The journey of 1200 kilometres begins with a single step.

Most mornings, my day begins by listening to the local CBC radio station here in Saint John.  I especially enjoy Information Morning, which is a nice mix of news, community information, and music.  I like it because the host, Julia Wright, is serious when she needs to be and not so serious when she doesn’t.  The chemistry between her and Cindy Grant (her on-air partner in crime) makes it feel like I’m having morning coffee with friends.

Well, yesterday morning, there was a segment called “Walk, run, snowshoe around the province virtually.”  My ears perked up.

The short version is that, in an effort to inspire New Brunswickers to be more active, RunNB is hosting the 2021 RunNB Challenge, in which the goal is to (virtually) walk, run, or snowshoe a route around the entire province.  (By Canadian standards, New Brunswick is small.  But by world standards, we’re about the same size as Ireland.)

Well, dear readers, I am not a runner.  Some days I’m not even a walker, depending on what my autoimmune disease is up to.  But I know that if I can move, I should move, because as painful as it is to put one  set of twisted toes after the other, moving will keep things from getting even worse.  I know this, but I will not exercise for the sake of exercise.  I would rather perform my own root canal.  But if you dangle a goal in front of me, well, then …

2021 RunNB Challenge Medal

There is a medal for completing the challenge!

So 5:30 this morning found me sitting on the floor next to my dusty treadmill, sawing open a bottle of belt lubricant and hoping the Internet manual I’d found was the same model as my machine.  I’d woken up at 4:30 AM, excited to register for the challenge as soon as my pay hit my bank account (I know! I don’t know who I am right now either!), and I was ready.

I find nothing motivates me quite like accountability, and I figured “Go big, or go home.”  So yesterday, when I decided to do this, I tweeted to Julia Wright/Information Morning, Duran Duran, and the rest of the world that I was going to commit to the challenge.  That way I couldn’t back out.  (Let down Simon LeBon?  No way.)

Tweet Screen Capture

I’m not sure who groaned more — me or the treadmill — when I climbed aboard, but I had my phone in my pocket, my headphones on, and I was going to do it come hell or high water.  After crunching the numbers, I realized that if I averaged 4 km a day, I’d finish it with room to spare come December 31.

Given that I’m not exactly an athlete (I’ve walked two 5Ks, but many days my Fitbit doesn’t register quadruple digits of steps), I figured I would start small this first week, and see how it felt.  Whatever I managed today, I’d do for a few days, then add 0.5 km, do that for a few days, and so on, until I got up to 4 km per day.

After about what seemed like six hours on the treadmill (but was more like 12 minutes), I heard Cindy read my tweet on the radio!  Moments later, I felt a rush of energy flood through me as Duran Duran began singing (Reach Up for the) Sunrise in my ears.  My radio friends were cheering me on!  I could do this!  I would not die!  Not today!

As the song ended, and I could hear “You go, girl!” coming across the radio, I glanced down at the time and distance.  I had managed more than I thought I could.

Okay, folks.  Watch this space.  I am in it to win it!

This post was also shared on Two Writing TeachersSlice of Life Challenge for January 26, 2021.




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Karen J. McLean

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  • This was such a pleasure to read!!! I enjoyed going with you on your journey to get moving. And the joys of Twitter! As a teacher it had me thinking about pedagogy and writing of course. Because of the pandemic, I tend to feel the need to be more relaxed with my assignments. But your post proves that if you set the bar some kids will rise to that occasion. I can’t force kids to write for writing’s sake so it pays off to have thoughtful prompts and well-constructed writing assignments. Thoughtful ways kids can show up to the page. Good luck Karen.

  • Wait a minute…there’s a medal!? Where do I sign up?

    No, actually I’ve got my own challenges, but yours sounds really cool. I hope you don’t have to do it all on a treadmill, though. Thanks for sharing this–I enjoyed it a lot!

  • Many years ago, when CBC was starting up their online music presence, they use to put out “Sweating To The Indies”. I would use it to get me going on the treadmill during Edmonton winters and it also helped me discover new music.