Running Commentary

The Writer's Block


Okay, I ran today. It was an experience. I’m the only person you know who can turn a simple thirty minute jog into a ninety-minute technological nightmare. Wanna shake my hand?

Anyway, let’s get to the good news first. I ran.

Now, on to the bad news…

“Running Shoes” (Chris Cobb photo)

Okay, actually there was more good news. I successfully carried my Christmas snacks—all of ‘em—around my three-mile course, without dying of a heart attack. That’s really good news. On the other hand, I was sufficiently apoplectic over my technology problems that a stroke was more likely to kill me than an exercise-induced heart attack. So I suppose I can add that to the good news side of the ledger: I died neither of stroke nor heart attack, and at the moment of this writing I remain in the land of the living. Yay.

I did, however, lose my sanctification. If anyone sees it laying beside the road, would you please catch it and drop it by the house?

That was the beginning of the bad news. Pray, continue.

Today I got to use my new Bluetooth headphones for the first time (and maybe the last time). I am seriously considering uninstalling them and reinstalling the tin cans and string that preceded them. Using these headphones requires an intelligence quotient I haven’t seen since college.

The right earpiece comes with five controls allowing me to control my music and to use the telephone—which I am bound and determined never to do. In my opinion, telephones are designed to be seen and not heard, but that’s another story: back to the music, or, rather, the running.

No one told me two essential pieces of information about these headphones: first, it requires the fingers of a concert pianist to hit “volume up” rather than “dial the telephone,” especially when you are simultaneously lugging your Christmas cookies around the block.

My inability to hit the proper button perturbed me significantly until I landed upon yet another insight—the second piece of information about which I was not informed: these headphones randomly reassign the buttons to different functions as you run. Ha! Two minutes ago that WAS the volume-up button. Now it’s the “skip this song” button!

This was not a pleasant discovery. You see, part of the fun of running—wait, no, let me phrase that more accurately—part of that which makes running slightly more tolerable than a root canal is listening to music as I haul my cookies over the landscape. And because I am mostly deaf, I need a slightly elevated volume when I run. You know, sort of like the teenager who pulls up next to you at the light, music blaring so loud the vibrations readjust your mirrors? Yeah, that’s me when I’m running.

So the first mile I’m running with my fingers in my ear, punching buttons, frantically trying to get my music to a rock-concert decibel level where I can hear it. No dice. Very faint, barely audible. I found the “skip this song” button, the “dial this phone” button, the “volume down” button, but no “volume up” button.

Due solely to the fact that it is very wearisome (not to speak of embarrassing) to run with your finger in your ear, I gave up and slogged the next mile with nothing more than the faintest whisper of music.

Somewhere in mile two I decided to try again. Wouldn’t you know it, the button randomizer had assigned the volume-up function to the “volume up” button. Oh, thank you, thank you! I adjusted the volume to where it was setting off car alarms as I ran past, and I was happy as a clam.

Until mile three. When [running paused] my running app on my smartphone [running resumed] decided to flake out. Every ten [running paused] seconds it [running resumed] was telling me that the [running paused] pause function had [running resumed] kicked in. Honestly, I was not going [running paused] that slow. [running resumed]! The only advantage [running paused] was that [running resumed] it made your favorite songs [running paused] last longer be-[running resumed]cause it paused the song with each announcement.

It did this little pause/resume thing for the rest of my run. Very tiresome. To add insult to injury, I couldn’t get the running app to exit when I finished my run. Finally just turned off the stupid phone. Rock concert was over anyway.

Next time I run, I’m leaving the headphones and smartphone home. Wish I could leave the cookies home, too.

[Editors note: this is a true story, only slightly embellished. He’s still looking for his sanctification.]