Imaginary Friends

The day I got my new GPS/heart rate monitor in the mail,  I was excited to go for a run, but it needed to charge for three hours, using up every last drop of daylight, so I charged it and just walked around the neighborhood after dark to test it.

I was the epitome of a dork, wearing my giant wrist watch unit, carrying a flashlight so I could look at it, and, as usual, wearing my digital thermometer around my neck so I could see what the lake temp is (46F).  (I know.  And people wonder why I’m single.)  I kept finding myself veering off into the roadside ditch and falling down, or bumping into parked cars because I was so focused on the not-so-little wrist unit and what it was telling me.  Fortunately, my neighborhood has other people stumbling around for their own reasons, so I don’t think I stood out too much. 

Friday, I was able to go for my regular run in the woods.  I’ve been curious for a while how long it is, and how fast (or, in my case, slow) I travel.  Rather than reading the manual, I decided I’d just turn on all of the alerts, and figure out later what is useful.  So I turned on alarms for:  heart rate too slow, heart rate too fast, pace too slow, pace too fast, virtual partner, 30 minutes has gone by, one mile has elapsed, and so on.

A little background about the woods behind my house.  It’s a mix of state, county, and privately owned forest, and it’s all been logged at least once.  I dug up the assessors survey done by the County in the early 1900’s, which included a beautiful hand-drawn map; large spots were left blank, with just the note, “unsuitable”.   By which I think they meant unsuitable for logging due to steep slopes and rocky outcrops, but technology has surmounted those obstacles, and it’s all been cut at one time or another.

What that means to me is that there are roads and trails everywhere throughout this 30,000 (ish)-acre tract, and although it’s woodsy, it’s not exactly wilderness.  I go out there often, and rarely see anyone.  But there are signs of other people:  footprints, the occasional candy wrapper, a plastic elephant head on a stick riddled with bullet holes, a party spot with piles of beer cans, an abandoned riding lawn-mower.

Nearby is a school that focuses on teaching young people wilderness skills, that has three core curriculum areas: hide tanning, tracking, and fire-starting.  Sometimes I feel like I’m being watched and I don’t think that’s me being paranoid:  it’s semi-realistic, because a hundred eager young hippies use this area as their training ground for stalking, I mean tracking.

So I’m jogging down the trail, and I see a reasonably attractive man pushing his mountain bike up the hill.  My well-meaning friends tell me that I’ll never meet anyone if I spend all my time alone in the woods, which is probably true, so for a second I felt the tiniest bit neener-neener-ish, like, there are actually other humans back here who aren’t just growing pot or learning how to be anachronisms.

He stops me, and says he’s lost, and do I know a good route, which I do, but when I stop to talk to him, all of the different alarms go off, pretty incessant ringing.

“Uh, what’s that,” he asks.

“Oh, I just got this heart rate monitor and I don’t know how to use it yet.”  It’s pretty annoying, and I’m trying to understand where he parked, and also give him the kind of directions that are hard to give, and harder to remember, like, “you go up this way until you pass a hemlock that’s lying across the trail; just past that, there’s another trail off to the right, ….”  Blah blah blah, but there are a variety of beeps going off, making it even harder than it would normally be.

He’s clearly not really able to focus on the directions with all this going on, and says, “Is your heart okay?  Should I do something?”

I was pretty mortified and laughed it off, like, ha ha, no, of course not, just because I’m all sweaty and panting and the alarms are going off, think nothing of it, I’m totally fine.  But then this other alarm, a completely different one goes off, and it’s louder and a message pops up on the wrist screen, that’s actually like a small television set, and it says, “Your virtual partner has completed the run.”  I read it, and was trying to not look like you would if your imaginary friend just broke up with you via text message, but I must have looked maybe the tiniest bit broken-hearted, because he said, “Are you okay?”   I told him that my virtual friend had already finished the run that I was just starting, and had gone home already."  He gave me The Look, that, "she might be seriously crazy" look, and got back on his bike, and hopefully found his way back to his car eventually.



I finished my run, and plugged my enormous watch into my computer, and got this read out of my run.  Does that seem right?

Comments

  1. The readout looks similar to the one we made with the mapping unit, so you must have been on the right path. Wish I would have been there as your quasi-virtual partner (you would have beat me home regardless of how many eligible bachelors you ran into.) I'm sure biker-man can't get you out of his head - for various reasons. ;)

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  2. Were you Lucille Ball in a past life?

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  3. I think maybe in a current life?

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  4. I have had the feeling that your map result reminds me of something . . . and then it hit me! It's a map of me doing housework!!!

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  5. Ha, this one is hilarious. I'm actually laughing out loud and hoping my boss doesn't walk by.

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  6. I love this post. I wonder what my Virtual Partner does faster than me. Everything I suppose. I don't want to be virtual. I want to be real. Thanks for keeping my life real.

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