Garmin 935 Review!

Hello! How’s your week going? Before a million days go by and I forget to actually talk about my new GPS running watch and whether I actually like it or not, I’m coming at you today with a review of my Garmin Forerunner 935. I bought this watch about a month ago and while I certainly haven’t tested all of it’s features, I have done a number of runs with it and been wearing it, sometimes day and night, for that time and wanted to share my thoughts!

Spoiler alert: there aren’t really any negatives… so expect a lot of positive adjectives and overuse of the word “amazing” in this review.

Prior to investing in the Garmin Forerunner 935, I used the Garmin Forerunner 220 for a few years and then over the last year I was using the Fitbit Surge. The Garmin 220 was great as a running watch and as I had been simply using MapMyRuns on my phone before, it was a drastic improvement. I fell into the “I want to count my steps” trend last year and started using the Fitbit Surge so that I had both GPS for running and a step counter to track my steps. It was great, though not attractive or stylish, but did the job I needed it to, except for missing functions for cycling and swimming.

So, why the Garmin Forerunner 935? Admittedly, when I read DC Rainmaker’s review of the Garmin Forerunner 935 (he is my go-to for all running technology reviews) I thought it was too much for me. I’m not an Ironman competitor, I’m not an elite athlete, and I don’t really need that much strapped to my wrist. However, any other model was always missing something. I was on the Garmin train again due to its compatibility with Strava and TrainingPeaks and how it was a better fit for a ‘runner.’ I was very close to buying the Garmin 735XT because it had all of the functions of the Garmin 935 with a slightly less expensive price tag but it was missing MoveIQ and the battery life of the 935 – an automatic tracking of workouts like walking that you don’t ‘set’ up to be a workout that I had come to love in my Fitbit Surge. I was too used to a wrist HR sensor and couldn’t go back to a chest strap, I needed the cycling functions of triathlon watches, and preferred it be water proof so that I didn’t have to stress all summer about kayaking and getting it wet. There we have it, a big dip into my wallet, and I purchased the Garmin 935.

Aside from the price tag, one other downside to this watch is the lack of accessories available in Canada. I couldn’t find a single retailer in Canada that sold the easy clip watch straps so that I could switch out the black straps that the watch comes with. I ended up going on Amazon and finding the light blue straps shown in the photo and while the were shipped from a sketchy manufacturer in China for $20, I love the colour a lot more with this strap and am glad I bought it. Another downside is the cycling functions, indoor and out, are limited without buying the super expensive pedal accessories to track cadence, rpm, and other metrics. It’s not a huge deal as I have never “trained” for cycling, but it’s disappointing to spend a lot of money on the watch only to realize that you need to spend about three times that to actually have the cycling features as effective as described.

The good news is there are so many more positive aspects about this watch compared to the negatives I mentioned above. I absolutely love it. I have fallen back into the familiar use of a Garmin device and while I enjoyed my time with my Fitbit, I can’t say I’ll ever go back unless Fitbit really steps up their running game. It takes a super short amount of time to find the GPS, has all the running metrics you could possibly imagine, and has so far been super fun to use. I’ve used it on interval nights at Run Collective, on long runs, and on casual rips around town, and it’s been great for all types. The displayed pace sometimes takes a while to catch up to how fast I’m running if I slow down or speed up, but a normal amount for a GPS watch.

I’ve taught spin and tracked it with the watch, strength trained, I’ve hiked with the watch, and all activities are super easy to track. You can set each activity to have a unique display so that you can see what you want to see when you’re doing that activity. For example, when I’m hiking I like to see distance, elevation gain, and time on the first screen while when I’m strength training I like to see time, heart rate, and calories burned on the first screen. The customizability is awesome.

The battery life has been one of my favourite aspects of the watch. My Fitbit, after it’s year plus of use was slowly getting shorter and shorter in battery length which meant charging it every second day instead of every week. The Garmin 935 lasts SO LONG and I’ve been on week long vacations this summer without having to even think about charging it. When it’s in GPS, it has 24 hours of life, and up to two weeks of normal non-GPS use. I’ve averaged about 7-10 days of battery life running about 4-5 days a week.

Finally, it’s stylish. I’ve received more compliments from non-runners than runners on my watch because it’s not as awful looking as a typical huge triathlon watch or my previous Fitbit Surge. First, the colour of my replacement strap is super fun, and then the watch itself is kind of cute and relatively less fitness looking that most of Garmin’s watches. I love it.

There you have it. A winner of a watch! Despite the initial shock of the price tag (ringing in at $679.99 plus tax) it is a great watch for both runners and triathletes alike. I am back on the Garmin train and enjoy having the features I liked in my Fitbit (step tracker, wrist HR, and Move IQ) in my current Garmin watch.

What fitness tracker are you currently using?

What apps do you use to track your activities and goals?

Trip to the Kootenays: Recap!

My second and final week of vacation is in the books and it was another spectacular one. For the past couple of months I have been longing for a trip to the west coast, to dip my toes in the Pacific Ocean, and to breathe that salty delicious air. Due to some smoky roads, the time required to drive there and back, and a last minute decision, I decided to head southwest to the Kootenays instead, saving a trip to the west coast for another time. Three things that made me go to Kootenays: 1) I used to live there and I hadn’t been back in over a decade, 2) My mom opened a Groupon Travel email and said we were booking the first place on the list… which was Cranbrook, BC, and 3) my brother put both Vancouver and Cranbrook on a dart board and hit Cranbrook. FATE. It ended up working out so well and I had my mom and my brother join me for the spontaneous trip!

We headed out Tuesday morning and drove through some hazy prairies until we made it to our pit stop in Fernie for a quick tasting of Fernie Brewing Co. beer. I love their ‘What the Huck’ huckleberry beer and their brown ale so I was super excited to see their gorgeous brewery and try a few new-to-me ones! If you’re in the area, it’s definitely worth the stop as they have a very modern building, great beer, and some awesome merchandise that I’m already regretting not buying. After the stop we headed to St. Eugene Golf Resort and Casino, where we spent our first three nights. It is a beautiful resort and I love how they have transformed the building from a residential school to this resort and filled it with First Nations culture. Their website is explicit in their reason, stating that because culture was taken away from the children in the residential school it is their job to add it back and leave a legacy of the Ktunaha culture in the building.

Our first stop on our trip was to drive and walk around Marysville, BC. If you remember, a reeeally long time ago, I wrote about all of the places I have lived and from the ages of 3 to 9 I lived in Marysville, BC which is super close to Kimberley, BC (and about 25 minutes from Cranbrook). It is a tiny little place nestled in the Kootenays, a one stoplight kind of place, where you just want to grow up or raise kids. It was neat to see our old house, the playgrounds we grew up on, our elementary school, my friends’ old houses, and the waterfalls we used to take our back to school photos at. It brought back so many memories and it’s amazing how much memory is tucked away until you set foot in a place you’ve been and it all comes rushing back. My mom was constantly shocked at how much I remembered considering we moved after I finished the third grade.

Next we visited the Platzl in downtown Kimberley. While the platzl itself hasn’t changed much, the food scene sure has and it appears on the first night we stumbled upon the most popular restaurant in the city – Pedal and Tap. I can’t recommend it enough and each night we were in the area, the lineup was about an hour long to be seated! The food was amazing, HUGE portions (I couldn’t even finish the salad I ordered), and the atmosphere was super fun. By the time we finished our dinner we headed back to our hotel which quite possibly looked even more magical at night.

On Wednesday my mom and I started our day with a run and walk along the recently finished Rails to Trails, a 28km paved path from Cranbrook to Kimberley. I would move back here just for this trail. We ran 6 miles and then walked 3.5 back to the car (we turned around at 5 miles) and the entire time we just raved about how incredible it is to have this recreational and commuter trail. Not only is it functional and practical for getting back and forth between communities, THE VIEWS ARE AMAZING. We spotted one deer munching on the side of the trail and while we were stiff from the previous day’s 7 hours of driving and my recent leg workout, we really enjoyed our slog along the path.

When we returned from our run and walk, we lounged in the pool for a bit to cool off then made our way back to Kimberley to browse the shops in the Platzl, visit old friends, and dine on sangria and pizza at Stonefire Pizza. It was the most relaxing trip and there were many moments just like this…

We had such a wonderful time seeing old friends and as it had been a very last minute trip, we were fortunate to see the number of people we did by just dropping by out of the blue. My mom was LOVING just walking up to people we hadn’t seen in 15 years and saying, “HI!” then enjoying the uncomfortable pause as they took in who was standing in from of them and knowing that they knew us but not exactly sure how, what, and why we were there. We stopped by my best friend from elementary school’s parents’ house for a quick hello and were there for almost four hours. I was able to see old friends, guys I went to preschool with, my friends’ parents, and my mom’s previous colleagues.

On Thursday, after a walk with both my mom and brother along the path that my mom used to walk every day when we lived there, we stopped for breakfast at a cure new coffee shop in Marysville. After we got ready back at our hotel we headed out to Fort Steele. Fort Steele is a historic town that has been preserved or rebuilt and is now a tourist attraction near Cranbrook. My dad used to work shift work when we lived in Kimberley so my mom would take my brother and I here on the weekends so my dad could sleep all day with us out of the house. We also came here on class field trips and with friends. It was super neat to see it again and we enjoyed a wander around the town, trying a mountain ale on the historic hotel balcony, sharing the infamous bakery’s cinnamon buns, and cooling off with the Fort Steele cinnamon ice cream.

Healthy eating at it’s finest. 😉 We reminisced about the fun times we had and all of the things we remembered about being there as we toured the town. My mom remembers when a horse bit her finger, I remembered the swings behind the schoolhouse that we probably spent hours of our childhood on, and my brother remembered being traumatized by the actor playing a strict school teacher when he went on a field trip with his class.

In the chain of events that followed, we managed to see a few more people we knew, in only the ways a small town can be. It was wonderful to spend the remainder of our time in Kimberley catching up with friends, another stop at Pedal and Tap for dinner, and savouring the memories we have of this hidden gem in the Kootenays. On Friday morning my mom and I went for another run along the Rails to Trails path before we drove to Panorama, BC for our final night of the trip.

Our family used to own a share of a condo in Panorama so it was, once again, neat to return to a place that holds a special place in my heart. We walked around the resort, took a tour up the Mile One chairlift, had dinner on the patio of the Greywolf Golf Course, and then did another walk around the trails of the resort. It was a lovely way to end the trip and cut down on our return drive home.

Saturday morning we hit the road home with a brief stop at Kicking Horse Cafe in Invermere to caffeinate our day. I drink Kicking Horse coffee every day (Grizzly Claw is my favourite!) and it was neat to see where it is actually roasted and have a cup of coffee straight from the source. I think we all reached our respective houses exhausted and looking forward to crawling into our own beds, but super thankful for this trip. While we missed my dad, it was nice to go on a brief and spontaneous family vacation, especially to a place that holds so many memories for us.

Where is one place you’ve lived that you’d like to return to?

Tell me about a time where you returned somewhere and memories rushed back!

What coffee do YOU love?

Flashback Friday: Sibling Camping Nostalgia.

My brother and I spent last week camping in Jasper and Yoho National Parks (recaps are here and here) and we spent a bit of time reminiscing about our family camping trips when we were younger. Our camping gear that we’ve used as a family has migrated it’s way into my possession as our family did less and less camping together and I started to do more and more on my own. I can’t quite remember if I ‘stole’ the camping gear from my parents’ garage or if they suggested I take it… which likely means I stole it. That said, it meant that some of what we used last week was gear that we had been using since we were little.

I am so appreciative of my parents for taking us camping as a family every summer. I don’t think I ever realized how much work it was to plan and organize a camping trip until I started being the one to do it and now I have a whole new respect for how much effort it is to take young kids camping, keep them entertained, make sure they get decent sleep, and have three thousand back-up plans for when things went wrong. Looking back, some of my favourite memories of summers growing up are when my parents would take my brother and I camping with other family friends, relatives, or just the four of us. My brother didn’t fall in love with the camping-in-tents, unshowered, sweaty and gritty weekends like I did, but we still found ourselves chatting about how much we loved those summer weekends as kids sleeping in tents, playing,  and running around campgrounds.

We stopped to pick up more ice for our cooler in Lake Louise half way through the week last week and we found the pack of mini cereal boxes that we would get when we went camping and it brought back so many memories we had to pick it up. Remember these? The cut-the-cardboard down the middle, mini boxes of cereal?

Things that haven’t changed since we were little kiddies: I still rep some outrageous colours of fleece and my brother is always rocking some Habs gear. I go for Froot Loops and Stuart goes for Corn Pops. I am unreasonably happy to be outside in the morning after crawling out of the tent while Stuart is, uh… less so. 😉 I thought I would dig up a few flashback Friday photos to share some of the history of my love of camping!

Rocking that fleece. When I bought my current Patagonia fleece I found it funny that it came in hot pink with turquoise trim and that is likely the colours I once wore in the 90s. I love it!

We were always provided arts and crafts entertainment by my mom. Our camping gear was stocked with markers and paper and crayons, and when I was a little older I would always bring a book to read. Things haven’t changed much as I read through two Emily Griffin books on our latest camping trip.

Okay, so he was more helpful when he was like four? 😉

Purple, red, and turquoise fleece – eerily similar to the one I have now. We explored so many mountain campgrounds when we were young as Jasper, Banff, and Lake Louise were super close. It’s crazy how much they’ve grown as tourist hot spots since we visited in the 90s!

In case you were wondering, I’m 94% sure my mom got a 2-for-1 discount on a boys haircut… maybe that’s why I carried a doll around… compensation.

Lake Louise, Alberta

Bow Falls, Banff, Alberta… and we still like chasing waterfalls together.

I think that about wraps up a trip to the past. I am not really a materially sentimental person but I do love looking at old photos every once in a while and this camping trip with my little brother (who is not so little at 6’5″ now) totally was a blast to the past that I couldn’t help but think about our camping trips we grew up taking as a family. Thanks mom and dad for teaching us that nature is freaking awesome, sleeping under the stars is the best, and being outside in Canada is an incredible privilege.