For MONTHS I’ve been saying that I need to check out a Wednesday morning at Harvard Stadium with November Project. I had never heard of the group until I ran the One Run for Boston, but a lot of the runners were also dedicated NP’ers and I heard a lot about the group from them over the 13 miles. So, since April, I’ve been wanting to join the fun. The premise is pretty simple – a group of dedicated, fitness-minded individuals who want to encourage and support the rest of the community with free, inspiring workouts. Mondays are a destination workout where the group meets at a predetermind spot, Wednesdays they run up and down the Harvard Stadium stairs, and Fridays they run hills in Brookline. While I’m not quite dedicated enough to do all 3, I had no excuse to not try out a Wednesday workout since I work less than a mile away.
I packed all my stuff the night before, and woke up bright and early at 5am. After getting dressed and grabbing my lunchbox, I jumped on my bike and rode to work. Parked my bike in the building’s garage. Ran upstairs and stashed my gym bag in the office building locker room. Put my backpack in my office. Threw my lunchbox in the refrigerator. And then walked across the bridge to the Stadium. Of course, I was early. And I couldn’t figure out how to get inside. But I quickly made friends and got inside. I arrived a little after 6am. A smaller group starts their workout at 5:30am and the main group starts at 6:30am. Feeling a little awkward about my (normal) early arrival, I decided to get started and get a feel for how hard it was.Yup, it’s hard. The stadium is HUGE – it holds 30,000 people. There are 37 sections and with the ups and downs of each section, there’s more than 1,000 steps. Todays workout was doing the full tour – aka 37 sections – plus an addition 8 for a total of 45 sections. Or, alternatively, however many sections you could accomplish in 45 minutes. Because I had a 20ish minute head start, I was able to complete all 45 sections (even at my slow and steady, turtle pace).
Even though it was tough and I went really slowly and people were passing me left and right… it was amazing. Everyone is incredibly friendly. High fives. Sweaty hugs. Lots of encouraging yelling and chanting. I met one girl early on and when she was several sections further than me, she yelled back “NICE WORK, BECKY! KEEP IT UP!” Random people passing by would also say encouraging things. Seriously, I wish I had these cheerleaders with me all the time! And, even better, I ran into two people I recognized from the One Run – Danny (aka red shorts-wearing, One Run-planning extraordinaire) and Rosa (who ran with me holding the American flag while I held the One Run baton as we ran out of Waltham towards the city). Rosa seemed to remember me, and Danny’s so friendly that even if he didn’t remember me, he did a great job acting as if we were the best of friends. I got super sweaty hugs from both of them.
At the end of the workout, the main guy (Bro-something, which is kind of a perfect name for the guy) called us all over to Section 19 to take a group picture and make some announcements. Before he started and we were all still casually chatting, two young girls with Red Bull shirts and backpacks were wandering around trying to convince us to try the drinks. We were all so sweaty, so hot, and so in need of water… why would they ever think we wanted Red Bull? I was super confused and wondered if I had been totally wrong about the group, but then the main guy had the girls come up to the front… and then eloquently barraged them for trying to market their shitty product to us. NP does not have an agenda. It does not market anything, other than fun and free fitness for anyone and everyone. When he finished making fun of them (in the nicest way possible), he pointed them towards the exit. It was perfect.
After, he gave us a few minutes to introduce ourselves to the people sitting next to each other (where I received my fourth sweaty hug of the morning). Then, he asked if there were any birthdays, and the one birthday girl was instructed to sing Happy Birthday… to herself… after which the rest of the group gave her a standing ovation. Awkward and hilarious. Finally, we took a very serious group picture (see if you can find me – pink sports bra and purple hat).
Needless to say, I’ll be back next week.
Goal #9 – COMPLETE!
Check out this video to get a better idea of November Project and the Harvard Stadium: