I confess–I avoided PR Day like the plague. Before I was a coleader, back when I was a dual citizen of NP Brooklyn & New York, I could skip PR Day without missing a Wednesday workout. If it was Brooklyn’s PR Day, I’d just take the train to Manhattan. If it was New York’s PR Day, then I’d be on the Brooklyn bound instead. Win, win. It was a great idea, I thought smugly.
PR stands for personal record. PR Day at November Project is the one day a month that we test ourselves on a set course. In Boston, PR Day is running up and down all 37 sections of Harvard Stadium. In Montreal, PR Day is 30min of banging out repeats on a “gentle” hill. In New Orleans, PR Day is 25min of running a loop sprinkled with burpees & box jumps. PR Day is a test, a test to see if we’ve gotten faster, gone further, pushed harder. It’s typically not fun, not easy, and not exactly enjoyable.
I was doing it–skipping PR Day but still working out on Wednesdays. I was having my cake and eating it too. Until a Vinnie Cent from NP Philly questioned my smug plan. Something about him calling me out on it made me reevaluate. You could say it’s accountability, not wanting to look soft. Whatever it was, it got me to show up at the start line of the next PR Day in New York, ready to race.
Why the aversion? I recently read an article called The Marathon Doesn’t Owe You Anything. The author Peter Bromka writes, “racing is testing–it’s submitting yourself to a task, unsure of the outcome, for the thrill of discovering the answer to the question, ‘can I handle this much for that long?'” When you toe the start line of a race or PR Day, that is where we are. For any test really, as prepared as we can be, there are a multitude of variables that can throw us off, that chip away at our vision of success. It involves all our effort for a questionable result. The author explains, “Why do we do this? To feel something. To move ourselves, to ensure we don’t get stuck.”
The first Wednesday of August 2017, I lined up with everyone else for New York’s PR Day. It had been a while. But if I made the commitment to set my alarm, then I was making the commitment to do PR Day how it should be done. For some reason, a Gary McLaughlin decided to take off with me. He said he’d come along for the ride, which I figured would last just a couple minutes, till he realized he was faster than me. But that didn’t happen. Gary stayed with me for the entirety of the PR course. When I shuffled up the stairs like a snail, he shuffled with me. When I was too winded to talk, he’d crack jokes and tell me about how he and his wife were excited about their baby. I kept pushing, even though it was getting uncomfortable, and the laps were turning into a blur. Even if I wasn’t pushing though, Gary would’ve pulled me across the finish. You could say it’s accountability.
“Why do we do this?…to insert our individual effort into a sea of human energy and force out the other side, hopeful that somehow we’ll be different. Changed in some way,” Bromka writes. PR Day is typically not fun, not easy, and not exactly enjoyable. But you didn’t set your alarm for early o’clock to get easy. Easy would be not setting the clock all together. You decided to get out of bed and show up. When you press your foot onto the chalked start line, what will you decide to do? I’m not talking finish time or number of laps. Those things fade from memory like the chalked start line. I’m talking effort. That’s what you’ll remember. That when it was intimidating/challenging/impossible, but still you went for it. You’ll remember that you felt something, that you decided to change in some way.
Yes, it is the last Wednesday of the month in two days. Yes, it is also Christmas. Yes, it is still PR Day.
And then, on December 31st at 5:58AM, we’ll be doing Go For Brokelyn. It’s a tribute to two previous PR Day courses. It won’t be easy, but you’re not coming for easy. Maybe you’ll have someone running with you the whole time; you’ll definitely have someone cheering for you along the way. It’ll be the last day of the decade, so come toe the line with us one more time.Share via socials: