If you, like me, spent a lot of time burning mix CDs to put into your parents’ 2001 Oldsmobile Intrigue during the late 2000s and the early aughts, you hopefully know the value of this Schwayze banger. If you don’t, take three minutes and give it a listen, I guarantee you’ll be Buzzin’ by the end.
This past Sunday, August 18, was an epic feat of athleticism, strength, and gastrointestinal fortitude. The first ever Custard Chase, a follow-up to last summer’s Taco Mile, went down at Banneker Rec Center. Bolstered by our community ties (and excellent planning from our very own Noelle Ellerson Ng), we welcomed hundreds of runners for the event. First, a sincere thanks to Shake Shack for providing the delicious custard, Pacers Running for the race clock, and the DC Department of Parks and Rec for the AV system and the space — we couldn’t have done it without y’all.
The snow started falling on Saturday afternoon during our NPDC ice skating social at Canal Park. The meteorologists (read: Tribe-weatherman Alek Krautmann) were predicting heavy snowfall, and the temperature showed no sign of warming up, so we knew Monday’s workout would be a snowy one.
Saturday night’s snow became Sunday morning’s snow. Then Sunday afternoon’s snow. And into the evening. 10 hours, 20, hours, 27 STRAIGHT HOURS OF SNOW!
I can’t lie, I thought this idea was ridiculous when Jake mentioned it. Who likes poetry? Who has time to sit down and write a poem? Y’all. I have never been more wrong (except for that time I had bangs as a child, big mistake, huge). The response was completely overwhelming; people got down with their creative side, and it was a complete joy to read everyone’s work. I wish we could give you all free entry into the ‘fest, but nay, in contests there must be winners. So, in no particular order, here we go:
1) Yoga Julie
This poem has spunk, just like it’s author, YJ. Not only is the rhyming scheme is amazing, it’s dissection of how to listen to your body is a good perspective to be reminded of, especially when we surround ourselves with lots of hardcore athletes who constantly push themselves–it’s nice to know that yes, it’s okay to take a break. Without further delay:
I recently won the positivity oar,
the handle reminiscent of rowing days of yore.
I got it because I often holler and hoot.
But mostly because I did so while in a boot.
A reward for showing up against all odds,
for ignoring my doctor and defying the Gods
who dealt me this injury to tell me to rest,
and put my mental, not physical, self to the test.
For too many months I’d been doing too much:
Yoga, and NP, and biking and such.
I needed a break and something had to give,
a pause button on the crazy life that I live.
Turns out it was my foot, a spot right over the ball,
from a freak yoga incident, a good friend’s fall.
When it first happened I said, “Oh, it can’t be that bad.”
I still ran and did yoga and walked around sandal-clad.
Two weeks later I caved and went to the doc in West End.
And Booty McBootface became my best friend.
I still just showed up and did what I could,
Even though that was more than I knew that I should.
It took a dear friend to make me finally see
that pushing through now was hurting future me.
I promised her ten days, a seemingly endless stretch of time
to rest, do nothing (and now come up with this rhyme).
I still got to teach yoga, which I thought would be cool.
But teaching without doing is unusually cruel.
And so was showing up, watching others run.
Being at workouts became more upsetting than fun.
The yoga classes I teach are designed to be tough,
but if my student just lie there for an hour, that’s enough.
Because I want them to take it to heart when I’ve said
that it’s a challenge to their bodies as well as their heads.
Sure they can handstand or touch their nose with their toes,
but we all have bad days, that’s just how it goes.
I tell them to feel that, to pull back if they need,
because when their bodies say stop, they absolutely must take heed.
Now, I’m terrible at taking my own advice here,
especially as I watched my MCM plans disappear.
And fear of missing out is strong, as we all know.
I feel like my whole life is ruled by FOMO.
But for my own mental health, I’ve had to stay away.
Even injury deck would be an unsafe gateway.
NP stresses that you should always make it.
Even the injured get shamed for verballing if they break it.
I don’t begrudge the culture, encouragement, or support,
it’s so inspiring that we get attendees of all sorts.
Fast and slow alike under the rising sun,
even my Grandma Phyllis at a young 81.
But what must be said is “It’s okay not to go.”
I’ll hold you accountable if your body says no.
#Justshow up should have some fine print:
*only if you would benefit from it.
Now most people will and it’s an effective tool
to get sleepy people to the park and the reflecting pool.
But be real with yourself and if the answer is no,
I’ll respect you just as much for deciding not to show.
So here I still am, my time I still bide,
with a heavy heart but this oar by my side.
Knowing that there are people, whose faces I miss,
who have supported me through every bit of all this.
With me every step towards recovery, big or small,
Even when that’s meant taking no steps at all.
Just by them showing up with positivity to share,
I know that November Project DC will always be there.
2) Kelly Harley
This girl needs no introduction. A ray of sunshine on the coldest winter morning, this poem is reflective of Kelly’s perpetual positivity, and her consistent willingness to do anything/meet anyone. Quite simply, it will make you believe in the magic of November Project mornings.
I Believe in Mornings
I believe in mornings, and the crisp smell of a new day.
I believe in mornings, also when the sky is gray.
I believe in you and you believe in me,
and I believe in the community that is, NP.
I believe in hugs, sweat and tears,
all of which tear down and break through fears.
I believe with all my heart and with all of yours,
that November Project is a place with infinite, open doors.
I believe in our community – just doing what we do,
just a bounce can make my day, and maybe a burpee- or two.
I believe in the power of a sunrise- it sets my heart on fire,
and I let it take me through the day, of it l’ll never tire.
I believe in all good mornings, and to begin the day anew.
I believe in all good mornings, especially with you.
3) Sean O’Neill
I loved Sean’s ability to transport the reader to a Meridian Monday workout with his descriptive language. The ode to the snooze button is one every NPer knows, and it is articulated beautifully here:
I Once Loved You, Snooze Button
It ended last December,
I started seeing other people.
Lots of them, Mondays, Wednesdays, sometimes three times a week.
There were mornings where I missed us,
missed bed’s comfort and the successive
9 minutes of sleep stretching between soft iPhone stirrings.
But I came to appreciate new rituals,
the 6:15 jump from bed, the grabbing clothes off the floor,
the hurried ingestion of two gummy vitamins,
the half-sprint to Meridian Hill park,
“what time does the 6:20 workout start again”
bouncing in my head as I pounded pavement.
I pass the early commuters, the dog walkers,
the just-walking walkers, the baby strollers, the birds.
I throw my keys on the bench, alongside
two dozen brightly colored water bottles
advertising their brightly attired owners.
We murmur soft hellos,
more alive than awake but getting there.
Half a mile away, in my still-dark bedroom,
my alarm sounds again, in case I hit the snooze button.
But I didn’t, and the air smells of aerosol paint, grass, communal sweat,
we breathe it as we crowd in,
listening, understanding, understood.
Now I know we said we were only going to have 3 winners, but these poems were SO GOOD, so insightful, SO FIRE [insert emoji here] that we couldn’t help ourselves. We have ourselves a fourth winner:
4) Sharlene Simon
This flow of this poem is incredible; plus a bathroom reference?!? COUNT ME IN. Great work, Sharlene–a well earned bib for a well written submission:
You’ve seen me walk, you’ve seen me run, November Project is always fun.
6:29 is the starting time, my favorite part is, it costs FREE 99.
It might be light, it might be dark, rain or shine, we meet at the park.
Whether coming up or down the street, my music pumping, never miss a beat.
Kids, dogs, and friends galore…if you’re willing to wake up, we open that door.
In between running, there is always a spice. Maybe squats or dips, depends on the roll of the dice.
No matter if you’re fast or slow, chunky or slim, or even have a fro.
Together we whisper, together we hug, and after each lap, water we do chug!
I’m pretty unmotivated so I’m grateful for you, if I have to potty when running, what’s a girl to do?
There is sweat and smiles and many many miles, of joyous torture to lasts you a while.
In the heat, in the cold and even when we whine,
we keep coming back… so that must be a sign!
Congratulations to our winners, and thank you to everyone who took the time to write a submission–y’all continue to astound. Readers, be on the lookout for some of the honorable mentions as the week goes on. HAPPY MONDAY!!
SPREAD. GOOD. VIBES.
Everyone, Saturday is almost here. Saturday, as you might know, is the North Face Endurance Challenge — DC (aka best) edition, aka we take over the trails at Algonkian Park with several friends from all around the world, too.
Saturday is gonna be hype. Saturday is also gonna be HOT. Like 91 degrees in April HOTTT.
That’s hot for 50 miles (hello, Brian Brussell). That’s hot for 50K (hello, like, 30 people). That’s even hot for running one leg of the marathon relay (hello hundreds of you). And we don’t want anyone to overheat.
So … Stevie to the rescue! Big thanks to registered dietician, nutritionist, ironwoman, marathoner, all-out awesome person, core tribe member, etc. Stevie Lyn Smith for sharing her knowledge about how to prepare for this type of racing weather and how to stay cool, fresh, and kicking ass on race day (hint: save the adult-bev drinking for our super-hype after-party at Wunder Garten Saturday night!)
OK, I’ll shut up now and let Stevie speak for herself. Read below. Read every word. IMPORTANT.
GUYS. It’s going to be hella hot this weekend and we’ve all had no time to even kind of acclimate to be able to #raceeverything in heat yet this year. So I’m here to give you some #protips on how to manage your race while most importantly staying safe out on the course.
First, what’s going on with your body when you exercise in the heat and why does the heat make such a difference? Why should we care? Exercising in the heat puts extra stress on your body as both the exercise itself and the air temperature increase your core temperature. This causes the body to send more blood to your skin to lower your core temperature which in turns leaves less blood for your muscles, increasing your heart rate. Humidity adds another curveball of added stress here as your sweat doesn’t readily evaporate. This can lead to a variety of heat related illnesses ranging from cramps, syncope and heatstroke.
How can you help prevent the onset of heat illness? Proper hydration and fueling to meet your body’s increased demands. Drinking plenty of water is a good place to start, including the few days leading into the race. I know we all love a few race day eve cocktails but this weekend may not be the best time to imbibe, especially if you’re going long. Beyond water it is crucial to replace the electrolytes (Na, Mg, Cl, K) that you lose in your sweat (I more fondly know them as ‘lytes’) that are necessary for bodily functions such as fluid balance, muscle and nerve contraction and acid-base balance, among other things. How can you get these? Sports drinks. Don’t be afraid of the sugar content, drink the drink (I personally prefer Gatorade Endurance for it’s higher sodium content). Also why ‘lytes are important — if you drink plenty of water but take in no sodium you will put yourself at risk for hyponatremia, which can have serious consequences like heat related illnesses. For those going long or if you’re a heavy sweater, I would also recommend taking in electrolyte tablets (an example of these being Base electrolytes) due to increased losses. Just running one leg of the relay? My advice stays the same. The exposure to the sun and heat while you’re cheering on your teammates will still put extra stress on your body. Your needs won’t be as high as someone running longer but you’ll still need more than what you’ve consumed in training (or not consumed) in the cooler temps.
Other #protips include; Get ice/cold water wherever you can and dump it on your head and neck to help lower core temperature. Carry your own water. I can’t stress this one enough. Though there are aid stations on course, with the forecast as it is I would never rely 100% on the aid station having what I need. Body glide everything. I learned this hard way during marathon #15 which was 87 degress and humid AF…talk about ‘chafing the dream’. Lastly, wear sunblock! Not just to prevent skin cancer but because having a sunburn is just another thing that makes it more difficult for your body to decrease it’s temperature.
Be smart, be safe, and get after it!
In the past few weeks when people at November Project have asked me how long I’ve been part of the DC tribe, I’ve found it a little tough to answer. Not because I don’t know when I showed up to my first workout or because I’m too out of breath (which actually tbh might be part of the reason), but because until recently I have only been a fringe participant in this awesome community—the first eight months of my “membership” were marked by, well, never showing up.
525. First to CRUSH a Lincoln PR day in 2017
January was a trying month for lots of folks. SO much change, uncertainty and fear about the future. And to not have this place that has been such a stable, steady constant over the past three years- was potentially worrisome for the Tribe. However, I think our little break made us STRONGER.
We were on TV during our stair session at Nats Park, and the Tribe dazzled like the stars you all are. We exercised our demons (pun VERY MUCH INTENDED) in Georgetown- and learned that steep stairs make you FIERCE. We did a TRACK WORKOUT (what??) under the bright lights at Banneker- and felt the power that comes with climbing some unforgiving stone stairs. And finally, we got in a SOLID bleacher workout while Steve and I silently freaked out that a parking attendant would get mad at us. Put simply, January was different, it was exciting, it was fresh, and I think the Tribe learned a lot from our month of rotating stairs.We come back to Lincoln with a newfound appreciation for the hollowed ground- and what it really means to get to workout there.
Today though, THIS morning, we made our triumphant return to Lincoln. No matter how long we’re gone, or where else we workout, Lincoln feels like home. It IS home. For a lot of us, our first NP workout ever was Lincoln. The first time we experienced the NP community, the Bounce, the magic, got the high riding home and were giddy at work all day- it was with Abe as the backdrop.
We got to return this morning and oh my word, it was breathtaking. A fiery and gutsy 525 crew blazing through the dark to DESTROY our make-up PR day, followed and matched only by a rowdy, boisterous 620 squad. PRs were set. Friendships were forged. We got to come home.
So skip that afternoon coffee, you won’t need it, and let those positive Lincoln-Wednesday-PR vibes carry you through this day.
It felt good to be back, damn good.
RECORD your PR day results here!
FRIDAY: We’re at Grant Circle, NW. #VERBAL NOW!!! Click ME
SUNRISE 6K: We’re going head to head against November Project Iceland to see who the faster Tribe is. Pride is on the line. Stakes are high. Feel free to talk shit to them here.
BUFFS: Please, please, PLEASE pick up your buff if you haven’t done so already. They’ll be at every workout until February 15th. GET ‘EM WHILE THEY’RE HOT!
NOW GET OUT THERE AND SPREAD GOOD VIBES!
Dear November Project DC-
A little over two years ago on a cold December morning at 5:30am, I showed up to my first November Project workout at Lincoln with my chocolate sprinkle, Macon. Approximately 5 seconds into the bounce she turned to me and said- “We’ve found our people”.
BUT THEN SOMEONE BROKE THEIR FREAKIN’ VERBAL!!!
I waited at our meeting spot on the street but you never showed! Uber drivers passed, other runners ran by, and the 7-11 “crew” just stared at me like, “why is this kid standing on a street corner in shorts at 550am?” I was so lonely!
I know you probably tried. FB messenger showed that you were active 38 minutes earlier so you were so close! Your story as to why you didn’t make it has many holes! What really happened? Stayed up too late watching the Bachelor? Did you make some delicious meal and fall into a food coma?
Are you secretly an undercover agent and were up late saving the world?
Are you secretly a heavy gambler and got stuck at the casino? If you did I hope you made it big!
Or did you just go wild at The Front Page’s free taco night last night and drank 1 too many Coronas?
Either way, me and all of us at NP aren’t mad…we’re just disappointed.
Let me start by saying that this is not only a loss for the November Project DC Tribe, this is a loss for Washington, D.C. as a whole. That is the power of Kim and Jim. They take the values we talk about at workouts — spreading positivity to all, being inclusive, trying to bring more kindness to our community — and they apply them in the real world. It’s fantastic and it has given us all a standard to live up to and to replicate.