2018. What. A. YEAR!
Just thinking about all that happened, I feel like I’m doing an endless fidget spinner (#NewSpice alert!) — getting dizzier by the minute. We turned five and Steve actually retired; a week later, we welcomed Emma. We saw some community members move away, but also learned boatloads of new names. We ran 156 workouts, but also got social plenty, too (see below).
Per holiday tradition, the three of us fought over which stories we get to tell from 2018. We may be scratched and bruised, but not too much to punch the keys. Here are each of our Top 3.
Emma, Jake & Maria
1. Plank a? PlankaPALOOZA!
It all started with Steve. Remember that guy? Nah, me neither. He knew someone at work who had created wooden figurines of people planking. They knew Steve led workouts where … people planked. We (Dazzo, Steve and I) knew the tribe was itching for a new competition — something besides PR Day (PS — we changed PR Day, and we think the new format is super awesome!!) that they could get amped about.
Thus was born, Plankapalooza! The second Friday of every month at the end of the workout, people paired up for a partner plank competition. The basis was simple — plank for as long as you possibly could. The longest-enduring plankers would win. Everyone would go home with sore abs. AND, we’d give out the figurines to the pair with the best form, too. The two pairs of winners etched their names on the wood, kept them for a month — I’m not sure I want to know all the places they’ve traveled — and then came back with them a month later. As months passed, the figurines accumulated more and more names.
Some people stuck with their partners from month to month (question asked of a married couple in 20 years: “How’d you meet?” “We were Plankapalooza partners!”) but many switched. We planked in all corners of the District. And pretty soon, Gerald, Sarah Waz and others were so plankful for Plankapalooza, they started testing if they could plank with three, or even four people.
One last thing — nothing prepared NPDC for Abvember and #BeatingChicago better than Plankapalooza. We’re all in this together, folks. Next chance? Friday, Jan. 11!
2. The Great Trash & Recycling Race
By now you’ve heard of plogging. It’s hip. All the cool kids are doing it. Well, folks, we were ahead of the game. We also incorporated recycling in what I’ll go out on a limb and describe as one of the most innovative, green and just downright goofy events we’ve ever held. While I would’ve loved to hold the Great Trash & Recycling Race in March or April, a packed calendar (non-recyclable) pushed it to May. Flotsam! Other groups did events, but none like ours — a competitive, team-based experience that combined running and cleaning our city!
With names like “Garbage Pail Kids” and “Trash Talk” and creative costumes to match, teams left Logan Circle at 3:30pm and had 90 minutes to run the 3.5 miles to Bardo Brewing on the Anacostia River. The goal during that time? Pick up as much trash and recyclables — trash in black bags, recyclables in the clear bags — as possible.
When teams arrived just seconds before 5pm, I couldn’t have been more in awe. They came hauling bags upon bags, a discarded street sign (how??), you name it — people cleaned up DC like never before during 90 gosh darn minutes!
All in all, 10 teams collected 545 pounds of properly separated trash and recycling. Ya talk about CLEANING UP! We wrapped up the afternoon with beers by the river, prizes for the top collectors, and a visit and talk by Steph Piperno, a sustainability expert at REI.
3. Ya Taco About a Mile!
The topic was first broached in the spring — beer miles are kind of old; what about a taco mile? Within minutes, it seemed, tribe member Noli ran with the idea — thoughts spewing forth like guac and hot sauce out of a loaded soft shell. Quickly, partners were lined up — Pacers to time it; DPR to provide sound and massive hype; District Taco to provide, um, tacos; Shake Shack with gift cards. A date was confirmed. And then the anticipation just grew.
No event in 2018 got more press or more attention on social media. Maybe it was the novelty of it all? Maybe the late August Sunday afternoon date — I mean, what’s better than a “Back to School Taco?” Or Maybe it was the fact that you could A) Sign up to run a 5K and eat a taco; B) Sign up to run a mile on the Kenilworth track followed by a taco; or C) You could sign up to do the real thing, with a taco before each 400 meters. Oh, BABY!
There was truly something for everyone, and the late-afternoon sun shone brightly on hundreds of people as they ran for tacos. Can we tacoBout the volunteers for a minute? These were people who stood by the tacos table and handed 500 tacos throughout the afternoon to hungry, sweaty, delirious runners speeding into the Taco Station. The volunteers made a taco mile run as smoothly as possible.
And how about this — not a single person hacked up their tacos. Almost all 500 were eaten, and almost all 500 stayed eaten. INCREDIBLE.
Andrea Keklak won an absolute THRILLER in the fast division, passing world-famous ultramarathoner Michael Wardian and somewhat-famous ultramarathoner and now-Santa Barbara’s finest, Brian Brussel, to claim the ultimate prize. And then we capped off the night with the first Cupcake 400 — four mini cupcakes eaten during a 400 — for Emma’s birthday.
Man, oh, man, just writing this has me HUNGRY. Taco Mile 2019, anybody??
Holy moly! What a year it has been! We laughed, we cried- two thumbs up. It’s hard to believe how much happened this year. I spent most of 2018 as a tribe member, but got a dope promotion to co-leader back in October (more on that later), so I’m reflecting on this year from two different perspectives. I feel like NPDC keeps getting better every year, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for our tribe in 2019. HAPPY NEW YEAR FOLKS!
In September we teamed up with DC Parks and Rec in a competition of fitness and strategy, called #RecTheDistrict.
We began at Randall Rec Center in southwest DC. Teams were formed, rules were laid out, a two-hour timer was set, and the teams were let loose! Each team was given a list of tasks that had a corresponding point value. Some tasks were worth more points than others, so it was up to each team to decide how to rack up points in the time allotted. Do a hoistee with a stranger (15 points), perform an original song about being #weatherproof (15 points), make a human pyramid with strangers (20 points), and impersonate a NPDC co-leader (5 points per leader), just to name a few of the tasks.
What was at stake? Prizes and eternal glory. When the two hours were up, points were tallied, and it was determined that THERE WAS A TIE!! The co-leaders determined that a walk-off, a la Zoolander, would decide the champion. Both teams strutted their stuff down the runway (sidewalk), but it was Young-breakdance-Joo who sealed the deal with some incredible 360-double-axel-salchow move.
What’s great is that even though my team came in second, I’m not bitter about it at all, and I don’t lay awake at night thinking about how we could’ve racked up just ONE MORE POINT to avoid the tiebreaker. Not only was this a fun social event with a side of free fitness, but it was also a great opportunity to explore different parts of the city, interact positively with strangers, and connect with our community.
Abvember was a global November Project challenge that took place during the month of November. The challenge? 10 minutes of planking one day, 10 sets of 10 push-ups the next day, and then 10 sets of 10 crunches the following day, for all 30 days of November. Each day a person completed, they would receive points, and the points were tracked in a shared spreadsheet so everyone could see the scores.
What a simple, friendly competition to bring the NP world together, right? Well, sort of. Sure it was fairly simple, and sure it was mostly friendly, but since DC has ZERO CHILL, we obviously took the challenge to a whole new level. People were doing crunches under their desks, planks while waiting for the metro, and push-ups while helping their kids with homework. None of us slept. None of us ate. All we could think about was Abvember.
Chicago was our competition all throughout the month, and it was a battle to the finish. While it is yet to be determined how exactly the final points were counted, in the end it was Chicago who walked away with the Abvember title.
Even though we may not have won the trophy, the amount of commitment and sheer determination demonstrated during Abvember was astounding. It goes to show that this crew can come together and rally around just about anything, even abs.
3. October 31
You may be trying to think of what event happened on October 31. Halloween? Yeah, that was pretty cool, the costumes were really good. But no, that’s not it.
October 31 was one of the most significant days of my life this year, because it was the day I was announced as a co-leader of November Project DC.
I have been a part of NP for over two years now, and it’s hard to put into words what it truly means to me. I’m not a sappy person by any means. Not big on the touchy-feely stuff. But man, oh, man, I could shout my love for this movement from the mountaintops, and it still wouldn’t be enough. We show up to workout on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but we all know it’s more than just a workout.
Inclusivity, community, and positivity; all of which are core to November Project, are also core values for me personally. I was striving to find a community of people I could connect with beyond the surface when I first moved to DC, and I found that in November Project. Even if someone isn’t looking for community, or new friends, or to even talk to a single person- there is still a place for them here. NP can be so many different things, to so many different people, and that is what makes it special. Just come as you are, and we’ll give you a workout.
To the tribe: I am thankful to each and every one of you for your support during my first two months as a co-leader. You have made me feel comfortable, encouraged, and loved throughout the entire process, and I am grateful as hell to be able to stand in front you three days a week.
UGH– I could just sit here all day getting the warm ‘n fuzzies reading those memories, but there’s still so much more to share! Every year, we sit back and say, “how can we actually top THAT?!?” and then you all meet, outpace, and smash every expectation we could ever have. What’s a better word than grateful? Beholden? Indebted? Whatever grateful to the nth degree is, that’s what we are. Thanks for an incredible 2018– let’s wrap this up:
#1 3 Stars 2 Bars
The part of this that I am proudest of is probably the name, which came to me in a fever dream and Steve and Jake graciously obliged to think through with me. Hosting social events outside of the M/W/F workout parameters is a priority for us. Sure– meeting someone over a set of leg-throwdowns is great, but getting the opportunity to bond with people over the course of a race, a scavenger hunt, or a happy hour can really help NP friendships blossom.
Enter 3 Stars 2 Bars– a raucous afternoon spent pedaling, running, and clue-hunting all around DC. Lesson learned: make the radius a touch smaller next time so folks don’t wind up biking SIXTEEN MILES (or do, either way, I think that’s dope).
We started at one bar–Big Chief in Ivy City– had 3 “stars” (Steve, Jake, and I), who were all located at different positions around DC, and when folks found us they had to perform some kind of spice within their team. This led to an expansive hi-jinx unfolding over the course of a January afternoon. People running in the wrong direction, frantically texting us to provide help on clues, oh, and it was lightly drizzling the entire time. #WEATHERPROOF. We ended with some beer and prizes at Bar Roubaix which may or may not have featured a grand finale sprint spin bike race for third place.
Workouts are awesome. The opportunity to work hard, to gain consistency in a chaotic world, meet new people, YES yes all these things. SOCIAL events give us the chance to further relationships and gosh darnit to have a little bit of weird, off-kilter fun, which is the spirit of NP.
Speaking of social events….
#2 NP Double-Header
Again, great name. You ever raced a Dragon Boat before? How about running a 5K in a torrential downpour? The July NP Doubleheader offered a chance to do BOTH. We liked both events individually, but our calendar wouldn’t offer the chance to do them on separate weekends– one crazy thing about coordinating schedules for a groups of hundreds of go-getters? Everyone inevitably has a race, a wedding, or both, planned at all times. So we decided to host two socials on the same day.
The morning/afternoon began with dragon boat racing. If you’ve never tried, check out a learn-to-paddle session at DC Dragons, our hosts on the Anacostia. It was wet, but the river was WARM (read: possibly radioactive?) and spirits were high. Nothing like learning a new skill, making some new friends, and then getting to race it out– who won? Team Red? Team Blue? Kinda seems like an everybody is a winner type situation. Especially when you factor in the DOPE picnic we enjoyed at the boathouse afterwards, which left us just enough time to change into dry running clothes and make our way over to Crystal City for the Twilighter 5K, an annual tradition put on by Pacers to determine the biggest, baddest, strongest, BEST run club in all the land.
While I wouldn’t identify NP as a run club, per say, we’ve enjoyed hyping the ever-living-shit out of this race and encouraging as many folks as we can to join the fun. Bear in mind, we have been getting DUMPED ON by Mother Nature ALL DAY, but nary a frown was to be found on the faces of Team November Project DC. We showed up, danced (and sang) in the rain, THREW DOWN, and took home the hardware to prove it. Events like the Run Club Throw Down make me intensely proud because: we get to show the world how badass NP is, and we get to show ourselves how badass NP is. Were there folks out there who were faster? Maybe. But there wasn’t anyone out there having more fun.
Last but not least
This whole workout could be a blog, but I know you’re all busy, and you’ve got to get back to your kids/spouses/jobs who are starting to wonder where you’ve been for the last 45 minutes. October 24 came and went like a streaking comet across the sky, a morning so momentous and so filled with meaning it’ll likely never be repeated again– but GOSH DARNIT was it a good one. I’ll admit it, I was really nervous about getting 500 people to a workout, and honestly, I was getting sick of hearing us talk about it in announcements day-in and day-out. But low and behold, you all came through for us, LIKE ALWAYS.
I want to say so many things about this day– Steve’s retirement, which was equal parts sad and remarkable, the next-level HYPE vibrating through my entire body every time someone dropped a penny in the jar, and ultimately standing back, looking at all of you covering the stairs while the sun rose over the Washington Monument, and taking in one of the most intensely beautiful things I’ve ever experienced.
We say it a lot and it sounds worn out but THANK YOU. Thanks to everyone who recruited, came out, guest-hosted, ran, cheered, planked, burpeed, pushed-up, SHOWED UP in 2018.
This effort isn’t possible, and quite frankly isn’t worthwhile, without all of you. We see you, we appreciate you, and we love you.
Thanks for a gorgeous 2018— looking forward to MUCH MUCH MORE in 2019.
WE LOVE YOU, DC.
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