Today, we have a guest post by Nadia Ouhib who has been a strong, consistent member for over two years now. She pushes hard during the workouts and cheers hard every other second. She also is the human to our unofficial NPSF husky mascot, Apache. She was recently awarded the O’Meara helmet and is now here to tell her story. Take it away Nadia!
The O’Meara helmet. Some of us have seen it passed. A select few have been awarded with it. The rest of you NPSF newbies have no idea what I’m talking about. With lingering questions myself, I decided to do some digging for this blog post to unearth what the heck this tradition is all about. Here’s what I learned:
“Ben O’Meara was a legend in his own right. He was a champion, a good friend, and above all else, a passionate fan. He was an unshakable fan of his lovely wife, Jenn, any hockey team that could skate, good beer, great times, and of course, November Project.
Ben, a member of the Boston tribe, passed away in April, 2017.
To honor his legacy, the SF tribe established an award in his name for “the Tribe member who is never seen standing on the side, always going hard, never complaining. Tribe members who lead by example week in, week out.”
Some recent recipients include Raena Sumiyoshi, Ali Fauci, Cat Ku, and Marissa Sodders.
In Feb. 2019, Marissa announced she was passing the O-Meara Helmet to: “the most competitive person she knows”. That’s a MAJOR callout from THE competitor herself. I instantly knew what was coming – that person was me.
Two years ago, Marissa and I met back when I had first started NP and she had just restarted. She was the friendliest ray of sunshine until there was even a hint of competition involved, at which point she was mentally and physically prepared to bury you. So was I. We quickly discovered we were cut from the same cloth, and we started dragging each other to the track every Tuesday, rain or shine. She pushed me just by showing up – she’s always been faster than me, but that only made me try harder, and I like to believe I’ve been right behind her making sure she’s working hard too.
I never would have met Marissa outside of NP. We have a 5 year age difference, work in different industries, and come from different parts of the country. That’s the beauty of this crazy group of neon-clad hooligans – NP connects like-minded people and encourages them to grow in ways that other aspects of life don’t always allow. Marissa inspired me. She made me faster. She made me happier to show up at 5:30 (trails), 6:00 (track), and 6:27am (you already know), ready to grind it out with a friend who was just as fired up to toe the line.
Next week, she’s moving to San Diego to chase her dream career, and I can’t imagine a better place for a ray of sunshine like her to exist. I’m going to miss her galpal cuddles during the end of workout photo. I’ll miss her sweating profusely right next to me, making it look like it’s normal. I’ll miss her giant stupid grin after she completely crushed me at something. Most importantly, I’ll miss her hard working attitude. SF is sending you the greatest gift, SD, all we ask is that you take care of her (by absolutely running her into the ground) <3
Ever since Marissa gave me the helmet, I’ve been trying to think of how I can use this lil’ podium to ignite the spirit of competition in my SF squad. I’ve thought about where that spirit comes from, how it manifests. I’ve thought about what it is, and what it isn’t. 6 months of ruminating brought me to this:
The spirit of competition is fueled by vulnerability. It’s a real vulnerable place to show up and try your absolute hardest. It means reaching your mental and physical limitations. It’s a dose of reality in its rawest form, and there aren’t many places we’re voluntarily served up that tough-to-swallow concept these days.
In a world where we are expected to perform, to succeed, to be right and never make a mistake, to know all the things and understand all the references, sometimes it’s easier to take yourself out of the game. Sometimes it’s easier to stay home. Sometimes it’s easier to not speak up. Sometimes it’s easier to half ass PR Wednesday.
Sometimes it’s easier to do less. Who cares, anyway?
You’d be surprised.
Part of what makes me love the NP community is that we’re all on our own very different journey from so many physical backgrounds. The most we can each do is our own personal best – for ourselves, and for each other – and that range is vast. Regardless of where you net out among the ranks, your peers deserve your effort because fear of judgement and fear of failure is contagious in the most toxic way.
It’s okay to breathe hard and to hurt a little bit. We’re conditioned to internally process this physical strain as weakness, when in reality this is a demonstration of pure strength. It takes a strong willed human to be vulnerable enough to admit that they gave it their all, rather than to come up with 53 excuses explaining why they couldn’t, or “decided not to”, pull it out. Accountability and showing up mean more than getting to a physical location. It means delivering the most energized high five to acknowledge that you and your tribe member both left it all on the pavement in your own respective way.
This thought process made me reflect on how I’ve been competitive in pretty much only comfortable settings. I show up for my tribe, but I haven’t really pushed myself outside of that zone. I decided to take a dose of my own medicine and not only train for my first ever marathon, but also to qualify for Boston when I crossed the finish line. I’m very aware of how naive that sounds, but it’s what I wanted and after wavering for a few months, I hired a coach, picked my race, and started training.
I hadn’t told a single one of my friends. Not even Marissa. This post was going to be my *announcement to the world* that I was throwing down (I’m so dramatic). It was supposed to inspire, and connect with, everyone who’s ever shied away from taking a giant step outside of their comfort zone. This was supposed to be my call to action for my tribe, and tribes across the globe, to ignite the spirit of competition and inspiration across us all.
This post took a different turn when I found out a week ago that I’m going to be benched for some time to undergo an ACL reconstruction and meniscus repair. I’m being pushed outside of a different comfort zone, and I’m sure I’ll have more to say about overcoming that later. The point right now is, I can’t stop thinking about how lucky I was to be able to give it my all before this happened. The only thing between me and my best effort was myself – what a powerful place to be.
I’ll be back there someday soon, but in the meantime, my call to action stands with a new purpose. I hope YOU do the most, turn it up, and find the joy in actually trying your very hardest so that your friends can do the same, for no other reason than because right now, in this moment, you can. There are people who would give anything to be in that position but aren’t for many different reasons, so I urge you to not squander a second of it.
Find your Marissa. Be someone’s Marissa.
Look to your left, look to your right, and think about what you can do to elevate someone’s morning, maybe even someone’s life, by #justshowingup and inspiring them. Push your limits, and appreciate every aspect of your powerful gift to be here. As a wise man once suggested, #getbusyliving
Giving the PT department hell,