I like to run. I've learned that it really isn't about where you're going, it's about the getting there - the how, the why, the who with. This blog is just a little repository for my thoughts along the way; the setbacks, the lessons learned, and the occasional triumph.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Unexpected Loss

I woke up last Sunday morning needing to head out to run an errand. When I went to retrieve my running watch from the bedstand, I discovered the band ripped in half across it’s width, hanging by just a few resin threads. Destroyed. Worthless. I haven’t a clue why I didn’t notice the carnage when I took it off the night before, but that is when it must have happened.

Of all the running clothes and gear I own, my watch is the one thing that I ALWAYS wear. I have a less equipped back-up watch for emergencies (or unexpected runs), but otherwise, that watch is always with me when I run. As a result, I tend to develop a small attachment to each one I’ve owned – not terribly unlike the affection many people feel for their cars. I don’t personify them, or name them (I don’t do that to my cars, either), but I guess I develop a kind of professional respect for them, as for a co-worker who is constantly tackling projects with me, always quietly holding up their end of the task, and never expecting any of the credit for themselves.

This is the second time that I’ve lost a watch to an inferior resin band. The way the watch is designed, the band is not replaceable; it’s built into the time piece. And the time piece itself, of course, is completely fine and totally operational. In fact, I just had the battery replaced a few months ago, and as far as I know, it would continue to operate reliably for another 10 years, or even longer. I suppose at some point down the road, the buttons would wear out and cease responding to a finger touch, or perhaps I’d take a fall and the crystal face would get cracked – but to have to cast it aside because of the cheap resin band? It feels like having to put down a champion race horse because he fractured a leg as he crossed the finish line.

I’ve only had this watch for two and a half years. It’s a Timex Ironman Triathalon watch (Timex is strangely reluctant to label their watches with specific model numbers.) It was advertised as the “flagship” running watch for the company when I bought it. Ninety-five dollars, 150 lap recall memory, water resistant to 100 meters, memory storage of each workout by date, large easy-to-read display face, etc., etc. Hey, the time piece is a damn fine example of design and technology – but the resin band? (Sheesh.)

I admit, for the first 2 years, I wore the watch every day and all the time, not just on my runs. (Did I mention I get a little attached to my running watches?) Earlier this year, the little loop designed to hold down the tail of the band’s strap cracked and broke off. I took this as a warning flag, bought a secondary watch for everyday use and took to saving my running watch just for runs. So, I guess that earned me another six months.

When this happened before to my previous watch, I was stubborn and kept using the watch in races, carrying it in my hand like a little stopwatch. I have a series of race photos from that stretch where you can see the thing in my left hand as I squeezed the stop button between my finger and thumb. But those were all 5 and 10K road races. It’s not really an option, say, this weekend, when I’ll be running a 62-mile trail race. I’m going to need my hands as free as possible. So, it’ll have to be the bare bones back-up watch for the weekend.

A few years ago, when my previous resin band watch fell apart, I went so far as to call the Timex customer service department. They told me if I mailed it into them, they would repair the band for a $10 fee. What they really did was send back a totally different watch, with similar abilites. At the time, I felt a little betrayed, because they hadn’t warned me that I’d never see my watch again, but the new watch had a Velcro band, and after a few weeks, I realized its vast superiority. Not only would it be more durable over time, it was also far more comfortable on my wrist.

I’ve already made that call to Timex again and they still offer the same service. It’ll be a $10 “repair”, and I can also request that they, once again, sent back a similar watch but with a Velcro band. They told me the turnaround time should be 3 to 5 weeks. I’ll try it again and see what I get back, but I fear the result will depend on the charitable decision of whichever repair tech opens up my shipment – and whatever product they have available to send me. I guess it’s worth $10 and a month’s wait to find out.

But if they send me something inferior and I’m forced to buy another, brand new watch, there’s absolutely no way I’ll be buying another resin band. My faith there is broken. Broken like a cheap resin watch band.

2 comments:

704 Studio said...

62 trail miles - I checked the weather, looks like perfect conditions, high 47-67 with some rain. I'd love to be running that race with that weather, but wait, the longest I have ever run is 33.5 miles :)

Have a safe journey, and I will look forward to the race report - a lot can happen in a 100k!

704 Studio said...

Greg,

Thanks for the comment on my blog.

Congratulations on your fantastic 100k finish. I checked the results a day after the race and was happy to see you had finished. 16 hours of running is quite a feat!

I knew you and a few others had completed the grand slam last year, so I knew it was possible to run both Clinton Lake and McNaughton.

Thanks also for giving some info on how to approach running two ultras in 14 days. I think if I give a 80-90% effort at Clinton Lake I should be able to recover within 10 days. 50 miles seems daunting, but my recent training has given me the confidence that I have a chance to complete the run.

Looking forward to your race report, and have a great Christmas!