In honor of our 6th birthday last month we asked two of our OG’s to share some of their thoughts with you. These two are about as dedicated to this community as they come. One is our resident DJ and the other is our coffee hour power planner. But they are also so much more… They have opened their home to us for potlucks and parties. They have traveled all over North America for November Project summits and races where you’ll almost always catch them in some combination of lululemon and grass roots gear. They are always eager to chat with new members and make sure they know about all things NPSD. They even manage to get their teenage daughter out of bed to join us some mornings! We are constantly reminded that our community wouldn’t be the same without them and are so grateful they still choose to show up week after week.
Introducing (the family that really needs no introduction at all) The Kanoya’s…
Every now and again, you can find me scanning the faces at an NPSD workout. These days, there are more unfamiliar faces than there our familiar ones. But on most occasions I will catch a glimpse of JVC (Jenna Van Cleve), Mama Ang (Angie Patten), Kev (Kevin Sgambelluri), S’mores (Sarah Moersfelder), Ironman (Marc Montano), Alex (McNair), Eric (Marenburg) and of course Euge and Sheila.
I see them and think, “damn, we’re all still here.”
Those lovely people, and a handful of others, are part of the NPSD Class of 2014 (the year Sheila and I started). That was just one year after three wonderful ladies had this crazy idea that people would show up to Kate Sessions Park and workout at 6:29 a.m. on a Wednesday. I’ve heard stories that you could count on two hands how many people showed up to that first workout. And if you subtract the really close friends and significant others of the co-leaders and the co-leaders themselves, well, you’d probably could count that on one hand. And from that humble beginning, six years ago, many of us are here. More than you can count on two hands.
Sometimes I wonder why, five years later, I still consistently show up to these workouts. I have a gym and yoga studio membership five minutes from my house, yet, 4-6 times a month, I set an alarm for 5:15 a.m., wipe the sleep out of my eyes, mumble to Sheila “are we going,” drive 30-40 miles round trip and just show up. My daily schedule is all about arranging things that make convenient sense. Starting my day waking up at 5:15 a.m., out of the door by 6 a.m., run around for 30 minutes, drink a cup of coffee, drive home through morning rush hour and then get my work day started is far from convenient.
But then I realize the consequence of convenience. If I don’t go, sure I get a little extra sleep and save a little gas, but I don’t get to see my friends … the Class of 2014 friends and the new friends.
November Project lures people in with the promise to get them out of bed, to move and explore their city. The bounce, the sweat and the physical activity is great. But it’s those good vibes and the long lasting friendships that really keep us around.
It’s often talked about how difficult it is to “make friends” post-college or after moving to a new city. Sure, you’ve got work friends and maybe church friends or people you’ve met that live next door to you. But friend requesting, in real life, is hard. Not so if you really ensconce yourself with November Project.
It starts simply. You partner up with someone for hoistees or Bojans. And then you’re sitting at a table drinking coffee with three other new acquaintances. Next thing you know, you’re spray painting clothes you wouldn’t have even dare to wear if you were actually painting and you’re signing up for races for the first time ever or for distances you never imagined you could do.
I only wish I had this around when I was in my “post college era” and especially when I moved to San Diego 20 years ago. The friendships through November Project I’ve developed in the past 5 years are far beyond anything I had before I started NP (well except meeting and marrying Sheila).
I’ve traveled to Park City, Utah, Vancouver, San Francisco and Los Angeles with NPSD friends. I’ve shared meals, memories and milestones. I’ve hugged and high fived. I’ve hiked mountain peaks. I’ve tipped back a few beers, shots of Fireball (from a shotski) and at least 5,452 cups of coffee.
Being around this movement for one half of a decade I’ve seen a commonality in storylines from people all over the NP-universe. There have been people who need to lose weight; people going through a bad break-up and needing to find a new social circle; former college athletes looking to rekindle that training fire.
They will also say how it has been life changing.
However, for me, I don’t really have a story of tribulation. In fact, if I had not find NPSD five years ago, I’d probably tell you I was pretty content today. But then I wouldn’t have realized what I was missing out on. And today, I can’t imagine the last five years without NPSD. I can’t imagine not seeing and running with, on a regular basis, Jenna, Angie, Kev, Sarah, Marc, Alex, Eric, Eugene and Sheila.
And five years from now, I hope I can’t imagine seeing you — the person reading this right now — on a regular basis either.
Happy birthday to us! I didn’t go to our first birthday party in 2014. I remember Justin asking me I wanted to go to a 6:29 AM birthday party for a free fitness group that he was dee-jaying. I stayed in bed and slept. He continued to go to NP. He kept telling me how much fun it was and that I should try it some time.
Eventually, he got me to go to lulu run club when he was training for the La Jolla Half hills. I remember seeing Lauren Padula running. Justin told me that she co-led the November Project free fitness group. He said that a lot of the others running were from the other fitness group too. They were all so friendly and supportive when I’d finish last. It was difficult for me to get off work and make the evening runs, so I decided to give the morning NP workouts a try.
My first NP work out was in November 2014. It was PR day at Kate Sessions Park. It was hard. I was the last one to finish, but remember seeing a tunnel at the top of the park. I’ll never forget either Kev or Angelo running me up to the top of the cheering tunnel. I didn’t feel alone. I felt strong!
You see, I grew up running track and cross country. I loved racing. I joined the Army and I was in peak physical shape. We did a different kind of racing, marching and running, doing obstacle courses while carrying heavy weapons and rucksack. But 30 years later of adulting, injury, marriage and motherhood, I felt overweight and out-of-shape. I needed to do something. No more excuses!
We continued to go weekly and I was hooked! There was so much love, encouragement and inspiration from our three lady co-leaders, Ashleigh, LP and Jessie! We would periodically bring our daughter, Marissa, when she didn’t have school or when we had social events. Marissa credits NP and birthday twin, Jeff, and Laura, for teaching her how to play Quarters at a 4th of July party. She was 8 years old!
Justin and I would take turns attending NP because someone had to drive Marissa to school. Between Kate Sessions and Convention Center stairs, the stairs were my favorite…until we got kicked out.
Birthday #2 and #3, Justin and I were regularly coming to NP and there were firsts for me. I was training for my first half marathon (NP, Stefanie Sullivan paced me) and I tried yoga for the first time. We were becoming more active and wanting to do all the things with our new NP family. We started to do things outside of the Monday and Wednesday workouts and started doing things almost every day! Track Tuesdays, Friday hikes and weekend races.
By birthday #4, our NP parents were Angelo and Lauren. We’ve seen it all…birthday parties, camping trips, travel to different cities for “run-cations”, social outings, etc. NP is our extended family and our door is always open for our NP family. We’ve hosted 75+ NPSDrs at our house for Friendsgiving, going-away parties, BBQs, post-Memorial Day coffee to name a few. I got to celebrate my BIG 5-0 internationally with my NP family at the SeaWheeze half marathon in Vancouver!
I look forward to seeing all of your happy faces early in the morning! You’re like my children and I can’t get enough of y’all! A group of us would get coffee after the NP workouts. So we started a NPSD Coffee Hour to hang-out and get to know our fellow NPrs. By birthday #5 our NPSD Coffee Hour was strong! Our parents were Eugene & Shira. We even have a special NPSD Coffee Hour tag! Other NP cities have heard of NPSD Coffee Hour and want to join us and get their tag too!
I like arranging Coffee Hour because I want all of us to get to know each other outside of doing burpees, running and getting sweaty. I want everyone, especially the newbies, to feel welcome and inclusive, as I did when I first started five years ago. I want all of us to be one BIG & happy family.
NP is a wonderful family and I’m proud to be a part of it. Together we’ve celebrated weddings, babies, graduations, hellos and goodbyes. Justin and I both lost a parent this past year and you all have been there to comfort us.
My worlds collide with November Project and my work at the Port of San Diego. Whenever the Port needs models for marketing campaigns, I recruit my NP family! You’ve probably seen familiar NP faces on ads, commercials, bus stops and buses around town, on TV and on social media!
I love that NP is something that my family can enjoy together socially and physically. NP challenges me, NP keeps me in shape and, all the while, I get all the smiles, sweaty hugs and high fives! I love seeing all of you at races cheering, volunteering or running! I encourage you to just show up even if you can’t workout. Show up to injury deck, volunteer, cheer, help tag, go to a Summit, run a race and feel all the feels of November Project!
Who knew that November Project would change my life and help me discover myself. Who knew that I would meet and get to know such wonderful people that would become close friends…lifelong family. Who knew that I would be here with you celebrating our 6th birthday together? All because I just showed up! Cheers to being six years old! Thanks to our parents, Anna and Eugene, for throwing a party for us! Happy birthday to us! I can’t wait to turn seven!Share via socials: