My Little iPod (To the Tune of “My Little Pony”)

I got a new iPod, gang.

This probably does not sound like a momentous occasion to YOU, but it totally is one. Consider this: how many iPods do any of us even buy over the course of a lifetime? Counting my original iPod (2006), iPod Touch (2008) and my first iPod nano (2012), I have only ever had three and they were all such different beasts that it hardly feels like three of the same thing.New iPod, then = big deal.

My purple iPod nano went missing a few weeks ago. I know it seems like I must have been careless but I really wasn’t — I kept that iPod safe, along with my Beats headphones, in the headphones’ case. Somehow it went missing. And it went missing JUST as I became willing to make the transition to running outside instead of on the treadmill.

For someone who needs to know details, treadmill running is great. You’re told your exact speed, your distance, your time, etc. And for someone who is very loathe to let other people see them run, a treadmill in a basement is great protection from prying eyes. I fall into both of the aforementioned categories, and over the past 5 months my love affair with my treadmill has reached Kim & Kanye status. JK – barf – death – more like Beyonce and Jay, everyone’s true spirit couple. As the weather has improved I’ve considered branching out to run outside, but had several concerns: 1) How would I know how far I’ve gone? 2) How will I know for sure how fast my miles are? 3) How will I even know where to run? 4) I don’t want to hold my phone while running. Hmph.

And so I hemmed and hawed. I stayed on my treadmill, locked away from the world.

But then, on my birthday weekend, my Mom and Chelsea and I all went running at the River Trail in Scranton. I LOVED IT. It was glorious and green and sunny and it was just the best way to begin a birthday weekend. It really was. The next day, Chelsea slept in and Mom and I hit Nay Aug Park in Scranton. That, too, was lovely.

I decided immediately that I needed to start running outside.

The Monday after my birthday, I wanted to attempt Vestal’s Rail Trail. It’s a four mile straight line, 2 out and 2 back, and on its best days — and in the fully florid days of spring, I think we can safely say we are in its best days — it is boring as shit. I wish it wasn’t, but it is. When I got to the Rail Trail, it was around 11 AM and about 80 degrees. OBVIOUSLY THIS WAS NOT THE BEST TIME TO TRY SOMETHING NEW, but like a Justin Bieber and his attempts to be seen as a man/taken seriously, I cannot be deterred from a plan even when all signs point to failure.

So off I went. I tried. But being so used to the treadmill, I was miserably bad at pacing myself. And then, it happened: my Beats by Dre VERY SUPER NICE HEADPHONES… died.

I was running in the 80 degree heat on a boring trail, having to hold my phone in my hand, and with no music.

Honestly: it was one of the worst runs I have ever had in my life.

I came home bitter and cranky and defeated.

I was so miserable that I took THREE DAYS OFF, which never, ever, ever happens.

But then, Thursday evening, Chelsea and I went for a walk around our neighborhood — we branched into areas I had never seen before. The street on which we live is set apart from the rest of the neighborhood, kind of, and we had never much explored. But when we did, I was delighted — Chelsea has always run in our neighborhood instead of the treadmill, so the sights were all common for her. But the unique houses, the beautifully landscaped gardens, the majestic old and huge trees everywhere…. I could run here, I thought to myself. Then, the best part of all: we discovered, as I’ve mentioned, a woodland trail near our house. It’s less than a block from our front door, but it’s cleverly disguised as a fence and a field. On the other side of the field, a path begins. We walked it out and discovered that it seems to be about 1.5 miles out and 1.5 miles back (it ends at a normal road), so 3 miles total. I HAD FOUND MY PLACE.

Friday morning, I gave my headphones one last dry. No dice. It was pouring outside. Furiously. Should I return to the treadmill? Sigh. If you know me personally, you’ll know that when I’m irritated or angry I can be very effective if I channel myself appropriately. I had a feeling that if I just SET OUT TO DO A THING that morning, despite my disgust about the weather and the headphones, I would have success.

So I put on my old shoes and a windjacket and sans music set into the neighborhood to run in the pouring rain. 6.3 miles later, I came inside feeling calm and immensely pleased.

I was hooked, then, on neighborhood running. But using MapMyRun on my phone was wildly inaccurate, and waiting until I got home to plot the streets was not helpful for while I was actually out there running, and plus MMR didn’t have the woodland trail on it. I needed a better way.

I felt the loss of my little purple iPod more than ever.

That iPod and I had only gone “running” together once or twice a million years ago. I listened to it at work often and in the car, it plugged into my auxiliary jack. I never used its workout capabilities; I only vaguely knew it had them. But when Chelsea gave her blessing to Project New iPod, I felt excited and invigorated and desperately anxious for the new gadget to arrive in the mail. I hoped to use it 1) for sound, 2) for mapping my runs and 3) calculating my efforts. As I waited for the mailman, I contacted the vendor through which I got my old Beats. They offered to send me new ones. I was ecstatic — new headphones, new iPod, new ME out there running.

The iPod and headphones arrived yesterday and my excitement cannot be overstated. I ran two miles by myself, then came home, waited for Chelsea, and together we ran about 3.5 more. 5.5 for the day. The iPod calculated our distances perfectly, as well as our times per mile, etc. The headphones, too, were ideal.

And me? Oh, I was hooked on it all. Finally, with all my concerns assuaged, I had something telling me how far and how fast. I also had something providing some noise so I wasn’t quite so bored.

Most importantly, though, I ran through the streets and didn’t feel like I looked like an idiot. Not because of the iPod, obviously, but because I’m over 20 lbs lighter than I’ve been in awhile and because I felt like ME as I ran along — not like someone pretending at being a runner, but like someone who just IS a runner.

Just like that, I became someone who runs in their neighborhood.

With a snazzy new iPod.

Also, ssssssick headphones.

To me, this is a transformation previously considered impossible.

So this is all to say that I got a new iPod, and it’ll make running easier. I guess this is also to share my delight at my neighborhood running. Mostly, overall, this is me saying that fitness is a journey that is constantly evolving and I love seeing the changes it brings.

Oh and one more thing: It was MY IDEA to actually go for a run with Chelsea. Me? Willingly running with someone else besides my mom? ME? The slow-poke? The amount of courage it took to do THAT will be a post for a different day.

RUN ON, friends!

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