Posts Tagged ‘run’
Crash Course: The November Project is a grassroots, guerrilla fitness movement started in 2011 by two Boston guys who needed a little extra motivation to stick with their workouts during the cold winter months. So they made a pact to hold each other accountable for showing up to workout together, no matter the weather, no matter the reason. Soon, social media and word of mouth brought a few friends into their crazy all-weather workout “tribe.” Friends told friends, a few became a few hundred, and now the November Project is popping up in cities across the country. The idea? Show up at 6:30 a.m. to workout with members of your community. For free. The goal? According to the website: “driving people out of bed to get fit and build a better world to live in. ” Sound awesome? It is. Lucky for you, the November Project launched in DC. #justshowup
where: Lincoln Memorial
bring: water bottle, towel
perks: incredible views, free hugs, no cost
sweat score: 8 out of 10
wear: weather appropriate gear
instructor: Steve and Danny
I’ve been trying my darndest lately to make it a habit of working out in the morning. Why? Because honestly, that’s the only guaranteed, unscheduled “me” time I have in my day. Do I always enjoy the sound of my alarm ringing at 6 a.m.? Heck no. But I’m learning…ever so slowly…to appreciate the freedom it gives me to workout how I want, as frequently as I want, without interruption.
This past Wednesday, I set my alarm for earlier than usual (5:40 a.m.) to wake up for my first crash with the November Project. A former Georgetown Triathlon teammate emailed me information about it a few weeks earlier, just as the group was starting out, and I was intrigued. “I’m curious to know what you think about the idea,” she wrote. “I know you’re always trying out new things, so I thought this would be something you could be interested in.” A morning workout. For free. With other crazies who love to sweat. At one of the most iconic places in the city? Be still my heart. You know me all too well.
So I got to my car by 6 a.m., picked up a fellow first-timer along the way (hey Michelle!), and made it down to the Lincoln my 6:15. For anyone coming by car, I found ample parking along Ohio drive and recommend checking there first. We grabbed our water bottles, hats, and gloves and quickly walked through the 30-some-odd degree cold to the even colder granite memorial steps, bumping into a few other first-timers along the way. “You going to this November Project thing?” “Yeah.” Blowing into frozen hands. “First time?” “First time. No idea what to expect, but I heard it’s pretty cool.”
There was already a small crowd gathered at the base of the monument, so we knew exactly where to go. At exactly 6:30 a.m., just as the dawn’s early light started peeking over the horizon, tribe leaders Steve and Danny called us all in for a quick huddle. Newbies were made to identify themselves, and were then welcomed with hugs. Yes, hugs. If you are uncomfortable with hugging strangers first thing in the morning, this really isn’t the gang for you. But the whole idea of the November Project – aside from the fitness thing – is to build a community bonded through basic human interaction. And in a world of social media ADD and smart phone addiction, eye contact, a hug, and a genuine “nice to meet you” go a long way.
Steve and Danny then led the group through a November Project tradition: a call-and-response of “Are we good?” and “F*ck Yeah!” There’s something amazingly ironic about screaming profanities into the pre-dawn DC quiet, under the serene gaze of a larger-than-life former president. But hey, don’t mess with tradition.
After a few enthusiastic rounds, Steve and Danny gave a quick explanation of the morning’s workout: the fireman five. We needed to form groups of four, learn each others names, and throughout the workout periodically find each other to complete 5 pushups and 5 burpees. All the while running continuously up and down, up and down, up and freaking down the Lincoln Memorial steps.
It sounds a little tedious, all that stair running. But you know what? Between the epically beautiful sunrise over the reflecting pool, the continuous high-fives and verbal encouragement from the November Project team, and the occasional “you got this” from a complete stranger…it was wildly worth it. I couldn’t help but stop a few times to take it all in. The view, number one, but also something better: regular folks, coming together in the cold and dark just to support each other in united sweatiness. If you’ve ever been on a sports team, you know exactly what this feels like.
Do you have to be an experienced runner to do the November Project workout? No way, but if you are, I bet it wouldn’t hurt. Honestly, if you have a desire to workout, you’re ahead of the game. You are welcome to do as many or as few rounds as you want, as fast or as slow as you want. Hop up the stairs, dance up the stairs, climb up the stairs…get up the stairs. Bring friends, bring your dog, bring fancy new workout duds or old sweats. Leave your money at home, because you’ll never be asked to pay to join the workout. Just show up and the rest is all good.
We continued our running + burpees + pushups cycle for about 40 minutes. By the end, my legs were absolutely toast. I run a couple times a week and fit in a few days of leg strength training, but never ever do I willingly do stairs for that long as part of my workouts. So by default, Wednesday morning was a great shake-up to my normal routine. As one November Project DCer said on the group’s blog: “we’re building community and giving DC great asses.” Win-win.
Our final challenge of the morning involved squats. But not just any squats. Special togetherness November Project style squats. As you can see in the photo, we formed a tight circle and sat down on the person behind us for about three minutes. And then proceeded to do the wave. Here’s the video proof.
After the workout, we took a group photo, got Project updates from Steve and Danny (who are hosting a turkey trot next week), gave a few more hugs to new friends, and headed on our merry way. All by 7:30 a.m.
Let me recap the morning for you: free workout, lots of sweat, sunrise over DC, iconic Lincoln location, hugs, the wave, new friends, high fives, endorphin highs, and a handfull of “f*ck yeahs.”
Thank you, oh thank you, November Project for coming to the District. I haven’t felt that jazzed about a workout experience in a very long time. And I’m absolutely sure I’m not the only one. I can’t wait to follow the tribe as it grows and reaches more people in DC, especially folks who wouldn’t usually get out of bed that early to workout. What an awesome way to build community, inspire and motivate people to commit to their health, and create a freakin’ good time.
Have you crashed with the November Project? Leave a comment and let me know!
Crash Course: Roam Fitness is a boutique gym located in the Glover Park neighborhood that offers personal training, a carefully curated selection of functional training equipment, and a few non-traditional group fitness classes. One of them is a genius combination of outdoor bootcamp circuits and running, as if one weren’t hard enough without the other. This class would not be great for the first-time runner, but seems best fit for those who are comfortable running more than three miles on trail and pavement. If you’re tired of your normal running routine, this is a surefire way to shake things up. Click here for a schedule.
where: 2505 Wisconsin Ave., NW/basement of the Savoy Hotel
perks: free parking, access to shower, small class, outside
sweat score: 8 out of 10
wear: recommend trail shoes, clothes you don’t mind getting dirty
instructor: Chris Geier
cost: drop in rate is $25 or pay $22 for a month of unlimited Out Run classes
I walked into the small but well-appointed Roam Fitness at approximately 6:20 a.m. It was early enough that I wasn’t questioning why our instructor was stuffing his backpack full of bands, ropes, and other torture devices. I just yawned, submitted to my fate, and began a routine that looked like stretching, hoping to blend in and be left alone. Hey, it was early.
Looking around, I noticed that the gym itself is very…cozy. It wouldn’t hold a lot of people, but maybe that’s the idea.
As the clock rolled around to 6:30, it was time for us to get out of the door and on to our workout. We all had offices to be in by 9 and knew it was now or never to get in a morning sweat. Luckily, it was a rare DC morning with low(er) humidity and brilliant sunshine. There were only three of us in the class, all ladies and each of a different experience level.
We followed Chris, our instructor, as he bounded from the Savoy Hotel across Wisconsin Avenue and into the the heart of Glover Park. As the pace picked up, I suddenly found myself wide awake, looking around, and wondering…where exactly was this Out Run excursion taking us?
I have been a DC runner for nine years and pride myself on knowing some of the area’s most obscure and tucked-away running routes. It’s really more an outcome of marathon-training desperation than exploration. But this morning was exactly what I needed to remember why running in DC is so awesome: no matter how well you think you know your routes, there’s still more out there to discover.
For example, I had never…ever…run through the tidy row houses of Glover Park to join the Glover-Archibald trail at the edges of the neighborhood. The trail entrance is completely tucked away and easily missed, so I was surprised when our little gang of four suddenly veered off the pavement and into the nearest hedge. Before I knew it, we were under a canopy of huge green trees and treading on dirt.
Every half-mile or so, we stopped to do a different set of exercises. This is where the real fun begins. Who needs a tidy gym when you can do tricep dips on a log? Or planks in a dew-soaked field?
Cross-over mountain climbers in the dirt, anyone? If this was a video, you’d also hear the croak of frogs hanging out in the creek behind us. I mean, really, let’s break it down for a hot second. You could do your morning workout in a gym with towel service, air conditioning, rows of treadmills, florescent lighting, and muzak. Or you could get out into nature and play around like it’s recess…all before rush hour. At least in my book, the winning option is obvious.
We continued on for a total of about four miles. Up hills, down hills, and every few minutes stopping for another round of surprises. There were a few moments of morning clarity when I realized what was going on and thought…wow, this is so much better than when I run by myself before work.
The second half of the run is when we started incorporating some of the gear in Chris’ backpack. He would find an open space, signal for us to stop, zip open the pack, and before we could blink we were doing another set of this or that. These partner resistance bands were awesome. We did some standing twists and arm strengtheners.
Our final destination on this morning’s Out Run was Holy Rood Cemetery, which I have passed a zillion times but have never been in. It’s perched above Wisconsin Avenue and Chris was adamant about showing us the view from the top. After three sweaty miles, we were all tired, and I had my doubts the promised vistas would be worth the effort. We entered the property at the bottom of the hill and, true to form, Chris reached into his backpack to pull out a different set of resistance bands. But in that brief moment of transition, we all noticed a tiny baby deer sleeping soundly in front of us, nestled into the grass next to a tomb. So very awesome.
After taking a few moments to admire our very own little Bambi, we were off again, chugging up the Holy Rood hill with partner resistance bands. One runner would hold the band, while the other would take ten strides forward, ten shuffles to the side, ten backward, and ten to the other side. This was an awesome way to work in lateral movement, not to mention a killer interval workout.
We finally made it to the top to admire the promised-view. Chris was right, it definitely didn’t disappoint. As we huffed, puffed, and wiped the sweat out of our eyes, we took in the panorama of the Kennedy Center, the Washington Monument, and Georgetown. What a way to end the workout!
Bottom line: this is way more fun than waking up to slog through your normal morning loop solo. The instructor is energetic, the group is friendly and engaged, and the routes are entertaining. Yes the morning class is early, but it’s worth it. They also have an evening option for those who can’t make it at 6:30 a.m. Out Run is an awesome few miles coupled with important cross training exercises that will make you a better runner and a better athlete. I will definitely be back soon – thanks Roam Fitness!
As some of you may remember, I visited a good friend of mine in London a few weeks ago. It was my first visit and I was so excited to jam as much sightseeing, tea drinking, pub crawling, and fit crashing as was possible into the few days we were in town.
Let’s just say I did much more of the first part of that list and much less the latter. I only snuck in two workouts over a total of six days, and this post is about one of them. I could make all sorts of excuses, but the reality of the situation was that we were so busy sightseeing and enjoying ourselves that stopping to workout each day just didn’t fit into the agenda.
But there was one excuse that kept popping up each day. It was freezing cold while we were there. Not kind of nippy or a bit breezy…full on arctic blasts from Old Man Winter himself.
So cold we were forced to shop for cute mittens, hats, and scarves. Shoot! But the real tragedy? My visions of waking up early each morning for a jaunt through Hyde Park were quickly smashed when I realized I packed only one pair of long running tights and only one lightweight pullover. I needed fleece…and lots of it. Thankfully Jenny was way more prepared and shared a pair of gloves and a pullover.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t figure out a logical way to run with this sweater, so we had to leave it behind. So, after much contemplation, logistical planning about how much cold we could technically stand without being miserable, and map studying so we wouldn’t get lost…Jenny and I headed out one morning for the one and only dedicated run we did on our trip. We stayed in the local neighborhood of Queen’s Park and settled on a three mile loop. We didn’t have international 3G on our phones, so we had to do it the old fashioned way and hope we didn’t lose our way. #firstworldproblems
The farthest part of our loop was Queen’s Park itself, a beautiful public park complete with a playground, running trail, “quiet” garden (no dogs allowed), pitching mound, and goats.
You read that right: goats. I wish I could tell you why, but it seems Queen’s Park decided to build a little petting zoo area with a bunch of kid goats. They were free to roam in their pen and gathered at the gate to check out the crazy runners. I can’t figure out who was more surprised by who. Let’s just say the feeling was mutual.
The run was a much needed sweat after a few days of eating and sightseeing. Despite the freezing temperatures, we were glad we mustered up the nerve to head out and felt much better when we returned to the warm apartment. And we didn’t get lost! Running is such an awesome way to get your bearings when traveling, and looking back, I wish I had wherewithal to do a bit more while in London. But next time, I’ll be sure to pack my warmest running duds to stave off the London gloom!
What are some of your favorite international runs?
Apologies for the radio silence yesterday. I have been feeling too “plugged in” lately and decided to take 24 hours to detox a bit from blogging and feeding the social media monster. Nom nom nom. Thanks for understanding and hanging in with me. I wanted to share a few photos from my run yesterday, the first since the half-marathon. And boy oh boy, was that obvious. My legs felt like the Tin Man as I jerked forward across Memorial Bridge. I could almost hear them clanking and creaking with each step. I only went about three miles, but it was enough.
It was an incredibly blustery and gray day, definitely not the kind of day you wish for when running across bridges. But something about the short loop from Iwo Jima to the Lincoln Memorial just gets me every time. It’s intoxicating. Hits me in the gut in the best way possible. Reminds me why I love this city and how lucky I am to run all over it.
I don’t know if I’ve ever been so enamored by gray, cold concrete as I was yesterday. Perhaps I was feeling particularly artsy. Or just lucky to be out there soaking it all in.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the distance, the pace, the tempo, or heart rate. But sometimes, you just have to run from the heart. Plain and simple.
Enjoy every step. Take it easy, stop and walk, breathe in deep, and give thanks for the gift. At least that’s how I felt yesterday.
I’ll be flying to London this evening for an adventure. What adventure is that? Oh, any old adventure will do, but I hope it’s a good one. I can’t wait to share the runs, the workout classes, the sightseeing, the icky airplane food, the corgi chasing, and everything else with you all when I return next Monday. Until then, I’m taking the week off to soak in each moment and embrace the vacation.
Saturday was the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon. Before I start my recap, I want to offer my heartfelt thanks and appreciation for all of the kind, encouraging comments I received from Friday’s post. I put it all out there and the response was overwhelmingly positive. So thank you – all of you – for making this little blog a safe space for honesty and taking risks. And now…off to the races!
Let’s start with the expo. I waited until the last 15 minutes of the last day to head over to the Stadium Armory to pick up my race packet…and paid for it.
The place was a bit of a mad house with lines out the door and people frantically trying to make their way through as vendors were closing down. Not crazy enough, however, to keep me from taking a shameless selfie amidst the chaos. That’s right, I totally pulled this one off for the sake of the blog. Don’t judge me. I wanted to show you the cool mirror with “here is your inner Kenyan” painted on it. Wonder how I could get one of these in my apartment?
I really have no right to complain about the stress level at the expo because I waited till the last minute. Lesson learned. One real complaint though: why were we emailed digital confirmation sheets but then required to transpose the information onto pointless paper forms before picking up our numbers? Made me wonder if they were going with the DC bureaucracy red tape theme or if it was really supposed to be that inefficient. Mystery.
I drove home and got right down to the business of making my traditional pre-race chow. I have a very finicky stomach, and when it comes to fueling up before a big event, blander is better. In college my go-to dinner before a triathlon was white rice with salt and butter. As you can see, I’ve upgraded to plain pasta, white chicken breast, and sautéed veggies with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. It did the trick and sent me to bed with a full (and happy) stomach.
I laid out every single thing I would need to get ready in the morning, right down to the plastic zip loc bag for my iPhone. Having everything prepared the night before cuts down on time in the morning and calms my nerves about forgetting something. I set my alarm for 5:30 a.m., did a little bit of foam rolling, and called it a night.
When I woke up, I immediately opened my window and checked for the forecasted rain. Nothing! What luck! I got dressed, made a bland breakfast of almond butter toast and banana, and spent a few last blissful minutes on the foam roller to get my muscles ready for the journey ahead. After hopping on the metro to Metro Center, it was just a short walk to the blaring music and huddled masses of the starting line.
Despite the gloomy clouds, the temperatures were perfect for running and there wasn’t a drop of rain falling from the sky. Hooray! I moseyed over to corral three to wait out the final 30 minutes before the start with a few stretches. And then we were off! Well, at least the first corral was off. The Rock ‘n Roll race starts each corral in their own separate wave, so we had to wait for the first two corrals to go before it was our turn. Talk about building up the excitement and suspense!
As I crossed the starting line, I took a deep breath and decided to take the entire race one mile at a time. And as the first mile beeped in at around 7:30, I knew this was going to be an adventure. A few details:
Crazy apparel seen on the course:
- Full suit and tie with “Jesus Saves” taped to the back
- A denim jacket
- Mini Mouse costume
- Green body sock
- Star-spangled full body spandex
- Spectator in a ketchup costume, spectator in a gingerbread man costume, spectator in a Mr. Incredible costume dancing to disco music
- Tiny gold lame shorts
- Tuxedo t-shirt and black shorts
Things I didn’t like about the race:
- My watch clocked the entire course at around 13.5 miles. I can’t tell you how devastating it is to think you are just around the corner from mile 11 and then realize it’s another few tenths away. My watch consistently beeped way before the mile markers. Anyone else have this problem?
- Calvert Hill at mile six
Things I loved about the race:
- Great spacing out of the bands along the route
- The spectator support was incredible (except for the guys offering beer – the smell was atrocious)
- The route was really fun despite Calvert Hill
- I never wondered when the next water/gatorade spot would be because there were plenty
- Runners genuinely seemed to be having a good time
- Lots (and lots) of free food at the finish area. Potato chips, chocolate milk, smoothies, bananas, Gatorade. I was in heaven!
My official finish time was 1:42:20 – about three minutes under my goal. I was so shocked and thrilled and shocked some more! According to my watch, my time at 13.1 was somewhere around 1:39, but since that’s not an official time anywhere other than my head, I’ll have to let it go. But breaking 1:40 is now in the crosshairs for next time. Oh yes, there will be a next time.
An enormous thank you to my parents for coming from Ohio to support me on the course. The original fit crasher is an accomplished marathoner and she has been my chief coach and motivator since I took up running in college. My parents have been my race-day support team from the very beginning and I couldn’t have done it without them. And check out the sign they made – so official! Thanks guys! Another big thank you goes to Bonnie, Jeff, and Heather for spotting me on the course and cheering me on along the way.
This is one of my favorite photos from the day. These are two of my friends from the Georgetown Triathlon Team, Jenny and Michelle. I don’t know how long it’s been since we’ve all done a race together, but part of me wants to put it way back to 2008. It was such a fun throwback to have a mini-reunion at the finish line. You ladies are the best!
And what do you do after running 13.1 miles? You eat, of course! Well, you change out of the wet and sweaty clothes from the race and then you eat. I took my parents to Ted’s Bulletin on Capitol Hill for an enormous celebratory breakfast. Mom tried a home-made pop tart and some breakfast classics, dad went with the biscuits and gravy, and I inhaled the ten-grain hot cereal with toasted coconut and dried fruit. Oh, and a bottomless cup of hot coffee.
We walked off breakfast with a trip to Eastern Market, and then it was time to call it a day. Whew! So many months of training and worrying and agonizing over 13.1 miles…and it is finally successfully behind me. What a wonderful sense of relief. This medal will be proudly hanging in my apartment as a reminder that anything is possible with a little chutzpah, faith, and a whole lot of good old fashioned hard work.
Did you run the Rock ‘n Roll? Share your story!