June 19, 2020, marks 155 years since the enslaved people of Texas were told they were free by Union soldiers. Those enslaved in Texas were the last from Confederate states to be freed in 1865. While the Emancipation Proclamation took effect in January of 1863, it took over two years for enslaved people in Texas to be freed because the state was still under Confederate control.
We said it this morning, and it bears repeating here — Sarah Waleszczak embodies everything that we love about November Project. She wears her grassroots gear with pride. She brings an infectious smile to every workout. She doles out A+ hugs. She jumps into every workout with a zest we should all strive for. She even laughs at our jokes!
OK, I’ll stop blabbering and let her talk for herself. Meet Sarah here (and at next Monday’s workout!). Follow her and the PA on Snapchat: npdc_positivity
1) How and where were you introduced to November Project?
I was introduced to NP DC by a couple different avenues … Jake, Steve, and Steph Wolfram kept mentioning it at soccer on Saturday mornings as I was their referee (recently dubbed “the best referee in District Sports” without an ounce of bias). I also started dating Dustin last year and he made sure I actually came to a workout, bikesharing across the Memorial Bridge on a muggy ass day in May. The rest is history.
2) What do you remember about your first workout or thinking at/after your first workout?
My first workout was at Lincoln and it was HARD. I was just coming back from a broken ankle and hadn’t been in the cardio game for a while. I remember the stairs being a lot, but I made a couple friends, notably Carter Henderson, as he stayed with me and did all the talking (I was wheezing) running around the memorial. I was also unseasonably sore that Thursday/Friday. Jump lunges are good for the butt, but are a pain in the butt.
3) What motivates you to keep you coming back?
The smiles and the hugs are definitely up there, but let’s face it – a lot of people from NP grew up playing some sort of sport, and that sense of competition never really goes away. For me, it’s competition with myself. I remember my first Meridian Hill workout thinking I never wanted to come to a Monday workout again because of how hard 15th Street was. The second time, it wasn’t quite as bad. Now, instead of just trying to make it up the hill, I try to chase or beat people up the hill, and I relish in that feeling of getting to the top completely breathless to do some spice.
The other thing is that people are just so dang nice. You know when you’re running alone, training for a race and it gets boring, or you’re having a bad running day, or you just don’t wanna be doing it? But then race day comes and whenever there are people cheering (no matter how weakly), it amps you up until you forget that 10 miles have already passed? That’s NP. Constant cheers of, ‘You got this, we got this, stay with me.’ We are our own cheering section.
Oh, plus Dustin. Whether he’ll admit it or not (he’ll insist that I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to even if it’s good for me haha), he’s been my accountabilibuddy SO many times, especially in the winter. There was a period that I didn’t show up because it was too cold or whatever, and he did. I’m a little embarrassed at how jealous I was, and still am, seeing pictures of him or any of my friends at NP when I could have gone, but chose to stay in bed. I don’t even have to workout with Dustin (cough … I can’t because he’s too fast), but just getting me out of bed is all I need. And the feeling once the workout is done? Priceless.
4) What does winning the Positivity Award mean and represent to you?
First of all – it was unexpected! I was really surprised until Steve said “this person laughs at ALL of my jokes” (guilty), and then Maria said “Bills Mafia” and I knew it was for real for real.
The Positivity Award represents a lot for me right now. I’m struggling a bit with stress- working full time, reffing, Ubering, and grad school. I recently let that stress get to me a couple times, but when I’m at NP, I don’t think about any of that. Possibly because I’m deliriously tired, but most definitely because I’m around other happy people and it cycles those smiles and laughs right out of me. I’m usually pretty good at masking negativity in everyday life, but at NP, I don’t have to pretend. It’s genuine joy, and I feel extremely lucky that I can emit some of those positive vibes onto others three mornings a week.
5) How do you explain NP to your Mom?
An early January Wednesday such as today reminds me of my first NP workout three years ago. I can’t say I remember all of the workout, but I have a few vivid memories:
At the end of this thing I’d later learn was called “The Bounce” there was A LOT of yelling during a call-and-response. It sounded a bit jumbled to me. What. Were. They. Yelling?
There was this man, Ron, going out of his way to introduce himself to me, the cleary confused new guy.
There was Jack, now of NP Baltimore (come back, Jack!), shouting encouragement on the stairs in between breaths. I think he might have known my name. He might have just called me “man” (always, a safe go-to for the first time you forget a name). The point is he was yelling, encouraging the new guy.
And after the workout and a group photo, some people were giving money to the guy in charge, the skinny dude with the beard. So this must be where I pay for the fitness, I thought. But why wasn’t everyone handing cash to the guy? Ahh, fuck it, I thought — I’ll skip out of paying this time.
BOY, did I not have a clue! (I’d later find out that this shit was free and that people were only paying for these weird things called “Buffs.”)
My point here is that while anyone who’s gone for a while “gets” November Project and understands EVERYTHING, even for the most consistent “new people” it can be as confusing as a “traverbal” — especially during these winter months when it’s dark for 85% of the workout.
Eventually, I learned they were saying “Fuck Yeah.” Eventually, after four months, I learned that there’s an NP Social Page and that, WOAH, people do races outside of NP ALL THE TIME. Eventually, I learned that after Friday workouts, many people grab coffee somewhere local and that it’s a great way to remember names I learned and then forgot at the workout and to conversate with my new friends. Eventually, I learned that no, you didn’t buy the shirts everyone was wearing but got them spray-painted … but only the first Monday of every month. Eventually, I figured most of it out. And then, eventually, it all out.
Hey, I’ll admit it, I’m a slow learner. Most new folks probably pick up the nuances of NP a lot quicker these days than I did three long years ago. And, of course, many people come to NP for the first time with a friend who shows them the ropes, or most of them.
But for those brave souls who come solo for Workout No. 1, I commend you and please know that if shit doesn’t seem to make sense at first, that’s OK, that’s normal. We’re here to show you the way, and the Rons and Jacks and everyone else who’s been showing up for a long time are also here.
FRIDAY: Barry Farm Rec. Find out the location & verbal for it HERE
Jan. 28: Three Stars, Two Bars. More to come. Mark your calendar.