How I learned to loathe my Virtual Partner

Posted: 08/12/2013 in It happened in the night, Laughingly Called Training, Running
Tags: , , ,

I own a GPS watch with a “Virtual Partner” – while you run, your virtual partner runs too, and it’s up to you to keep up or ahead of the blighter as you will in order to avoid “Virtual Embarrassment”. So far so good.

Until last week, I’ve never used this fantastic facility, but I decided to have a pop and see.

My first surprise, on pressing the button, was the chap who sprang out of the face of the watch, much like Automan. I’m pretty sure he was Australian though – I suspect all the Aussies who used to work in bars in the 90’s have gone on to work in the cyberweb…

“G’day mate”, he said, which was what tipped me off – “what pace?”.

As I was feeling frisky, I suggested a nice 10 minute mile, that’s me “on a good day” (but without the aid of Berocca), and off we set. At first he trailed behind me, which I assumed was down to my fabulous athletic prowess. A minute, two minutes ahead, and I was starting to lose sight of his gleaming presence behind me in the dark woods.

Then I started up a hill – and as I was also trying to run in Zone 2 or Zone 3 for my heart rate I slowed down a bit to compensate.

Now it became clear that his approach was one of aggressive lulling, in which he allowed to feel like a smug winner while all the time he was just motoring along at a steady 10 minute mile. It also appeared that he was probably using some kind of performance enhancing substance, as he maintained the pave up the hill – no-one does that without at least a jelly baby or two to gee them along.

When I reached the top I was only a minute ahead, and struggled to extend that by a few seconds on the flat. Down a hill and another ten or fifteen seconds in the bag, but then up the return and he was gaining on me once more. I nearly died getting up that hill in the lead. I may have coughed out a lung, but as that would have halved the burning ache it seemed like a small price to pay.

Back onto the straight and even here my pace was woeful, hovering a bit over the ten minute mark, but with only a mile to go and his sizzling e-self gaining I sprang into an uber-plod and managed to get down to the target speed.

Along the road to home and a kidney coughed out this time – no clear why I needed two to begin with, other than to raise some funds selling one, so again no great miss. I got to the end and stopped the watch – an average pace of 9:54 and a loss of of some non-essential organs that only served to reduce my racing weight.

On the one hand a ringing success. On the other an endorsement of my belief that I am a solitary runner, even in a virtual sense.

I would have posted sooner, but I can only just breathe properly again now…

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