Hello friends! I’m back from a fabulous little winter reprieve in Key West. In spite of the cold I picked up (I suspect recycled airplane air), it was so worth making the trip for a long weekend in the sun. I often forget how significantly the shorter days affect me in the winter. I sulk around in a bad mood and wonder why I’m so salty…until the sun comes out and suddenly I’m as gleeful as a Disney princess. Seasonal affective disorder is real, and a few days in sunny Florida was just what I needed.

Florida Sun

While the injection of vitamin D was cause enough, the real reason I headed south was to run the Key West Half Marathon with my wonderful cousin Marissa! She had let on earlier this year that she’d started running long distance, and man if I didn’t seize on that like a fly to honey. I got a promo email for the Key West Half, and was like “Girl, want to run this with me??” She kindly obliged, and suddenly I had a reason to up my mileage.

Marissa ran her first half marathon late in 2017, and totally slayed it. I hadn’t run a half in a few years, so honestly I was a little nervous. I needn’t have been. Racing with Marissa was a total blast (and high five on that new PR chica)!

Aubrie and Marissa at the Key West Half Marathon

I spend most of my races on my own. Triathlon – between the drafting rules on the bike course and the complication of three legs and two transitions – the sport doesn’t exactly lend itself to racing with a buddy. This suits me pretty well (I really like my me-time and I do my best thinking while moving), but sometimes it’s nice to have a partner in crime. I don’t know if it’s because I haven’t done a straight running race in a long while, because Marissa is one of the greatest humans you will ever meet, or because I was so happy to in warmer weather, but this race was one of the most fun I’ve ever experienced! All 13.1 (13.2 according to my Strava app) miles were completely joyful.

I’m thrilled to have started 2018 doing something I love with someone I admire so much. I’m jazzed that I’ve got a solid base of running mileage going into triathlon training. I’m dying to get a few more running races into my plan for the year. Running is such a magnificently accessible sport – all you need is a pair of running shoes and the will to put one foot in front of the other – and the running community is so welcoming and wonderful. One of the things I struggle with as a triathlete is that there’s a real barrier to entry for many people. I remember when I first started racing tris, thinking that I was totally out of my depth with all the gear. As I got further into the sport, I’ve struggled with the affordability of access to the right training tools. This race has inspired me to dive back into efforts to make triathlon more accessible. If anyone’s working with organizations, companies, projects with that aim, please let me know. I want to help!

In short, endurance sports are hard, and they can be super intimidating. They’re also extremely gratifying, and if you can find the time to train, almost anyone can pick them up! Whether you’re winning races or closing out the course, completing any endurance race is a feat. It’s such a gift to be able to share the collective goal of finishing a race with a field of hardworking individuals. This weekend reminded me of how wonderful that shared goal can be. If you’re looking for a little extra motivation, I highly recommend grabbing a buddy or joining a club so you can enjoy the journey together. I’m looking forward to finding more opportunities to connect with my fellow athletes of all stripes this year. Can’t wait to see you out there friends!


About the Author Aubrie Fennecken

Aubrie Fennecken is the Chief Alchemist at Opportunity Kitchen | work + wellness strategist | nonprofit fundraising expert | providing productivity and self-care support for mission-driven humans

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