I have two screens in my face at this moment: my laptop and my cell. I had to upload a pic from my phone to WordPress from this morning’s 5-mile run (the Johnny’s Runnin’ Of the Green) in downtown Rochester. It was the second straight year I ran the race with a couple buddies, and both times we drank a bit too much the night before. Not sure if that’s part of the tradition now, but we’ll find out next year.
Normally after a race, runners will make their way to the bottles of water or Gatorade, the bagels and bananas, and then head toward the little corner where the results are posted to find out their official times. I’ve seen sheets of paper being taped to a wall and big screens where you type in your bib number.
Today, there were papers on the wall. But instead of results, there were QR codes. Scan the code, follow the links, get your results. And this brings me back to the screens. Instead of runners huddling up, bending around one another to find their results, they have the convenience of using their smartphones (which everybody has by now, right?). It was the only way they offered to get results right after the race, otherwise you’d wait until they’re posted on a website (another screen).
This bothered me for two reasons: 1) My cell was in my car and 2) where’s the fun in that?
I get it. Everybody has a smartphone and everybody uses it and everybody loves convenience and QR codes and swiping and beep beep bop boop there it is! It’s personal, because it’s your phone and your moment with no one around you. But that’s the problem: there’s no one around you.
I can’t be the only one who likes the scene of people shoulder-to-shoulder bending for room to find their time. I still wouldn’t call myself “a runner” the way some of these others are, but I think I have an understanding of the culture a bit. Runners have built a community with certain traditions, and I guess I’m surprised at how much the tradition of finding your time on the wall was missed today. I have no way of knowing if anyone else — a “runner”, perhaps — felt this way, but my guess is yes.
And it’s not like I’m clamoring for the old days of stop watches, no ear buds and hand-written results. Chip timing and ultra-light shoes are great because they are improvements of the culture with more accurate times and less painful feet. Neither of those improvements come at the cost of the culture (unless someone misses foot pain).
Having the technology to do something doesn’t mean the reason to do it is there, too. I don’t just want my time. I want to see the faces of other people when they find their time. I want to hear their conversations about what they think they did, how happy they are that they did it, and completely unrelated topics — humans being humans.
I’ll let the good people at PCR Timing know my opinion and maybe I won’t be the only one. Maybe nobody noticed. And maybe that’s the worst part.
It’s 4:07 p.m. and the results are still not posted. Not sure how they can post them instantly to an app but not to the website. However, just saw my results from the 2013 race; I clocked in at 40:05, meaning I ran 8:01/mile. I think I was a bit off that pace today, but I guess I’ll find out later…
It’s 4:17 p.m. and the results have been posted. I finished in 42:44.7 with a 8:33/mile average. A little disappointed now that I compare it to 2013. Must be gettin’ old. However, so are the people around me, because both years I finished 50th in the 30-34 age division. At least I’m keeping pace with my peers.