Friday, June 17, 2011


I would like to start off by confirming that I am not, in fact, dead.  This might come as a surprise if you are checking out any of my Garmin stats, especially my recent uploads that include heart rates.  (Still cursing Scott for convincing me that this was a good idea).  As expected, this has become my new obsession and I’ve been doing research and analysis on optimum heart rates for runners.  I also reformatted the display on my Garmin to make the heart rate more visible so I could monitor it more carefully during my run.  My first run with the heart rate monitor was on Monday, where I maxed out in the 170’s in what I thought was a casual, easy run.  After speaking with some friends and looking it up online, 170+ is a pretty fast rate and is normally only reached during harder efforts.  I got a little defensive about this and started looking up other Garmin users in my area to see what they maxed out at.  Apparently I live near some real machines that can bang out 6-7 min miles and never break 150bpm. This led me to the obvious conclusion: I’m going to die of heart failure at any moment.  In an effort to avoid being overdramatic, I feel it important to explain a couple possible factors.  1. This was a trail run, which is a harder effort than roads.  2. I was the only female during this trail run.  Not only was I working a little harder to keep up with some of the guys but, um… hello… I was surrounded by men!  That alone should cause a spike of 20-30bpm.  3.  It was a short run.  I wondered if after a few miles my heart would calm down, or if it would sustain that hard effort regardless of the distance.
Factoring in those three points into my analysis, I have revised my heart rate from Monday’s run:
175 average BPM – 5 (trail run) – 25 (surrounded by men) – 5 (short distance) = 140BPM.  Voila.  Genius!

I have this reoccurring dream.  Every morning I wake up, go to the bathroom, brush my teeth, jump into my running clothes, lace up my running shoes, and just as I’m strapping on my Garmin…the alarm goes off.  Then I hit snooze.  Then I wake up, go to the bathroom, brush my teeth…blah blah blah…and the alarm goes off again.  By the time I stop pressing snooze, it’s time to get ready for work.  This morning was different though!  I woke up, went to the bathroom, brushed my teeth, jumped into my running clothes, laced up my running shoes, attached my heart rate monitor, (awesome, I am definitely not dreaming if I’m attaching my heart rate monitor! I’m awake!), and just as I’m strapping on my Garmin…the alarm went off.  UGH.  Apparently my reoccurring dream is evolving.  Finally, I managed to actually, really, truly wake up and do all of the above steps.  Ugh, I feel like I’ve done this 5 times already this morning.  However, when I fired up the Garmin I got the dreaded message: Low Battery Power.  What? Noooooooooooo!  How did this happen?  Oh please tell me I’m dreaming.  I won’t press snooze this time, I promise! 
Unfortunately I wasn’t dreaming, and I was kicking myself for hitting snooze so much this morning.  If I had given myself more time, I could have charged up the Garmin for a few minutes.  Since I cut it so short however, my only choice was to soldier on and get whatever life I could out of the battery.  I was only going for a four mile run so I hoped the Garmin would make it for the next 35 minutes or so.  I started my run very slowly, carefully monitoring my heart rate.  My goal was to keep it under 170.  I wanted to see how hard I could run before it reached 170.  So I just plodded along at a nice casual pace on a beautiful, sunny Friday morning.  My new obsession with this heart rate monitor is putting crazy thoughts into my head.  I was wondering what it would look like if I just dropped dead while running.  I have a vision of someone finding me, hours later, wondering what happened.  Then, a savvy detective who doubles as an avid runner would spot the Garmin, upload it, and see my stats.  This savvy detective would not only trace my starting location, but he would see my exact performance leading up to my collapse.  I thought of what the heart rate scale would look like: 167..168…169….170.…..171………Flatline.  This morbid thought for some reason struck me as hysterical, and I giggled and snorted my way down the street.  (I wonder how much laughing while running impacts heart rates?) 
At the one mile mark my Garmin chirped, and for the first time I didn’t even glance down to see my split time.  My new obsession has shifted my focus so far off my pace that it’s not even important anymore.  Getting to work on time is, however, a consideration so I made sure I wasn’t shuffling along too slowly.  After another minute or so I glanced down to make sure I was still in a comfortable zone, and I was struck with sheer panic.  The Garmin display was blank.  Empty.  Gonzo.  That’s it.  I croaked.  Bit the dust.  Kicked the bucket.  Flatlined.  My heart has stopped beating and any second now I will collapse.  Luckily it only took a millisecond for me to remember that it was only my Garmin battery that was dying, not my actual body, and I settled down.  I can only imagine what my pulse jumped up to at that brief moment.  I’m lucky I didn’t put myself into cardiac arrest!  Maybe I need to calm down a bit with this heart rate obsession.  I’m making myself crazy.
The rest of the run was fun and uneventful, and I managed to get by just fine without tracking my time, pace, or heart rate.  My only real disappointment was I didn’t get to see how my heart held up over the longer distance, but hey… there’s plenty more opportunities for that!
And for the record, my reoccurring dream isn’t so bad.  I also had a dream shortly before waking up that I snuck into my neighbor’s outhouse while they weren’t home.  (No idea why my neighbors had an outhouse in my dream, or why I would have a desire to use it while they weren’t home).  Then the outhouse started to flood and I was up to my knees, so I quickly jumped out of the outhouse, only to find that the neighbors had pulled into the driveway along with a bunch of other cars, and they caught me sneaking out of their outhouse.  So, in the grand scheme of reoccurring dreams, strapping on a heart rate monitor isn’t too awful.  As long as it doesn’t evolve into flatlining. 


  1. Love it!! I always knew your heart beat a little faster when I'm running with you :)

  2. Put the damned thing away and enjoy running , will ya? Very amusing blog...

    I did EXACTLY the same thing. Bought a heart rate monitor, strapped it on and found that I frequently run at 164 (on the flat) and often peak at 172 and can reach 181 on both the road bike and running. Everything I've read says I should stay around 145 for that "training" pace...good luck with that! Mark can tick along at 136 and maintain about 8 miles an hour. I have to trot/canter on the horse to keep up with him.
    Heart Rate monitors are fun and they can keep you from overdoing, but they aren't neccesary for anything except taking your horses pulse at an endurance event. (best use I've found)

    Put on the sneaks and run!