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Today marks my two-year November Project anniversary!
It was two years ago that I showed up to my first November Project workout. It was “Bridge Day,” and I remember feeling on the brink of death for the duration of the workout, which involved running over the Randall’s Island Footbridge for 40 minutes. I felt so out of shape — and I was. I was just coming back from months of being sick and sedentary. Two years later, running over that bridge hasn’t gotten any easier, but I love it, and I look forward to spending 40 minutes gasping for air alongside some of my favorite people.
To say November Project has changed my life is a huge understatement.
People show up to their first November Project workout for all kinds of reasons — seeking fitness gains, new friends, a community, wanting to see if it’s actually a cult, etc. I showed up because I wanted to do something new. I wanted to meet new people, and be a part of something big and fun.
As always, anniversaries and milestones get me feeling a little reflective. So in celebration of my two years with this crazy group of weirdos, here’s a look back at seven of my favorite NP memories.
7. Meeting some of my greatest friends and the most inspiring people I’ve ever known, and knowing I have a family wherever I go.
There are 29 November Project tribes around the world. That means that almost anywhere you travel, there’s an NP tribe waiting for you to #justshowup. I love that. I went to my first non-NYC workout a few weeks ago in D.C., and I loved that even though it was so different, it was also the same. (Makes total sense.) You feel at home at NP, whether you’re in your home city or not. That’s pretty special. I’ve also met some of my best friends at November Project.
6. The Friday morning dance party workout on the Upper West Side.
Two summers ago, there was a Friday morning workout on the Upper West Side. I ran there with co-leader Paul, and I remember laughing a lot on our run over. Before the workout started, I jokingly said to him, “Can I just dance for the entire workout today?” Much to my surprise, that’s exactly what he made me do. Paul ended up creating a workout where groups of people had to do all kinds of different exercises, and they would sporadically yell, “FELLER!” When they did, I would sprint over (speakers and music in hand) and have a 30-second dance party with them. It was so much fun — and I got a good workout, too! All that sprinting and dancing was hard!
5. Celebrating my 30th birthday with all my NP birthday twins and a lot of hot pink.
There are four November Project NYC girls who were all born on May 6. Last year, we all wore hot pink to the May 6 workout (on Wednesdays, we truly do wear pink), and it was the silliest fun ever. (I don’t remember the actual workout, but I do remember having a selfie stick and getting frosting smeared on my face. And it was raining.)
4. Waking up stupid early and running double-digit pre-work miles to get to the Friday Destination Deck workouts in Brooklyn and Queens.
Fridays in NYC are “Destination Deck” workouts, so the location changes every week and you’re supposed to run to wherever it is. One summer, that meant running 10 miles to get to the workout in Queens, and running 15 miles to and from a Brooklyn workout. The wakeup calls were brutal, but the miles were so much fun. (Granted, by the time we all got to the workout, we were way too tired to actually do it. Something about the journey, not the destination?)
3. Joining and racing with November Project’s official New York Road Runners team.
Being part of a team has totally changed my racing mentality. I’m nestled firmly in the middle of the pack pace-wise, but I still make every effort to show up strong and race hard for my team. I love seeing my fellow teammates in the starting corrals, out on the course, and at the finish line, and when I start getting tired mid-race, I try to stay strong, knowing my teammates are doing the same thing.
At the Wednesday workout the week before Brian and I got married, I was completely surprised when the whole tribe gathered for our normal post-workout photo, and then I was told to stand up and move to the back of the group. I was totally confused, and all of a sudden the entire group of 100+ people parted down the center, Celine Dion started blasting, and I had a bouquet in my hands and a veil stuck to my head. Once I got to the front of the group, Paul, one of the co-leaders and a very good friend, put a Ring Pop on my hand and everyone was clapping and cheering and singing. It was the most amazing thing. I cried. Obviously.
This was a huge game-changer for me. I had been attending November Project religiously for two months when I won the Positivity Award, and it was a huge surprise. It was also very reaffirming for me. I was in such a sad, dark place for so long while I was sick, and knowing that others recognized my happiness meant I was back. I wasn’t Sad Ali or Sick Ali or Crohnsy Ali anymore. I was just Ali.
Happy Anniversary, NP and me. Thank you for being everything I never knew I always needed.
And so much love to all the people I’ve met through November Project. Thank you for changing my life and letting me be a part of yours.
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