Two hundred and fifty thousand or so Americans are expected to run and complete a half marathon this month. And I plan to be one of them on Saturday. It's my first half.
But I have an advantage over all those other runners - an advantage I got from a mystery woman, whose voice has whispered encouragement into my earbuds from my iPod Nike App since I began jogging two years ago, as I approached the age of 50.
Yes, the mystery woman has said something to me she hasn’t told those other iPod App runners.
I had never planned to do long distances. I was just jogging a few miles a few times a week - 30 minute runs for health and longevity. “Chasing Life” and “Cheating Death,” as my colleague Dr. Sanjay Gupta might say.
But I got hooked. I gradually increased my mileage. And I noticed that when I’d break a personal record, or personal best, which is an important marker in the running world, a voice would come over my iPod running app. A British voice. A sultry voice. And here’s what she said:
“Congratulations. This is (a name I didn’t recognize.) You’ve just done your personal best..." Short. Sweet. Encouraging.
I broke a few personal records over time. Each time her voice would speak to me - the same woman, the same message. But I always forgot her name.
This summer I was in New York, and decided I had to get this mystery woman’s name. The only way to hear her say her name was to break another personal record. And the only personal record I knew I could break through sheer willpower was the amount of time I’d run. So, in Central Park, on June 21, the longest day of the year, which is an advantage when you’re running after work in Central Park, I ran, and ran, and ran, until I knew I’d run longer than I’d ever run before.
Then I pulled out the pen and piece of paper that I brought with me for the occasion, pushed the iPod button and listened to the message.