Blow the horn and tap the tambourine
Close the gap of the dark years in between
You and me, Cassidy
— john perry barlow
The cardio guy wants numbers. I’ll give him numbers.
I stop at the store on the way to the track. I need batteries for my blood pressure thingy. Sorry for the technical terminology. In layman’s terms, it’s a thingy that takes blood pressure. And what the heck is a layman anyhow? I played baseball with a guy named Lanny Layman. He was a good hitter. No idea what his blood pressure was.
I go to the track, set up the BPT to get a reading when the run is over, and take off. It’s a hard run day, but my body appears not to have gotten the memo. I’m not even sure how memos are delivered internally. Apparently U.S. Postal Service, since it appears to be missing. I start off OK and check the heart rate thingy (see previous explanation.) It still shows 75, the pre-run number. I run a lap and it drops to 60. After another lap, 55. I am impressed that my running heart rate is lower than my resting heart rate. And that’s the start of the Most Frustrating Run Ever.
I take it off, turn it off, turn it back on, same thing. I call up “Garmin 235 HR doesn’t work” and get a bunch of helpful responses which always end with “I had to call Garmin customer service.” This is unlikely to help me in the next five minutes. I reboot. I update software. I sing the “Sound of Music” theme song. This doesn’t help, but it soothes me greatly despite the look from the security guy riding by on his little bicycle. Like a security guy riding around on a little bicycle has room to question anyone.
In the end, I give up. I start the watch up again, but hit the lower right button instead of the upper right. Bam. It records a split. This is at 1.25 miles, so now my splits are totally screwed up. I curse silently, since the security guy is likely under the bleachers staking me out. There is nothing more irritating than having all of the numbers screwed up. What’s the point of running if you don’t have accurate data to record? How will I know my strides per minute? My stride length? What age I was when I fell in love with Keith Partridge? Nevertheless, I persisted.
At least I can salvage the post-run blood pressure check. I finish 3.1 miles, if you can believe the watch, which at this point I’m fairly certain is just messing with me. I rush to the bench, strap on the BPT and wait. The numbers come up, and my blood pressure moments after ending a fairly hard effort is a nudge lower than my blood pressure was when I got out of bed. Which can mean only one thing: I run in my sleep. And here I thought it was just a dream.
So now that number is worthless too. I try it again. Same result. I bought the batteries on the Hopi reservation on the way here, so I’m guessing it’s some sort of lost in translation thing, sans Bill Murray.
Oh, well. I give up. I pack my BPT in my little running bag and walk to the car. Glancing down at my watch to see what time it is, I realize that in my haste to take my blood pressure, I had never hit the stop buton.
So I have NO average heart rate for the run, NO after-the-run blood pressure, NO splits, and NO time for the run. If a tree falls in the forest and it’s not wearing a GPS device, does it really fall it all? And is this where the term “passing trees like they were standing still” come from?
I think back. In 1984 at my first White Rock Marathon, I had a Fancy New Running Watch, a Casio. You could hit a button and it would start, and then you could hit the button again and it would stop. I loved that watch. Waiting for the start in the little crowd of runners with 10 minutes before the race, I looked down to see for sure I had it on zero. The watch was blank. My battery died 10 minutes before my first marathon.
33 years later, I’m still staring at stupid watches. There are just so many more ways to screw them up now. Casio, Cassidy. Is it a cosmic sign for a return to simpler times?
David Cassidy is dead. My watch is dead. Shirley Jones once starred in The Sound of Music. It was all so obvious. Maybe the answer is not buying expensive brownies from a small store on the reservation on the way to your run. Or buying a LOT of them. I wonder if they sell watches there.
I wonder whatever happened to Lanny Layman …