Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What is this "November Project" that's all over your Facebook?

Great question, everyone I know. Thanks for asking!

I'll start with some of the most popular other questions I've received for a simple Q&A before I dive in:

Q: Are you in a cult?
A: I don't think so? Maybe? Kind of? Yes. Yes, I am. But you can join!!

Q: In the morning? Ugh.
A: Before you ugh, read on.

Q: How did you find out about this thing?
A: I had heard about this November Project thing that started in Boston from Runners World a ways back. And it sounded cool, but it was in Boston and I live in New York City. One day in March-ish I was running on the East River as I tend to do in the mornings and saw this group of maybe 20 crazy people. And they were yelling at me to join them. And I was a little scared so I ran away. But then I was intrigued so I went to the interwebs and turns out, November Project had just arrived here!

Q: How many people are in this thing?
A: SO many. So so so many. And it grows every week. The first time I came back in May I think there were 50 of us? Now, we regularly break 100. It's awesome.

Q: But what is it?

Ok, so I'll stop the Q&A format and just start writing from here. But first, for the formal answer to your query, I'll let the official website talk for me:
November Project™ is a FREE fitness movement that was born in Boston as a way to stay in shape during cold New England months. Now present in multiple cities in across four time zones in North America, the movement is using a simple sense of accountability (verbal) to motivate and encourage people of all ages, shapes, sizes and fitness levels to get out of their beds and get moving. Our members vary from Olympic medalists, professional athletes, marathoners, triathletes, current and former collegiate athletes all the way to complete fitness rookies and recent couch potatoes just looking to kickstart their healthy life choices. If you think that you’re not fit enough to join the group, stop thinking and come see what the fuss is all about.

In NYC, we meet on Wednesdays on the UES (near Gracie Mansion at 88th and the River) at 6:28am. Yep, 6:28. Fridays are same time, but at locations all over the city (announced that week via social media stuff).

At the group, we run. You do not have to be a crazy marathon person, but I would recommend being able to do a mile or two comfortably without stopping for you to enjoy yourself. We do more though.

We also burpee. We push-up. We dip. We dance. Workouts last usually about 30 minutes, but there is a bouncy warm-up before (you heard me) and a group photo after (yep, always!) and announcements, so plan on being there until 7:30 or so.

Photo credit: November Project

But you could get that type of work-out at a lot of places, or even on your own. What makes this special? And why am I so freaking obsessed?

Well I'll tell you.

So first off, it's freaking free. #FreeFitness, if you're into the lingo (which, obviously, I am). But let's stop being cheap for a moment and talk about the real reason that I love, love, love NP: THE COMMUNITY.

I hesitate to even tell you more about it, because the only test to if you will appreciate and understand and love this community as I do will be for you to #JustShowUp (yep, we like hashtags a lot). There is hugging. I am a heavy sweater and don't even like hugging that much (shhhh) but I still love it. It is at 6:28am. I am EAGER to get my ass out of bed. There is high-fiving. There is running so hard you want to barf. There are a gazillion burpees (my nemesis).

But there is also Facebook friending. And positivity abounding (there's even an award dedicated to positivity after every workout!) And smiles. And happiness. And you even get used to the pictures they take of you and kind of look forward to seeing yourself in the album later!

Photo credit: November Project
Photo credit: November Project

There are social events too. There is always someone in the group down for a happy hour or a group run or some sort of crazy shenanigan. And the organized social event that I participated in? Well, that was just pretty epic.

In that I ran in a cat mask 4 hours through the city with a group of other crazy people that ended at a bar. And it was something a previous version of me would have maybe made fun of me for. But this new, positive, open-minded me? Well I felt that it was EVERYTHING.

Purrrfect running buddy.

Oh, right. And the shirts. We have this thing called Grassroots Gear. If you show up, you too, can get some. For free.

And then you will look this bad ass:

Or at least CLOSE to this bad ass. I can't promise you'll be comparable.
When my alarm goes off before 6 am on Wednesdays I am excited. Because I know I'm about to get a solid workout with a group of some of the coolest, nicest, most amazing people ever. I've met so many wonderful new friends in the past few months, and I know it's just the beginning. And although this might sound cheesy, the positivity exuded is simply contagious. I leave every workout feeling brighter, feeling better, and feeling bad-ass-ier. I love it. I now crave it.

Ask any of my co-workers that see me Wednesday morning or my friends who I've talked to about this. I am truly in love with this group in a way that I think is kind of rare to find so quickly and seamlessly. I find it's adding not only to my physical fitness level, but also to my social life as well. It's been a wonderful addition to my life as of late, and it makes me happy.

I feel like I haven't truly answered your questions, but have I piqued your interested even a little bit?


I encourage you to follow the Facebook page or Twitter (@Nov_Project_NYC). If you want more, check out this from the NY Daily News or maybe this cool piece of cinematography.

Or, better yet? #JustShowUp. If you're not in NYC, you may just have a November Project tribe near you, so check it out. And visitors are always welcome.

What's the worst that could happen? You might just fall in love too.

Photo credit: Matt Powers, November Project

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Back in Action. #PorkBuns

Well, friends. It's been quite some time, hasn't it? I've taken a bit of a blogging break post-Boston to allow myself a bit of a re-boot.

Three marathons in 15 months justifies that, I think.

I also needed to spend some time being a little more introspective rather than....outro...spective?

This blog was started as a fundraising tool back in 2011, but also as a bit of an accountability tool. It was a, "Can Meredith actually do this?" exercise in writing. Three years later, we know the answer, and it is a resounding HELL YES, I CAN AND I DID! Which is awesome. But it does lend itself to a rather large dilemma when it comes to my little RunMeriGRun blog.

While I run a lot and do have a lot of experience with the running, I am not a running expert or coach. And while I take a lot of classes and always strive to get stronger and more in shape, I am not one to be doling out advice on the subject. And, my god, I am DECIDEDLY not an expert on healthy living (cue my lunch today: pork buns, nachos and bloody marys).

When I started running it was all, like, haha! This is hilarious! That girl thinks she can run marathons!

Now...welp...not so funny. Because it's happening. In real time.

Do people really want to read about my 16-mile runs again? And my marathon trainings and races again? I mean, maybe, sure, because I'm damn hilarious. But, god...sometimes I even gross myself out. And, even if you're not repelled by me, admittedly this whole thing becomes a bit repetitive to read once it becomes part of "normal" lifestyle (whatever "normal" is for a marathon runner). And that repetitiveness not only applies to the reader, but also to the writer.

So that's a very long-winded way for me to say: What the heck should I write about? And, if we go even deeper, should I even keep writing at all?

Well the answer to the second part is clear. Yes, I'd like to keep writing. I enjoy this little augmentation of my running world. I enjoy looking back and I enjoy the awkwardness that ensues when I see someone I haven't seen in decades who can say to me, "'d ask how you are...but I think I read it? On your blog?" Delightfully weird.

But to the former question. I actually think I still have a lot to contribute in terms of my point of view. Running has profoundly changed me over the past five or so years. It's taught me more about myself than any other activity I have ever taken a part of. Running has bonded me closer to existing friends, and it has opened the doors to so many amazing wonderful new ones. It has provided me a social outlet. It's a therapy session. It's made me stronger so that I can do more and different activities that I may have never thought possible (considering that to the end of time I will think of myself as the chubby kid picked last in gym class). And, crucially, running now and forever the only way I have found to long-term sustain my pork buns and nachos lifestyle. Which I will defend to my death.

A lot has been going on in my fitness slash running world the past few months. I have signed up for my 15th and 16th Half Marathons this coming September and October. I have joined a new, wonderful, weird, amazing group called November Project that I'm sure you've seen all over my Facebook feed (and which will be the topic of an upcoming post to be STAY TUNED).

This is not a healthy living blog. (Unless to you, too, believe that "health" means your one serving of vegetables for the day came in the form of the celery dipped into your bloody mary?) This will never be a healthy living blog. I'm not sure if I even recommend everything I espouse and a nutritionist would have damn heart attack.

I work out a lot. I run all the damn time. I'm going to continue to do fun races. To fundraise (get what I did there?) for causes I believe in. I'm going to be weird. I'm going to post gifs (because they rule) and probably talk about my cat too much.

This blog is not just MeriG Running. This is now about how running has become one in the same with MeriG. It's now just part of my DNA in a way I honestly never, ever, in a million years would have said it would have. Just ask the kids who picked me last in gym class.

This is me.

Hope you still enjoy. :)