Race Prep: Brooklyn Bridge 1K Swim

Hey All,

Yesterday I competed in the Brooklyn Bridge 1K swim. Before I tell you about how amazingly awesome it was to swim UNDER the Brookyln Bridge, I’m going to clue you in on the steps leading up to the race.

NYC Swim Logo

“Hey Kristen – I thought you did CrossFit and dabbled in running. What’s up with the swimming?”

Well my friends, guess what. Before there was CrossFit, before there was running, before there was rowing….there was swimming. Lots and lots of swimming. I spent most of my summers at the pool and trained year-round on a competitive team at my local YMCA from the ages of 6-18, in addition to swimming on my high school team for 4 years (back-to-back State Champs 2005-2006, what up?!?). That’s a lot of time staring down at the black line on the bottom of the pool. A LOT of time.

As you know, I like to shake things up with my workouts so I decided to sign up for the Brooklyn Bridge 1K Swim through NYC Swim to get back to my roots. In order to prove that I was sea-worthy East River-worthy, I had to swim a mile non-stop for time beforehand to qualify for the race.

Asphalt Green Olympic Sized Pool - The Fit Wanderer

Isn’t that pool magnificent? 50 meters and 8 lanes of olympic-sized glory…not to mention the double 1m springboards and low-dive. The Asphalt Green 50m pool is about as good as it gets for a swimmer living in New York City, and the perfect place for me to do my 1-mile qualifying swim. I woke up bright and early (5:15AM to be exact) about three weeks ago to embrace the chlorine and take care of business.

I had never visited Asphalt Green before so I signed up for a 1-day guest pass to check things out and inquire about a possible membership (aka swim in the pool fo’ free). As you can see, the facilities are pretty impressive.

I walked in to see the youth team busy staring at the black line on the bottom of the pool  busting their butts with their early morning training. I spotted a gaggle of lifeguards hanging out and sauntered over, praying that one of them would count my laps and verify my swim. To my surprise, one of the lifeguards grabbed a stop watch and readily agreed to count my laps for me (apparently they get this request a lot).

Without delay, I jumped into the “fast” lane and swam 32 straight laps at a pretty easy pace. Although it was the first time I swam in at least a year, the basic technique never really leaves you – kind of like riding a bike. Thanks to my CrossFit training…yet again…the mile swim was a breeze and quite an amazing way to clear my head and prep for the work day ahead of me.

NYC Swim Mile Certification - The Fit Wanderer

I finished the mile with a time of 29 minutes and 30 seconds swimming at a moderate pace. I felt a bit rusty, but all in all not bad. Just another drop in the olympic-sized bucket of my time spent staring at the black line on the bottom of the pool.

Forever Wandering (& sometimes swimming),

– Kristen

Race Prep: Brooklyn Bridge 1K Swim

Fit.Fashion: Ellie’s Cosmic Love Collection

Hey All,

Ellie released their Cosmic Love collection last month and I decided to pick out a few pieces to add to my bevy of spandex and tank tops. The entire collection is pretty cute – lots of blue, black, and neon yellow with flattering cuts and details – but one top/bottom combo in particular caught my eye: the Wish Upon a Star Tank and the matching Cosmic Capri. Very celestial, indeed. If anything catches your eye, feel free to click on the banner above for 20% off!

Ellie Cosmic Love Collection

Key Features:

  • Four-way stretch moves with you and moisture wicking keeps you dry
  • Flat seams minimize chafing
  • Blocks and absorbs UV rays to protect the skin 50+

Ellie Wish Upon a Star Tank - The Fit Wanderer

The Wish Upon a Star Tank looks a little complicated but its criss-cross back is super comfortable and definitely adds some flair. The pop stich lines that curve down the sides of the tank are both sporty and flattering. The one problem I have with this tank is that there is a bit too much material at the bottom that tends to bunch up, but overall I would recommend it from both a style and functional point of view.

Ellie Cosmic Capri 2 - The Fit Wanderer

While I tend to dislike capris in general, the Cosmic Capri  is an exception to the rule. The top of these capris cinch in at the waist so they not only stay in place while running but also are very slimming. I love the touch of color at the bottom of the capris outlined with blue style lines. The devil’s in the details, and that’s why the clothing that Ellie designs really stands out.

Ellie Cosmic Capri 1 - The Fit Wanderer

One thing to note – do not throw these capris into the dryer with towels. I unfortunately made this mistake and you can see the white pilling on my calves from the towel material. Ah well – I have to pay more attention the next time I do laundry!

Ellie Cosmic Love 6 - The Fit Wanderer Ellie Cosmic Love 8 - The Fit Wanderer Ellie Cosmic Love 7 - The Fit Wanderer Ellie Cosmic Love 9 - The Fit Wanderer

Raybans - The Fit Wanderer

And of course an outfit is never complete without a good pair of Ray-Bans.

Ellie Cosmic Love 4 - The Fit Wanderer

Ellie Cosmic Love 2 - The Fit Wanderer

Ellie Cosmic Love - The Fit Wanderer

Ellie Cosmic Love 10- The Fit Wanderer

What do you think about Ellie’s Cosmic Love collection? Let me know!

Forever Wandering,

– Kristen

Fit.Fashion: Ellie’s Cosmic Love Collection

Wolverines in Brooklyn – My BK Half Marathon Michigan Connection

Hey All,

So here’s a crazy anecdote as a follow-up to my Brooklyn Half Marathon recap post. My sister texted me about 2 minutes before the race started and said “I swear I just saw a Michigan rower on the race course!” I didn’t know who at the time, but turns out…

BK Half 2013 - The Fit Wanderer

Michigan Block M Go Blue

Michigan Rowing Partner BK Half Marathon - The Fit Wanderer

…it was my friend Lindsay who I often rowed with at Michigan and just happened to be sitting behind me in 2-seat for the NCAA Championships in 2010. I had NO IDEA she was running but thought it was pretty cool that there was another Michigan rower out on the course that day – running about half a mile ahead of me for most of the race. We ended up finishing about 20 seconds apart – obviously a testament to our strong Michigan training back in the day🙂

Michigan Rowing NCAA Championship 2010 - The Fit Wanderer

Forever Wandering (GO BLUE!),

– Kristen

Wolverines in Brooklyn – My BK Half Marathon Michigan Connection

Brooklyn Half Marathon 2013 – Race Recap

BK Half Marathon sprint - The Fit Wanderer

Hey All,

As some of you may know, I ran the Brooklyn Half Marathon on May 18th. It’s been a while since the big day but I wanted to give you a full update on how the race panned out – from bib pickup to finish line (and Nathan’s Famous hotdogs post-finish, naturally).

If you recall, I signed up for the Brooklyn Half when NYRR re-opened registration for the event – this gave me about a month to train for race day. While I did do a fair bit of running, I definitely relied heavily on my training at CrossFit to help prepare me to run 13.1 – quite daunting mileage for someone who had little to no experience with distance running. Thankfully I trusted my training and things worked out pretty well.

Let’s start from the beginning.

Since everything is cooler in Brooklyn, New Balance sponsored a half marathon “pre-party” in the old cigar warehouse by the East River in DUMBO. Tres Hipster. Music, beer, and instagram pictures galore, but the most important part was picking up the always-essential bib number. Of course I arrived completely unprepared without my bib number Friday evening about 2 hours before the party shut down, but thankfully looking up my number and picking up my bib and t-shirt was an easily-accomplished task – despite the crowd of people and bumping music.

Brooklyn Half Marathon Preparty - The Fit Wanderer

Brooklyn Half Marathon Pre-Party 2 The Fit Wanderer

Brooklyn Half Bib pickup Brooklyn Bridge - The Fit Wanderer

I stayed at the pre-party for a bit and checked out what the various vendors were hawking. After a bit of wandering (ha) I decided to buy a Strawberry Clif Shot Bloks pack (tested them on a long training run a few weeks earlier and loved them) as well as a new, teal Sparkly Soul headband to add a bit of flair to my racing attire. With my bib number, rocket fuel, and a bit of sparkle in hand I made the trek back to Manhattan to carbo-load and get a good night’s sleep.

Clif Shot Bloks Electrolyte Chews                             Sparkly Soul Teal Thin Headband

Fast-forward to 4:45AM Saturday morning.

A hot shower and a Clifbar were the only things on the menu for breakfast, in addition to a healthy dose of coffee and water of course. I ate a ton of whole-wheat pasta and steamed veggies the night before (one of my tried-and-true pre-race dinners – thankfully gluten doesn’t bother my stomach), so my light breakfast was all I needed. Plus running on a full stomach is THE WORST.

I’d like to mention that my superstar sister Mary once again made her way to the big city to cheer me on in the wee hours of the morning. The majority of the photos you’ll see throughout the rest of this post are her handiwork. I saw her a total of 3 times while running and it definitely gave me a boost of positive energy to pass by her smiling face (even if her smile was hidden behind the camera most of the time).

After a pretty uneventful subway ride on the F train full of my fellow runners, we arrived at Prospect Park around 6:25AM. Unfortunately nature was calling, so instead of doing a full warm-up I mostly just stood in the extremely long line for the porta potties. Thankfully NYRR is no novice when it comes to organizing races — the porta potties were actually on opposite sides of the pace corrals so I didn’t have to worry about missing the start. That would have stunk – literally.

Half Marathon Pace Corrals - The Fit Wanderer

Here we all are at the start – packed like sardines. Amped up, adrenaline-filled sardines.

The race started promptly at 7AM with the elite runners at the start of the pack. As the crowd continued to shuffle forward I knew it was almost my turn to pick up the pace and cross the starting line. Sure enough, within seconds I found myself beginning to trot forward and before I knew it, I was running mile 0/13.1 of my first half marathon.

The funny thing was that…I felt good. Too good. I was running nice and relaxed and looked down at my watch…7:00min/mile pace?! This was not part of the plan. I initially went into the race with a loose plan to finish sub-2 hours with about a 9:00min/mile pace. But at the same time, I felt like I was barely pushing myself and the time on my watch swung between 7:00 and 7:15min/mile. Adrenaline truly is a wonderful thing. Thankfully my brain soon took over and I starting running smart, settling into a comfortable 8:30min/mile pace.

Brooklyn_Half_Marathon_Map5 The Fit Wanderer

Miles 1-3

The first part of the race was approximately 1.5 miles up Flatbush Avenue, around the Grand Army Plaza loop, and 1.5 miles back to the Prospect Park entrance. This part of the race was a bit intimidating because halfway into the first mile I could see all of the other “fast” runners running parallel to me coming back up Flatbush Avenue the other way, many of whom were out of breath and trotting along in pain.

“Is that what I have to look forward to?” bounced around in my head a few times. Instead of getting freaked out, I stuck with my easy pace that swung between 8:20-8:30min/mile and kept things loose – there were way too many miles ahead to spin my wheels at that point.

Miles 4-7

After the first three miles, I felt a bit more settled since my body was adjusted to the running and I was staying on pace pretty easily. As I entered Prospect Park I felt a wave of relief to be done with the first quarter of the race but also mentally braced myself for the next hilly chunk of mileage ahead of me.

Just in case you were wondering, I took my first Clif shot blok around the 30 minute mark and continued to refuel with 1 blok every 20-25 minutes or so. It was unbelievable how much these little shots of sugar helped – they definitely gave me a bit of a boost and kept me running strong throughout the race.

I primarily stuck right on my 8:30min/mile pace during the loop inside Prospect Park but definitely was starting to feel the fatigue around Mile 5. Thankfully, for some reason the hills were much more manageable than when I ran the Brooklyn Rock ‘n Roll 10K in October (Yet another wonderful side-effect of CrossFit, I’m assuming). One downside of running in the park was that there were fewer race fans cheering which probably attributed to my pace jumping up a bit during this stretch of running. Cheering fans make such a mental difference!

Colorful Runner BK Half 2013

While I was starting to feel the burn inside Prospect Park, my sister was happily snapping away and captured shots of some of the more relaxed runners on the course that day. Check out the guy above – can you imagine running in that getup? I for one cannot – but more power to him. Yet another reason why I love race day – lots of the runners are not only out on the course kicking butt, but they are also having a ton of fun while doing so.

Blues Brothers runners - The Fit Wanderer

The Blues Brothers also made it on the race course that day – I’m assuming they stopped to dance every mile or so.

Kristen Henkels BK Half - The Fit Wanderer

Here I am finally busting out of Prospect Park halfway through Mile 7 – so happy to have half of the Half completed! Obviously the runner’s high was starting to kick in at this point, otherwise I don’t know how else I could possibly be smiling.

Kristen Henkels BK Half 3 - The Fit Wanderer

Keeping things strong and loose and clinging to my Clif shot bloks in my left hand like my life depended on it.

Kristen Henkels BK Half 7 - The Fit Wanderer

Miles 8-12

The last third of the race lay ahead of me and for one reason or another I got a second wind and started to pick up my pace for each mile remaining. These last few miles were a straight shot down Ocean Parkway, aptly named since this road led to Coney Island.

Brooklyn Half Mile 10 - The Fit Wanderer

Check out the sea of color on Ocean Parkway. The view from the overpass above was much prettier than the one on the ground – blood, sweat, and tears  empty gel packs were vast and abundant (and made the road quite sticky at parts…bleh).

BK Half Mile 10 - The Fit Wanderer2

I was hurting a bit but my mental resolve stayed strong and I continued to run faster each mile. It was pretty weird to think that the road I was running mile after mile on was usually packed with cars.

Brookyln Half Coney Island Roller Coaster - The Fit Wanderer

Pretty soon I saw the 12 mile marker and knew the finish was close. I tapped into the last bit of energy I had left in the tank and surged onward onto Surf Avenue. Soon the amusement rides of Coney Island were in sight, as well as the 13 mile marker!

BK Half Coney Island Boardwalk

Mile 13

My favorite part of the entire race had to be the last 400 meters or so. I ran up the ramp onto the Coney Island Boardwalk and sprinted as fast as I could for the remainder of the race – the cheering crowd and booming loudspeaker were deafening as I pushed past every last person I could with the finish line in sight.Brooklyn Half finish - The Fit Wanderer

And with that final sprint – I. Was. Done. I slowed to a brisk walk, grabbed a cup of gatorade, and smiled. I survived my first half marathon, in “record” time:

Average Pace: 8:13min/mile

Final Time: 1:47:37

Here are my splits below. If you told me that I would negative split the second half of the race, I wouldn’t have believed you:

Brooklyn Half Marathon Splits - The Fit Wanderer

Brooklyn Half Bib Number - The Fit Wanderer

All smiles BK Half - The Fit Wanderer

Exhausted yet enthused, it was time to shake off the 13.1 miles and explore Coney Island a bit.The Henkels Sisters BK Half - The Fit Wanderer

It took about 45 minutes to find my sister after the race since for some reason I had absolutely no cell service, but once we reunited we had an even more important mission – devouring an infamous Nathan’s Famous hotdog.

Coney Island Nathan's Hotdogs Fries The Fit Wanderer

This counts as recovery food, right?

Coney Island Nathans Hotdogs The Fit Wanderer

Mission accomplished. This may have been the previous 13.1 miles talking, but this was probably one of the best hotdogs I’ve ever eaten.

Brooklyn Half Coney Island The Fit Wanderer

Overall, I am very happy with my results for my first half marathon. I would recommend the Brooklyn Half to anyone and everyone – the event was well organized and a ton of fun to run. I will definitely be running more half marathons in the future, but of course have lots of work to do before running the NYC Marathon in 2014.

NYRR 9+1 2014 NYC Marathon Qualifer

Forever Wandering,

– Kristen

Brooklyn Half Marathon 2013 – Race Recap

Fit.Fashion: Love Lululemon but Hate the Price?…Meet Ellie!

Ellie Hot Tropic Bra_To Dye For Capri 1 - The Fit Wanderer

Hey All,

I don’t know about you, but if it were up to me I would spend at least 90% of my time in spandex and Nike Frees. Alas – this is not really an option for me since I have an office job, but when I do get to don athletic attire, I like to have some fun with it. Bright colors, daring cuts, various brands – I’m a fan of it all when it comes to gearing up to sweat it out.

The crème de la crème of women’s athletic wear these days is the yogi master-of-the-universe, Lululemon. Now I’m a huge lover-of-luon myself, but I can’t go around buying a pair of $100 yoga pants every month (as much as I would like to). You can’t either? Meet Ellie!

Ellie logo

Ellie is a brand-spanking new women’s activewear company that specializes in beautifully-designed garments to kick ass in at the gym – that won’t leave you completely broke. The company is the brainchild of co-founders Marcus Greinke and Lindsay Daniels, who both have strong backgrounds in retail apparel and design (take a look at their monthly collections – they know what they’re doing). Marcus and Lindsay decided to take their collective experience to launch Ellie as an e-commerce site after realizing the huge gap between Lululemon and well, pretty much every other activewear brand in the category.

Similar to Lululemon, Ellie uses high-quality materials and meticulous design elements to craft their products, however production is vertically integrated (all products are designed in-house at their LA studio), cutting the time from design to wearable product down to two months. Basically the entire production process is more efficient from beginning to end and the cost savings are passed on to the Ellie consumer. Score!

The Fit Fashionista Club - Ellie

Ellie fans can buy individual items or subscribe at $49.95 per month to the Fit Fashionista Club to receive two items of their choice. If members don’t make their selection in time, Ellie will send a surprise pairing of their latest monthly line. In this case, surprises are definitely a good thing. And if all else fails, return shipping is free for members.

I signed up to the Fit Fashionista club a few months ago and have been pleasantly surprised each time I receive Ellie’s signature pink, metallic envelope in the mail. Check out the pictures below of me testing out the Hot Tropic Bra and To Dye For Capri from April’s Coral Crush Collection.

Cute, functional, and affordable – Ellie is officially my new best friend.

Ellie Hot Tropic Bra 1 - The Fit Wanderer

Ellie Hot Tropic Bra_To Dye For Capri 2 - The Fit Wanderer

Ellie To Dye For Capri 2 - The Fit Wanderer

Ellie Hot Tropic Bra_To Dye For Capri 3 - The Fit Wanderer

Forever Wandering (preferably while wearing spandex),

– Kristen

Fit.Fashion: Love Lululemon but Hate the Price?…Meet Ellie!

Run as One 4-Miler in Central Park (04.28.13)

Run as One 4 Mile Race Banner

Hey All,

My NYRR 9+1 quest continued this past weekend when I ran in the “Run as One” 4-mile race in Central Park. (2+1 down, 7 races to go!)

9+1 NYRR progress 050113

The weather was gorgeous and spirits were definitely high when I entered the park around 7:45AM. This is the first running race that my mom has ever attended and it was pretty cool having her there to support me (and hold all of my stuff – much easier than dropping things off at bag check haha).

Couch Stretch

After a short warm-up jog, I did a bit of stretching, including the infamous Couch Stretch we do quite often at CrossFit (see above). I couldn’t find a wall so made do with this oak tree. More than a few dogs were a bit peeved that I was invading their territory. While comical at the time, the more I think about it the more I realize that maybe I shouldn’t use trees to couch stretch in the future…(ick).

Run as One 4 Mile Start

One valuable lesson I learned from the Run as One 4-miler is to get to my pace corral nice and early. I always seem to squeeze into the crowd about 5 minutes before the start and unfortunately this weekend I was too late to get with my correct pace group. Speaking of crowds, there were about 7,000 runners in the race. That’s a lot of people!

Run as One 4 Mile Race Man

My mom was having some fun with my camera while she was trying to pick me out in the crowd running by. The guy above is one of the most legit runners I’ve ever seen. He puts all of us to shame – what a champ.

Run as One 4 Mile Race Kristen Henkels

I had bit of a slow start since there were so many people running shoulder-to-shoulder for the first 2 minutes of the race. Thankfully I went into the run with the goal of feeling things out and trying to find my natural pace without stressing over my splits and average pace. So while typically I would have been very frustrated that I was stuck behind some slower runners, I just let it roll of my shoulder and instead focused on finding a comfortable rhythm while enjoying the racing atmosphere.

Run as One 4 Mile Race Kristen Henkels 2

Despite relaxing my competitive spirit a bit on this run, I always make a point to give it my all and sprint through to the finish of the race. There’s always a little bit of gas left to burn in the tank at the end of the race, and I know I’m always happier after tapping that last energy reserve no matter how badly I’m hurting. Plus it’s pretty fun to pass people in the last 10 seconds, not gonna lie.

Run as One 4 Mile Race 2013

Overall, I’d say the race was a success in terms of finding a solid rhythm and gathering a few race day learnings prior to my half marathon on May 18th. I finished with an average pace of 7:51/mile which is historically a bit slower for me, but heck – I’ll take it!

Spring Blossoms in Central Park

The “Run as One” 4-miler was a great way to spend a sunny Sunday morning in Central Park with my mom, especially since everything is green and in bloom. I’m sure I’ll miss this type of weather when the humid summer months roll around. I better start hydrating now….

Forever Wandering,

– Kristen

Run as One 4-Miler in Central Park (04.28.13)

My (1-Month) Half Marathon Training Plan

Kristen Henkels running 2012

Hey All,

So as I mentioned, I spontaneously (and perhaps recklessly?) signed up for the Brooklyn Half Marathon with only about a month to train for it.  D-day is May 18th, 2013.

…What the heck was I thinking?!?

Now obviously this is not an ideal (or an intelligent) timeframe to train for a 13.1 mile race but I’m going to attempt to take a smart approach in preparing for it. After a bit of frenzied Googling I thankfully came across the following article in Men’s Health Magazine: http://news.menshealth.com/half-marathon-training/2012/11/08/. To sum it up, training for a half marathon in a 1-month timeframe is not advised, but it is possible. Here are the main points from the article:

  • Build up to a 10-mile run and add only about 10 percent volume a week.
  • In addition – focus on RECOVERY, include a strength workout twice a week, and make sure to do some stretching and foam rolling.

I crafted my 1-month half marathon training plan based on the above points and also incorporated 5 days of CrossFit training into it (I couldn’t resist – at least it’s a healthy addiction?). Stir that together with a heavy dose of mobility work and recovery et voila!:

The Fit Wanderer 1 month Half Marathon Training Plan-1

The Fit Wanderer 1 month Half Marathon Training Plan-2

I feel much more confident now that I have a plan to guide my training. The hard part is sticking to it.

For all you distance runners out there – How many weeks did you take to train for your first half marathon and do you have any advice for sticking to a training plan?

Time to hit the pavement (and the foam roller)!

Forever Wandering,

– Kristen

My (1-Month) Half Marathon Training Plan