Over the past few months, I have been part of a team training for one of the most challenging physical activities I’ve ever done. And we completed it in the wee hours of Saturday morning. I was debating whether or not to write about this – I wasn’t sure whether this would be an example of ‘humblebrag’ or ‘fumblebrag’ (terms I’ve just come across, but you’ll know them when you read them and uggh).
But then I thought: “Yes, I have just walked 100km, but no, I’m actually proud of what we achieved, so I will write about it’. And sometimes I don’t think we do share enough the things we do that are hard work but worthwhile. Plus, these thoughts helped keep me going when I was ready (at times) to give up.
So here goes – some of the things I learned from doing Melbourne’s Oxfam Trailwalker event.
It’s a team event
This might sound a bit simplistic – of course it is, as each team needs to start with four members, and ideally should finish with at least three. However, I hadn’t appreciated the value of my team members for morale (lots of conversations, positive observations and the like), for specific motivation (there is nothing like having people just in front, and encouraging you along, to help keep going) and direct assistance (having my bag carried at certain times was so, so helpful).
I can often do more than I think – but I might need some help
I struggled with this. I’m not always comfortable with accepting help, as it feels like an acknowledgement that I am not coping. However, it is a team event for us all – and we would not have finished as well had I not accepted it at times. It benefits us all (plus, hopefully at times, I was able to help the others in our team).
The value of preparation
Two of our team members had done the event previously. Expected arrivals at checkpoints, and what would be needed at each place, were planned to perfection. Systems were in place to streamline the efficiencies 10 minutes or so out. Bags for each checkpoint were well planned and had everything we needed. And of course, we had trained well.
Being part of some 750 teams, all starting with four team members, all with varying degrees of nervousness, fitness and experience is amazing. Meeting up along the way with people you had seen at the start, sharing stories – of the event, or of life outside this one day! – is a great way to quickly strike up common interests and meeting a cross section of people. And of course, when feeling particularly grumpy, there is nothing more invigorating than to hear others, loudly, expressing the same emotions! (there really is a sense of solidarity in this).
It takes a community
All the background work from Oxfam Australia staff, some 1200 volunteers, residents of the surrounding communities we walked through, and friends and supporters along the way – all of this came into play on the day. Having these people cheering us along the way, not just for the ones they came to support, was amazing.
I do have a choice in the way I perceive things
I could find the 26km long flat stretch boring and hard, or providing a chance to look at the beautiful scenery around me. I could find the encouraging words from team members a bit annoying, or motivating. I could find the hills horrible (yes, they were), or I could see them as a rewarding challenging and feel a sense of achievement for completing them (to be honest, I rarely enjoyed the hills, but I TRIED to think this way!)
My family and friends are great!
From Mum and Dad stepping in to help with looking after the kids, Al’s expertise and smoothness in catering and tending to blisters, the joy of seeing my kids at two of the checkpoints (not planned), and the text messages and donations -they were great. Plus all the time out for training too. This goes for all of my team members’ family members, who extended the same wonderful support to us all. Thank you all! And this also goes for so many wonderful friends – you don’t know how much your support helped!
Never under-estimate the value of good advice – I am annoyed about my badly fitted shoes (fitted at a shop which boosts about ‘podiatrists doing the fitting’ but then put me in shoes that were too small – no names, but so annoyed), which led me to blister development early this year, and never really healed.
But I am so appreciative of the help of another podiatrist closer to the event – they could have been even worse. And as I limp around now, I know they, and the toenails that are close to falling off, and the puffy feet, will heal. But – ouch! (and update – nearly a week later, I am not quite ready to go running, but my feet are so, so much better!)
It was hard – but we chose to do this
Many people in the world don’t have the choice to do things that are hard. Their lives are hard. We were doing this event, by choice, to raise money and awareness, for those who do have very difficult lives. Please support Oxfam Australia.
I never have to walk those hills again if I don’t want to
And for that, I am truly grateful!
Have you ever done something you never thought you could? I’d love to hear what, and how you managed it!