How it all went down

What a week! I kid you not, I put in a title for this post and promptly fell asleep on the couch. So here’s to take two!

IMG_2009Last Saturday was my birthday, and it got off to a great – albeit rainy – start on the Brooklyn Half course. I joined some of my teammates from Brooklyn Tri Club, and some friends and families of runner buddies to give ALL the cowbell. My ears are still ringing – but it was worth it. Sadly, all of my beautiful posters melted in the rain, but they were fun while they lasted!

P.S. – If you need more cowbell, call me. I’ve gotcha covered.

Afterwards, Charlie and I did super exciting things like dropping off the bags full of clothes we don’t wear anymore at Goodwill, and getting the massive pile of old mail that’s been building up behind our couch since we moved in shredded at NYC ShredFest. I kid you not – I was SO jazzed to get that stuff out of our apartment. #win. I also got in a little birthday run before taking a power nap and getting ready to party.

IMG_2027Huge thanks go out to everyone who came out to help me celebrate last weekend – it was a blast to drink beers and eat carbs with you! If anyone’s in need of a casual venue that can accommodate a large group in Brooklyn, I highly recommend Die Koelner Bierhall. They were so good to us, and made it super easy for us to split checks and such. (My fave pic from the night is to the right.)

In addition, I’m immensely grateful for all of the fantastic donors who made a birthday donation to my fundraiser for Back on My Feet. Your generosity means the world to me, and will make a huge difference for Back on My Feet – thank you! For those of you who want to make a donation, you have until the NYC Triathlon on July 19th!

After a weekend full of festivities, I got to jump right into some professional development on Monday at the American Express Leadership Academy run by the Center for Creative Leadership. I was super skeptical about spending a week locked in a hotel convention center to learn how to be a better leader with a bunch of strangers, but it ended up being an INCREDIBLE experience. I’m still trying to process everything I learned, but I’m confident that my participation in the Academy is going to make me a better leader at the office – and I’m so thrilled to have met so many of my colleagues leading nonprofits across New York City.

I’m proud to say, that in spite of the insanely busy week – that included spending a few nights at a hotel – I got some solid workouts done this week. Nothing impressive, but I got them done. And thank goodness, because I’ve got my first race of the season NEXT weekend. How did that come up so quickly?!?

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous for next week. It’s my first international distance race, so it’s longer than any tri I’ve raced before, and I have to travel the night before since it’s on a Saturday morning. It’ll also be the first tri I’ll race in a wetsuit, so there’s an added complication to T1. So many things to worry about! But ya know what – I’ve worked pretty hard this year. I could definitely have worked harder, gone out a little less, and gotten up earlier more often, but I’ve been pretty committed. I’m sure I’ll improve throughout the season, but I have faith that I’ll be able to push out a solid race this weekend. Good juju and words of encouragement welcome!

Here’s to a productive taper week for me – and a wonderful week of whatever you’ve got on your plate! I’ll report back with a recap of my first international distance tri next weekend!

May is Bike Month!

I’ve always known that May was the best month of the year. The weather is perfect, summer swim team starts, baseball is in full swing, and well, I was born in May, so obviously it’s a winner.  In addition to those wonderful things, since 1956, May has been National Bike Month! Started by the League of American Bicyclists back when everyone liked Ike, National Bike Month is dedicated to getting more folks on bicycles. There are tons of events across the country to get you on two wheels, and if you can’t find one near you, the League of American Bicyclists has some resources to help you start one! If you’re in NYC like me, check out bikenyc.org for all things Bike Month.

IMG_1993A few weekends ago, I grabbed some buddies and headed down to the Red Hook Crit. For those who aren’t familiar – and believe me I wasn’t until I stumbled upon this Crit a couple of years ago and then googled the shit out of it – a criterium (or crit) is a bike race that happens on a short, closed track. The cyclists go around the track in multiple laps and get REALLY fast. Oh, and did I mention they’re riding track bikes – fixed gears with NO brakes. It’s pretty awesome. In any case, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to convince anyone to go with me, but Charlie and his buddy agreed to join me and guess what? We all had a blast! If you ever have a chance to go – do it.

In other cycling news, I finally made it to a morning bike workout with the tri club, and wouldn’t you know –  it was awesome. I can’t wait to get faster with all the new skillz I’m learning. It’s crazy how much a good coach can teach you in a short while.

Now, to get away from the bicycles, I should mention that this Saturday is my birthday, and I will be eternally grateful if you would make a donation to my fundraising campaign for Back on My Feet NYC! I’ve set a very ambitious goal, and I need your help to reach it. BoMF is the reason I wake up early, and my motivation to race the NYC Triathlon.  The organization and its members inspire me daily and I know that if you look into it, you’ll be inspired to – so at least click on the link and check it out. Everyone needs a little inspiration!

Last but not least – if you’re running the Brooklyn Half – I’ll be cheering for you along with all my homies and about a dozen cowbells at about mile 7.5. If you want to come out and cheer with me, pop me an email at afennecken@gmail.com and I’ll hit you up with the deets – it’ll be a blast!

Happy Bike Month all! Let me know what you’ll do to celebrate in the comments :)

I’m in a glass case of emotion… and I #WipeforWater

Life, you guys! It totally gets in the way of training! Amiright? After two + weeks of fending off a cold, I lost all motivation at the end of last week. I took two EXTRA rest days on (yup – one week, three rest days) and just kind of…gave up. Didn’t try to get up early, didn’t bother to pack my gear in case I got the itch to workout.

I figured I had the Verrazano Half on Saturday, so I knew at least I’d get in a long run. Instead I went on a lovely evening stroll with Charlie on Thursday, and on Friday walked the two miles home from packet pick up. And dammit if I didn’t feel like a new woman by the time I hit the starting line on Saturday morning.

Saturday was GORGEOUS here in New York City. The sun was shining, it was warm and there was just enough breeze coming off the harbor that it didn’t get too hot. It was the kind of spring day that makes you believe in Disney, love at first site, and all that ish. I’ve only been running twice a week, so I didn’t have any big plans for the Verrazano Half. In fact, I only signed up to motivate myself to do 10+ mile training runs earlier in the season. I wanted to shoot for an 8:30 min/mile pace, not go out like the Flash and hobble in like the walking wounded, and test out my race-day nutrition strategy.

I ended up with a surprise PR! It was only a minute and a half – nothing to write home about – but I’ll take it. Now I’m confident that I can maintain a decent pace for the 10K off the bike. Woot! I may even sign up for some running races later this season to see how my running fitness improves.

Moral of the week is: burnout is real, sometimes you have to honor it. Take a few days off. Cut yourself some slack. It’s cool. You’ll get your mojo back.

And to TOTALLY switch gears – Happy Belated Earth Day! As part of the #WipeForWater campaign, Influenster sent me a packet of Neutrogena Natural’s Purifying Makeup Remover and Cleansing Towlettes to try. I took the #WipeForWater challenge and used the wipes, instead of water to clean my face at the end of the day for three days. So, what did I think?

On the whole – I liked them! I’d definitely buy them again to keep in my gym bag for post-workout wipes, buuuut I really missed using facial cleanser and water for the end of the day. I have sensitive, acne prone skin, so I’ve got to be careful about what I put on my face. These definitely weren’t problematic – which is awesome – but I don’t know that they can replace a real wash in the long term. The challenge did make me think about 1) how much I take for granted living a comfortable existence in a first world environment and 2) the impact my consumption has on the planet and those who were born into less privileged environments.  I’m absolutely going to do some solid research this summer and figure out what I can be doing better.

To all my tree huggers and social justice advocates out there: what should I be doing to reduce my environmental impact and consume responsibly? I need some tips!

I won the sibling lottery

IMG_1600Kids, I hate to break it to you, but you’ve been lied to. I know it was National Sibling Day this week and you all believe that you have the coolest siblings, but you would be wrong…because I have the world’s coolest brother. How do I know this? Well, aside from the fact that I’ve been gathering evidence for the past 24 years, my brother, the ever-talented Liam Benjamin Fennecken just won the Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award for Best Collegiate Male Solo for a recording he did with his college a cappella group! You can listen to a clip of his award winning recording of Come Wake Me Up HERE. You can also catch some of his mad skillz from his TODAY show appearance a couple of years ago. ENJOY!

Moving back to my far less exciting existence, this week wasn’t the best for training. I’m still fighting off this cold (which moved to my chest -bleh, so much coughing), I had a VERY important social engagement midweek, and work has been demanding, so I ended up giving myself an extra rest day and taking a couple of workouts super easy. All was not lost though because this weekend was GORGEOUS and I got in a great ride (30 miles) and a solid run (8 and change) in the sunshine. And GOT‘s back. I’m calling it a win.

On a side note – I’m FINALLY listening to Serial. It’s just SO GOOD. What do you guys think? Did the state of Maryland get it right?? I’m still up in the air about it – but I’m absolutely certain of one thing. I will be so sad when I run out of episodes. Any further podcast recommendations for me?

In spite of the mucus (see cough above) I also had a very social week. I got to hang with a bunch of my favorite people on Wednesday, Friday was Back on My Feet NYC’s 3rd birthday celebration, Charlie and I hit up WO HOP after a friend’s party on Saturday night, and on Sunday an old friend joined me at the Brooklyn Tri Club‘s season kick off party. All the fun times were had!

Speaking of fun times – I’m doing this super fun race on July 19th! Maybe you’ve heard of it? It’s called the NYC Triathlon? Right, well I’m racing to fundraise for Back on My Feet NYC, and this week a bunch of AMAZING folks made donations to my campaign. A million thanks to Emily, Meghan, Briana (btw- take her yoga classes – SO good!), Amara, Laura, Erica, Julie, Eddie (Artistic Director of a super cool theater company) and Charlie (check out his blog)! You guys are THE BEST – thank you, thank you, thank you!

To everybody else – I’m only 12% of the way to my goal of raising $2900 (for my 29th birthday) – I need your help! If you’d like to join the ranks of these awesomest of individuals and support an organization that literally and figuratively—helps individuals experiencing homelessness get back on their feet – make a donation here and I’ll give you a shout out!

Alright folks, I’m gonna go pop some popcorn and drink seltzer out of a wine glass to channel my inner Olivia Pope (she swims…do you think she’ll do a triathlon one day?). Have a great week!