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Better not to learn new gear on the run

Posted by Matt Pepin, BostonGlobe.com Staff  March 14, 2013 01:39 PM

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100klemond.jpg Jacqueline Palfy Klemond is one of six Boston Marathon entrants testing Polar personal training gear and blogging about it for Boston.com
Iíve done entire runs with my shirt on backward. Or inside out.

Iíve also repeatedly cleaned off my glasses, unable to figure out why they were so cloudy, only to realize later that itís because I had my contacts in at the same time.

And I once ran a relay with strangers, but the only thing I put in my drop bag was a library book, in case I had to wait around for them at the end. I did, in the rain. But I didnít have a phone, money or even an ID on me.

Itís probably fair to say that sometimes I am a little dopey.

So I probably should have looked at my new Polar RC3 GPS before 4:45 Tuesday morning, when I put it on to go for a run. With barely a cup of coffee in me, I struggled to figure out how to tighten the heart-rate monitor band enough to wear. And then debated how tight it should be. As someone with the upper body of a baby bird, I could realistically strap it anywhere from my shoulders down and it would still lie flat against my heart.

Iíve never worn a heart-rate monitor before, and I was surprised by how comfy it is. My husband had put in my resting heart rate for me (after I tried to take it laying in bed Ö but the light on my wristwatch goes off after like 4 seconds, and that was too much math for me, so I kept counting, and guessed). He also put in other stats Ė and I noticed he made me 2 inches taller and 10 pounds lighter. Thanks, honey! Apparently he thinks Iím still in race shape. Iím now a supermodel.

Still, I stared at the watch in my dim dining room, and randomly hit buttons to figure it out. It seemed to be working, and I headed out with a friend.

We ran 7.5 hilly miles that morning, in the pitch-black South Dakota winter. It was a beautiful run, except the neverending wind we ran into on the back half. Wind is something that just happens, nonstop, in South Dakota. Along with cold.

Easing back into running has been going well Ė good thing, since the race is just a few weeks away. I ran 13 miles in the pouring rain on Saturday, and felt no pain in my pelvis. Thatís good news.

And so I braved running two days in a row this week Ė and headed out for 6 miles with a group of longtime running friends this morning. As we stood on the corner, waiting for a light to change, we all compared our various devices. Garmins, iPhones, and my new watch, to see if we were on track for distance. Itís funny, because we generally are a low-tech group, and we run so many of the same routes, we donít need to measure them anymore.

Still, as I stood there, I lamented how I must have hit something wrong on my new watch Ė it wasnít giving me an average pace. As I hit more buttons, the light, more buttons and started to be annoyed, it dawned on me.

We were standing still.

Tough to give a pace readout when you arenít running. Thankfully, my friends are used to my technical difficulties, so they just laughed.

Iíll try the watch out in a spin class this afternoon, and again tomorrow, when I teach spin. It will be interesting to see how my heart rate differs when Iím the teacher. I get a little nervous up there.

But I can see myself doing all kinds of goofy things with the heart-rate monitor. When I was trying to get pregnant, I did the whole basal-body temperature thing, taking my temperature first thing every morning. I ended up also taking it after really hot showers, or once after a 15-mile run in temps of 30 below zero, just to see what it would be.

I thought of that this week Ė I would love to see my heart rate at various times. Iím sure it spikes when I sit in a particularly stressful work meeting. And I bet it goes down for the 4 seconds I have both kids strapped into their car seats before I get in the driverís seat.

And if I had to pick when it would be at its highest, Iím just going to guess it is when, for the hundredth time, I tell the kids to get their shoes and socks on because we have to go Ė and Viv, 2, walks into the kitchen yelling, ďI have them on!Ē but they are on her hands. And Jack, 4, is wandering around looking for some random item. And the dog is underfoot. And the minutes are ticking away as I get later and later for work.

Deep breath. Slow down, and remember: This is why I get up at 4:30 a.m. To log miles in the dark, in the quiet peace of the city, before I come crashing back into the reality that is family life.

Jacqueline Palfy Klemond writes about running, reading and raising a family on her own blog, Jack & Viv.

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  • Steve Silva, Boston.com senior producer, two-time Boston Marathon sub-four hour runner.
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