When we last left off I had crashed after a whirlwind of Runner’s World fun at the unofficial RW Half & Festival Opening Ceremonies, and was getting ready for another busy day. After a good solid night’s sleep in a super comfy bed (those Comfort Suites people know what’s up), I woke up at 5am, had a little breakfast and met up with the rest of the Ambassadors and our PR leader Beachy for a jog to the Steel Stacks where we’d meet up with Brogan Graham, one of the founders of the November Project, for a pop-up NP workout followed by breakfast, meet & greet, and book signing.
I was a little nervous: it would be a “group” jog to the Steel Stacks less than a mile away, but I worried I’d be the slowest at the back of the pack, making everyone resentful at how slow they had to go so I could keep up.
But as it usually is, all the worry was for nothing, because we took off down the sidewalk outside the hotel in a tight little pack, laughing and chatting while Ty led the way with his Run Lites and I entertained us with some Jay-Z and Drake on my iPhone.
When we arrived at the workout, Brogan was already there with his booming voice and gigantic arms giving out hugs and welcoming folks, and I was starstruck. If you haven’t heard of the November Project, go get yourself educated ASAP – and if there’s an NP tribe in your area, check them out!
We started right at 6:29AM with a group shouting and jumping session, went right into a ridiculous warm up where we ran up about thirty thousand steps to the top of the Steel Stacks, across the span of the whole factory then back down, then split up into lines for drills of skipping, sprinting, and more – one round even had us do a somersault and I DID ONE! Crazy what you’ll do when a 6’7″ guy in man capris and a denim vest tells you to do it.
Next we were told to grab the hands of two folks near us to form a team of 3 for the workout: 4 stations where we broke up each exercise and took turns, with one of us taking the stairs each turn. Mike, Jorge and I KILLED it, if I say so myself.
After that, the “cool down” was one more lap up the stairs, across the span of the Steel Stacks, and back down through a human tunnel which I will admit gave me goosebumps. It was surreal running with a pack of like-minded folks, laughing and sweating as the sun came up, and cheering each other on through some super challenging moments.
After our group pic, Mr. Yasso himself (who had done the workout with us!) wandered by as I was taking a selfie and wanted one with us. Then Ty saw the shot and wanted in on the action. We runners are a selfie-loving bunch of folks I tell ya.
We were herded into the Arts Quest building where the Expo was about to start, and they had a nice little breakfast spread and coffee, glorious coffee, for us to warm up with while Brogan told us about NP and his new book.
After breakfast, we were treated to a behind the scenes look at Altra from the founder himself, Golden Harper. This guy is passionate about what he does, and what he does is keep people running happy and healthy with his shoes. He created the first pair of Altras in a toaster oven, for crying out loud.
He had some interesting stuff to say about what makes Altras a smart choice, backed up with a LOT of science and research. That’s all well and good, but what mattered was the fact that I’d been wearing them all morning and had yet to experience any foot pain at all. After my disastrous showing at RnR Brooklyn the previous week and some touch-n-go runs the week after the half before RW weekend, I was scared of the foot pain I had, to put it lightly. And the Altras made it all better. I’ll write a full post about them later for sure!
Once Golden finished with the presentation we were split up into groups for personalized running analysis from Golden himself and more Altralympics fun: a magazine scavenger hunt!
Let’s just say it’s a good thing Ty was killing it on social media, because neither of us broke any records finding the stuff we were supposed to be searching for in these magazines!
Next we were ushered outside for the final Altralympics game: an egg/spoon race that, with Ty’s expert guidance, I WON. WHILE BLINDFOLDED. Not like I’m bragging or anything. But I am the best. Ever. If you stare directly into my awesome I am not responsible for any cornea damage that may occur.
[no photos exist of the egg race because I was blindfolded and too busy WINNING to take pictures.]
After the race, Dean Karnazes just came wandering up on the grass – it turns out he was going to be our next celebrity encounter at lunch, and he was early. NBD.
We all walked over to lunch with Dean where the folks at Wild Planet had prepared a fantastic little appetizer course (the Tuna, Feta, and Quinoa salad was the BOMB). For a main course they had prepared a spread from Run Fast, Eat Slow, and I won’t lie to you: I went up for thirds of the mango avocado salsa.
PS: my stomach just growled looking at these pics again.
After we ate, Dean Karnazes did a little talk about his book and offered to stick around and sign our copies before he planned on running TO the trail race set to start in about an hour (consummate professional, this guy), and I was slightly starstruck as you can see in the pic we snapped:
At this point, some ambassadors had to break off to head to the Trail Run (which I had opted out of simply because I am the klutziest klutz to ever klutz and I imagine that Runner’s World’s insurance policy only covers so many broken teeth.
After wishing our fellow ambassadors good luck, Ryan of Real Ryan Run and I wandered through the expo for a bit to pick up our bibs, say hey to the awesome sponsors, and get taped up by the Tape Angels at the KT Tape booth.
After the expo, Ryan and I made plans to meet up the next morning to walk to the start of the Five & Dime together and parted ways. By the time I made it back to my hotel room, I was exhausted. I had plans later on that night to meet up with my friend Arun and his gf Erin, so I showered up, caught a quick nap, and headed out for our delicious dinner at Fegley’s (try the beer cheese and Bavarian pretzels).
Much like the day before, once I got back to the hotel at the end of the day, I crashed HARD. The next day was going to be just as crazy – AND I had to run 9 miles! I was scared but happy – if my feet held out, they held out, and if not, I’d walk. I wasn’t gunning for a PR or anything (she said, completely oblivious as to what was about to go down in 12 hours).
Stay tuned for Day 3!