November Project DC, Thank You.

November 26th, 2014, 6:29 a.m. (Err, like 6:35 probably)

It was raining. That cold, miserable, one degree away from being snow, kind of rain. Fingers and toes numb as I ran along Constitution Avenue in the direction of the Lincoln Memorial. A few weeks earlier I’d been told about ‘November Project’ and was now headed to my first workout. I thought it sounded fun, but I was hesitant, wary the workout would be too easy (good one, past self).  

I guess we showed up late because I don’t remember a bounce (missed my chance to yell “Fuck Yeah” before I’d even had my morning coffee). I soon learned it was ‘PR Day’ and we’d be running 17 Lincoln Logs (up and down the steps of the Lincoln Memorial), as fast as possible. I was awful at running down the stairs (still am), paranoid of tripping over my own feet (again, still am), but my determination prevailed and I was among the first finishers. I stood with the others contemplating whether I’d miscounted, while cheering on those still running, until the very last runner finished. I felt like I was back with my college team, sending my teammates to the finish line, despite the fact I didn’t know a damn soul. When the final runner descended the bottom steps, we posed for a picture before I shiver-jogged my way to the shower and headed to New York for Thanksgiving. Wednesday, earned.

After that first workout I didn’t make it again until a snow day sometime in January, at the time I left for work by 6:30, so even the 5:30 workout was out of the question. I came sporadically when I could but definitely did not consider myself part of the tribe. I felt like a bit of an outsider when I managed to make it, but something kept pulling my back.

 

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Not my 1st workout, but a workout. Photo Credit: November Project DC

 

Fast forward to January 2016. I was in training for the Boston Marathon and no longer leaving for work at 6:30 a.m. I decided I wanted to become an NP regular, rather than the sporadic visitor I’d been for over a year. I wanted  NPDC to be my tribe, I wanted these members to be my friends. So, Wednesday after Wednesday, I set my alarm for 4:45, got my butt outta bed and joined the 5:30 crew. Slowly, I started to learn people’s names and to my surprise, people remembered me too. As the weeks went by, 4:45 became more routine, the workouts became more fun, and I felt an inch closer to being part of the tribe. After Boston, I got injured and was sidelined from June until September, but found myself on the steps as soon as I was back in commission. I finally deemed myself a (Wednesday) regular.

None of this is life altering and I didn’t think I had a November Project story to tell. I didn’t think I was in deep enough or a significant enough member of the tribe for my story to be valid. But as I realized how bummed I was to miss this Wednesday’s workout due to illness and how much I was looking forward to next week, it registered to me that NP is a bigger part of my life than I was aware.

I have not given November Project DC, its leaders, and the tribe the credit it deserves. When I showed up at that first workout, I was still a former collegiate athlete, struggling with disordered eating and grappling with very little self-worth. I didn’t see myself as a strong, capable woman, who also happens to run pretty well.

At the time, I still believed my value was determined by my PR time or my waist size. Now I realize, November Project undoubtedly contributed to and accelerated, my recovery.

At November Project, people applaud your PR’s and celebrate your successes, but the tribe knows you’re so much more than that. If you told a single member of NP you don’t feel fast enough, or thin enough, or smart enough, or whatever enough, without missing a beat they’ll call bullshit and remind you that you’re FUCKING BEAUTIFUL. And they won’t just say it, they’ll genuinely mean it. I’ve finally figured out, this is what kept pulling me back to the stairs before dawn. I couldn’t see it in the beginning, but the tribe was reframing my way of thinking, giving me back my self-worth, and pushing me down the road to recovery.

November Project is a beautiful place. A place where nobody gives a shit how fast your 5k is. No one cares if you run 70-mile weeks or 7-mile weeks. It doesn’t matter if you’re a size 2 or a size 20. If you show up, you belong. If you show up, 10 or 50 or 200 other people that decided to show up that morning will cheer you on until the very last step. The fastest member of the workout and the slowest member of the workout will high-5 each lap because no one is ever more than half a lap of away. November Project is a place to grow, to make friends, to give hugs and strange ear massages, to lose weight, to gain strength, to get faster, to unwind, to socialize, to explore.

November Project is exactly what you need it to be.

For me, November Project is a place to recover. November Project DC, thank you.

 

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Words for Women

We live life like there’s an algorithm to determine our value

A formula; weight times pants size, plot it on a graph and there’s your worth

We praise beautiful women for flawless skin and perfect curves

but silence the same women if they dare to open their mouths and disagree

We call little girls bossy but little boys leaders

and teach girls that if a boy teases her, it’s because he likes you

We harass women who bare skin while shaming those who choose to cover up

We teach boys that disrespecting women is an expectation and their right

But we can break the cycle

Honor and uplift the women that surround you

Listen to their words and feel their strength

Thank your mom, sister, daughter, spouse, teacher, or best friend

You are the revolution

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My mom, one seriously incredible woman

Originally published here.

 

View story at Medium.com

A Lesson in Recovery

A Lesson in Recovery

Again and again, I’ve fallen victim to the trap of training too hard and recovering too little. As a result, I’ve succumbed to multiple injuries over the years. I’ve experienced the consequences of neglecting rest and recovery, but until today, I hadn’t truly experienced the benefits from prioritizing it. 

A couple of weeks ago, my long run was a 16-miler. It was nothing to write home about, but it went well. I came home, stretched, had a bagel and chocolate milk, then hopped in the shower. Up until that point, I’d done the right things, after that, I threw recovery out the window. I headed out of town for the night with nothing but a pair of heeled booties, I didn’t eat again until dinner, and I greatly neglected my hydration. The next day I was tired and sore. That morning, I headed out for my easy run, that wasn’t all that easy and later, some unseasonably warm weather and a Monday off led to a few too many glasses of sangria. On Monday, I repeated Sunday’s mistake and ran even harder. By the time the week’s first real workout rolled around on Tuesday, my body felt like garbage.

I felt like crap the whole week; heavy legs and aching joints. When I got to Saturday’s long run of 12.5 miles, far less than the week before, my body was begging for a break, but I pressed on and ran what turned out to be 12 of the most miserable miles of my life. The run was so rough by mile 9 that I walk-ran the last three miles, something I’ve never had to do. At that point, I began to recall the past week and pinpoint why I felt so bad; it quickly became apparent. I didn’t take care of myself in the hours and days after my long run, and I was paying for it. Right then, I vowed to focus the coming week’s energy on rest and recovery, so I’d be ready for today’s 18-miler.

This past week I’ve hydrated and I’ve eaten. I’ve had no more than one alcoholic drink in a sitting and I’ve foam-rolled daily. I ran Friday morning rather than Friday afternoon to increase recovery time before my morning long run. I made little choices every day in hope of maximizing my recovery and waking up with fresh legs.

I didn’t sleep well last night and I crawled out of bed this morning hesitant, worried about how the run would play out. As I began running towards Meridian Hill, where my running buddies would be waiting,  I immediately noticed that my legs felt fresh. I expected to feel this way until mile 8 or 9, but with each mile, I continued to evade the fatigue. Mile by mile flew by and I continued to feel like I’d just started. Finally, at mile 15 I said by to my running partner and headed towards my car. I feared I’d get tired, running alone the last few miles, but I put in my headphones and focused on relaxing. Those last 3 miles flew by and without realizing, my pace dropping significantly. When I was alerted by my phone I’d reached mile 18, I was actually disappointed. I felt great and I wasn’t ready to be done. Runner’s high. 

Last weekend was one of the worst long runs of my life and today, despite running 6 miles further, was one of the best. The difference between the runs was not fitness, motivation, shoes, or running partners, the difference was recovery. Today I was able to experience, for the first time, the tangible benefits of recovery and now, I’m convinced.  I’ve always had an “I’ll believe when I see it attitude” about recovery. Now, I’ve seen it and boy do I believe it. I wish I had this moment sooner, but from this day forward, my perspective on recovery is changed.