Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Thankful Thirty

"Be happy while you are living, for you're a long time dead." - Scottish Proverb

It recently occurred to me that I should have written about my Thankful Thirty Trot... a Facebook challenge I opened up to my friends on Facebook in honor of Thanksgiving. I put together this event for two reasons: 1) to motivate me to continue to train during my second busiest month of the year, and 2) to motivate my friends and family to make healthier choices during the calorie-heavy holiday season. 

So what was the Thankful Thirty Trot? This was a virtual race of sorts to motivate participants to move continuously at least one mile per day, with a goal of hitting 30 miles by Thanksgiving. The rules were simple - KEEP MOVING, and motivate others. You could measure the distance however you pleased. You could walk, run, bike, dance, skip, or swim the miles. You could track your miles/steps using Fitbit, or you could estimate it using whatever other tools or know-how you had handy. You could update the group every day, once a week, or once during the entire event. Pretty easy, right?

I had 23 people join the event shortly after I posted it, but it stayed silent. Most of those that had accepted are already training for races or other events, or generally lead pretty active lifestyles... but no one posted anything. I guess I didn't really know what I was expecting. But then... a couple of people started posting their miles. Shortly thereafter, others began to chime in. Ever so slowly, a community developed... people who have no other connection to one another in life were cheering each other's accomplishments. Pictures were posted of trails and sweaty selfies. Personal records were smashed. Friends were made. It was a lot of fun!

Out of the 23 people who joined the challenge, 18 people regularly updated the group on their progress. Another 15 people didn't join the challenge or post their results, but commented supportive remarks or "likes" on other people's posts (I'm sure they were popping up on everyone's feed by that point). The participants included both men and women, ages 6 to 59. We had multiple long run finishes, including 1 Urban Dare winner in Houston (woohoo, Emily!), multiple 10K runners (4 officially participating in 10K races; 7 others finishing 10K+ distance runs), three Turkey Trotters, and a Half Marathon Finisher. In total, the group racked up over 763 walking and running miles!!!

When I set up the event, I made my goal to finish 70 miles before Thanksgiving. Without counting incidental steps as miles and only counting continuous miles... I ended the challenge with 43.6 running miles and 66.39 walking miles! Just one short year ago, finishing a one mile run would have been a challenge. Sure, I could walk far... but 5 or more miles? No way! What a year it has been, my friends! 

While I had hoped to end my challenge with a bang, I only got 5 miles in during my Thanksgiving visit back home in northern New Mexico. It was not for nothing, however... I used those 5 miles to encourage my nieces to work out with me. Both my oldest and youngest niece ran a little over a mile with me on Thanksgiving eve... 

and my youngest niece walked 2 miles with my brother and me after Thanksgiving dinner the following day!

On Friday, I convinced my mother, sister, and nieces to join me for another walk along the river near the ruins in my hometown. On Saturday, we did a very short, very cold, and very snowy mini hike! While our family did a lot of outdoor activities when I was a kid, it had been years since I could remember such an active holiday for us. I was elated! My favorite part? Both nieces said they had fun and that they would be asking to do more walks with my mom and sisters in the future. Hurray!

Given the tremendous success of this group, I toyed a great deal with the idea of creating a similar challenge to get us through the December holiday season. After much thoughtful deliberation, however, I decided to not go through with it. While November was a very busy month, December was scheduled to be even busier and I knew I just would not have time to moderate a group like this again. I've had several participants reach out to me and say how much they missed the community however... maybe I should start it up again in the new year?

I realize that we don't have a huge following for this blog, but I'm toying with the idea of linking this to a Facebook page so that readers could join a fitness community if they were so inclined. I've enjoyed a tremendous community of like-minded people on Instagram, but it's discouraging to find that some only reach out to you to sell you their products. I want this to be a solicitation-free zone. Thoughts?

Regardless, I think I will be setting up some kind of challenge in the new year. If you'd like to be included, drop me a line and let me know. We'd love to have you! I have two more long runs before my half marathon in four weeks... wish me luck. I've been avoiding this last one - hopefully I can motivate myself to finish it tomorrow. 

I start vacation on Wednesday, so hopefully I'll have more time to update this thing while I'm off. (PS - NATASHA! Where are you?). Thanks for sticking with me. If I don't post before then, have a safe, happy, healthy, and fit holiday! Merry Christmas!



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