Week 27: challenge

This week marked the end of the month of July. A pretty awesome month in general. I will blog separately with a month in review. Of significance during July was a special challenge.

The “July Challenge” was held within a Google+ running group that I am in. Someone had the idea of a girls vs boys challenge to see who could run the most miles for the month. As there were more guys than girls, the equitable decision was made early on to take an average for each group each day (i.e. add up the miles for all the gals and divide that by the number of women, then compare with the male average), and it was all recorded on Google Docs for all to see.

There was a bit of jocularity and some flash hashtagging going on up front (Kristi is queen of the hashtags for sure!), but it settled very quickly into an encouraging daily routine. Everyone posted their run(s) for the day if they had done one, and it was rare not to have at least one ‘+1’ on your post, usually accompanied by some encouragement (or a bit of fun big talking).

In the end the gals won by an incredibly close 4 miles, however the guys had pulled out all stops with a lot of 2-a-day runs in the last week or so to try to catch up. For the month of July the 31 of us men and women ran a combined 4,358.81 miles (7014.82 kms)! That is a remarkable 140.61 miles (226.29 kms) per person! What is even more significant during the challenge is that many people ran PBs of distance, time or frequency, almost by accident.

I ran a total of 201.19 miles for the month (323.78 kms). That is more than 10kms a calendar day. On the evening of the 30th July one of the guys had posted a comment that I had less than 9 miles to run to hit the 200 mile mark. My scheduled run for the next morning, 31st July, was to be a leisurely 6.5kms (just over 4 miles). Spurred on by Ken’s comment, I revised my run schedule for the week and swapped a mid-distance run planned for later in the week so I could hit the 200. I went out in the cold drizzle of a Melbourne winter’s morning with 9 miles in mind, and part way through the run decided I would round it up to 10 miles (just over 16kms), just to be sure. That was nearly 10kms more than I had planned to run, but it was easily achievable as I had allowed the time, having risen at 4.30am and scooted out the door at 5am. I didn’t want to hit the 200 mile mark for any competitive reason amongst the group. I did it because it seemed a shame to be so close and not to have hit it when I knew I could. So I did, and it was all thanks to the encouragement of one of the guys.    : )

In regards to the PBs and personal achievements, I don’t think anyone really wanted to beat each other as it went along. And I feel that the results we all achieved were not even driven by any desire to necessarily better ourselves.

I ran that little bit more almost every time just because.

Because it was OK to run, since everyone else was (ah – the power of normative behaviour drivers!!).

Because I was accountable to everyone in my team (#gothegirls) as well as the opposition, and needed to post something pretty much daily, except when I was travelling (I was on holidays in Singapore, Dubai, London, Brussels and Paris during this time as well – please read my Eat Travel Run posts for details).

Because I was part of a team and had responsibilities.

Because it was fun.

So I guess some of the morals of this story are that 323.78 kms on paper may look like a chore, and could have been a chore. However, thanks to the camaraderie of the virtual running group that I am a part of, I was able to overachieve without significant effort. AND had fun along the way! Strength can be unearthed through the encouragement of others, and there is no end to your own possibilities.

To quote Katerina’s Wish by Jeannine Mobley:

It won’t be a chore, it will be a garden.

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