2019 best of — it was a custard chasing, snow shoveling, world champion just showing up kinda year

Lots of runners during the Custard Chase.

Hot dang — we’ve been compiling our favorite NP memories since 2016, and each and every year somehow tops the last. We say it all the time, but workout after workout, week after week, NP revolves around the hardworking and dedicated people who come out. People who show up for one another when it’s scorching hot in the summer, or we’re racing around a track eating custard, or it’s snowing and we make y’all shovel the bike lane on 15th Street. A few highlights are included, but simply, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (and all the social events), are really special. Thanks for showing up for us and one another. We look forward to another dope year in 2020. 

Dazzo’s Highlights

1 Union Market Rooftop Workout 
Did you know there’s a park on top of Union Market? There is now. It’s home to the Washington Kastles, our local tennis team that sometimes includes Venus Williams (pretty cool, right?). When the real estate company that owns the property reached out about hosting a workout up there, we jumped at the opportunity. Spectacular views of the Capitol aside, two things about this workout really stood out to me: 1) Coach Liz brought the freshmen boys crew team from Wilson High School, and the kids were so fantastic. We often repeat the “all ages, all levels” mantra, but very few times do we see as diverse a range of folks as we did this morning. Way to go, WIlson Crew! 2) We have a couple time-honored traditions at NPDC, two of them being the iconic Birthday Boom sequence which we showered Kyle with, and another, more subdued but still meaningful, is a crowd rendition of “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” (otherwise known as the song from Remember the Titans), to folks when they leave NPDC. Sue is an NP stalwart/long-term visitor from Vancouver who had joined us in August, and I think she’d hardly missed a workout from when she arrived to when she left in late November. This workout was her last day, and it’s really special to have a solid send-off, and let people know they’ll be missed. 

I should note that I also loved that NPDC has built such a strong reputation (all credit to our members), that it’s a recognizable entity. I’m happy the NP brand is something people want to associate with, and that’s all due to the good folks who commit to workouts. 

People do situps in the foreground and run in the background on the roof, with the Capitol in the far background.

2 Sunrise 6K on the MBT 
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? When our NPDC machine is humming along like a finely tuned road bike, it’s hard to make tweaks and changes, especially when we don’t know how members will respond. In July, we decided to host our bi-annual Sunrise 6K on the MBT as opposed to our typical route around Lincoln. Would people be thrown off? Was the course going to work? Fortunately, we had a really enthusiastic crowd race the new location, a gorgeous morning to throw down, an aid station complete with Swedish Fish gummies and free race photos in the form of Polaroids. This was hands-down one of the cooler innovations we’ve tried in the past couple years, and something that will push us to keep trying new things moving forward. 

A man runs with a daughter in a stroller, another daughter to his left, and two dogs on leashes to his right.

3 I mean, do you even have to ask?
You’ve hopefully read and re-read the blog, watched your saved Insta stories, and ordered all of your siblings LFG gear for the holidays. Of course, my top moment, maybe of November Project moments of all time, is U.S. Women’s National Team star Kelley O’Hara joining us at the Lincoln Memorial for a workout. Take your pickl of ridiculously epic details about this day: World Cup Champion/Olympic Gold Medalist joins NPDC for a workout; hundreds of folks show up with all of the stoke and energy they can muster; tons of winter clothing items are donated for people in need at Thrive DC. It was the best freaking day. 

Kelley O'Hara directs a couple runners below the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial.

ECY’s Highlights 

1 Custard Chase 
It’s not an exaggeration to say that August in DC is probably the closest thing to hell on earth that a human can experience. It’s 100+ degrees, 3000% humidity, and it’s nearly impossible to find a way to cool off … or is it?

On Sunday, August 18, at Banneker Rec Center, hundreds participated in NPDC’s second annual food eating race, The Custard Chase. You may remember in 2018 when we held the Taco Mile at Kenilworth Rec Center, and the Custard Chase was a similar setup, but with an icy twist. If you ran the “Friendly” race, you ran three laps, ate a bowl of Shake Shack custard, then finished your fourth lap. If you ran the “Elite” race (a very loose use of the word “elite”), you ran four laps around the track, and in between each lap you ate a bowl of custard. By the end, everyone had run a full mile, had a belly full of custard, and, if dairy is your arch nemesis like me, you were also in the fetal position for about 6-10 hours (but for reals, I was messed up for like four days, anyone else?).

This was truly an athletic triumph for all who participated, but a shout-out needs to be made to David Gooze (pictured) for finishing the race in 5 mins, 51 seconds. I’m not even sure what more to say about that. Seriously, WTF. We’re taking suggestions for 2020’s food-themed mile. My idea is PB & J sandwiches. Don’t @ me unless you’ve got a better idea. 

A man sloppily eats custard with his hands.

2 Snow Shovel Shuffle
On Monday, January 14, DC awoke to a fluffy blanket of snow. It had been snowing for nearly 30 hours straight, so we knew we were in for a fun workout at Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park. The day prior, we sent out the Bat Signal (except it’s not a bat, it’s a projection of Jake’s face in the sky), for everyone to bring a shovel to the workout. Of course, everyone came through big time and showed up with shovels in hand.

The workout: run a hill on 15th, clear 10 inches of snow off a bench, dip on that bench, run down 16th, across the bottom of the park, back up 15th, then grab a shovel and clear a section of the bike lane — rinse and repeat. By workout’s end, we had cleared almost the entire 15th Street bike lane from top to bottom. For those keeping track at home, that’s 0.3 miles of shoveling completed. After the group photo, folks headed back to finish the job!

This crew consistently shows up to do amazing things both inside and outside of workouts, but it’s workouts like this that demonstrates how invested everyone is not only in NPDC, but in the community that we live in. Schools were closed, offices were closed, the government was closed, but people still showed up at 6:30am to crush a workout, play in the snow, and do good in the snow. FINGERS CROSSED FOR SOME 2020 SNOW ACTION!

A man shovels snow while wearing shorts!

3 MCM 2019 & NPDC’s 6th Birthday
Sunday, October 27, marked the 44th running of the Marine Corps Marathon. The race is historic and significant for many reasons, but it is also infamous for unpredictable and wild weather. This year was no exception. To say that it downpoured would be a gross understatement. It was as if the sky legit forgot how to do its job and the rain just fell out in sheets. Tens of thousands of runners powered through pools of standing water, most of whom still had smiles on their faces. Cut to 11am, the rain was gone, and it got HOT, quickly. Like I said, the only thing that is predictable about MCM’s weather every year is that it will be wildly unpredictable.

NPDC posted up at the mile 19 cheer station bright and early in the AM. A huge crew cheered, whooped, hollered, and cow-belled for hours upon hours, never letting up, even during the torrential rain. We were so loud and had such an intense presence that we got asked by other spectators on the course to cheer for their loved ones by name as they ran past. 

After the race was over, everyone took a much-needed shower and reconvened at Hook Hall in Petworth to celebrate the MCM runners and NPDC’s 6th birthday. Sally, NPDC’s resident baker, made a huge cake that we ended up sharing with everyone at the bar (which doubled as a perfect recruiting opportunity).

MCM is one of my favorite days each year, and I’m sure I made clear to everyone by yelling, “THIS IS THE BEST DAY IN DC!” over and over again at the cheer station. It’s one of those days where the whole city feels connected and everyone is rallying behind these incredible runners. To all those who ran, F*CK YEAH! To all those who cheered, F*CK YEAH! Now be honest, who got bit by the marathon bug??

People hold signs and cheer loudly while getting drenched by rain.

Jake’s Highlights 

1 Show & Tell in the cold
It’s one thing for people to just show up to move in the cold, warm up with some hugs, burpees, and stairs, and see a damn good sunrise (who’s pumped for winter workouts!?), but when we came up with the idea of holding a Show & Tell event on a Friday night in early February, we honestly had no idea how many people would show up to the small outside area of REI to hear stories from the outdoors. 

20? 30? Maybe 50 if we provided hot chocolate? 

When the forecast dipped below freezing, guesses became even lower. But then the night arrived, our eight storytellers came armed with tales of first 50ks, job interviews gone wild (in a good way!), lost boots and Alaska rescue missions, AND … more than 100 people braved the cold to stand around for 90 minutes and listen and laugh. It was incredible! Shoutout to REI for the cool space, and to Sally, whose cookies were gone within 10 minutes! 

Hundreds of people are gathered around two fire pits as they listen to a person tell a story.

2) Attendance Challenge, the debut!
Speaking of last winter, it was all about new ideas, and another one we thought might fall flat was an attendance/recruiting challenge aimed at keeping folks motivated and talking about NPDC during the coldest months. The premise was simple (although a few modifications have been made for 2020!) — #JustShowUp to workouts to earn a point; get two points for bringing a newbie; and get two, also, for being a Coat Check Hero. The results were inspiring! I’ve been coming to NPDC winter workouts for five Januarys and Februarys now, but never before did I see so many people determined to not miss a single workout. In total, 88 people logged their workouts on a spreadsheet, Blake came to every single one, Ana, Noli and Phoebe got into a friendly recruiting war, and we, unofficially, had more newbies come out during the coldest months of the year than I’ve ever experienced. In summation, it was a great success that’s coming back starting … TOMORROW! We. Are. Weatherproof! 

Group photo on the stairs of Lincoln Memorial with snow on both sides of the group of standing humans.

3) Hey, why don’t you lead the workout?
Sometimes, as you know, we, NPDC’s so called “co-leaders,” get stale. Dazzo’s jokes fall flat; my bounces are one word shouted over and over; and not even cheery Emma can rally the troops. Thus, the need for guest leaders! Beginning in March, we committed to having two or three people — either chosen by us, or those who submitted applications (hah!) — guest lead the first Monday of each month, which also helped since we’d be tagging/taking mediocre photos at those workouts, too. The results? FANTASTIC. TBH, we’re surprised our positions haven’t been usurped. 

Julia & Nico started things off in March, setting a damn high bar; Mish, Kyle & Jocelyn got as political as NP will ever be (& kinda funny!) in April; Kyra, Libby & Maddie evoked childhood memories with a memorable May workout; Jeff & Shori put together a predictably challenging, sweat-soaking June Monday; Ken, Ron & Mike used all their USDA time together to plan a cow-themed workout in July; Hannah Sedge and Kathleen got strange in August; Big Andy and Mark Rankin busted out the aces and spades in September; Ellie and Terry reminded us how gosh darn fun zombie tag is in October; QB and Max put together the best partner Monday workout we’ve ever seen (description included) to kick off November; and Debbie + Foley gave us 12 days of Christmas to get everyone in the holiday spirit in December.  

Suffice to say, let’s keep this going. Speaking of, anyone interested in Jan. 6!? 

People look on as QB, one of our guest leaders, explains the workout on a Monday morning.

Honorable Mentions
Anytime you have 156 workouts and a bunch of special events, making such a list is a brutal task. So here are a few sentences on others that could’ve made the list. 

1 Abvember Champions!
The beautiful thing about Abvember this year is that we barely had to mention it — NPDC took this on with the motivation of an underdog, and the planks, push-ups and sit-ups flowed from there. People pushed each other, Maddie beat like 32 other cities, and we raised a trophy at the end of November. Did we mention that 2019 cemented DC the District of Champions? — Jake

2 Flat Tire Friday
On the way home from a Friday workout that was 7+ miles outside of downtown DC, four people got flat tires. The odds were not in our favor, but the amazing humans of NPDC were. Everyone stopped to help each other out, and big ups to Jim who threw all flat-tired bikes and their respective humans into his truck and drove them to coffee. — Emma 

A woman works on a flat tire while encouraged by her friends.

3 Petworth Spray Park
The Facebook album for this day was appropriately titled “SOAK ME.” The water was flowing at Petworth Spray Park, and we needed to dare exactly no one to get in the water. Buckets of water dropped on people’s heads, water sprayed up people’s shorts, others were laying down on the spouts — this was easily one of the most hilarious workouts of 2019 in my opinion. — Emma

4 Open Streets DC 
This fall, for the first time ever, DC hosted an Open Streets event — a festival of sorts where cars are prohibited and walking/biking over a three-ish mile stretch of road is highly encouraged. There are various activations highlighting local businesses and NPDC was asked to host a workout as part of it. We do a lot of working out outdoors (like, pretty much all of it), but this was one of the few times I could remember actually playing/running/hoisteeing/burpeeing in the dang street. Cheers to more open streets in 2020! — Dazzo 

Runners begin a sprint on Georgia Avenue.
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