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One Billion Seconds.. and Still Running!

My “Spin” on One Billion.

Earlier this year, on Friday, January 22nd , the length of my consecutive day running passed the 1 billion second mark.  In more “digestible” terms, that is 31 years, 8 months and 7 days, or 11,575 consecutive days!  My billion second odyssey started on May 16, 1978.

One billion seconds has spanned three complete decades, the 80’s, 90’s and the 00’s.  I have run through the regimes of six US presidents.  I was almost 210 millions seconds, or 2,421 days, into my streak when LeBron James was born (I live in the Cleveland-area; Go Cavs!).

Over the course of those one billion seconds, I have run approximately 82,000 miles.  If I would have turned those 82,000 miles into a continuous 1 billion second run—I would have covered 5.19 inches every second, 0.295 miles every hour, and/or 7.08 miles each day.  If I would have run my 82,000 miles around the greatest circumference of the earth, I would now be on my fourth lap, having completed 3.25 circuits of the globe.

In reality, my global path has been more of a random zigzag.  I have run in 46 states and 22 countries.  I consider every run a great run…many of them, however, have taken place in some very remote and unique parts of the world, as well as in some extreme climatic and altitude settings.  Here is a list of my top-ten most memorable locations and/or events, in no particular order.  For each “memory,” I’ve included my personal feelings about the run(s):

  1. Death Valley, in Southern California, in the middle of the summer:  125 degrees & bright sunshine.  “Cool”—with the breeze it felt like sticking your head in the oven and turning on a hair blower.
  2. Gobi Desert, in Mongolia, between Uulan Battar and the western border of China.  Talk about in the middle of NOWHERE!
  3. Andes Mountains, in Peru, at 15,500 ft. altitude,  Not bad; more “breathable” air than expected
  4. Arab side of the Wailing Wall, in Jerusalem.  One wrong turn and this Jewish runner was on the wrong side of the wall.  Not to worry…in pink shorts and a tank top, I probably wasn’t worth the chase; in any case they couldn’t have caught me.
  5. Up the 1,575 stairs of the Empire State Building in the “Empire State Run-Up” race.  Sorry, this didn’t count as a run; stairs don’t count—even though I finished as high as 3rd place.  Fun to say I did it!
  6. On the streets of Delhi, India at 2:30 AM.  Sometimes you just have to get out and run—anywhere—to keep the streak going.  The air smelled like smoldering camp fire.
  7. Across the Sahara Desert in Central Morocco with a 28 pound backpack on my back.  The 135 mile Marathon DesSables, a race of “self-support,” was an exercise in pain tolerance.  Deserts and sand dunes tend to cause the skin to fall off the bottoms of your feet.  Ouch!
  8. Running to my wedding, December 10, 1995, in Cleveland, Ohio.  Four degrees above zero, in my pink shorts (we have a picture of me in my running gear in our wedding album to prove it).  Invigorating—a great way to start my life with my wife, Debra.
  9. Sick as a dog!  Many times, many reasons.  With a few Advil, and a major gut-check, anyone can run five miles—just don’t barf before you’re done.
  10. 1984 Boston Marathon, my 13th marathon, and my fastest: 2 hours, 34 minutes and 45 seconds!  Pride!

How did I celebrate my one billion second day?  I went out for a run.  I wanted to honor the landmark number by running one billion “somethings.”  However, that was easier said than done.

After a little thought I arrived at the idea of one billion millimeters—one millimeter is approximately 1/25th of one inch?  Well, one billion millimeters equals 621 miles!  That would have been little too much celebrating…

So, with an even greater respect for the number one billion, I proudly ran one billion 1/100 millimeters, or 6.21 miles.  Look at your closest ruler; squint your eyes until you can focus on one millimeter; then divide (in your mind) that distance by one hundred—I ran one billion of those.  See you on the road!

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