It seems like a lame question, but I am asking you to dig down a little deeper. Humor me for a few minutes. Yes, PR stands for Personal Record, and on this last Wednesday of every month, we collectively try to do our very best at a certain workout. Many people loathe the day, while others can’t wait to throw down. Sure, there are probably many of you that fall in the middle and could take it our leave it. But you have to agree that you all love that fresh new tag!
I’ve wanted to write this blog for a long time, but it’s taken me awhile to get here. I’ve always tried to look for the best in people, sometimes ignoring blaringly obvious bad traits. Much to my father’s dismay, this also applied to the boys that I would bring home. I truly believed that deep down everyone was good, despite their flaws. To this day I still believe that, but I was no longer going to find it myself.
Hello, I am Chris, you know the quiet guy in the back, who is a little or maybe really socially awkward.
Don’t you just love it when someone says, “You have potential”? Back in high school I ran track and played football. I will always remember my high school coach said that phrase to me. After football practice one hot summer day, he was talking to the team. He was giving players kudos here and there, then he calls my name and said, “Chris has ‘Potential”. What does that really mean? I did not think about it much that day or the rest of my high school days.
So this week is Runner Safety Week. In addition to many articles detailing tips and advice, there is a weeklong Event held by The Run Collective in NYC. It always feels so impersonal reading these tips from your computer or your phone. “This could never happen to me!” “It would never happen where I live, it’s safe here!” I know, because I used to be one of those people. Until it happened in my city, to one of my very good friends.
It’s been a minute since my last blog, and I want y’all to know, it ain’t always easy keepin it fresh. Curating content, writing rhymes, hyping the hype, creating new banger workouts; these things are all essential tasks as a leader. Having all that shit on point, capturing incredible photos and growing a movement in your city…that’s what us leaders call “Crushing It”!
Sometimes you need to see a lot of sunsets before you finally see a sunrise. What last year taught me was immeasurable.
I lost my soulmate in February. He was always by my side for the last 16 years. Max was my dog, my best friend, my fur child, and after his passing, I was lost, empty, scared and my instinct was to hide and to only see the darkness. But my November Project Virginia Beach Tribe and my “Hills and Thangs” NP group were there for me and they NEVER let me go down that path. It was even more amazing that just a few of them knew what happened, but they all helped me heal with their hugs, words, and support.
During the media event in New York this spring, we proudly announced Brooks as exclusive footwear and apparel of November Project. Brooks has been an integral part of November Project Seattle for years and we were incredibly proud to grow this local relationship and introduce it to the global NP family. And what a ride has been so far: We helped Brooks community, run millions of miles for an incredible cause. We earned some sweet swag during the Sunrise6k. Our leaders visited Seattle and Brooks HQ during the Meeting of the Minds. And in Las Vegas, we collectively put together one of the most memorable NPSUMMIT gatherings. And if this year was a taste of the things to come, 2020 will be incredible.
We’ve been friends and fans of Knockaround folks for many years but 2019 marked a designation of this brand as official sunglasses of November Project. Through NP Homework and a custom NP sunglasses that launched at the Summit in Vegas, it’s safe to say that the future is bright.
This year we added three new cities to November Project family. We kicked things off with the addition of the first city in France – Toulouse. A week after Toulouse, Rochester, NY, put New York State in the lead for the state with the most NP locations (5). The last city to join the NP family in 2019 was Columbus, OH, the sole representative of the Buckeye State!
When November Project became a non-profit organization, one of our long-term goals was to bring free fitness to youth. This year we partnered up with an organization called Playworks that provides structured recess in schools. In conjunction with Playworks, we launched a pilot program where NP members are volunteering in select Boston area schools and engaging students in physical activity and play. The learnings from this pilot that’s currently only available in Boston, will help us devise a plan for scaling and expansion.
Dr. Evan Johnson at the University of Wyoming Division of Kinesiology and Health and his team have launched a study to understand, investigate, and quantify how participation with November Project translates to physical activity habits outside of our early morning workouts. If you’ve attended at least one November Project workout within the past three months please help out with the research and fill out this survey.
MEETING OF THE MINDS
2019 gifted us the second annual Meeting Of The Minds (MOM), a gathering of nearly all 120+ co-leaders from 52 NP cities around the globe. For 4 days in August, these co-leaders descended upon Seattle to discuss the future of NP, brainstorm new ideas for their workouts, build personal relationships with one another, connect with our new partner, Brooks, and tirelessly discuss how we can improve, as both leaders in our community and a global organization. Here are a few highlights from that weekend:
A Peak Behind The Curtain
We had the pleasure of spending an entire day at the Brooks HQ, rotating from one area of the enormous building to the next, to learn about everything from product development to marketing research. The morning was kicked off with the warmest welcome from Brooks CEO, Jim Weber, and CMO, Melanie Allen, who matched the excitement level of a room full of NP co-leaders – an impressive feat in itself. Earlier that morning, before the sun had risen, we were given the incredible opportunity run alongside Des Linden, 2 time Olympian and 2018 Boston Marathon champion. So you could say it was amazing the roof of Brooks HQ didn’t blow off with the cheers from the leaders after such an amazing way to start our day. To read more about the experience from the leader perspective, give this recap a read: https://november-project.com/npsf-mom-aka-leader-summit-recap/
This year at MOM we were lucky enough to engage in a deeper discussion with D.A. Dirks and Soumya Palreddy, two experts in their respective fields in building more inclusive spaces through improved language and intentions. The co-leaders participated in activities which fully embraced our true identities, and revealed how we perceive ourselves and others. The exercises gave leaders a chance to dissect their daily patterns and language, finding new ways to invite people in without subconsciously excluding others. At the end of the day, we assembled into small groups to create the November Project Community Agreements; a list of understood agreements that all co-leaders and members are expected to follow if they would like to participate in November Project workouts. They are agreements that we have been quietly following for years, but have never had the chance to put down onto paper. That list has been brainstormed, edited, brainstormed, and edited multiple times and the final result is available here.
EDMONTON HITS 1000 WORKOUTS
Why is this a highlight when Boston and San Francisco hit 1000 workouts before them? Because while there have been leadership changes in both of those cities, the same two leaders, Jen Ference and Nadim Chin, have been at the helm of November Project Edmonton for all 1000 workouts. Yes, they have had co-leaders, including co-founder of NP Edmonton, Andrew Ference, and current co-leader, Rob McDougall, but Jen and Nadim have been at (nearly) every single workout for 1000 straight. Known as one of the more badass winter cities in the NP Universe, the willingness and ability to pull themselves out of their warm beds to go run around in -30 degree weather 3 mornings a week is mind-boggling.
NOVEMBER PROJECT SUMMIT, LAS VEGAS
The 8th Annual gathering known as #NPSUMMIT was hosted this year in Las Vegas, which was wacky for many reasons and gave us many firsts. The Rock N’ Roll race series filled both Saturday and Sunday night with races from 5K to 26.2M. Live music along the course, under the glowing lights of Vegas, it was perfect/odd, unlike the trail scene we’d become used to. But getting our summit celebration to a road race had more than a few upsides. First off,
Team Hoyt SD
For most of my life, I called Northern Virginia home. I was born there, grew up there, went to school, etc. Whenever someone would ask me where I was from, I’d say Northern Virginia. Arguably the best part of Virginia….or so I thought until recently.
In 2016, I took a new position within the university I worked for and moved to Virginia Beach. I already had some great friends living there, but I knew I wanted to venture out into my new hometown to see what it had to offer. I joined an amazing book club but was still looking for some way to stay active.
You’ll always remember your first… rain workout. Picture it, your alarm just went off, you rolled over and can hear the rain on your windows. In that moment you chose that you were still going to show up. Go back to that moment, can you still feel it? The groan as you get up out of your warm bed and the constant second guessing of your decision. “Am I actually going to go out there today?!” “Maybe I should just get back in bed.” “Nobody is going to show up today anyways.”
I fucking did it, I completed my very first half marathon and I feel like a fucking badass! After 15 weeks of training and being consistent with all of the things. The day finally came where I had to put all that training to good work. I felt sick as a dog on Friday & I actually had an anxiety attack the night beforehand, even with all the training. It wasn’t easy, but I had a lot of fun and I would definitely do it again. I didn’t hit a wall and on mile 12 which was awesome considering I usually hit my wall around mile 7. I was so happy to see my time under the 3 hour mark too!!!