Queen of the Virtual Mountain

My Quest to be Queen
by: Catherine DuBay

Just about 4 months ago I received a gift that changed my running life as I knew it. Under the Christmas tree was a GPS running watch from my husband. I had mentioned I might want one after running with friends that owned them. I didn’t really like learning that my “8 mile run” was really closer to 7, but I did like how they knew the pace, elevation and exact distance of our runs.

So I strapped it on and went running. The first run with the watch I was obsessed with the thing, to the point I had to take it off and put it in my pocket. Since then we have come to an understanding…I will wear it and it will only display time running and distance. I do not need to see pace, heart rate, mood, etc. while I am running. I can download all that later. And this, my friends, is the problem. The download! Heard of Strava? Well, it is a little bit like indoor cycling at The Studios…a competition without prizes, finish lines, or fan fare.

Strava takes information from GPS devices and ranks these performances amongst others who have run the same course. In cycling the top time is QOM (queen of the mountain) and in running it is CR (course record-no idea why runners can’t be queens, but whatever). Then you can compare yourself to others, most of which you do not know and to your own previous times. You even get an email saying something like: Catherine, you have been de-throned. Go out and try to take back the CR! It is demoralizing but low and behold, I am out there again, trying to gain back my position. Even if I am not trying to run a CR and am just out for a run, it is always in the back of my mind that I am on someone’s course and that when I download by GPS, I will be ranked!

Heck yeah, I am just as competitive as the next guy or gal and that is why Strava makes me crazy. If I wasn’t competitive, I wouldn’t use Strava. I would just use the GPS as a means to tell me how far, fast and high I am running.

So I find myself running around Spring Lake this week and am having a rare run where everything is clicking. The weather is great, my shoes fit, and it’s just all working. I also know I am on a Strava course in which I do not have a CR next to my name. I decide today may be a day where I can dethrone someone and I decide to go for it. Thus, you can imagine my dilemma when I come across a group of bird watchers quietly blocking my path as they gaze up at what must have been a very rare sighting. They were not about to move even as I barreled toward them. I momentarily thought about plowing into them and disrupting their watch in order to get the CR! What is wrong with me? For a CR on a computer program I am actually contemplating knocking over a bird watching senior citizen? Thank goodness my rational side took over and I took a different path to avoid them and thus, abandoned my attempt to be queen of the course.

I will continue to wear the watch and I will continue to cycle at the Studios and the competition will continue. I may just leave the GPS at home when I need to back off a bit. And I promise, if you are out bird watching, I will not plow into you…but if you see a runner with a big instrument around their wrist, step aside. They may be out for the CR.