By Matthew E. Milliken
March 11, 2016
I have arrived at a certain mathematics of walking.
I can travel one mile in 2,000 steps. By dint of division, one-half mile requires 1,000 steps; one-quarter mile, 500 steps.
It takes me about 16 minutes to walk a mile. This varies, of course: I can do a mile in about 15 minutes and 30 seconds, but 16:30 to 17:15 is a bit more typical. Usually when I walk, I’m encumbered by a shoulder bag containing my laptop computer, and I also have to wait for traffic before I can cross the street. That slows me down, obviously.
My times are faster when it’s just me and when I’m on a walking trail or a long unbroken sidewalk and/or there’s no need to stop for traffic. That was the case Saturday afternoon, when, after walking from a coffee shop to my car to drop off my bag, I then went to Duke’s East Campus and circumnavigated the property. The perimeter of the trapezoidal-shaped campus is 1.65 miles in length; I did it with an average pace of 15:50. This was fresh on the heels of the 1.06-mile walk (pace: 16:26) that had taken me from the shop to the car to the campus.
That evening, I took a meandering route from my home to the Watts Hospital-Hillandale neighborhood to Ninth Street to where I’d left my car on Iredell Street near West Main. I covered 2.36 miles in an average of 16:11.
I didn’t have as much free time to walk on Sunday, but I put in 58 minutes on some walking trails in and around Duke Forest, on the south side of what I consider to be Duke’s main campus. (It’s officially called the university’s West Campus.) I walked part of the Sally Meyerhoff Fitness Loop before taking an offshoot that led, it turned out, to the Washington Duke Inn and Golf Club.
Instead of following the path to its terminus, at the Washington Duke parking lot, I took a fork that led to a fenced-off Duke soccer practice field. I skirted the fence for a bit and came to a vehicle entrance to the field. I walked over to Cameron Boulevard and continued along it where the road’s identity changes over to Academy Road.
That returned me to my starting point, where I began retracing my steps along the Meyerhoff Loop. I passed the spot where I had turned off toward Washington Duke; this time, I continued straight ahead. I was on the Al Buehler Trail. It apparently circles back around to meet up with the Meyerhoff Loop, but after following it for more than a mile, I felt my exercise time coming to an end. I turned around, returned to the spot where I’d left the Meyerhoff Loop and continued along it back to the point where I’d entered Duke Forest.
Shortly after 1 a.m. Monday, I returned to Durham and parked my car near the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, which is close to my home. I went over to Broad Street and started walking north. I continued on Broad past Guess Road, where Broad changes its direction from due north to an angle of about 45 degrees, halfway between north and east. I went along the Interstate 85 overpass and crossed Broad to be on the west side of the street, where the sidewalk is interrupted by very little besides North Pointe Drive. (Several residential streets intersect with Broad’s east side, and it peters out after a certain point.) Just before I switched sides, however, I saw the body of a cat. I couldn’t tell why it had died.
I walked past the back end of a shopping center that contains Bed Bath & Beyond and past the rear of Costco. I kept on and passed a gated residential neighborhood. (That was around the spot where I hit the one-mile mark, which I walked in 15 minutes and 55 seconds.) A minute or two later, I came to the short gated road leading over to Walker’s Draperies and Interiors, a wholesale business. The sidewalk ran out shortly after that, so I turned around.
(Also, to be frank, I saw the silhouette of someone walking ahead of me, and while I couldn’t detect anything about this person, I felt that I had nothing to gain by catching up to him or her.)
I went back along the sidewalk, back past the gated community, past the Costco and the shopping center and of course past I-85. I hit the two-mile point just on the south side of the interstate (pace: 15:57) and continued going south on Broad.
I turned left on Sprunt Avenue, which goes one short block before coming to an end at Clarendon Street. I turned right, or south, on Clarendon, went down to West Club Boulevard and turned right (west) there. I crossed Broad and began walking the perimeter of the School of Science and Mathematics.
I went right (north) on Miranda Avenue and followed the sidewalk until I got back to Sprunt. There I turned right and headed east back to Broad.
By then it was right around 2 a.m., and I’d been walking for more than 50 minutes. I turned off my smartphone exercise tracker, turned south on Broad and walked back to my car.