About This Blog

As time permits, in-depth musings on myriad subjects will be posted. Abbreviated adages will be announced via Twitter.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Since I can remember, I've had a thing for timepieces -- watches. This fascination/borderline obsession served as a motivator through college: A Seiko Kinetic was a gift to myself when I completed my first semester at college following my divorce, with the agreement that it would be replaced a few years later by a Tag Heuer, as a graduation present. Somewhere before graduation, I rediscovered cycling, and a Tag never found its way to my wrist. My garage, however, sports seven bicycles, four of which are mine.

The Seiko recently gave up the ghost (again: it had been sent in for repair maybe three times in the fourteen years since its purchase), but that is not the reason for my quasi conundrum. No, I am somewhat perplexed over which sports watch to use for the foreseeable future.

When N & I began dating, I ditched my Polar 625x in favor of a simple chronograph from Nike, the Speed Triax 100. Because I was partial to color schemes and inverted displays (light text on a dark background), I had one custom-made through Nike's iD program. That watch got me through countless races, from 5ks all the way up to Ironman Coeur d'Alene in 2009, and it continues to tick along, following a battery replacement -- which took more than a month for Nike's authorized service center to complete, despite it being sent in during the "off season" for running.

In addition to the Nike, I have used a few of Timex's Ironman watches. A titanium-banded 75-lap model was received as a gift, but its start/lap-split button is problematic to press, which typically results in a  double-split being recorded -- highly undesirable during a race, marathons in particular. The other model is the Sleek 150 tap-screen model, which I used to run Austin in 2011, as well as the inaugural Ironman Texas. Both of those races went very well, and I really liked the watch. However, one week after IMTX, without any notice, the battery died. Had it died just before or during IMTX, I know my race would not have gone as well, and my time would not likely have been anywhere close to the ~1-hour PR I set for that distance. Interestingly, R's Timex watch died the night before, much to his dislike; not sure if that contributed to his off-time, but it certainly could not have helped.

Still, there are some nifty features of the Sleek 150 I like: Touch-screen lap-split (takes some getting used to, but is trés nifty in a foot race) and the +/- desired pacer helps with staying on a desired pace (the Nike has a similar feature, but does not allow for a +/- margin of "wiggle room" as the Timex does) are two, but its band design is a tad stiff, and the location of the extra start/lap-split button on the side begs for accidental depression during intense track or swim sessions. Yes, that did happen quite a bit in the 18 months I used it off & on. However, what has caused the greatest dilemma for me, watch-wise, though, is the Suunto brand of sport watches.

In the latter part of 2010, I picked up a t3d "wrist computer," which tracks heart rate and can also track speed & distance through the use of sensors for the foot & bike. Very nice, especially when paired with the sensors, but the upper & lower displays are kind of small and, consequently, hard to read -- even for me. The t3d got me through some pretty tough workouts, especially when training alone, but I opted for a straight chronograph (the aforementioned Timex Sleek 150) for racing IMTX; the pacing feature and easier-to-read display were of greater import to me than was knowing heart rate during such a long day.

Following IMTX and the death of the Sleek 150 (for the record, I did have the battery replaced, but it battery compartment did not seal properly and leaked the first time I swam with it), I picked up a Suunto t6d -- another "wrist computer" but with a larger face & display, eliminating the issues I had with the t3d -- which I have used since July. Actually, the original unit had to be exchanged due to battery issues (ate through CR2032s bi-weekly; fortunately, the Suunto line of wrist computers are user serviceable, including battery replacement -- and without leaking!), but the replacement has been a regular feature on my wrist since late-August. But here's why I am flustered over what to use: There's something about the t6d I just don't like. Really, I think it's just the color (mine is the Black Flame color scheme, which is black with yellow accents), even if it does have the inverted display that I like, but there could be more. So, for the purpose of decision making, here is a list of likes & dislikes for the watches I am considering for the remainder of & upcoming season:

Make & Model Likes Dislikes
Nike Speed Triax 100
  • Angled display makes for easy reading on-the-run
  • Inverted display
  • Black w/ red accents = Awesomesauce!
  • Pace feature
  • 5x independent interval timer
  • Audible mode selection
  • Unique band available exclusively through Nike -- and Nike's not making watches anymore
  • No low-battery indicator
  • Battery not user-serviceable
  • Band design discolors after exposure to chlorine (it clears up after a few weeks, but, if swimming regularly, will stay discolored, essentially negating cool factor of black w/ red accent awesomeness)
Timex Sleek 150
  • Large, easy-to-read display
  • Tap-screen for start/lap-split
  • Pace feature w/ +/- "wiggle room"
  • Multiple, independent interval timers w/ messages
  • Night mode
  • Somewhat user-serviceable battery (though no promise the battery compartment will re-seal properly)
  • Stiff band
  • Unique band makes replacement all but impossible
  • Display rather basic; very utilitarian
  • No low-battery indicator
  • Start/lap-split button & touch-face easily triggered, even on accident, giving false splits
Suunto t6d
  • Large-ish, entirely customizable display
  • Inverted, very clean-looking display
  • Low battery indicator
  • User-serviceable band & battery (band available through Amazon; battery, CVS, etc.)
  • Outstanding, easily-accessible customer service (and the @SuuntoUSA Twitter feed puts out some great tweets about all sorts of fitness-related stuff)
  • Heart-rate, speed/distance, when desired, through use of peripherals
  • Night mode
  • 2x interval timer
  • Lockable buttons
  • Not made in China (the t6d's made Finland, and it shows with its robustness)
  • Atrocious color scheme -- although I was able to swap the band with something more neutral, which helps…but only a bit
  • Inverted display not as bright as Nike's; difficult to read through tinted swim goggles or during night runs, even with backlight
  • Backlight "pulses" in chronograph mode, which is annoying when running
  • Interval timer not independent of chronograph; cannot be set/activated when already in timing
  • It's a lot of machine; sometimes, it's good to just go work out without all of the peripherals
  • Über-expensive to replace, made in Finland or not

The above table may seem excessive, but it's helping me with the decision process. And, I know that color is a silly thing to fuss over when it comes to choosing a watch, but, when a color clashes so horribly with every piece of clothing & kit (including sunglasses), it becomes somewhat of a deal breaker. As for why I chose the Black Flame model, as opposed the more desired Red Fusion or even Black Smoke, it came down to both the display (again, I like inverted displays) and price; the Black Flame was on closeout from the now-defucnt Suuntowatches.com, so it was quite a bit cheaper.

And, now, the cheaper man may be paying twice...although I won't go to the extreme of buying another t6d, even if it does sync up with Movescount.com, a superb online training log (although there is no weight tracking feature, which Slowtwitch's log has). Of course, I do own the Nike, already, but the limited service options are quite the detractor. Same goes with the Timex, although that one would require an additional purchase, and money's not exactly as heavy-flowing, now that the baby has arrived. Really, I think I just want a reliable time piece that looks nice. The Suunto, for the most part, does all of that; I just wish I could do something about the color.

There is great hope that future posts should not be as absurdly inane as this one, so I really mean it this time: Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

(Sort of) Off the Grid

Image and video hosting by TinyPicI should have done this a long time ago.

Tonight, I deactivated my Facebook profile. It was a long time coming, but the decision was somewhat spur-of-the-moment. And as of right now, I have no regrets.

It remains to be seen if I opt to back in, but it's looking not likely. For as little time as I have in the day, I need to stop spending so much of it in a virtual club with virtual friends, while what exists in the real world disintegrates.

So, I'm off the grid, or at least out of the 'book. Twitter will remain active, as will email. Thanks for reading, and I hope to see more of you...but only in the real world.