Watch and Learn

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by Kathy Carter

When I first started using a Nike sports watch, I suppose I expected it to help my running. I never imagined it would help me in so many other ways, too.

The watch was given to me for my 50th birthday, nearly six years ago. Since I am not one to embrace new technology, it sat in its box for several weeks until my frustrated husband finally set up an account with Nike and declared I was “good to go.”

Although I had been a 5K runner since my teenage years, I had never considered pushing my distance. Running for over 40 minutes seemed like an unattainable goal. After all, I had just turned 50 and was thinking of winding it down a bit – so what if I’d gained a pound a year for the past decade? My philosophy had always been that a 20-minute jaunt was better than nothing. None of my friends or family ran, and there was absolutely no way I was going to join a running club. My social anxiety would put the brakes on that pretty quickly.

However, I soon came to realize that I now had an encouraging companion in my watch: one who tracked my pace and gave me little snippets of encouragement, like “Are we running today?” and “Nice finish” if I did.

So, I decided to push it just a tiny bit. I was so proud of my first 7K, I could hardly contain my enthusiasm. Turns out, it wasn’t really that difficult to add a few extra kilometres. I threw caution to the wind and began to work up to 10K. On a hot summer evening, I watched in amazement as the numbers changed from 9.9 to 10.0! An achievement of a lifetime, I thought naively.

In the spring, I saw an ad for the 16K Georgina Mini-Marathon, and my stomach did backflips. Should I or shouldn’t I? Now that I was uploading my runs to my Nike account, I could compare myself to other individuals also using the watch. I discovered I was actually doing a respectable job of running for my age group. I tossed and turned at night thinking about it. I was worried about coming in last, but the data from the watch gave me the confidence to go through with it. Although I was as nervous as a child on the first day of school, the race went fairly well and I was amazed when I received a medal for my efforts. From there, I ran the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon in October and four more half marathons the following spring. My faithful watch was on my wrist every time.

During one of my training runs, I met a woman who organizes a local run club called Run Georgina, and she asked if I would like to join. It took a week or so until I worked up the courage to attend one of their group runs, but everyone was so welcoming that I felt like I belonged. Running was a great ice-breaker for me, as I often never knew what to say in social situations and would shy away from them. I found more running buddies when I visited the Newmarket Running Room.

I started running with their Run Club and participating in events like the Canada Day Run and 20 Minute Challenge. Prior to these experiences, I hadn’t made a new friend in years. Now, I was regularly meeting up with others for runs and bike rides.

Recently, I went to download my latest runs and after numerous attempts, learned that Nike had discontinued technical support of my beloved watch. Unfortunately, with no way to clear the memory, it has become a useless piece of obsolete technology.

I am trying to move on and embrace the Strava app. I know now that I can take risks and welcome new things. I’ve come a long way since those lonely 5Ks six years ago. I will always be grateful to the watch for helping to build me up. We certainly had a good run.

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