January 2014


Another annual State of the Kris message:

The biggest change for my family this year was moving from our little mountain cabin in Dahlonega to a house in Cumming. This puts us closer to the schools where Pebble teaches and where Bailey learns. Instead of spending two hours commuting per day, we now spend about 30 minutes.

I used to joke that we should just move to exit 14, since that’s where we spent our weekends shopping. Now we’re here.

Our five dogs love the big fenced-in wooded backyard. They get to chase deer once in a while. (I don't know what a Yorkshire Terrier would do if it caught a deer, but I'm not worried about that happening.)

I ran two half marathons this year, and I’m preparing to run a marathon in March. I’ll probably also try to run the Atlanta Marathon in October. After that, I suspect I will be finished with marathons, but will keep running twenty or thirty miles per week. I enjoy running, and like being in better shape than I have been for the past couple decades.

Pebble is now working at North Forsyth High School, teaching courses in forensics and agricultural science. She seems less stressed-out than she did while working at the middle school.

Bailey is really enjoying the marching band. His band went to a competition in New York, and they took third place. The band will be going to London in December.

I usually make a list of goals for each year. However, I rarely consult that list after making it, so I’m not going to bother this year. I hope to run two marathons, and I hope to learn to play piano, but I really just want to enjoy life in our new home.

Garmin Forerunner 110 Blank Screen

I recently purchased a Garmin Forerunner 110 GPS watch to track my runs. I've been happy with it, but today when I plugged it into my computer after a run, the watch screen flashed "Saving activity" and then went blank. The watch was dead after that.

It had been fully charged before my run, so I was pretty sure it wasn't just out of juice. The instructions provided with the watch weren't helpful.

This blank-screen issue appears to be a common problem. The Forerunner 110 Blank Screen (Dead) thread in the Garmin forums has over 100 entries. You can browse that thread for details, but here is a summary of the suggested fixes:

  • Hold down the Light, Start/Stop, and Lap/Reset buttons for about 30 seconds. (This worked for me.)
  • Hold down all four buttons for about 7 seconds. (Didn't work for me.)
  • Hold down the Light button for about 6 seconds. (Didn't work for me.)
  • Hold down the "Power" button while plugging it into the computer. (My watch doesn't have a button labeled "Power". I tried this with the Light button, and with the Page/Menu button, but neither worked.)
  • Plug it into a different USB port. (Didn't work for me.)
  • Just leave it plugged in for a few days, and eventually it will spring back to life.
  • Rub the contacts with a pencil eraser.
  • Attach the USB clip, but don't attach the clip to a USB port, and hold the Light button for 6 seconds.
  • Check whether there is a firmware update available.
  • Try a master reset.
  • Contact Garmin Customer Support.
  • Take the watch back to where you bought it for replacement/refund.

After I got it working, i checked for a firmware update, and indeed there was a new firmware version available for the Forerunner 110. This is in the release notes:

Changes from version 2.60 to version 2.70:

Fixed an issue where the device could display a blank screen while connected to the charger.

I installed the update. I'll have to wait to see whether the problem recurs.

Update 2014-01-23: The screen went blank again. Hold down the Light, Start/Stop, and Lap/Reset buttons got it working.

Update 2014-03-09: Blank again, and the above remedies weren't working. The recharging display did appear when I connect it to USB, but it wouldn't do anything when disconnected. I let it sit disconnected for a few hours, and it sprung to life.

The Running Thing

A year ago, I was proud of running a 10K. Since then, I've run two half marathons, and I am currently preparing to run the 2014 Publix Georgia Marathon in March.

Here are some things I've learned along the way:

  • Having a training plan is important. Just going out and running a few miles when you feel like it doesn't get you anywhere. You need to steadily build up your mileage. I can personally recommend the Couch-to-5K plan for beginners, and I am currently in week 7 of Hal Higdon's novice marathon training program, which is working well so far. Put your workouts on your calendar, and treat them like any other important appointment.
  • Rest is important. All the training plans have rest days and "easy weeks" for good reasons. Don't push yourself too far too fast, or you will just hurt yourself.
  • Stretching is important. I used to roll my eyes at the people who seemed to spend more time with their stretching rituals than actually running, but after trying it myself, I found it was easier to run and I was less sore afterwards.
  • Shoes are important. When my runs started getting into the five- and six-mile range, I was getting shin splints and other pains. Then I bought some new shoes, and those problems went away. My current favorite shoe is the Asics GEL-Cumulus 15, but you need to try on shoes yourself to find what works for you. I have two pairs of shoes, which I alternate (so that each pair gets 48 hours to dry out and re-spongify between uses), and I replace them after 200-300 miles.
  • Gadgets are fun. The geek in me likes having instrumentation. Using a FitBit or a GPS-tracking device to record runs was helpful in sticking to my training plan, because even when I didn't feel like running, I wanted my numbers to be right. I used a couple of smartphone-based run-tracker apps early in my experience, but stopped using them when I got tired of carrying a phone-sized device when running (particularly an Android phone-sized device). I now have a Garmin Forerunner 110 watch that records my time, distance, and heart rate for each run.
  • Races are fun. You may have to do all or most of your running by yourself, but entering a real race lets you share the experience with hundreds or thousands of other people. It's a festive atmosphere, and everyone is encouraging and supportive.

Finally, almost anyone can do this. I'm almost 47 years old, and have led a sedentary lifestyle for the last 30 years, but I will be running my first marathon in a few months. Obviously, if you have serious health problems or physical limitations, you might not be able to do it, but if you're reasonably healthy, it's just a matter of putting in the time.