As a “mature” member of the November Project NO tribe, you can probably tell that I have taken a few “laps” around the sports world in my time! For me, growing up in St. Louis in the 60s meant field hockey, basketball and gymnastics. College was flag football and soft ball, and as a young Army wife with four little ones to corral, Jazzercize (think pastel lycra, high ponytails and wristbands) became my passion, mainly because they offered free babysitting! I didn’t begin running until we moved to New Orleans and all of my children were swimming competitively…I could either sit on the pool deck and watch hours of endless freestyle…or run the track. I chose the track. Also, (and for very shallow reasons) I realized every runner I knew had beautiful legs…what a bonus!
Running morphed into triathlon, which I was very passionate about for ten years. Sprints gave way to half Ironmen, and finally under the tutelage of a great workout partner, Ric Mostert, I tackled Ironman Florida. I loved every minute of the training and the race itself, – it was an unbelievably wonderful experience. In my opinion, IM is sort of a selfish endeavor though…I was trying to get all of my long workouts in, continue my work as a dental hygienist, be social, and still be there for my family. I thought I was doing a really good job…the reality was that my kids said they felt like they had a zombie for a mom who was many times physically present, but mentally asleep! So…I fell back on the part of triathlon that I love most…running!.
I have been blessed with more running friends and gurus than anyone has a right to in my life. My usual running group consists of five women and my older sister, all multiple time Boston Qualifiers and all in our 50s. They have truly shaped me not only as a runner, but as a human being through their kindness, and faithfulness, all the while dispensing jokes, trivia, and insults and love.
I have met, and grown quite fond of, many runners through Varsity Sports, mainly because of my daughter, Caity Graham, who used to work at the Magazine store until she got her “big girl” job. Varsity really challenged Caity to start running regularly and have fun with it…and I am eternally grateful to them for this gift. Varsity taught me during their Thursday night bar runs, that sport can be extremely social, and fun. And running with Caity just put the whole experience over the top for me. Through Varsity, and then as a Board Member of Girls on the Run, I also met a dear friend who would later introduce me to November Project…Sarah Truxillo!
Sarah was an early member of NPNO, and one of its biggest cheerleaders. In her gentle, but prodding way, over the course of several months, she convinced me to wake up early and just show up to Champion’s Square. She introduced me to four sweet, lovable, irreverent, funny leaders that seemed unbelievably happy (almost merry?!) to lead us skipping, running, and frolicking up the stairs, around the Dome, and through a series of workouts every week. I was mesmerized by this whole concept…where everything was free, where you willingly offered your new clothing to be stamped with pride (#grassrootsgear), where the workouts were intense but no one but you was holding you accountable, where total strangers became your best friends in a matter of minutes, where “sister” cities and their tribes embraced you as long lost cousins in foreign lands (or foreign marathons!!), where everyone is supported and loved no matter if you are ten or one hundred, and….where everyone seems so darn happy all the time. Really..why are we all smiling and giggling and laughing…these workouts are not easy!!!!!!!!! The most incredible thing for me though, is that I convinced my daughters, Erin and Caity to try NP also, and now we are all hooked! My favorite days are when they “just show up” and we can all play together. And all of us are getting so much stronger…not just my family, but I can see it in the entire tribe. I credit NP and “eating stairs for breakfast” with getting me up and down the hills of the Hood to Coast Relay last year in Oregon with no problem…even though this flatlander had what were considered the hardest three legs of the race. I requalified for Boston last fall in Philadelphia and had a PR by four minutes…again, I credit NP which the results. It also gave me the courage to try some Q50 trail races, which are my new passion, and run strong on uneven ground. All these changes happened when I wasn’t looking for them…they are just an incredible byproduct of having fun and sweating with the “Tribe”!
To me, one of the most amazing features of November Project, is that it is an amalgam of every running and triathlon, cross fit, football, soccer, etc group in the city…along with those who just want a great workout! I meet someone new every week, and luckily have convinced some of my trail and triathlon friends to join in. It is a fascinating melting pot of personalities and abilities, cultures and dynamics. We are all so blessed to get to play, inspire, dream and love each other! I can honestly say I have never seen anything like the dynamic culture here in November Project. Thank you Cam, Will, Preston and Kate for all that you do for us to make this possible!