Friday, January 21, 2011

When technology fails.

I consider myself a technologist. I still work (if you can call what I do work) in technology but it has been years since I've had to actually do technology work (management weenie might be more appropriate these days). I think, compared to most, I'm fairly literate in computers, data, electronic communications and such. I've used this "expertise" to do some "experiments" in the triathlon world comparing some of the different power meters as well as bike computers and related cool stuff. My wife thinks this is because I seem to spend whatever spare dollars I find around buying triathlon toys but I won't go into that any further since going more into that topic can't end well for me.

My bike trainer workout on Tuesday night called for me to ride 5 minutes easy as a warm up, 20 minute a specific (read hard) wattage, 5 minute recovery, 20 minutes at the same wattage,and a 5 minute cool down. This workout seems to be a favorite of my coach and to hit these desired power numbers requires me to turn off my brain to just focus on the wattage digits on the bike computer. I do put music on in the background but have found that if I put anything interesting on the television I will fail to hit the target power number.

Back to Tuesday night. After the five minute warmup, I hit the lap button on my Garmin Edge 500 and hitting the lap button made the Garmin freeze. I stopped riding and spent a few moments leveraging my vast technology background to unfreeze it (aka hitting all the buttons a bunch of times). I was able to unfreeze it and did the rest of my workout close to prescribed. After this type of workout, my legs are typically wobbly and I started downloading the data into Garmin's Training Center to take a look at how I did prior to uploading it for my coach to critique.

No data downloaded. Sigh.

I looked at the Garmin's screen and it had the data. I started hacking into the Garmin's memory and saw the workout files there. I tried to download it again into TC. Nada. I started looking online to see if others have had this issue and there were many examples of this problem. I thought about writing software to manually grab the data but then realized that while interesting adventure, this isn't something that I had time for. I would not let this beat me. Some said that another Garmin software product Garmin connect (GC) might be able to get the data. I configured that and now had the data in that product.

But it still wasn't on my computer. I use WKO+/Trainingpeaks (TPC) for most of my data analysis. I exported the ride from GC and tried to upload it into TPC. The data wasn't good. It was now closing in on midnight so I called it a day.

But it kept bothering me. I kept googling method after method to fix this issue. After two days I got data! It probably took me hours and hours of time to get this. The data wasn't perfect but I was able to look and see that I missed my targets slightly. Of course I wondered if the numbers were actually off or did I corrupt them with all the transformations.

I probably would have been better off not getting the data after all.

PS: If people really want to dig into this type of training see Frank Overton's article on sweet spot training here Sweet spot training is hard but it does make you stronger.


KovasP said...

Sounds like it was more work than the actual training! Something to be said for the training by feel method.

KC (my 140 point 6 mile journey) said...

Not sure this had anything to do with it but Garmin Connect was down almost all day on Tuesday (i think it was Tuesday). You should have seen the bitch-fest on their Facebook page. Good job on the hard workout! It will pay off come November. By the way, are you really still listening to Christmas music???

Kate Geisen said...

That's frustrating. Glad you were able to eventually get most of your data. That's the kind of problem (something I care about but certainly not the most important thing in the world) that would keep me fiddling on the computer for ages to the great annoyance of my husband.

Big Daddy Diesel said...

Technology is driving me crazy as well, my garmin sensor on my bike wont read the speed prperly on the trainer, ticking me off

Georgia Snail said...

Did you try throwing it against the wall reaaly hard?

Caratunk Girl said...

I don't have much technology for running, and sometimes I really wish I did. But when I read this stuff, it makes me glad I only have a HR monitor. Gasp. :)

But on the bike, I am a complete techno geek. I want to know how far I went how fast!

Heather said...

You can write software? I am impressed.

I can't get the data off my Garmin because I can't load the Garmin disk thingie. I think someone stuck a lego in a disk drive. It "don't" work.

Al's CL Reviews said...

I like Georgia Snail's suggestion. I may or may not have done that with an iPod.

Technology, so helpful, yet so difficult.

Jason said...

No techno geek here but I love looking at all the numbers. Spreadsheet geek here....I take my numbers from Garmin connect and Training Peaks and put them into my spreadsheet and just look and analyze. Create graphs and then delele them b/c they don't really say anything but they are cool to create.

Congrats on the training. Almost hitting those goals makes you go harder the next time.

Mark said...

You know, I can not tell you the amount of hours I have spent on computers reading forums about how to "fix" something that I bought that was suppose to make my life more efficient. So much for technology. I am not a violent man, but it always leaves me wanting to take a hammer to electronic device.

I need therapy.