The 4 millionth step

At 1:41 on this cool, rainy afternoon, I took my 4 millionth step of 2010, as measured by a digital pedometer.  It is a goal I’ve had in my gunsight since at least mid-summer.  

The original goal was 3.65 million steps.  That’s 10,000 a day, roughly five miles.  But I like round figures.  Four million rang a bell.  Anyway I believe most Americans walk about half of what I did this year.

It went down this way.  I knew at the start of the day I needed just 2,943 more steps to hit my 4 mil.  So, as I walked to the library with a backpack slung over my shoulder and a fresh cup of Starbucks coffee in my left hand, I pulled out the pedometer and let it dangle at my side, watching it intently.  Just 40 more, 39, 30 . . . .  

Soon, in front of a nondescript house on the north, I was there.  I dropped my pack on the sidewalk, set down my coffee cup and speed-dialed Nebra who was at her office.  “Flash,” I said, and I gave her the news.  Nebra can appreciate 4 million more than anyone I know.   She wears a pedometer just like mine, and we have competed all year.   She trails me now by about 300,000 and has virtually no shot at the 4 million.

If I was half the reporter I say I am, I would’ve noted which foot, left or right, landed at the magical moment.  But I did not.  And neither was I able to stop perfectly.  The pedometer slid by to the 2,944th step, one step beyond 4 mil.  But no matter. 

Today marked only the official count, a symbolic triumph.  In reality I reached 4 mil many days ago.  Only the gods know when.  I may walk 50 steps a day or more that never get counted.  Some mornings as I awake it takes a while for it to sink in.  “Now where did I leave that pedometer last night?”   So I waste steps looking for it.  And on the few days I have a heavy thought I simply forget to snap the gadget on. 

I doubt I can ever do better than this.  More, I doubt that I will ever want to do better than this.  To do 4 million took work.  More time each day that I wanted to spend, just to walk.  But I know this.  I’ll probably be wearing a pedometer the rest of my waking life.  It’s like a birthmark or a toe or a finger.  I can’t imagine myself without it.

But there is irony involved.  Nebra pointed it out to me just minutes ago.  On the day I hit 4 million I failed to reach 10,000 steps for the day.  Just now at midnight I have only 8,469.  I was too wrapped up in writing  this blog and at the same time watching the waning minutes of the Spurs-Nuggets game.  Too wrapped up for a short walk.

Oh well.  In the walking world, there is always tomorrow.  The pedometer zeroes out at midnight.

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