Yesterday I had my run all planned as I usually do. I was going to run my loop out to Hatzic that I have run for years. You can’t go any further east without venturing down the highway. The only thing wrong was after I strapped on my Garmin the warning came on telling me I had a low battery. I know from experience that when the low battery light comes on I would have three quarters of a mile before it finally cut out. Damn another FGD run! Do I need to spell it out? F__ing Garmin Died! I don’t know what it is about technology that makes you so co-dependent on it but you almost feel naked without it.
Being a recovering podcaster I had a hard time giving up my digital recorder. My Bat Belt also known as an Ultimate Direction Access Water Bottle Belt had a ton of gizmos and gadgets. The digital recorder sat inside an old cell phone case clipped to my belt with the Giant Squid microphone threaded up my shirt and clipped to my collar. My iPod is always clipped to the other side with the ear buds running inside my shit as well. And I always had some sort of measuring device that recorded every step I take, every breath I make; it was watching me (Sorry Sting). Whether it was a Garmin 101, Nike+ or of late a Garmin 305, 99% of my runs were being recorded.
But like the song says, “Oh can’t you see? You belong to me!” In essence that is the truth; my dependency on gadgets was affirmed. If I didn’t get this run recorded somehow I wasn’t being validated. In my mind it didn’t exist. Maybe because I couldn’t see the data or maybe because it wouldn’t get uploaded to the many online training journals I subscribed to. I just felt empty if it wasn’t there digitally.
Shortly after my podcast ended so did my Nike+. I think in the last episode I recorded I said my Nike + died and I was actually sent a couple from a listener who had a few extra. Unfortunately for me the new sensors didn’t last long nor did the one I bought to replace them. So for a period of about 2 months I had nothing. Emptiness ensued and I became a runner with no podcast, no Nike+, and no recorded history, basically a non-entity. If a tree falls in the forest without a Garmin on does it make sound? Does it actually fall?
I continued to run empty for about a month or so until I pulled out my old Garmin 101. It was slow to sync with satellites which I’m sure the neighbors have me pegged as some sort of weirdo. Whether it was the Nike+ telling me to ‘begin by walking around’ and me walking in circles like a dog chasing its tail or me staring endlessly at a hockey puck on my wrist telling me it is locating satellites. There I was every morning in the middle of my cul de sac doing nothing. There is a certain irony of your run starting by going nowhere until some gizmo tells you can because it is ready to record it. What ever the case I was validated once more but my Buckeye account would not recover from the lapse in history.
So yesterday, on a brisk beautiful autumn morning, I had my shorts on all ready to go. My dog Koda was leashed up doing circles waiting for me and I had a dead Garmin on my wrist. Liberate yourself I thought to myself! Be free! I took the hockey puck off my wrist and opened the door. It was quite a strange feeling. Nothing to tell me how fast I was going or how hard my heart was working, I even left the iPod at home. It was just me and the sound of the trees blowing in the wind. I’m sure my pace was uneven and I’m positive I wasn’t in Zone 3 but I didn’t care. Damn you anyway Garmin for making me a slave to your satellites. This was my proclamation of my emancipation, I was a free man.
It was a great run. I knew exactly how far I had run because I had done it a hundred times before but this time I had no data except the smell of the trees, the sound of dogs barking or the train in the distance, or the leaves just starting to show their beautiful autumn colors. The sensory data was more than enough to compensate for the loss of digital data. The record is only this blog post for which I can’t tabulate, calculate, or postulate an event history into numbers. Take that Mr. Garmin I win this one. Tomorrow I’ll be yours again but today is mine.
I have a gorgeous wife and four kids. I am a volunteer firefighter in a small suburb about 50 miles from Vancouver. Before the duty bell rings and before the sun rises I run. My priorities will always be wife and kids so fitting running into the schedule can be challenging.