A post that’s way off-topic today, but please indulge me. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing…
I’m a runner. More of a jogger, actually. Well… maybe a plodder. Still, plodder that I am, permit me this small boast: Today, I lapped the planet.
I am nothing if not consistent, running four miles, four times a week, with nary a miss. Once a month I bump a run up to 10K (6.2 miles), mostly just to prove I still can. And I say plodder because my seven-minute miles of 30 years ago have melted away into a more laconic eleven-minute variety.
The circumference of the Earth is 24,901 miles, and that’s the lifetime distance I have ‘officially’ run as of today. How do I know this? Because ever since that first run in May, 1981, shortly after I turned 30, I have meticulously logged every single run I’ve ever done. (And to think that my wife thinks that’s anal!)
Turns out I’ve slogged my way through 6,815 runs (but who’s counting?), over 426 months (not that I’d noticed), traversing by my count exactly 24,901 miles as of today.
Since my log includes ‘notable events,’ I also know that I’ve run in a lot of places. I’ve run in St. Croix and Santa Rosa… in Cancun and Quebec… from Palm Springs, CA to Franconia, NH… from Boca Raton, FL to Bellevue, WA. I’ve even run on the Pacific Ocean, or to be precise, on the Canadian/Alaskan Southeast Passage, doing laps on the deck of a cruise ship.
I’ve run in heat-indexes over 100 and wind chills of 40 below. In rain, snow, ice, sleet, heat, sun, as well as many a lovely morning (those are the ones I prefer to remember.) And yes, always in the morning. Runners are funny about those things.
I try not to talk about my running too much. It’s really a very solitary thing, this loneliness of the short distance runner. My longest slog was a half marathon that I stitched together in 1993 by adding a 5K to the front end of a ten mile Hospice Walk fundraiser that I ran instead of walking. I never ran another half-marathon again, and never had the desire to run a full one. I just keep running.
Two years ago, I suffered the only injury that required I take off more than a week. I’d switched shoes to a pair of those newfangled ones that force you to run on the balls of your feet, in a more forward position. They made me faster all right, but they aggravated a latent planter fasciitis condition that forced me by dint of pain to quit running for three full weeks. Twenty-one anxious days.
That hiatus brought crashing down a series of ‘streaks’ that I knew one day had to end: 1,465 consecutive weeks of at least one 4-miler… 281 consecutive months of at least one 10K… 27 straight years of at least 200 runs. Not to be deterred, for three weeks I gleefully rode a bike along winding park trails and rolling countryside instead, a dozen or so miles four times a week. I loved it. But as soon as I could, I was back to pounding the pavement. Runners gotta’ run, right? I’m working on new streaks now.
But here’s the thing. There is no particular significance to running the girth of the globe. It just feels noteworthy. I’m blessed and grateful even to be able to run for so long. I do it for the health benefits of course, but also for the time I get to spend inside my own head… for the pride… and for the sense of accomplishment. I do it to push myself, just to make sure I can. I resist the temptation to ‘skip’ as in, “Hey it’s just one day…” because I know what a slippery slope that can be. In that sense I suppose, running keeps me honest. With myself.
Despite all that, there’s nothing here that’s finished. Tomorrow morning, I’ll get up and go at it again. I’ve learned in life that persistence matters. A lot. Or as my old Slovenian grandpa used to say in his halting English: “Take it slow, keep it go.”
I’ll be starting my second lap tomorrow.