Before we start, I want to let you know that I’m a huge fan of this guy. As one of the most respected people in the running community in Alberta, he is the kindest person you might ever meet. Not only will he take you to the emergency room when you’re sick, but he will also clean your car while he waits for you to get out! At the workouts, he’s either pushing the pace, or making sure everyone including the kids, are having a blast. Whenever he’s around, you just know that everyone is going to have a good time. You have probably met him already, but if you haven’t… Meet Steve.
Introduction by Nadim
5:10am ……. Alarm goes off………5:10:01am…. WTF……. Hit snooze…….. 5:12am…. Alarm goes off again…….. And so it begins. Three times a week, the time that makes or breaks me. The time I no longer allow myself the opportunity to close my eyes and try to sleep longer. The time that deep sense of responsibility to the tribe kicks in. The time I have grown to love so much.
Not that I look for excuses, but in that blurred moment when reality is beginning to set in and my feet swing from the comfort of my bed towards the floor, there might be a fleeting moment where I wish for an aneurysm so I can collapse back to my pillow. But I’m drawn from that few seconds of doubt by the deeply seeded sense of community, accountability and responsibility to the tribe.
How did this happen to me and what is it about November Project that has allowed it to become so much a part of my life? While November Project doesn’t define me, it and the people within have reshaped me in more ways than I ever could have hoped and imagined.
For me, showing up is not about seeing how fast I can or cannot run. It’s not about trying to prove anything. It is about the bounce, the “good mornings”, the “fuck yeahs”, the sweaty hugs and selfishly, the inspiration I get from seeing every single person who shows up.
Because of NP I am in better shape mentally and physically. Because of NP my days start earlier, and that is something I never would have imagined I would be grateful for. It’s not like I slept that much before. In fact, I somewhat pride myself on being able to live off of less than 5 hours sleep a night on a regular basis. So why is this different? Well, it’s different because now there is a purpose behind my extra lack of sleep for 3 days a week. That purpose is anchored by the promise of a positive, supportive and inspiring 30+ minutes early each morning that enriches my days like nothing ever before.
My very first November Project workout was in September 2014. That day we ran the stairs at Commonwealth. That day I watched and listened as Pink Tights Dave was awarded with the Positivity Award. I remember vividly what Andrew said when he spoke of Dave’s commitment to his fitness and his family, to his completing an entire deck of cards everyday for a year. I was hooked and ever since November Project has provided me with more than I can ever give back, but I am committed to trying.
In May of this year during a business trip to Washington, DC I took the opportunity to workout with the DC Tribe and run the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial. That is a day I shall never forget. The Lincoln Memorial represents so very much. I had walked those steps during a visit a few years before, but running 17 Lincoln Logs twice over back-to-back workouts in one day was a gift. A gift I am reminded of daily with an amazing photo taken of me during the workout that now hangs in my office to remind me of that moment. And yet again, it wasn’t about the run.
Although it has been a while since they have been out, even my wife Tina and youngest daughter Ella have risen extra early to workout with the tribe. Little do they realize how much I have enjoyed them being there and how much I enjoyed the smiles on their faces, especially on stair race days when they beat their previous bests.
While NP has done so very much for me personally, I am perhaps most grateful for what it has done for my eldest daughter Malorie, who, after having her baby girl Lucy in January of this year, continued the process of dedicating part of each day to her fitness. Then on July 1st, she decided it was time to “Just Show Up”. And now, three times a week, we swap texts to make sure the other is up and going.
Malorie’s fitness level has improved significantly. She is crushing stairs each Wednesday and can kick my ass when it’s time for burpees. But it is on Fridays when we run hills that I get the chance to run alongside her for at least part of the workout. I absolutely love those moments. It’s not about speed; it’s not about how many repeats; it’s about having that time with her without a word being shared. And when they are, it’s often about pushing each other that extra little bit.
November Project to me is everything good about what community really is. Sadly we live in a world where there is so much negativity. And yet, for those 30 plus minutes we are guaranteed a positive experience that comes from within all of us. We simply cannot be any other way while at NP and I hope those times together has and continues to positively affect the days of each person who shows up.
Three times a week, we make a promise to each other to be positive, to be honest, to be supportive, to be there for each other and to hold each other accountable. Deep friendships have been forged, pounds shed and goals met. November Project is so much more than a work out. It truly it a lifestyle and a choice that has forever changed who we are and what our community is.
I am grateful for and I am humbled by each of you. You’re all amazing!
Steve BakerShare via socials: