Is It Me?: Adventures in Gadget Shopping.

Today, I went in search of a GPS watch.

In my brain, a GPS watch to run with would make my life much (much) simpler.

As it stands, I wear my Timex interval watch. I sometimes wear my Polar FT4 heart rate monitor. I always bring my phone and use the RunKeeper app.

And just in case things weren’t complicated enough, I’ll bring the trusty iPod Nano every now and then.

Needless to say, I am a gadgety mess. And the longer distance I run, the more I despise 1) holding my phone (it doesn’t fit in my fuel belt) and 2) having my phone die on the run (if I were an Olympian, this wouldn’t be a problem). I have enough to worry about, such as the fact that my fuel belt (a nifty belt that holds water, Gatorade, gels and/or chews… BUT NOT MY PHONE!) has no problem staying secure around my front but slides down my ass in the back because, well, let’s just say this baby don’t got back.

I realize that I could forsake the phone and even the Nano. But (even though it’s probably wise to run without either) I like running with music, and I’m even more addicted to checking RunKeeper any chance I get. Yes, I have no problem getting my phone all sweaty by swiping from screen to screen, seeing what my mile split was, seeing how long the run is taking (and goddamn, I run slow… but also inexplicably fast… why? Your guess is as good as mine…), etc. etc.

I think it’s a nice tool to have. It’s one I try to analyze even though I don’t quite know what I’m looking at.

So I figured: Why couldn’t I get a watch, which would also be nice to have, even if I still don’t quite know what I’m looking at?

I began by doing internet research, but quickly became overwhelmed by all of the options. Here, a PolarRCX5! There, a Garmin Forerunner 610! Everywhere, FITNESS WATCHES! I went to REI, which wasn’t helpful. I asked Facebook.

All of this led to me going to a tiny running store up in Andersonville on the suggestion of a friend. But, instead of some clarity, I got the opposite.

I walked in to two men behind the counter. I explained, clearly (I thought) that what I was looking for was a GPS watch.

First question: “Whhhhy do you want a GPS watch?” asked Thing 1.

I explained my predicament. Two watches, one phone, one iPod, gadgety mess, yadda yadda.

“Do you look at RunKeeper while you’re running?” asked Thing 2.

Is that a trick question? I thought as I stared at him carefully. “…Yes?” I answered.

“Well, I read an article recently and I tend to agree with it,” said Thing 2. “It says that watches can sometimes hinder your running performance.”

“Sure, but what I’m looking for is just to simplify things for myself a bit,” I explained.

“You might be able to just get a footpod for your heart rate monitor,” said Thing 1.

“Nope,” said Thing 2. “Nope. She can’t,” he said as he looked on the Polar website.

“Oh,” said Thing 1.

“So, I mean, I’d like something that does what RunKeeper does… I’d just like to not carry my phone with me, if possible. I mean, it’s died before and it makes it hard for me to track anything. And I really like tracking that stuff…I want something with pace… and distance… and maybe a…” I trailed off because both of them were looking at me with blank faces.

“Well, I really don’t know. You’d kind of have to start from the ground up, even though you already have a heart rate monitor. So we could sell you something from like $200 up, but it’s like you’d be paying for something you already have…” Thing 1 mused.

“Right,” I countered. “I’m not looking to buy today. I’m just looking for information. I run with a group right now, and I’m sort of in-between their pace groups. The first group is a 13:30 pace, and the second one is an 11:30 pace. So, a lot of the time, I’m too fast for one and too slow for the other. I generally end up running by myself.”

“Do you overlap with any one group?” asked Thing 2. “Do you catch up with one or fall behind to the other?”

“Sometimes,” I said.

“Well,” he said. “I would ditch the headphones, try to run with the 11:30 pace group, and try to match their breathing, cadence and pace. It’s gonna hurt…”

“…Yeah it’s gonna hurt, but it’s the only way to get faster,” interjected Thing 1.

“Right but I was here for a watch…?” I half-mumbled. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD SELL ME SOMETHING!!!!!! and really, who WANTS to run without music? Who wants to listen to their huffing and puffing? NOT ME!

“Do you listen to music while you run?” asked Thing 1.

“Yeah,” I said.

“Well, maybe the Nike+,” he offered.

“Yeah, the Nike+, maybe,” Thing 2 agreed.

“Okay, well… thank you,” I said. And I left.

I have to think that maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m the one who walks into a store and says, “Hey! Sell me something!” and what I give off is, “Hey! If you even come near me with a suggestion I’ll rip your head off like a praying mantis!”

Which is not what I’m going for.


So, I remain internet-research-vigilant (as much as my eyes can handle…). And on the bright side, I made a lovely quinoa kale goat cheese pilaf for dinner tonight, and it was delicious. And didn’t require debate of any kind.

Have a good night, everyone.

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