Tuesday, January 02, 2007

...And we're back!

Sheesh has it really been over a month since I last posted? That's absurd. How time flies.

Anyway, Happy 2007 one and all, and welcome back to the further forging. I took the requisite break - mentally and physically - in the last pages of '06, and that was reflected by spotty blog contributions. Alas, those carefree days of over-indulgent dining, lax 3-milers, and generally unstructured workouts now go the way of '06 - in the past - and arrive like the snow that finally fell over Minneapolis - suddenly, and to stay. I am, after all, officially in training for a marathon on May 19th, preceded on May 5th by the season's first triathlon. It feels good to be back.

Yesterday - you'll enjoy this - was to be my first run of the new year. A short and easy 3-miler. After an active day around the house (4 humongous crates of clothes sent over to Goodwill - man it feels liberating to get rid of stuff), I had just enough time for a comfortable run and a shower before some informal evening plans with friends. My mother got me the Nike + iPod transmitter kit thingy for Christmas, and you know how I love the gadgets. So I carved 15 minutes or so before the run to familiarize myself with the thing.

Here's how it works - you have 2 pieces to it. One is a little oval transmitter, that goes in the sole of your Nike+ shoes. The other piece is a little reciever that plugs into your iPod Nano. The transmitter measures your stride, and now your iPod Nano is a pretty elaborate training tool - you can see your distance traveled, time, and pace - or you can hear a (very human) voice come on at regular intervals or at a press of a button and give you that information over your headphones - all while you're listening to whatever you want. Put in your weight, and you can measure calories burned, too. Pretty damn cool, and I think the whole shebang is, like, 30 bucks. No heart rate monitor, but you won't find something similar for less money, that's for sure. Of course, you have to have an iPod Nano, and Nike wants you to have their shoes....so, true - you really have a couple hundred dollars into the machine. But if, like me, you already have a Nano, it's a cheap and cool add-on, for sure.

Okay, but: I don't have Nike+ shoes. Those shoes have a special slot in the sole of the shoe to place the transmitter. But I don't wear Nike for running, I wear Asics. Some online research leads me to the discovery that the transmitter will work with any shoe, however, so long as it doesn't wiggle or flop around at all (I guess it's really sensitive) and is generally horizontal. Okay, so I tuck the receiver in to my shoelaces, the iPod blinks to life, and we're off.

Now's a good time to mention that I have a Garmin 305 that I train with that certainly gives me every bit of information I could ever want or need. I think the iPod thing is cool in that I'll already be running with music, and especially early in the season when I'm all bundled up, it might be a shade more convenient than connecting to 5 satellites...though not that I've ever found that inconvenient. Plus, I can connect to a nikeplus.com website that tracks my stuff and can put me in "competition" with others. Not sure how interested in that I'll be, and I already track my stuff, but whatever, there you go. Anyway, it's cool and was a great thoughtful gift, and we'll see how it goes.

Okay, so. I'm all ready to go with 3 layers of high-tech fabric, attractive running tights, etc. etc. I hit the PLAY button and head out my front door. The tunes are rolling and the adrenaline starts to pump a bit as I round the corner from my street and head north on the busier road. The sidewalks are all still covered with the snow we got dumped with on New Year's Eve, and side-streets are pretty messy, but busy roads are all pretty clear, just wet. I'm maybe .3 miles from my house - when an attractive female voice says "Activity ended" and my music stops. What the hell? Huh. So I hit play again and start running again as the tunes resume (she - I'll need to name her, no doubt - says, "Resuming exercise"), and I'm another tenth of a mile or so when she comes back to reiterate that the activity has ended. What? So I look down, and shit, I've lost the little transmitter that was tucked into my shoe.

You know how the first damn thing Ralphie does, after all, when he goes out into the yard early Christmas morning with his new official Red Ryder, carbine action, 200-shot, Range Model air rifle with a compass on the stock and this thing which tells time, is actually almost shoot his eye out? I felt like that. Like I'd had this gift mother gave me, used for all of 3 minutes, when I lost it. Idiot.

So, I turn around from where I am and I jog back, scanning my route. I figure it can't be that far away - I've hardly run any distance at all - but it's small and mostly white, and there's a lot of snow. Plus, I don't know how long the iPod takes before recognizing that I've stopped running (which it might assume if no transmitter signal is received) or that the link between the transmitter and receiver has been broken. 10 feet? 20? Who knows. For certainty's sake, I run all the way back to the corner I had turned onto the busy road, and for good measure even back a bit on the residential street before my house. Not seeing it, then, I turn back around and this time briskly walk the same route, more closely scanning the ground. I walk all the way back - and then some - to where Sherrie (there, she's been named, and don't ask me where that came from, she doesn't even sound like a Sherrie, she sounds more like a Sarah or a Julie or a Karen) informed me that activity has, in fact, ended. Still nothing, and now I'm getting a bit cold, and I'm assuming I'm amusing to the passing motorists who think - look at the tool, how he puts on goofy tights just to go for a walk. So I turn around yet again - I could have run 3 miles in the time this took by now - and slowly walk, scanning the ground, thinking of the $30 I'll have to go spend on another set-up if I can't find this one, because it wouldn't be right to just not accommodate my mother's thoughtfulness in knowing how I run, and like gadgets, and like Apple products, etc. etc. etc. But alas, it's nowhere to be found, and a glance at my watch tells me I have time for a shower before I have to leave the house. I finally resign, dejected, as I approach my house.

Just then, as a car drives by on the other side of the road, I see in its snowy, slushy wake a tiny flicker of white plastic, inches from its tires, just in front of my mailbox. Aha! Close inpection reveals it has not been driven over, and the tiny little transmitter and I rejoice in our reunion. I convince myself that I have at least a 2 mile run available to me if I get going now, shower really quickly, and are maybe just a shade late for evening plans. I run into the garage and grab some duct tape from my cycling tool box and strap the little transmitter pod to my shoe, again tucked into my shoelaces. Satisfied of its security, I start down the driveway again and press PLAY on my iPod, as Sherrie informs me:

Resuming Exer-

When AGAIN, everything stops. I look down in paranoia to make sure the little shoe pod hasn't somehow weaseled its way out again, and have a flash of Clark W. Griswold flailing, gnashing his teeth in exasperating, frustrating anger as the damn lights just will not turn on. Everything as it should be on my shoe, though, I check the iPod...

And the battery is dead.

Roll end credits.

Thus ended the first workout of '06, brought to you by your friends at Nike, Apple, Asics, and Daisy, makers of the famous Red Ryder BB Gun.

Aaaaaanyway, no doubt today will go much better as I have some time to give the scenario thought and attention. I'll keep you posted on all things. Also looking for some renovations around here at the ol' blog as well - some house cleaning and general preparation for '07. Meanwhile, here's to the New Year, and keeping it cool like the Tenth of September -


Michael Anderson said...

Glad to have you blogging again!

Cool gadget!

I've not doubt you'll get it all working smoothly ASAP and have it perfectly integrated with the rest of your gear and workouts!

I hope you have another exceptional year training and competing. I hope you always grow and become - more, better, greater.

TriSaraTops said...

LOL! Glad you found it!

Love both the Christmas Story and Christmas Vacation references. :)

TriTimKC said...

You left out Duct, maker's of tape. hehe Good effort even if it didn't go so well. Look at it this way, at least you got the crap run outta the way for a while!

Todd said...

Welcome back cowboy!

Oh how I wish I could've seen you searching for the transmitter dressed to the nines.

I dug myself a nice deep hole which I'm still stuck in and have yet to decide if/when I will ever attempt to get out of.

See you on the flip.

Anonymous said...

Wishing you triumph over the gadget...

Anonymous said...

I got mine for christmas, too, but had to get a Nano before I could use it.

I chose the male voice, and I've named him "Mark" because that's a cool trainer dude name. Not that I know any cool trainer dude named "Mark," but that just seems to fit.

I think I need to calibrate though -- my 'mill said three miles and 324 calories, and Mark said 3.41 miles and 500 calories. I like Mark's numbers better...

xt4 said...

Yeah tx, I like Mark's numbers better, too! I've read somewhere that it seems to work less accurately on treadmills?

Anonymous said...

you might have seen this by now, but try this:


Hurry, before the Nike lawyers issue a cease/desist order!