It was April of 2017, and I had been living in LA for just three weeks. I was at the Festival of Books in line to meet marathon runner Shalane Flanagan, and I heard the girl in front of me in line say that she lived in my neighborhood. Moving somewhere were you have no friends makes you incredibly ballsy, so I struck up a conversation. I mentioned I wanted to find a running club, and she suggested November Project.
It took me a couple weeks to get up the courage to go. It was at 6:30 in the morning, my new friend had given me a heads up that the group was very enthusiastic (great, but at that hour?!) and what if everyone thought I was weird?
I went anyway.
I don’t remember much about that first workout, save for being a little freaked out when everyone repeated my name after me and then clapped. But I know that strangers hugged me and tried to get to know me and pushed me to work hard, all at an hour when most people are asleep. I knew that I needed that energy in my life.
After the first workout on an overcast morning, I challenged myself to go for a full month. The habit was built, and I kept showing up. I started going to Friday workouts in rotating locations around the city, and I got to explore parts of LA I’d never even heard of. I started going to Saturday Stairs, running laps inside the Hollywood Bowl. Honestly, how many people get to say they work out there?!
There’s been intermittent periods of time where I’ve stopped going, preferring to stay up late and sleep in on Wednesday mornings instead. And that’s fine. Sometimes you need a rest. But then something always prompts me to return: a friend checking in, or a favorite location for the workout, or a desire to get 5:30 am #content (just being honest). It never feels weird to go back, despite what my brain might tell me ahead of time. People are only ever happy to see me, armed with a high five or a hug.
It’s difficult to measure the impact that joining November Project has had on my life here, since I joined so soon after I moved. But short of moving to LA, it’s been the absolute best thing I’ve done in the last two years. Through it, I’ve gotten friends, I’ve become stronger (I ran a MARATHON because of it!), and I’ve grown into a happier, more confident person. In a place where I didn’t know anyone, showing up to November Project made me feel like I was known. I wasn’t a nobody in this city; I had friends who knew my name and gave me hugs and cheered me on.
I still remember the first morning at Griffith Observatory, a few weeks in, when the morning fog lifted. I could see the Hollywood sign and the whole city below, and I thought, “Yeah. This is why I moved here.”
Until you’ve run laps around Griffith Observatory or raced on the bike path at the ocean or seen the sunrise from the top of the steps at Baldwin Hills, I’m convinced you haven’t seen this city at some of its most special times. Throw in a whole group of people cheering you on, and you’ve got something I’m ready to show up for.
November Project to me is working hard. It’s pushing yourself just a little bit further than you think you can. It’s making new friends, and pushing those friends to work a little bit harder too. It’s a group of people who are there for you in good times and bad. It’s about showing up, and trying new things, and having fun. November Project groups are called tribes, and the LAX tribe truly is my home away from home in this giant city. I genuinely could not love a group of people more.
I am so ridiculously glad I decided to #justshowup on that day in May last year – my life hasn’t been the same since.
There are 49 November Project tribes around the world – is there one in your city? Find out on their website.