Back in Business – CrossFit, Racing, & More

Hey All,

It’s been a long time, but The Fit Wanderer is officially back in business. I may have stopped regularly posting (shame on me), but I have definitely been busy challenging myself with new training and new goals.

CrossFit Reebok 5th Ave Split Jerk

First of all, I am officially CrossFit obsessed. I joined Reebok CrossFit 5th Ave in December of 2012 and have never looked back since. Not only have my workouts become much more dynamic and varied, but I’ve also made a ton of great friends. More on CrossFit later, but if you’re a skeptic I must say – don’t knock it until you try it. It may seem like a cult from the outside, but once you go, you know that the constant, humbling challenges and the super supportive community of CrossFitters is what makes the experience so wonderfully addicting.


NYRR 9+1 NYC Marathon Program

In other news, I’ve also decided to complete the NYRR 9+1 Program this year. Pretty much, any New York Road Runner member who completes at least 9 qualifying races and volunteers to help at one race in 2013 is eligible for guaranteed entry to the 2014 ING New York City Marathon. So far I’ve completed 1 race (Scotland Run 10K in Central Park) and also got my +1 in by volunteering as a race marshal at the More Magazine/ Fitness Magazine Women’s Half Marathon. So obviously, there are quite a few running races in my not so distant future…and I’m pumped.

Brooklyn Half Marathon 2013

Speaking of running races, I did something very spontaneous a few weeks back. I signed up for the Brooklyn Half Marathon on May 18th. That’s 13.1 miles – I’ve never run that far in my life! Well, there’s a first time for everything and although my training time is very limited I did put together a solid plan to get me ready for the big day. I will for sure be scheduling a few long runs in Prospect Park leading up to race day as well – those hills won’t know what hit them!

Kristen Henkels Highland Swim Club

Finally, I’ve also decided to start incorporating a bit of swimming into my weekly training – just for kicks. I was a competitive swimmer from the ages of 6-18 and I suppose I’m feeling a bit nostalgic. You can take the swimmer out of the pool, but you can never really take the pool out of the swimmer (no really, I think I still sweat out chlorine…). I plan on signing up for a few open water swims this summer, most of which will be down the Jersey Shore. However, I’ve already committed to swim the Brooklyn Bridge 1K Swim between Brooklyn and Manhattan on July 7th – so excited for this. I just need to purchase a wetsuit so most of my body does not have to come in contact with the polluted waters of the East River…

As you can see, I’ve been pretty busy the past few months and plan to keep it that way. But have no fear – I will be posting more frequently to keep you updated on all of these fun new challenges ahead of me – so stay tuned.

Forever Wandering – but back in business.

– Kristen

Back in Business – CrossFit, Racing, & More

The 5K that Kicked My Butt.

Hey All,

It’s been a while since my last post but that doesn’t mean I ever stopped wanderin’. I wanted to give you a quick recap on my 5K Turkey Trot before I tell you about what else I’ve been up to these past few weeks.

To sum it up, the measly 3.1 miles that made up the 5K Morris Township, NJ Turkey Trot kicked my butt. Seriously, my legs were sore for an entire WEEK following that race. How did that exactly happen and why was it so painful? I can’t be sure, but here is how the whole thing went down.

Morris Twp NJ 5K Turkey Trot

My sister Mary, Zach (Mary’s bf), and I arrived in Morristown, NJ at about 7:10AM to check in and pick up our race numbers. Not too many people were there at that point since the race started at 8:30AM but we weren’t sure how crowded it was going to be so we arrived bright and early. The weather was freezing out so once we checked in, we hustled back to the car to stay warm until it was closer to race time.

We finally pulled ourselves away from the warm, safe haven of the car when masses of people started walking towards the race grounds. Although it was a just a local NJ race, there were about 1,000 participants. Let me tell you, the lines for the port-a-potties were insane! This was probably my first mistake – instead of doing a warm up jog and stretching out prior to the race, I hopped up and down in line for the bathroom in the minutes leading up to the start. Not a good way to prep for a race, but when you gotta go, you gotta go!

Mary, Zach, and I wished each other good luck and went our separate ways to find our respective pace corrals. I am more of a glass-half-full type of girl, so I optimistically lined up in the 7 minute/mile group. Another mistake – I really had not been running much since Hurricane Sandy but I thought to myself, “Hey I just had a really long taper so I will probably have tons of energy and run very fast!” Not the case.

Finally, the Mayor of Morristown said a few short opening lines to welcome us to the town and wished us a happy and healthy Thanksgiving. Soon enough we were off and I was sprinting at full speed along with the other runners around me. Without my Garmin watch that I mistakenly forgot back in my NYC apartment, I didn’t really know how fast I was running. I tried to pull in the reins a bit since there was a lot of road ahead of me and I was already out of breath.

The first mile was not too bad – pretty flat but lots of twists and turns since we were running through a residential neighborhood. It was fun to see some of the neighbors outside their houses cheering the runners on. Plus I needed all of the motivation I could get to keep running as fast as I was.

The second mile was where it started getting really rough. We were greeted with a super steep hill smack dab in the middle of the race with little reprieve in sight. Even though I was pushing with all of my might, it felt like I had practically slowed to a walking pace while muscling up the hill. This was NOT what I had signed up for! I think this was the part that completely destroyed my calf muscles for the next week – my body was just not used to running up such a steep incline.

And now, some photographic evidence of my painful 5K experience:

5K Turkey Trot KH

This is me completely out of breath and cringing after the uphill battle in mile 2. Ouch. The only reason I kept running was to get to get to that turkey dinner that awaited me back home.

The last mile was a mental test much more so than a physical one. All I kept thinking about was how great it would be to cross the finish line and walk off the pain I felt in my legs. The road seemed to stretch on forever although despite the pain, it was quite comical to watch some of the runners hobbling along wearing turkey hats, with the little bird claws swinging in the wind. Go turkeys, go!

The finish line finally came into view and although I was not feeling too great, I sprinted through the finish to the best of my ability. I looked up my final chip time online – instant results, gotta love them, and I finished with a pace of 7:23/mile with a total time of 22:56.5. While I was way off my goal time of 7:00/mile, I was still pretty happy with my results and now I have a benchmark for all of my future 5K races.

5K Turkey Trot Henkels Sisters

Everyone was happy when they crossed the finish line, after all we had some good food waiting for us at home. Although the 5K may have been embarrassingly difficult, it was fun to do something different on Thanksgiving morning instead of just pretending to help my mom cook (I’m still not very good at peeling potatoes). Who knows, maybe we started a little tradition of our own? I guess it depends on if I can convince my sister to run the race again next year…

Thanksgiving Dinner Henkels

The 5K Turkey Trot was a great way to kick off the weekend in a healthy way. While my calves were throbbing for the rest of the day at least my endorphin levels were through the roof. All in all, I’m just thankful I survived.

Forever wandering,

– Kristen

The 5K that Kicked My Butt.

Weekly Wanderings…November 5th-11th

Hello All.

My wanderings were a bit singular in focus this past week and had little to do with fitness, although I did get in a few solid workouts. Do certain things ever seem to catch your eye over and over again? This week I guess I was just feeling a little…blue:

1. Blue skies & fancy free

Flatiron building blue sky
The Flatiron District is one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city, especially on days like this one.

2. You can do anything but don’t step on my blue suede…Pumas.

Blue Shoes - Buckyball Madison Square Art Exhibit
Based on the cool-factor of his shoes, I’m assuming this older fellow was also listening to Jay-Z. Can I grow up to be like him someday?

3. Vroom vroom.

Baby Blue Vespa
Isn’t this one of the prettiest things you’ve ever seen? I. want. it.

4. Flea-ing the scene

NYC Flea Market - blue wall
Snapped this beauty at the West 25th St. Flea Market. Who wants to play the license plate game?

5. Keep Good Going

Keep Good Going
Ok you caught me. This may be the tagline for a life insurance company but…it was inspiring at the time.

What caught your eye this past week?

Forever wandering,

– Kristen

Weekly Wanderings…November 5th-11th

Turkey Trotting – Morris Township, NJ Thanksgiving Day 5K


Hello All!

So I decided that my next race will be a a quick and dirty 5K on Thanksgiving Day (11/22) in Morris Township, NJ. I also successfully recruited my sister, Mary, to run with me – I’m so excited! The race is located about 30 minutes away from my parents’ house in NJ so not only will Mary and I feel like we’ve earned our Thanksgiving feast, but we will also miss most of the food preparations (which was my secret plan all along!). Just kidding mom…

Mary and Kristen Henkels

I have not raced a 5K since my freshman year of college when I was a coach for the Girls on the Run program in Ann Arbor, Michigan. That being said, I typically run at least 3 miles whenever I go for a jog so I think I will be ok. My goal would be to run at a 7:00/mile pace at least, so hopefully that is do-able. Only time will tell.

Forever wandering,

– Kristen

Turkey Trotting – Morris Township, NJ Thanksgiving Day 5K

Weekly Wanderings…October 29th-November 4th

Hello All,

It’s been a long week! Hurricane Sandy definitely took the city by storm but I’m glad to say that NYC knows how to take a punch and it bounced right back. That being said, there are still areas, especially Staten Island and the Jersey Shore region, in which cleanup and rebuilding will take months. If you’d like to make a donation to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy, you can click here: American Red Cross Disaster Relief Effort.

American Red Cross LogoWhile Sandy took the wind out of my sails a bit (seems a little counterintuitive…), I still managed some wanderings this week. Here’s a view of what I’ve been up to besides reading my Twitterfeed via iPhone by candlelight:

1. It’s UNREAL (Candy)


So this past week was Halloween, aka Candy Overload-oween. Thankfully I discovered UNREAL Candy at CVS, which is a new brand of candy that does not use any artificial ingredients, hydrogenated oils, trans fats, GMOS, or corn syrup. So although I was still ingesting unhealthy amounts of sugar while waiting out the storm, at least I avoided all of the crazy weird chemicals used to create everyone’s favorite Hershey & Nestle varieties.

The backstory behind the UNREAL brand is pretty interesting and it all started with a sack of confiscated Halloween candy, go figure:

Unreal Candy backstory

So pretty much this 13-year old kid named Nicky (with his highly-connected, serial-entrepreneur Father who founded the digital ad-firm Digitas and financial-rewards company Upromise) set out to “unjunk” candy while still keeping it tasting great. Let me tell you – Nicky & Co. succeeded. You can read more about the UNREAL story here.

Oh, and Gisele, Tom Brady, Matt Damon, and Jack Dorsey all Love UNREAL candy. How’s that for an endorsement?:

I taste-tested a few of the different varieties: the healthier, less-junky dopplegangers for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, Milky Way, and M&M’s. While the peanut butter cup counterpart didn’t blow my mind, the Milky Way and M&M’s did. They were BETTER than the originals. I better you didn’t see that coming. I think it’s because UNREAL uses pretty high-quality ingredients. The M&M’s were my favorite, they were super rich & creamy – maybe from the cocao butter they use?

Unreal Candy M&Ms

UnReal candy M&Ms nutrition info

While candy is still candy and not in fact healthy, sometimes you just need a sugar fix. I highly suggest reaching for some UNREAL candy the next time your sweet tooth beckons.

2. Rawr. Cave Bear skeleton New York is brimming with local oddities. I thought this one in particular was quite relevant for the Halloween season. I frequently walk past this skeleton of Ursus Spelaeus (Cave Bear) from the Pleistocene period (2,588,000 to 11,700 years ago) located in the window of Astro Gallery of Gems on the corner of 34th and Madison. Random, right? You would think this beast would be pretty hard to miss, but I wonder how many people actually notice it when they walk past?

3. A Very Muscly Halloween Black Milk muscle tights Halloween

I actually celebrated Halloween last Friday before Sandy hit and have just got around to posting about it. I was “Bodies – The Exhibition“, like the exhibit located at the South Street Seaport. While the Black Milk “muscle” tights are a tad…revealing, they felt awesome to wear and I got a few pretty good reactions out of them. If not on Halloween, then when? I go to all of those spin classes for a reason ha.

4. Post-Sandy Breakfast of Champions  Cafe Delectica Menu post-Sandy

My go-to spot for breakfast on the weekends is Cafe Delectica on 38th and 3rd. Not only is it super close to my apartment, but the food is high quality, pretty healthy, and reasonably priced. It has a very relaxed vibe and there are always a ton of regulars chit-chatting away over some coffee. This past weekend I was delighted to find that Cafe Delectica opened up shop despite only getting power back late Saturday night. As a result, their menu was extremely limited but this made me branch out and try something new.

7grain avocado chipotle omelette sandwich

I typically order the omelette sandwich on toasted 7-grain bread with tomato, avocado slices, and a dash of chipolte mayo. It is to DIE for.

Granola and Oatmeal breakfast - Cafe Delectica

Instead I tried their hot oatmeal bar and amped it up with some toppings – slivered almonds, blueberries, and some granola. Perhaps not as savory, but still a very hearty way to start Sunday morning. Did I mention that their orange juice is fresh-squeezed? Best I’ve ever had – I highly recommend it.

5. Wasted Time Wasted time can't be recycled

Words of wisdom to glean for passerbys like me. Reminded me of the importance of setting measurable goals for myself and going after them.

Cheers to a brand new week.

Forever wandering,

– Kristen

Weekly Wanderings…October 29th-November 4th

Surviving Hurricane Sandy

Kristen Henkels East River after Hurricane Sandy

Hello All,

It’s been a difficult couple of days in NYC following Hurricane Sandy. I’m sure you’ve all been watching the news and have seen the incredible images of the flooding and damages that occurred in lower Manhattan and in the surrounding boroughs. While my roommate and I are without power, water, and heat I am extremely thankful that I am safe, along with my family and friends in NJ. Some lost their homes, their businesses, and their loved ones due to Sandy and I hope that we can all lend love and support to anyone who needs it in the coming weeks and months.

While the damages from the storm were greatly humbling, they also brought a softer side of NYC to light – those fortunate enough to have power opened their homes to others, restauranteurs cooked up meals to feed those in need for free, and New Yorkers actually smiled at each other on the street from time to time. I have to give a special shout-out to New York Sports Club for opening their doors to the public so that I (a non-member) could have a hot shower before work this morning.

NYSC logo

As the cleanup and rebuilding commences, there’s a feeling of solidarity spreading through the streets of New York and it feels pretty…nice. So while Hurricane Sandy brought about many tragic results, it also highlighted why it is great to be a part of this amazing, resilient city.

Here are a few shots I took on Tuesday afternoon around Times Square and the East River post-Sandy:

Pigeons flocked together to keep warm post-storm.
Bryant Park post-Sandy
The Bryant Park Christmas Shoppes braved the storm. Thankfully it looks like none of them suffered any major damage.
Closed due to Sandy
Lots of stores closed early to prep for Sandy’s arrival, and many still remain closed.
Naked Cowboy Times Square
Sandy may have taken away the Naked Cowboy’s power, but never his dignity.
Tree on road - Sandy
Tree down in Murray Hill post-Sandy. We thankfully suffered minimal damages in the area.
Babuska & Porsche
My roommate Kristen and I (yes, we have the exact same name) decided to investigate Sandy’s effects on the area around the East River & 34th St. on Tuesday.
Helicopter over East River
Grey skies over the East River with a helicopter surveying the scene.
Distressed Babushka - East River
A babushka lady expressed concerned.
Runners in debris post-Sandy
Lots of debris was scattered everywhere along the East River running path. Runners gotta run though.
Debris near East River post-Sandy
So much debris.
Debris near East River Post-Sandy 2
More wooden planks on the running path.
Stop sign & debris East River post-Sandy
This debris is NOTHING compared to lower Manhattan and the Jersey Shore. We are very lucky.
East River running path after Sandy
My beloved running path wheat grasses did not survive the storm. They were all practically gone.
Dog chasing ball East River post-Sandy
Some found comfort in getting back to the normal routine.
Dog days post-Sandy
Dogs being dogs.
Post-flooding near East River
Flooding occurred in the first floor of this apartment building near the East River. Roto Rooter was on the scene pumping water out of the lobby and cleaning the carpets.
Clean up post-Sandy
Good Samaritans already volunteering their time to get things back to normal.
Cell phone charging after Hurricane Sandy
Every store, bank, and coffee shop above 40th street had people charging their phones, iPads, and computers from any available outlet or power strip.
Starbucks Free Wifi after Hurricane Sandy
While most Starbucks were closed on Tuesday, they all still offered free WiFi for clever New Yorkers.
White Pigeons. after Hurricane SandyJPG
NYC’s version of the dove carrying the olive leaf – a pair of two perfectly white pigeons to signify the end of the storm.

Stay safe, stay strong, & keep on wandering.

– Kristen

Surviving Hurricane Sandy

Weekly Wanderings…October 22nd-28th

As the worst of Frankenstorm is ahead of us, I thought it would be a good idea to write up my weekly wanderings before Con Edison preemptively shuts off our power in NYC. Stay safe everyone!

1. Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Co.

Chloe's Soft Serve Fruit Co. Union Square

Chloe's Soft Serve Fruit Co. 2

I thought I’d test out Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Co. in Union Square this week. Although it looks like your typical froyo, Chloe’s is actually only made of 3 ingredients: real fruit, filtered water, and a touch of cane sugar. I decided to try the pumpkin flavor with blackberries and white carob chips. I actually couldn’t really taste the pumpkin very well but the soft serve fruit was super cold and refreshing. While I prefer froyo, this would definitely be a great treat for the dog days of summer.

2. If Lisa Frank Made Socks.

Socks - Lisa Frank

Picked up these gems at Paragon Sports. Don’t they look like they should be sold with a pack of Lisa Frank stickers?

Lisa Frank - LeopardLisa Frank Stickers

3. Leaves are a Fallin’

Madison Sq. Park - Reflecting Pool

Madison Sq. Park - Leaves

I walk through Madison Square Park quite frequently and, although it’s small, it’s one of my favorite parks in NYC. Here are a few shots of the reflecting pool littered with the colors of Fall.

4. Lounging with Art

Madison Square Art - Buckyball

Madison Square Art - Buckyball 2

There’s a new Madison Square Art installment up (just in time for Hurricane Sandy) and it really is quite nice. The installment is called “BUCKYBALL” and was constructed by the artist Leo Villareal. It’s hard not to be hypnotized by the ever-changing colors in the hexagonal art structure. There are even some cool wooden lounges set up as part of the exhibition for art-gazers to kick back, relax, and enjoy the light show.

Madison Square Art - Buckyball 3

Madison Square Art - Buckyball lounge chair

I finally nabbed a spot on one of the wooden lounges. Surprisingly comfy!

5. Trader Joe’s Hurricane Hysteria

Hurricane Sandy - Trader Joe's Hysteria

Trader Joe’s was INSANE on Sunday since everyone was stockpiling food, bottled water, and of course pinot noir for the pending storm. I have no idea why I was lucky enough to avoid the line outside the store, but it was out the door, down the block, and around the corner when I walked outside with my hard-won groceries in hand. The checkout line wrapped around the entire store as well (typical) but it moved pretty quickly and I’m happy to say I am prepped with lots of tasty goodies to wait out Hurricane Sandy.

Forever wandering (from my couch until the storm subsides…),

– Kristen

Weekly Wanderings…October 22nd-28th