Monday, July 16, 2007

Lance is in my head

I hear him there. It's Lance again. Mocking me. Telling me to get off my ass, to give up on that Family Guy marathon on TBS, to dig my running sneakers out from under that pile of dirty towels, and to get out of the house and work up a sweat for a change. Man, I hate that guy.

Lance Armstrong is inside my head. More specifically, he's inside my iPod. well, actually, he's inside a little doohickey attached to my iPod, called an iPod Nano+Nike..umm...doohickey.

A couple of months ago, my doctor checked my cholesterol and told me I wasn't getting enough exercise. I told her that I thought perhaps going up and down the stairs twenty-eight times each night before the kids managed to successfully fall asleep would classify as "enough" exercise, but obviously it didn't. she told me, in not so many words, to get my ass to the gym. Trouble is, I've tried that. Like most Americans, it never works. You start off going four days a week religiously. Then suddenly that drops down to two days, then once a week if you're lucky, and soon you forget which road the gym is on. No, I needed another option.

That's when I decided to try running.

I hate running. It's boring. It's painful. It's exhausting. It sucks in hot weather. It sucks in cold weather. In fact, I have some recollection that the first time I ever used a four letter word was when the track coach back in grade school met me and said, "hey, a tall thin guy like you should try out for the cross-country team!" I believe I replied, "F*ck that!" But recently I realized the benefits of running. It's cheap. There's virtually no equipment. You don't have to drive anywhere. And you never have to worry about getting to the gym only to discover you forgot an important item in your gym bag, like soap or headphones. So I gave it a shot. I started to realize it wasn't so bad. I could run a few miles and work up a sweat, and given the geography of Pittsburgh there were plenty of hills on which I could challenge myself to see how well I was doing.

Then, I discovered this iPod Nano+Nike doohickey. It's a $30 gadget that comes in two pieces. One piece plugs into the bottom of your iPod Nano (or my wife's Nano, in my case), and the other piece hooks onto your sneaker. Use it when you run, and it tracks your mileage, pace, and calories as you go, storing all your run data on a Nike website for reference.

Frankly, it's a brilliant piece of technology, but not because of the data it can track. It's because of Lance. You see, throughout your run, a young attractive female voice briefly interrupts your music to tell you important things, like "1 mile completed" or "400 yards to go!!" but any time you hit a new milestone such as the longest run you've taken, or the fastest pace for the mile, Lance pops in and congratulates you personally. "Congratulations! You just ran your longest run ever!" Makes you feel pretty accomplished.

And it drives me crazy. With each run, I wonder what I can do to get him to notice me again. When I take a week off from running, I truly believe he's just sitting there, inside the little gadget, as it rests on top of the inkjet printer, thinking, "oh great, another couch potato." Yeah, I can hear him. Right now he's talking to the main voice-over lady saying, "can you believe this guy?? I won 7 tours in a row with one testicle, and after his first and only 5-mile run he can't stop whining about the blister on his toe. Jeez, what a slug."

But recently I discovered there's a setting on the doohickey where you can change it from Lance's voice to that of world-famous marathon runner Paula Radcliffe (I never heard of her either). That's much better. I've been mocked by women all my life. It's part of my comfort zone. I can work with that.

Now where the heck did I leave that headband with the built in umbrella?

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