17 November 2008

Running Club Almost 2.0, Take 2

Tonight saw my second group running effort. I was somewhat confused as this part of the NikeTown website seems to require more Flash, more RAM or just a browser that's older than Chrome and as such, I have been uncertain, when booking into the running club outings, that I have done it correctly. This week, for example, there appeared to be a problem with the booking of the seven-mile run. Naturally, the four-mile slots were all booked up (I had figured that I could just do an extra lap of the Outer Circle to get my seven miles and no one could really stop me) but I did see a spot this afternoon and so I grabbed it.

NikeTown was a zoo, as always, when I arrived but now that I have my shoe tag device, I could just stick my foot under a scanner to register. I mentioned to the staff that I had wanted to go on the seven-mile run but it didn't seem to be available. I was told that after stretching, they would see if there were any other people interested in the seven-mile option. They did and asked for a show of hands. I was embarrassed to see that my hand was the only one in the air. Nonetheless, I pretended to play it cool and acted as though I was a really hardcore--and fast--runner and they were all a load of pussies.

Actually, it worked out quite well because I had one NikeTown Runners pace-setter to myself and he was a really nice guy and seemed to think that my pace was acceptable for him. I was slightly unsure whether I was going faster than usual because my chest was hurting a little but then I don't normally chat while running, which meant I did get a little asthma-y at times. Still, my guide told me a little more about the running club, which has apparently been going for 10 years. I also assumed that the pace-setters were NT employees but actually they don't work for Nike at all but offer to lead running sessions in return for free Nike stash (including four pairs of trainers per year)--they seem to do the trick as my guide says people often see him in his orange windbreaker and go and buy one. He didn't seem to mind that I admitted that the only item of Nike kit I was wearing was my sports bra. (That sounded less of a come-on when I wheezed it out, halfway around the Outer Circle.)

I also asked about the magical-chip-that-measures-how-far-you've-run-and-syncs-it-with-your-computer. "I assume you heard about the club via the article in Metro," he said. I did. Metro, it seems, just decided to write an article on the club without, say, asking someone involved about how it worked. It looks as though they made the same mistake as I did and got confused between the "buy cool Nike running technology" section and the "come and run with us for free and get an electronic registration tag" section. Thanks to Metro's plug (which not only claimed the club had started recently not ten years ago, but also claims, "At your first run, you'll get a free digital running chip for your trainers, which tracks your distance and calories burned"), business is booming and they were turning punters away today if they hadn't registered.

Once, my guide told me, he found a girl doing the three-mile run in tears, part way along and as she didn't have her phone, she begged him to call her a taxi! Poor dear! Meanwhile, as the club lets runners leave their coat and/or bag at the shop, random shoppers and tourists keep trying to use it as a left-luggage. Apparently, some people do also sign up for the runs just so they can get the free bottle of water at the end--what?!

As for the lack of chip, my guide had a proper magic version, which told him we ran just over seven miles in 51 minutes, which isn't bad given the amount of chat along the way.

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