I sit here like most of you on the last week of the year, reflecting on 2016. The year started with my move across the country to Los Angeles without knowing anyone except Matt’s brother and sister in law. From the minute I arrived here it just felt right. The decision to leave Chicago, all the friendships, family and a way of life behind was well thought out, but did come with a bit of a risk. When you move to a new city, find a new job, make new friends you never quite know if it is going to work out as you envision. For me, it was truly a blessing in disguise. The transition was pretty smooth, I have meet so many new friends, and the change of pace in life was something I didn’t even realize I so desperately needed to function properly. (yes living a life amongst palm trees, beaches and mountain trails is as amazing as it seems) Overall the common thread of my year though was try new things…sometimes it can help you find where you were meant to be all along.
But how did this all work out so well? This is LA afterall. The city with a reputation of being the opposite of friendly and inviting. To be honest, I found the people to be generally wonderful. (the traffic on the other hand not so much) How was this possible? By searching out and embracing places, people and events that had a sense of community.
In Chicago I was pretty heavily involved in the running community, via my run club Crew Runs the World, Nike+ Run Club, Fleet Feet and Girls on the Run. Much to my surprise, finding groups like this in LA was even easier and much more welcoming than I imagined. I have tried a few different options, but want to highlight a few that have made all the difference in my new life.
November Project: It’s not a cult, but it is seriously something I can’t get enough of. If you live in an area without a tribe and don’t know what November Project is, let me enlighten you. It is a group (there are various tribes throughout the world) that meets twice a week for a 45 minute outdoor workout. The workouts are can include drills, hill sprints, burpess, squats, (all the painful exercises) and are for all fitness levels, all shapes, all sizes, all people. I will be the first to admit the LA tribe has some really athletic, fast people in the group, but this free fitness group is different. They push each workout to help you reach your potential, high five you until your arm hurts, and finish with a cheer tunnel that makes you want to come back for more. There is no comparing yourself to others, but instead the focus is on encouraging others to just show up and give it your all when you get there. There is also a social component to the group and so many options to train, race and even drink fun drinks together. I am looking forward to getting to know people in the group even more in 2017.
Oiselle: I honestly don’t have enough words to express how much I love being a part of the Oiselle team. Earlier this year, I decided to join the Volée and it was one of the best decisions I have made in 2016. Lucky for me in July I was chosen as an area leader and have had the opportunity to make new friends in Southern California via various meet ups over the past few months. But the Volée is more than just meeting friends to go for a run. The company, its values its athletes have empowered me in ways I didn’t imagine. From watching Kara Goucher at the Olympic Trials, to getting trail running tips from Devon Yanko, to meeting Sally (the CEO) at a track meet and seeing first hand her love for the Oiselle athletes, to getting to know Heather and Lesko the duo behind the Volée ;two of the most beautiful, caring, encouraging, inspiring people I have ever met. Don’t even get me started about meeting at the start line of a race with other Oiselle runners in our singlets, ready to conquer the world. This sisterhood is not a marketing ploy. These are real women, empowering real women to be real runners who reach goals that dreams are made of.
Nuun: I have been a Nuun ambassador for a couple years now, but the friendships I have made through this program have been a key to my success in the move to LA. When I ran Hood to Coast in 2015, I made friends with other SoCal Nuun runners. Those friends introduced me to others here in LA especially in November Project. Lauren helped coach me through my first trail race. Jody, who is just an all-around amazing, welcoming person, and I connected quite a few times this year, even ran a race together. I am so happy I get to see her now (although I need to make that a more regular thing in 2017). The best part though is I have met tons of others in LA from the nuun community, including Hyla and Stephanie who I see at November project and at Oiselle meet ups. One of my favorite Nuun events this year was running Ragnar Trail Tahoe. Trails + Camping + Nuun friends was seriously the best way to launch into my trail running adventures.
To recap, in the past year I ….
The moral of the story, if you want to have an amazing year, try things you never thought you would do, get outside as much as you can, and most of all find a tribe and discover a community of amazing people to feed your soul.
Check back next week to see what I have planned for 2017.