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):
- 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.
- Gobi Desert, in Mongolia, between Uulan Battar and the western border of China. Talk about in the middle of NOWHERE!
- Andes Mountains, in Peru, at 15,500 ft. altitude, Not bad; more “breathable” air than expected
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!