Monday, August 22, 2011

Trusting Technology (to track my run)

On my schedule for Saturday was a 9 mile run. But also on my schedule were six hours of work at an event in Virginia, speaking in front of a crowd of 100 Girl Scout volunteers, shopping in Georgetown to use a living social deal before it expired at 8 pm, and cooking for a homeless shelter which I do once a month. So it was 6 pm before I got around to starting my run and, having woken up at 5 and eaten poorly throughout the day, I was lethargic and unsure whether I'd survive 9 miles.

I ended up running the route below.

At the pace and distance below.

Or so my iPhone told me... I realized at "mile 2" that something must be wrong with my ap. The lady, who speaks to me every mile telling me my distance, time, and average mileage, said "Two miles completed. Time: 15:48. Average pace: 7:49 per mile." Whaaaaat? 7:49 my ASS. There was no way, in my state of fatigue, that I was running a faster average mileage than I ever have before. So at that moment, I decided that I would not trust this thing. I would run for at least 90 minutes to ensure that I get 9 miles in. I ended up running 96 minutes and 23 seconds and, according to NikePlus, 10.4 miles. When I got home, I looked up the route on MapMyRun which calculated it at 9.88 miles. So I didn't make ten but I far surpassed my planned 9. Which makes me feel good for my ten mile run next Saturday. This was the second longest run I've ever done (the longest being my half marathon) so it is very encouraging.

It got me thinking though about technology and how we depend on it. Have you ever seen that episode of the office where Michael Scott drives his car right into a lake because his GPS tells him to turn right, all the while yelling, "THE MACHINE KNOWS." Well, I've always believed that my machine knows my distance and my pace, and it's disheartening to know it may have been wrong all along.

During the half last year, Nikki's Nike watch did a similar thing. On our (obviously) 13.1 mile run, it mapped us at over 14. It works by syncing with a little chip in her shoe that tracks her distance. But apparently it hadn't been syncing right. So the longest run that I ever did with her, and that I ever did at all, which her watch clocked at 10.2 miles was really probably closer to 9. To learn this after having successfully completed 13.1 was not as upsetting. But it just makes you wonder how much we can really trust this stuff.

Her watch has since been reset to sync more accurately and I guess I just need to do the same with my iPhone. But I don't think the GPS on the phone is designed to be as particular as the ones in a shoe chip. That's why my app cost $1.99 and a watch costs like $100. Someday I really need to invest in one of those.

I also plan to map each of my runs for more accuracy. I realize that is still "trusting technology" but, to be honest, I'm not sure how else to live my life.

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