"For an occurrence to become an adventure, it is necessary and sufficient for one to recount it." ~ Jean-Paul Sartre

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Challenging President's Challenge

For the past 5years I have been logging activities on the President's Challenge website.  Five long years.  This goes all the way back to the beginning when I got involved in a walking program during my lunch time at work.  I have been using this website longer than any other fitness related website.  I achieved the President's Active Lifestyle Award, the Presidential Bronze, Silver, and Gold awards.  Early on these awards were very motivational, everyday I would add my activities and watch my point total rise, everything was fine in the world.  There were some bumps along the way, for example for a long time I was in the category that only allowed me to log 750points each day, which in the beginning was no problem since my only activity was walking for 45minutes which netted a whopping 156points.  Later on though it really started to suck, like the time I ran a marathon that was worth almost 2500points but I only got credit for 750.  Eventually I did find out that there was another category that gave me credit for everything.  The point totals for awards were double in this new category but at least I wasn't short changing myself anymore.

In 2007 I earned my first Gold award, thinking I had made it to the top of the heap.  I am number one, numero uno, the big cheese.  Or am I?  Gold is the pinnacle right?  I have seen the Olympics once or twice, and it always goes: bronze, silver, gold with gold being the highest of the three.  That's why there are sayings like "You don't win a silver, you lose a gold".  This is why I was surprised to learn that there was another level higher than gold.  What's that you say? What could possibly be higher than gold?  I'll tell you what could be higher than gold.  PLATINUM that's what.  To earn the Platinum Award all I have to do is earn one million points.  Now I know when some people get involved in these types of things they log every single thing they do all day long.  I am not one of those people and at the same time I am not saying there is anything wrong with that but for me this challenge has always been about fitness with some nice awards to keep me motivated.  I know the awards will come and yes I wish I could get there quicker but logging one hour of house cleaning as a workout just isn't me.

So for the past four years I have been whittling away at this one million point challenge, and this is the part where you would expect me to tell you how close I am to achieving this long sought after goal, and I would except for one small problem.  I don't know anymore!  Not too long ago the good people running the President's Challenge decided that it would be a good idea to update the website.  They did a really nice job and everything looks great and works great.  There was however one small problem, when they rolled out the new website I was missing somewhere in the neighborhood of two hundred thousand points.  I never kept track of my points because I trusted the website to do it for me.  I know that I was missing that many points because not long before I had made it to the halfway mark, and was relieved that I had fewer points ahead than behind.  It was kind of like a light at the end of the tunnel moment.  Needless to say I was pretty upset!  After searching for a contact email address I sent off a polite note informing them of the error, and before I had time to get angry and send off a not so polite email I had my points back and everything was right with the world, for a while.

Lately I have been noticing that my point total shows 735,740points, this is not correct or at least I am relatively sure it is not correct.  It also tells me that there are 454,011points until my next award, which is the aforementioned Platinum Award.  With out going into all of the complex math, let me just assure you that those two numbers do not add up to 1,000,000.  On the Awards page itself it shows that I have earned 545,989points and that I am 56% of the way to earning a Platinum Award.  That number plus the other number do add up to 1,000,000, trust me on this one.  My question is, where did the almost two hundred thousand points come from on my total, and why don't they count toward the Platinum Award?

I have always enjoyed the President's Challenge and I think it is a very motivational tool to provide people with a way to track their progress, and anything to help get people off the couch is a good thing in my book.  I will keep logging points until I get a message saying that I achieved my goal, after that who knows?  I suppose I could send another email to find the answer to my questions or I could go back and add up all the points myself but I would rather be out running, or riding my bike, or snowshoeing, and isn't that really what it is all about.


  1. That's obnoxious. But you're right...what really matters is the experience rather than the award. Of course, the combination is nice, too.

  2. I totally get you on this. I'm working steadily on my Platinum Award (I'm almost 40% there, and at my current rate I'll get it right around a year and a half from now). I am fond of thinking, "my training log is my body"-- i.e. the most important indicator of my dedication to fitness is my low heart rate and body fat percentage.

    And yet... I want to pretty lapel pin! In a world where people wear badges that proclaim that they "ate the whole thing" or that they've been in the same job for several decades, it would be nice to get to explain, "I got this one by running two hours a day for three years".

    Now I'm curious... did you manage to get the award in the end?

    1. Thanks for the comment. I did earn the Platinum award, but was so over the whole thing by that time I never got the certificate or t-shirt. I am glad that I finished but mor glad that I don't have to log points anymore. Best of luck on the remaining 60%!