My company, like many other organizations during the pandemic, has started a step challenge. The goal is to encourage movement and team building as we work remotely, and after a very sedentary winter, this motivation is welcome. To kick things off, a couple friends and I decided to test a step tracking app (Stridekick) before getting the whole office involved. We chose the month of April as our trial month and hit our respective pavement.
I didn’t previously consider myself a competitive person, but when I learned one of my competitors was going to run a half-marathon to up his steps, I got it in my mind to catch up… but walking.
Conveniently, the following week I went to the beach with my grandma and was spoiled with the most ideal walking scenery. Every morning, the crows outside my window shrieked at 6:30 a.m., acting as a natural alarm. Sleepy but knowing I had a mission, I quietly slipped out the door and down to the water, walking along the ocean shore until my feet hurt.
I am not typically a morning person, but every day that week I was up with the birds and the early risers of the island, and it was an experience to say the least. At sunrise, I saw a sixty-five-year-old man windsurfing, families with tiny children already building sandcastles at the crack of dawn (respect), fishermen staked out down the beach with their friends (same ones, everyday) and an older man juggling pins while running (I could never dream of such coordination).
Sunset walks were equally enjoyable but made up of an entirely different crowd. Families with young children dressed in coordinated outfits for photos—before inevitably destroying those outfits performing beach cartwheels or eating chicken fingers—couples strolling the beach together, golden retrievers digging in the sand and avid shellers searching for their next treasure. But all of us, even me in my determined walking, noticeably paused our activities to take in the sunset.
I’ve always thought that was a funny concept—how the sun rises and sets every single day, and we all so rarely stop to watch it. Unless we’re at the beach of course, in which case we plan our dinner reservations around it, pay for public parking and trudge to the beach with little ones or chairs or wine in tow, all to stare at the sun and water for approximately thirty minutes. It’s delightfully humanizing—to gather in the sand with strangers for a nightly sky show.
According to the step tracking app, I’ve spent some 2,000 odd minutes walking in the month of April. 2,000 minutes being pulled along by my dog, talking with a friend, listening to a podcast, dodging pointy seashells, running from the rain, and tripping over uneven sidewalks. But of all those minutes, the moments of my walks that I remember best are the ones where I deliberately stopped walking. When I paused to watch the windsurfer catch the first successful wave or see my dad pluck a rare shell from a pile of rubble. Stopped to listen to the osprey’s call or focus on the waves crashing around my feet. After all the minutes spent, I would walk another 150 miles to experience those deep breaths of salt air and small tastes of appreciation and wonder again. And it doesn’t hurt to win the step challenge, either.
Olivia graduated from Calvin in May 2018 with a double major in business and writing. She now works as an editor in Nashville, Tennessee and is eating her way through the restaurants of her new town. She enjoys weekend trips with friends, petting other people’s dogs, and drinking coffee like a Gilmore Girl.