Haven't heard of the November Project? Get ready to be inspired. I'll give you the basics, but you should really check out their website to get all the facts about them and their many locations. Or, for a brief overview of the local chapter, you could check out my Races and Places page. I describe the November Project under my Weekly Workouts heading.
The Boston edition of the November Project is a group of people who workout every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning at 6:30. On Mondays they do what they call the Destination Deck, where they meet at a different location each week and do pushups and situps to the luck of the draw from a deck of cards. Black cards are pushups, red cards are situps and the number of either depends on the card. Jacks are 11 and Aces are, sorry, 14. On Wednesdays they meet at Harvard Stadium in Allston to run the stairs. Fridays they meet at Summit Avenue in Brighton for a hill workout. And it all costs is a little determination. Sounds pretty cool, huh? There's just one more tiny thing though, you're expected to run to the workouts if you live less than six miles from them.
I often run in the dark of the early morning. I like getting to see parts of the city before it's awake. It's admittedly harder in the winter months, when light is rarer. I run at this time because it works best with my schedule. If I don't workout in the morning, I just won't do it. But I also run at this time because I feel like I'm getting to know a side of the city that not everyone chooses to see.
So I ran the cool blue streets of Somerville and East Cambridge, and before I knew it, I was passing by Technology Square and the odd shaped buildings of MIT's Stata Center. About a block before I turned onto Mass. Ave., I saw the other runners. We were all headed to the same spot, the steps of the library. I knew that the November Project had been steadily increasing in popularity for several months, and I was sure that their appearance on the cover of the December issue of Runner's World had probably increased their numbers. I was still surprised to see a group of at least seventy people on the steps. I selected a spot off to the side on one of the steps, hoping to spot Aimee among all the people. There was a hum of "hellos" and "good mornings" with no shortage of hugs, high fives, and back pats.
Aimee found me quickly; I was wearing a neon orange long-sleeved shirt. (Fleece-lined, windproof, waterproof, I wanted to be prepared to spend some time on the ground.) I hadn't seen her for a few weeks, so we caught up on life and work briefly. Then, like magnets, everyone moved toward a tall guy wearing a hat and sunglasses.
"Get in closer," he said.
We moved forward.
"Now I want everyone to take two steps forward, get real close."
We didn't argue.
"Are we ready for a workout?"
"Fuck Yeah!" everyone around us shouted.
"Okay, we don't have a lot of time. Everyone jump up and down."
Like a single organism, the whole glob of us started bobbing.
"Now turn around."
We began rotating, bumping shoulders with those immediately around us.
"Okay, now we're going to run to our top-secret location and we're going to follow that guy," he pointed to
someone I couldn't see. "Ready go!"
It only took us a few minutes to get to the location, which was a courtyard with an outdoor amphitheater behind the Strata Center. The guy in the sunglasses had us sit on the amphitheater seats and informed us that we would be doing a circuit workout instead of the regular deck of cards conditioning. We would be divided into three groups. My group was to run to the wall behind us, not more than fifty feet away and do three burpees. Then, we had to run down a flight of stairs and around a building to another designated location where we would do three more burpees. Then, we had to run across the courtyard to the bottom of the amphitheater seats and do double leg jumps up them, all twelve (I think) of them, but not before doing three more burpees. We were to do this for sixteen minutes, going as fast as we could. The seats went up to my knees. With each jump I prayed I wouldn't miss and end up smacking my teeth on the seat. And each time I made it to the top, I thought I wasn't going to be able to do it again.
Four rounds and sixteen minutes later, I still had all my teeth. Before we parted, we sat back on the steps to do a little screaming and to take a group photo. Why screaming you wonder? Why the hell not? It was a chilly and sunny Monday morning and we were empowered. Can you think of a better way to start your Monday? Don't answer that, I don't want to hear your excuses. And yes, coffee is another way to start your Monday. Just think how good that coffee would taste after working out though?
The question I have to ask myself now is how much I want it. Monday was great, but it was close to my apartment. Harvard Stadium is at least 3.5 miles from where I live, and Summit Avenue is probably about 5. On top of that is the teaching job and the 8:30 section on MWF that is my reality until May. How nuts am I that I'm contemplating how weird it would be to teach class still in my running gear and with sweat-soaked hair?