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.