A few months ago I posted here about my dissatisfaction with Gwendolen Runkeeper, who never seemed very enthusiastic when announcing my times and distances while on a run. This morning, on my first tracked run for a couple of weeks, I was almost stopped in my tracks, before I had even started running. I was psychologically braced for Gwendolen’s terse announcement of the run ahead of me, when a soft, gentle, English lady told me, almost apologetically, that my workout had started. My brain raced, while my body froze. “Gwenny, my dear, are you there?” I almost said out loud, before taking a deep breath and starting to run, thinking that maybe my brain was scrambled and that time would sort this one out.
Now, I had accused Gwendolen of being cold and indifferent, at best, towards my running feats. She seemed decidedly unimpressed and had a very cruel sense of humour randomly announcing current pace rates that were unobtainable by mere mortal me, just as I was struggling to keep moving at all. So, as I approached my first kilometre and my first notification, I was all ears (well, not all ears, but you know what I mean) and then she spoke again “Distance, one point zero kilometres. Time, six minutes fifteen seconds. Current pace, six minutes fifteen seconds.”
This was bizarre, instead of the brusque American chick, who needs to be impressed, I had a caring, nurturing, convent school educated, home counties lady (there is no other word for her) encouraging me onwards to greater things. The words were the same, but the tone completely different. It was like having Julie Andrews spurring me on with benign reassurance, personally and comfortingly delivered in dulcet tones, for my ears only.
I was intrigued. Was this lady, I have decided she sounds like an Annabel, going to inspire me to greater achievements? After all, she seemed to be offering me everything on a plate, that Gwendolen always held back. I couldn’t wait for my next notifications.
Each time Annabel spoke up I listened attentively, as if we were on a first date and with a soft smile in her voice, she reported my improving kilometre times and I slowly warmed to this alluring stranger. Then she did it. She showed that, like Gwendolen, she is not to be trusted. With her polished RP delivery she warmly announced, “Distance, four point zero two kilometres. Time, twenty five minutes, twelve seconds. Current pace, thirteen minutes fifty two seconds.”
Now, when Gwendonlen insults me with an absurd current pace, and a snort of derision, I take it on the chin, grit my teeth and push on. When Annabel does it, one can feel nothing but total patronisation and betrayal. Just like an assassin smiling as they twist the knife. Ouch!!
My times for the run were nothing special, but I accept that the ankle deep slurry that I was running through (and the fact that I wasn’t trying to run fast) was probably more to blame, rather than the demure Annabel’s commentary. Gwenny has become an integral part of my running, like the mud splashed up my legs or the callous on my right foot. I was not sure that I can cope with such a drastic change in my running life.
Then I had a thought. Maybe she is just sizing me up. Maybe the technology has reached the point where the tone of notifications will respond to the effort that I put in. When I do a PB, Annabel will show another side of her character and whoop like a cheerleader and when my pace drops she will sneer and abuse me for my pathetic attempts. If I can only get over the occasional sarcastic exaggeration of my current pace and the simpering Mary Poppins delivery, then maybe I have found the running companion of my dreams.
Only time will tell. Here’s to a new year running with Annabel.
Keep running, keep smiling.