I still train with pace, distance and HR…..after all I just want to run faster and further with less pain :)

    • “For me the bottom line is what are you supposed to do about these extra metrics ? Should you train to decrease your GCT ? how ?”

      …and thus the second portion of my argument. ;)

    • gingerneil

      Cant argue with any of the above…
      Its taken me about 18 months to gain any real value from my runscribes. I use them mainly for tracking footstrike when I’m tiring. Trying to keep forefoot on the 6th mile repeat is tough – and its easy to convince yourself that you’re running gracefully when in fact you’re a mess! The data is helping with that, but it would far more useful integrated in real time through CIQ etc…
      Also agree that most metrics are a waste of time… I dont care about GCT or VO and will use pace/HR only on 95% of runs.

      PS – Check your email Ray for a related idea.. ;)

    • Ken

      My thoughts on all of these wonderful devices with 24×7 optical HR. Great I know my HR when I’m sitting at a desk at work, or when I’m sleeping but what do I DO with that info? Is there any point to knowing those numbers for the 20+ hours a day I’m NOT working out other than knowing those numbers?

    • gingerneil

      Resting HR can be a very good indicator of general health – signposting illness, overtraining etc. However, you could argue that a a single (or maybe a couple) of measures a day is enough for this – not constant.

    • In case you hadn’t seen it – here’s a post I right about this time last year on using 24×7 HR data (and specifically, how I leverage it): link to dcrainmaker.com

  12. I do wonder, how many people question you about all the devices you often wear during a given exercise?

  13. Neil Jones

    I guess most tunnels look the same, but that one looks familiar for some reason, I wonder if was it the one from the shootout in Ronin?

    • Different tunnel. For reference, here’s the scene: link to youtube.com

      The tunnel used there Pont Alexandre III, but more interesting is that each cut between cameras is actually on opposite sides of the river. When you see through the tunnel, it’s on the south side of the river. Yet when you see the close-ups of actors with the boats behind them, it’s actually on the north side of the river.

      It’s funny to think they actually split the two pieces of shooting, merely to have the boats docked along side in the frame.

      Even the scene at 2:40/2:42ish where the cop cars are briefly shown. In the first piece, the cop cars would have immediately (like, within 1 second) run over the actors given the actual placement of where that was filmed. While two seconds later, they would have been almost a kilometer away and totally overshot.

      :)

      It’s always funny to see where and how they piece together the scenes around Paris.

    • Neil Jones

      Nice, thanks for the link, I see my memory was playing a few tricks on me! I agree it’s funny to see how producers “stitch” different parts of big cities together; car chases through London that go past every major landmark within about a minute. IIRC, The DaVinci code was infamous for “condensing” Paris in the same way.

      It’s not all bad though, thanks to Zwift’s artistic take on the geography of London we can just nip over the Thames for a quick run up Box Hill :-)

  14. Josh

    Ray, can you comment as to how the SSU does with properly counting pool swim strokes, outdoor cycling, and what the deal is with the wonky step counter being so far off?

    • I haven’t re-brought the SSU to the pool yet, will do so next week when in Barcelona with better pool access. For outdoor cycling I’ve done a few rides but haven’t deeply analyzed them – at a high level they were looking OK though.

      Most of my focus to date on updated firmware was really more running and openwater swimming, plus data field changes.

    • Josh

      Ray, in your opinion, do you think they can fix their open water swim issues, inaccurate step counting which in my experience is up to two fold what my Garmin shows, and the weak and too short vibration alerts which occur upon email or text notifications. According to the cust svc rep this morning I spoke with, there are many requests for the increase in vibration alerts.

    • Generally OW swimming is easy enough because it’s mostly software algorithms. However, this has been going on since last summer – so now I’m kinda to the point where I wonder if there’s a hardware issue causing problems.

      I’m doubting they can tweak vibration alerts, since that’d have been a silly-easy one to do long ago if they could.

  15. Wow i’ve just buyed the milestone pod… I’m really interested in your opinion. I await review! 😊

  16. João

    Did you test a fenix 3 in the tunnel? We have a lot of 10k races here in Lisbon that goes through a series of Tunnels. Every time i go to one of these races i can’t have the fenix 3 register that area correctly. (Km3: link to connect.garmin.com) or (Km6: link to connect.garmin.com)

    I believe that in tunnels using Smart Recording makes the track better that 1second recording, but still have to tried it a few more times.

    • Yup, the Fenix3 (non-HR) was one of the ones tested that day. I had actually tested it two different days back to back. One day it was flawless, the other less so.

    • João

      Any idea of what causes the flaws one day and the correct track the other?

      Do you think the recording mode can help in this situations?

    • No idea. In both days I ran (within a foot or so) the exact same track, same position, etc… Heck, the weather was worse (storm) on the day the track was better.

      I use 1-second recording across the board.

  17. Ian Marchant

    All this sports tech talk is very interesting but I can’t believe the dessert isn’t getting more airtime!

    Did it come in a box?
    If so, where is the unboxing video?
    Was the flavour repeatable over multiple slices?
    When will it be available for us to buy (or where do we find the recipe ;-))

    • 1) Yes, it came in a box. Albeit, since it was a prototype tart, the box was one of our standard non-cake boxes (pie box).

      2) Resident SnapChat’er at event was apparently busy eating macaroon’s and missed the unboxing. They shall be fired.

      3) Yes. However, slice sizing was under intense debate between a 10 or 12 slice configuration. While everyone agreed that a 12 slice (smaller) configuration was the perfect amount after eating it (very rich), the fear was that a 12-slice configuration would look wimpy on a plate. Accompaniment were considered among the panel.

      4) It’s being decided how/where it might be purchasable. It may be something we primarily make available to other restaurants.

      :)

  18. Will you be at Taipei bike show in attendance?

    • No, I don’t plan to go. I had contemplated it, but ultimately decided there wasn’t much of interest to me specifically (in the tech world) this year planned for it.

    • So how to get you info on an aero bike stem that hides di2 and /or Sram TT blip box internally and also had a custom made garmin mount?

      cool aero bar attachment too. Not released yet. will release on indigogo on the first day of taipei show for pre order/funding

    • Rumor is e-mail is pretty efficient for sharing upcoming items.

      That said, I’d re-consider Indiegogo if you want to be taken seriously.

  19. Matthew

    Some cool stories, lots of good infTHAT TART LOOKS AWESOME

    Ok, lost my train of thought…

  20. Re #5 – Running The Eiffel Tower – the race is coming up in a few weeks; something to check out if you’re in town

  21. Donna A.

    “B) It should then fail over to accelerometer/footpod based data while GPS is unavailable” – Shouldn’t this read “fall over to…”?

  22. Edoardo

    I control my Wahoo Kickr using Garmin Edge 520 or through the Wahoo Fitness app. Before I used the beta firmware (Wahooligans) there is now a new firmware that enables the public FC-E

    • You mean FE-C on the trainer or on the ELEMNT?

      There FE-C on the trainer/KICKR side has been out for a long while now (public, even longer in beta). I’m referring to the ELEMNT being able to control FE-C trainers.

  23. Doogie

    Is The Girl sports no the new Garmin in your Tart pic? Great looking little snack.

  24. Jay

    Hey DC Rainmaker, can the shift run be paired with a Garmin Fenix 3HR?

  25. George Fertakis

    Re: Tunnels
    I remember two years ago when I ran the Paris Marathon that the fenix 2 I had been using back then failed to properly correct the total distance when I got out of the long -about 1Km long- tunnel that is at about the 25th Km of the course. It added something like 700m ton the total distance.
    I am running Paris again in April, with a fenic 3 this time. Has Garmin improved on this?
    Also, a while ago you had presented some app that corrects distance if you press lap when you cross an official mile marker of the race. What is is called again?

    • I saw that happen way back when during early Fenix2 testing, and ironically was something I filed bug reports on and they fixed – specifically using that 700m long tunnel. :) Perhaps at some point it regressed.

      Fwiw, it passes without issue on both the Fenix3 and Fenix5 with current builds for both.

      Here’s the post on that app: link to dcrainmaker.com

  26. George Fertakis

    Thank you so much! 👍

  27. Hans

    Hi. Do you use the P1 cleats with 6 deg. float or 0 float?

  28. Definitely interesting to see the Suunto Spartan Ultra leading the pack in the tunnel. Has your opinion on it changed much with the newer updates? Personally (not that you asked) I’m still shocked that we’re 7 or 8 months into the release of the watch and they still haven’t released the “Interval Training” update. When a new update comes out I always dig the watch out of the box, update, take it on a few runs, then put it back and say “hopefully next time.”

  29. KennyM

    Have I missed the full tunnel test write up somehow?

    I have a marathon coming up soon which has tunnels so I was hoping that you might have published it by now. Keep up the good work! Thanks!!!