I like to take long runs outside. When running, I usually take the time to sort through and reflect on stresses in my life. My mind seems to become more lucid, allowing me to organize my jumbled thoughts and ease my anxieties. On my run this morning, I ruminated on what object that I own is meaningful to me and sort of had an “aha” moment when I decided that the iPod touch and running armband that accompany me on all my runs were it.

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In our society where new and upgraded technologies are released with a relentless force and gadgets become outmoded after only a few months of being released, perhaps my iPod touch could be considered an ancient artifact. It is a second generation, eight gigabyte model that came into my possession in the summer of 2010. Despite its age, it has served me well and still works perfectly. The backstory of how it came into my hands is that at that time, Apple was having a promotion for college students purchasing laptops, which involved giving out this specific iPod touch and an HP printer. With the purchase of my college laptop, this better iPod touch with its speaker function replaced my first generation make. The black armband that snuggly encases my iPod touch was purchased around the same time and what is interesting is that it does not have a brand logo on it, which does not help in remembering where it is from. It consists of two parts – a black silicone case and a long, black velcro strap with a plastic loop. I got into running around the summer of 2009 and this armband was the second object I used to help make my running more efficient (the first object being a pair of Nike running shoes I received the previous Christmas). In retrospect, I would say the day I started using this armband was a milestone in my journey of becoming an avid runner.

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As much as I enjoy long runs, many times they can be tiring and boring. That is why I like to listen to my “Run” playlist on my iPod, because it distracts me from the physical pains that come with running (such as sore legs and cramps) and puts me in “the zone”, meaning a motivated mindset for enduring the long distance ahead of me. Some of the songs on my “Run” playlist are “I cry” by Flo Rida, “Starlight” by Muse, and “Flora’s Secret” by Enya. Most of the times, I do not consciously listen to the songs and they become background music. However, having run with and without my iPod, I definitely prefer having it with me; listening to my music seems to help me better focus on my runs instead of getting distracted by my surroundings. Not only do my iPod touch and  complimentary armband help me transgress physical and mental obstacles, but they provide me with crucial information: time. Depending on how long I want to run for, I can refer to the time with a push of a button, know when I am at my halfway mark, and thus turn back and get home at the time I had planned. In addition, my runs are always timed on the timer, so when the alarm goes off, I know whether or not I have reached my time/distance goals. On days where I don’t have these two items either because I left them at home or forgot to charge my iPod, I feel a little reluctant to run and feel like my running uniform is incomplete. They have endured and accompanied me over an aggregate distance of hundreds of miles.

My iPod rarely comes out of its armband case, and even the velcro strap is rarely removed. I almost exclusively use these inseparable items when running or flying on a plane, so they are used a lot in public spaces, but in very limited contexts. I personally feel that running armbands are many times used by committed, experienced, and long-time runners who are in the know of making their runs more efficient because there is a vast difference in comfort when running with and without an armband (when I see people running with their portable audio device in their hands, I think they look awkward and I get the idea that they have just started out running, are not serious runners, or decided to run one day after several years of no exercise). So when people see me running with or holding my iPod with its armband, they may get the impression that I am an experienced or enthusiastic runner, which is accurate.  Also, since I have been running under the hot summer/early fall sun lately, the armband has formed an inch thick tan line on my right arm where I always wear it. I think that other outdoor runners who use armbands (and maybe even indoor exercisers who use armbands) would understand this tan line. But others may question where it came from because it is different from typical tan lines such as flip flop and sock lines, and it is in a pretty visible location. People might also assume that I am an Apple follower/fan (Apple seems to define so many people nowadays), when this is not exactly true. I like my iPod Touch (though it is a little dated) and MacBook Pro, but I am not strictly an “Apple person”; I am not one of those people who camp outside an Apple store to purchase the latest iPhone. Frankly, I think that my Samsung Note 2 has much better technical capabilities than the iPhone. I do not have any strong loyalties to any technology corporations and think being open to various technology brands is good.

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