Garmin 920XT Unboxing & First Review


Pretty standard fare here for a sport watch – watch, charger, heart rate monitor, and getting started guide.  I was truly hoping that the watch would download my metrics based on previous activities that I had uploaded to Garmin, but that was not the case.  An indoor run produced terrible results.  My pace was grossly overstated.  But once I had an outdoor run in the books, it is actually as close to spot on as I have ever seen on a sport watch, including when using a foot pod to track cadence.

920XT in Box 920XT + Accessories






First “Real” Run

Wow . . .

I have to say that what I was expecting was something close to the Fenix 2 when I was running.  The updated screens are truly an improvement.  I realize that the data is the same as it has always been, but being able to see a meter for my cadence was great.  I felt like all of the screens were more readable (might be due to screen shape as well).

Running Metrics

My first run using the 920XT was the day after a snow and therefore we spent some time avoiding icy patches and deeper snow.  It was a relatively slow run, but if I look past some of the cruddy metrics, it wasn’t so bad.  During the run, I spent some time looking down at the run metrics page.  I was constantly surprised at the display and how I was able to pick up very quickly how I was doing.

Since this first outdoor run, I have found that the 920XT does a better job with indoor running than the Fenix 2 or even the Nike+ GPS watch paired with a footpod.  Over the course of several treadmill runs, I have found it is only off by about 30 seconds per mile based on the treadmill mileage.


One of my biggest fears for cycling was that it would not sync with previous data that I had input for riding.  Since it is winter in Wisconsin and quite cold, I wasn’t sure I would want to go outside and ride 20MPH, creating an unbearable windchill, to get the watch in sync with reality.  Luckily it used all of my previous information and I was able to ride on the trainer without a problem.  Screens are very similar to the Fenix 2, but again, I think because of the shape of the screen and the color display it is much easier to read.

Bike ScreenUltimately, the same metrics are shown here as with the Fenix 2.

Pairing with the speed and cadence sensors went quickly, though I think a low battery on the sensor delayed the pairing slightly.

I have had a few problems connecting to sensors since the first ride, but again, I think this is because I need to replace the battery and have not done so yet.




I am not much of a swimmer as referenced in this post.  I am constantly struggling to breathe and am sure I look like I have a handicap of some sort while swimming.

I mostly look at my laps completed right now, which is prominently displayed on the first page of data.  I haven’t strayed much from that.  I have heard that I can pair the watch with a bluetooth heart rate monitor, but haven’t done so yet.

The other great feature of this watch is that you can use the live track feature for an open water swim as long as you keep the phone above the water.  This may come in useful this summer when we are able to utilize some of the lakes around here for practice.

Other Features

Phone connectivity seems like it would be a great feature, but I have found over the past year or so that this isn’t as productive as one would think.  I tried it on my Fenix 2 for a bit, I tried it with the Vivosmart for a bit, and ultimately have found that I don’t want my wrist buzzing for every phone call, text, email, or notification that I get on my phone.  Sometimes I am not looking at my phone for a reason.  It can be quite distracting when you don’t want to know what is going on.


This is definitely my favorite sport watch that I have used so far.  It could be the color display that makes it better or the shape.  For some reason it is just easier to read, quicker to pick up information and then push it out of view.  While it is all standard information now (excluding the temperature, which I do like on the Fenix 2), I am just more comfortable with this watch.

I also want to mention that my favorite feature is the wifi connectivity.  There is nothing better than walking in the house after a work out and immediately being able to review what you have done without having to plug the watch into the computer to sync it.

As an FYI, I am giving the Vivosmart another shot since the software has been update.  I will put up an update of that review in the next couple of days.  There is something nice about all my data being in one place.

Weekly Activity Report 02/22/2015

Good news is this week our numbers increased in all of the disciplines below, except on the bike.

Weekly Activity Report ending 02/22/2015:

Emily –
65,515 steps (daily average 9,359)
Run 5.1 miles
Bike 17.1 miles
Swim 1200 yds
Strength 44 minutes

Nick –
73,087 steps (daily average 10,441)
Run 10.2 miles
Bike 20.7 miles
Swim 1425 yds
Strength 44 minutes

Learning to Swim Again as an Adult and Beginner Triathlete

When I decided to start training for a triathlon, I knew I could handle the run and the bike portions.  The swim scared the daylights out of me, and that’s the first part of the race.  If I don’t make it out of the water, I don’t even get a chance at the bike or the run.

Let me back up and tell you.  I know how to swim (or at least I did when I was a kid).  I am not afraid of the water by any means.  It’s just that growing up we didn’t have a pool at the house, our school didn’t have a swim team, and we didn’t belong to a gym with a pool.  So opportunities to put my swim skills to practice were limited to when we went on vacations at the beach or stayed at a hotel with a pool.  Needless to say, I never really mastered swimming.

Back to present day.  I want to complete a triathlon, probably Olympic distance, then move on to longer distances such as Half Ironman with a lifetime goal of completing an Ironman.  (Wow, writing that down makes me realize I have some pretty lofty goals!)

So where do I start?  How do I learn how to swim again as an adult and triathlete?

I began by soliciting the advice of two friends whom I know are great swimmers.  I spent time with each of them in the pool and they tried to teach me about form and breathing.   They showed me a few techniques, but I just wasn’t catching on to what they were saying.  It’s hard to explain how you do something to a novice when you’ve done it all of your life.

Next, I looked into adult swim classes.  I was not impressed.  Most classes are geared toward adults that have never been in the water, have absolutely zero swimming experience, or are afraid of the water.  I do not fit into any of those categories.  I know the basics of swimming.  I can hold my breath under water, I’m decent at treading water, and I can swim if necessary.  It might not be the best means, but I can definitely get myself from point A to point B.  I needed someone to teach me proper form and build on the basics.  I also know there is a difference in learning to swim and learning to swim long distances.  I just didn’t think a class that taught basic swimming skills would be able to fulfill my need for distant swimming.

I finally began an internet search, which again proved to be a bit difficult.  Perusing the Ironman website, I found an article entitled “The Best Swim Technique for Open Water“.  I clicked on it, thinking this should provide at least a few tips for me to work on.  The article was informative, but I wanted needed more.  At the bottom of the article were the words, “Terry Laughlin is the founder of Total Immersion coaching: ‘Swimming that Changes Your Life.'”  JACKPOT!

I headed over to Terry Laughlin’s website curious to see if there were resources to help me become a better swimmer.  His website provides free videos and a newsletter; I signed up for both.  There are also self-coach books as well as dvds for sale.  I wanted to know what others had to say about this technique.  So, I picked a few books that interested me and checked out the reviews on Amazon – they were great.  I was finally making progress!

I didn’t want to wait for shipping; I wanted to start swimming right away.  My library had Freestyle: Made Easy DVD, the Total Immersion Pool Primer for Freestyle and Backstroke, and one of Laughlin’s older books Swimming Made Easy in stock.  Although Laughlin has more recently published work, I chose to use what my library had on the shelf because the underlying information and techniques are the same.  Also, I’m aware there are other books and tools available from different companies that may result in the same outcome, but I trust information posted on the Ironman website and I decided to use the Total Immersion resources that were available to me.


Nick and I watched the Freestyle: Made Easy DVD immediately.  It has several lessons to teach you how to relax in the water as well as breaking down every part of the stroke to achieve balance and glide efficiently through the water.  To be honest, the Pool Primer is essentially the same thing, just in a laminated book that you can bring with you poolside.  These two complemented one another.  It was nice to watch the video and hear the explanation of each lesson, then go to the pool with the primer and remind me pictorially what I am supposed to do in the water.

Swimming Made Easy builds on the dvd.  The book breaks down the steps even further for you to learn all four strokes (freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly), and explains the how and why.  This allows you to develop skills to swim more efficiently and economically in the water.  The book also describes drills for each of the strokes (and strongly suggests you to use in conjunction with the videos).  It states, “Use the videos to learn the drills, and use the book to learn the principles behind the drills”.

On learning to reduce drag Laughlin says, “How much noise do you make swimming?  Sound is energy, and the less of your mechanical energy you convert into noise, the more remains to move you forward.”  This makes so much sense.  Have you ever watched elite athletes swim?  They glide through the water with such grace and in almost complete silence.  On the other hand, have you ever heard a swimmer before you actually saw them?  Splashing through the water, they are wasting effort on the noise rather than using that energy to propel themselves forward.

Has this made me a better swimmer?  In short, YES.  A longer explanation:  This is exactly what I was searching for – someone to not only breakdown each portion of the stroke, but to also describe in detail why it is important to swim this way.  I feel the book, in conjunction with the dvd, did exactly that.  Now, I’m not winning any trophies for my swimming, but I am becoming a better swimmer.  In the few weeks that I’ve been implementing this new way of swimming, I have become faster and more aware of what I am supposed to do.  I’m no longer flailing about in the water.  I still have plenty of work ahead of me to even consider myself a strong and efficient swimmer.  I am okay with that, because I know that every time I get in the pool I am improving, reducing drag, and am becoming a much more confident swimmer.

This is part of a series of posts of the Total Immersion DVDs:
If you have little experience in the water or maybe you’re uncomfortable in the pool, please read my Learning to Swim – The Prequel post.

Weekly Activity Report 02/15/2015

Last week’s numbers are really low, I’m almost embarrassed to post them.  Regardless, below are our total distances for each sport as well as our Fitbit steps summary.

Weekly Activity Report ending 02/15/2015:

Emily –
46,126 steps (daily average 6,589)
Run 1.3 miles
Bike 20.1 miles
Swim 300 yds
Strength 14 minutes

Nick –
56,616 steps (daily average 8,088)
Run 5.2 miles
Bike 30 miles
Swim 525 yds
Strength 11 minutes

Crocheting an Afghan – A Labor of Love

I have always heard crocheting an afghan is a labor of love.  When I was a kid, one of my great aunts crocheted an afghan each for me and my two brothers and gave them to us as Christmas presents.  Each afghan was a different color, shape and size, and each one made with one of us in mind.  We knew they were special and they quickly became our favorite blankets.  Until recently, I didn’t realize how much time and effort and love actually goes into making such a gift.

While crocheting my first afghan, I didn’t give it a second thought because I was making it for me.  There was no timeline and it didn’t really matter how it turned out.  I was learning to crochet and it was something on my bucket list.  I knew I would treasure it regardless of its imperfections.

My most recent crochet project, the Textured Stripes Throw from was different.  This afghan was a gift for my parents.  Each step of the process I thought of them – I searched for a pattern they would like.  I carefully chose colors to match their home.  I wanted it to be unique, so I manipulated the pattern a little and randomly choose the stripe colors for each set of row repeats.  As I crocheted row upon row, I thought of them and how they’ve been married over 40 years, and their love for one another, their children, and their grandchildren.

Textured Stripes Throw

As best as I can figure, the afghan took me over 40 hours to complete.  I worked on it in small chunks of time over the course of three weeks.  I can’t imagine one spending this much time creating something for someone they dislike.  As I completed each stitch, I was making progress, but I was also making something for two people whom I love dearly.  By the end of the project, I concluded crocheting an afghan truly is a labor of love.

Weekly Activity Report 02/08/2015

Below are our total distances for each sport as well as our Fitbit steps summary from last week.

Weekly Activity Report ending 02/08/2015:

Emily –
80,377 steps (daily average 11,482)
Run 4.2 miles
Bike 30 miles
Swim 1075 yds
Strength 24 minutes

Nick –
80,775 steps (daily average 11,539)
Run 6.3 miles
Bike 30.5 miles
Swim 800 yds
Strength 14 minutes

January 2015 Totals

Below are our totals for the month of January.  Health club dues were $4.81 per visit.

Emily Jan
Swim (miles) 1.4
Bike (miles) 102.0
Run (miles) 34.0
Strength (min) 99
Nick Jan
Swim (miles) 1.6
Bike (miles) 89.0
Run (miles) 42.1
Strength (min) 76