It's been a long time since I've just gone for a walk.
A get out of bed, grab a sweater and go kind of walk.
A don't really care what shoes you wear kind of walk.
A meet up with a friend and gab kind of walk.
A stop on the way home for coffee and a bagel kind of walk.
Walks like these used to be a routine. Now they seem to be a rarity.
Even the dog looks at me with disdain and the plumpness of four extra pounds gained since the Fall.
There's enough blame to throw around: Long winter, short-hair dog. The lure of an extra half hour of sleep.
When the veterinarian mentioned the weight gain, I immediately blamed the new cat, her overflowing food bowl, and her dainty little appetite.
But the real blame has to be be placed firmly inside my own orthotics-inserted, blue and orange over-engineered kicks.
I'd rather run.
And not just run. … Obsessively run. Compulsively run.
Run the way a handheld computer tells me to run.
Four miles today, five tomorrow, eight to ten by the end of the week.
Easy. Slow. Fast. Race pace.
Run with all the gizmos that, as I cross my fingers and mouth a silent prayer, I hope will help me shave off a few measly seconds from my best time.
Which, let's face it, never seems fast or far enough. Not to mention that it doesn't allow the time my furry friend needs to sniff fire hydrants or chase squirrels.
Yes, It's all my fault. I would rather run, and the dog slows me down.
More and more, I'm coming to the realization that I'm not running for the health benefits as much as I'm running for the data.
Rafts and rafts of it, over various applications. I know how far, how fast, at what elevation; and, mile for mile, how it compares to other runs going back all the way to the beginning.
Even when I measure one run on one device, I enter the metrics into four others.
Which reminds me ...
Now I have a new device.
A Pebble Watch, which is like the Apple watch, only not as Goliath.
It tells the time. And buzzes my arm when I receive text messages. And it shows the data from my running tracker without having to fish my phone out of its sleeve.
It also tracks my activity throughout the day, as well as the quality of my sleep. All of these numbers, however, have made me skeptical of their validity.
As if the chunk of plastic strapped to my wrist is a tiny Dr. Oz reminding me I've bought into the amazing properties of snake oil metrics while the price was at its height.
Of course, even snake oil works some degree.
For instance, the watch has determined that I sleep only six hours (two of them deeply) most nights, which can only be accounted for because I usually manage to walk 80 or 90 steps in my sleep.
However, the prospect of exercising in dreamland turned into a nightmare as the watch logged a meager 3,000 steps on days I don't run and barely reached the target 10,000 on the days I do.
Then my crazy suddenly blossomed. Standing at the bus stop my watch-side arm started to twitch. Then swing. And then, before I knew what was happening, any passerby would have thought I was snapping in time to some doo-wop band in my head.
At baseball practice more of the same. I was lurching forward and backward like I'd developed a palsy or some previously undetected tick.
All to log just a few more steps.
Metric compulsions from which my dog would soon benefit.
I got the leash -- and a big, goofy smile from the dog – and I set my tracker app to "Dog Walk."
“Wipe that smile off your long face,” I warned. “We're stepping it! No squirrels. No birds. And no sniffing fire hydrants. We're on the clock.”