New York City Marathon Training- Week 2

After training all winter through a Polar Vortex for Boston, I promised myself I would not complain once about training in the heat for New York.

And I won’t.

Because we haven’t had any.

As a runner, I’m beyond thrilled with the 60 degree highs predicted for the foreseeable future.

As a woman who lives on the beach, I stare at my favorite lounging spot with a longing I haven’t felt since I tried giving up coffee for a month.

Summer classes means two hour dates with my iPad and my beach chair. It's lovely.

Summer classes means two hour dates with my iPad and my beach chair. It’s lovely.


Monday brought me to week 2 of training for NYCM and I must say I am feeling mentally better and physically stronger with each run. I’m still not as fast as I’d like to be, but I’m not concerning myself with that right now. I’m finishing every run feeling like I could keep going, and I’m meeting the goals of each workout.

I still don't like that workouts done on different days are not green. It saddens my OCD.

I still don’t like that workouts done on different days are not green. It saddens my OCD.


Wednesdays and Fridays are my 2 job days, so I move each of those runs to Thursday and Sunday. This Monday I ran three easy miles as a recovery from Saturdays 5-mile “long run”.

Tuesday brought me to my second ever attempt at a Fartlek. I decided to go for a treadmill run because it would be easier to time my two minutes as well as up/decline the speed as needed. I wanted to make sure there was a significant increase in pace- that it didn’t just feel significant.

I’m terrible at gauging my speed on my own. There are some days I feel sluggish and still come in at my normal 10:20/miles, and other days I feel like I’m breaking land speed records only to have my voiceover inform me that last mile took me nearly 11:30. The safety net of the treadmill at least allows me to not have to question myself or slow down by looking at my arm every 30 seconds.

Turns out, treadmill was the way to go. I Fartleked. This is not a word. I know, squiggly red line. Stop mocking me. 

Yay for intervals!

Yay for intervals!


I felt amazing for the rest of the day and all night at work. I finally started feeling like a runner again.

Until Wednesday morning.

Ouch. My legs were not used to two 5 mile runs in 4 days. I should apologize to them for the shock.

Knowing how sore I was yesterday I was slightly nervous before heading out this afternoon for todays 3 “easy miles” . My only solace came when reading the description of the run my favorite line appeared: “When in doubt, just slow down!”

Turns out, I didn’t need to slow as much as I was worried I’d have to. It wasn’t a fast run, but it was a comfortable one with a walk break after the big hill at 1.25miles. I’m ok with it for this stage of training.

Wan't perfect, but I'll take it.

Wan’t perfect, but I’ll take it.


Walking in I expected Buster to offer his usual greeting of slobber and jumping. Instead, I found this.


Asleep on the bed, snuggled with Hank- His English Bulldog beanie baby. This is what love looks like.

Asleep on the bed, snuggled with Hank- His English Bulldog beanie baby. This is what love looks like.

And then I joined them.


What fall races is everyone training for right now? Who will I be seeing in New York? Comment and let me know so we can be friends. Friends are the best. 




Lucky Run

Not every run comes naturally. Some days I have to force myself out the door with promises of wine, chocolate or some other self-indulgent activity as a reward for my efforts.

Yesterday was one of those days.

I had moved Wednesdays run to Thursday because I was working both jobs and wanted to not feel rushed during my second training run of the cycle. After working a tournament at the golf course I headed home, feeling slightly tired but overall ready to log some miles.

Then the rain started.

Then I walked in the door to discover the dog had destroyed the house. Again.

I'm trying to convince myself we won't need to invest in child locks for a dog.

I’m trying to convince myself we won’t need to invest in child locks for a dog.

By the time I’d cleaned up and laced up I really was NOT feeling a rainy, unseasonably cold run. I played the excuse game in my head for a few minutes…

I can run on Sunday and still meet my weekly mileage. 

I mean, a 24 week training schedule is kind of excessive anyways. Maybe I’ll switch to a 22-week plan. 

I want wine. 

And peanut butter. 

Why don’t they make peanut butter flavored wine? Nevermind, that would be gross. That’s what ice cream frappes are for. Mmmmmm…frappe….

Eventually I realized that the longer I sat, the later I’d finish my run and the colder I’d be. Somewhat begrudgingly, I told Buster to behave and I’d be back soon.

And off I went…

By the time I was out of my driveway I already felt better about life and this training cycle. Rounding out the park I realized how lucky I am to get such a beautiful view on my run, how thankful I’ll be for the ocean breeze come August and how important even the little runs really are.

Making my way up the hill at the one mile marker I felt strong ready to kick it up a bit. Then something in the grass along the cliff caught my eye.

Just random money. In the grass. In the middle of no where.

Just random money. In the grass. In the middle of no where.

I walked over and realized it was $24, just laying in the grass. I looked down at the beach, searching for walkers who may have dropped it on their way over to the stairs. Not a soul. I called Jim.

B: “Honey, I just found $24 on the ground”

J: “In the yard?”

B: “No, on my run along the cliff. What do I do?”

J: “What do you mean?”

B: “Well, who do I call to turn it in?”

J: “Seriously? It’s $24, you didn’t find buried treasure. If no one’s around, it’s yours. This is a finders keepers situation.”

As I started the last two miles back to the house, I started thinking of just how lucky I am. Not lucky to be $24 richer (though it certainly didn’t hurt my mood), but lucky in so many ways. I found the love of my life at 23 and we’re getting married. I’m generally in great health. I live along the prettiest running route I’ve ever seen. Yeah, life is good.

Today will be another 3 miles, trying to make mile 3 the fastest of the run.

Right on track so far.

Right on track so far.

Tomorrows long run is 5 miles. For the first time in a really long time, I’m excited for a long run. I’m not looking at it like something I have to do, but something I’m really looking forward to. I won’t say it’s the highlight of my long weekend, but it’s certainly up there.

One more quick thing before I check out for the weekend- It’s Memorial Day. The Armed Services (especially the Marine Corps) are especially close to my heart, so I ask that everyone take a moment this weekend and thank a member of the military if you can. If you can’t, salute a flag. Attend a parade. Buy a veteran a drink. Just be grateful.

Have an amazing long weekend, everyone!

Anyone starting or already into a training schedule? What’s your long run looking like this weekend? Have cooler plans? Let me know!

Why I’m Sweating For The Wedding

As I’ve probably mentioned once or twice around here, I’m in the midst of wedding planning. My life went from all things running, health and school related to suddenly being expected to know the difference between every possible type of bridal veil and knowing with all certainty since the age of 5 which one was my “dream”. Needless to say, it’s been a bit of a process over here.

To help introduce myself to the world of all things bridal I have read some of the obligatory blogs and signed up for a newsletter here and there. Lately, there have been a lot of articles about women who are choosing to not adhere to a diet or exercise plan leading up to their big day. These articles go on and on with their endless praise for these women, calling them “brave” and that it’s so “courageous of them” to not have been “duped by the media ideal” and try to fit into that size-smaller-than-normal dress.

More and more, these articles are placing pity women who do want to diet and exercise in the months leading up to their wedding. Us poor souls who clearly cannot think for ourselves and instead must be comparing ourselves to models in bridal magazines. We strive for an unrealistic ideal and must be taught that trying to “change” for our wedding days is simply an unconscious attempt to please our men. WE ARE THE ENEMY OF FEMINISM AND MUST BE STOPPED.  

Well, I am changing my diet and exercise routine for my wedding. Yes, I would like to lose around 5-10lbs and tone my arms. And no, I’m not doing it so my future husband will love me just a little bit more.

I won’t pretend this is a quest without vanity. Wedding pictures have a place in your home forever, and I’d like to look at that photo every day and see the best version of myself. But let me be clear when I say that “best” does not mean “skinniest”.

Your wedding is the start of a new phase of your life. It is where you become someones wife, a permanent member of their family.  Your newly wed days are an exciting time in life, and I want to feel my absolute best for them. Do I want to look great naked on my honeymoon, too? Yeah. I do. I’m not ashamed of that.

A healthy diet and exercise routine are parts of a healthy lifestyle. They are pieces of your day that you (should) do for just yourself. In the midst of wedding planning it’s easy to get caught up in what everyone else wants. Your mother-in-law wanting to make sure cousins you haven’t spoken to in 10+ years are invited. Your bridesmaid who wants to wear THAT dress, not the one everyone else agreed on. Your mother wanting to wear “Winter White”. Ok, that one was my mom and it was worthy of a fight. She’s back on the navy train. Thank God.

The point is you spend hours trying to make everyone else happy when you could be focusing on making yourself happy. It’s a proven fact healthy people are happier. I’m not saying women should sign up for a vigorous work-out schedule that makes them miserable. What I am saying is that maybe there’s something beneficial to feeling a little endorphin based boost in your day when your days are often full of a lot of needless drama.


Over the next 5+ months you’re going to hear about wedding workouts and lighter recipes I’m cooking. Do not pity me. Do not feel as if I’ve been duped. If you are a bride who doesn’t want to work out, that’s great. I love that more women are embracing their natural shapes and not going through dangerous lengths to try and meet an unrealistic goal. So skip that workout! Just don’t judge those of us who won’t. 

New York City Marathon Training: A Fresh Start

This weekend I decided to take off from workouts all together. I knew my NYCM training started on Monday, so I wanted to enjoy my last weekend without a long run to it’s fullest potential. I also had a ton of wedding stuff to do, so that occupied most of my time.

First, I met up with my brother (aka Man of Honor) at the wedding venue for lunch and a few drinks. We hadn’t seen each other in about a month, which is completely unacceptable  by our standards, so it was nice to relax and catch up. The pretty drinks only made things better.

My happy place.

My happy place.

After lunch we went out on the boat for a quick ride and pretended it felt like summer. It’s been nice, but not summer-ish. Considering the awful Polar Vortex winter we all just suffered through I think we deserve some serious summer weather sooner rather than later. So we took the boat out with Jim, Buster and Buster’s girlfriend Sage. They loved it. In fact, they were so happy they tried to run away together. Thankfully Jim caught them before they got too far off the dock.

Such a sweet couple.

Such a sweet couple.


Bonnie and Clyde wannabes. Thankfully Jim caught up with them.

Bonnie and Clyde wannabes. Thankfully Jim caught up with them.


Sunday was more wedding errands, wrapping up the registry and trying on wedding bands. It’s kind of surreal every time we go do these grown up wedding things, but they’re getting more and more fun as the planning goes on.

And then it came. Yesterday was the day. My training for the New York City Marathon officially began!

With a rest day.


Day 1: Rest. I can do that.

Day 1: Rest. I can do that.



Yeah, it was the most anti-climactic start to anything I’d ever experienced. So waking up this morning, knowing today I’d get to RUN… I was excited to say the least. As I’ve said before, I’m using the 24-week Nike+ Marathon Training Plan. I like it not only because it lays out your workouts in a very easy to digest fashion, but also gives you day by day workout detail, encouraging voice overs during your run and compares your runs to each other for you.


I giggle when I read "Fartlek". I'm a grown up.

I giggle when I read “Fartlek”. I’m a grown up.


One update I’d really like to see is a voice over after the 1-mi warm-up that times your two minute intervals for you. I know my opinion is SO important to the Nike+ developers, so I’ll expect this in the next update. Thank you in advance.

I’m working on moving my workouts to earlier in the morning to ensure they are done before anything can disrupt my day and force me to miss a workout. I work at the restaurant Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Friday nights (sometimes more) and since my classes for the summer semester are online, I picked up a day job a couple days a week at a local golf course to help pay for the wedding. I’ll be the girl driving around the golf cart full of beer. This new gig requires me to bring at least one book and my iPad to “keep myself entertained” and my uniform is Yoga pants. Something tells me I’m going to like this new job just fine.

Since I had no day job today I made it a point to be out of the house by 9:30 for my run. With the summer months approaching 9:30 will probably be the latest I can get out for my run without serious risk of heat stroke, dehydration or terrible sports bra tan lines. I chugged half of my coffee chased with a pint glass full of water, hit the bathroom then was out of the house.

Coach Nike insisted I go easy for the first mile so I went out feeling comfortable but somewhat restrained. I kept telling myself this was day 1, no need to burn myself out just yet. By the time the nice Nike lady came over my headphones to tell me I’d completed the first mile I was ready to ramp it up.

Mistake 1: I forgot to switch back to slow after the first two minutes. Again, this is where the whole “Two minutes are done, rein it in, Byron” voice over would help. 9-minutes later I was told I’d hit mile two. Oops.


Mile 2 was no supposed to be the speediest. At least not by that much.

Mile 2 was no supposed to be the speediest. At least not by that much.

Miles three and four were extra slow to make up for the extra push I’d given at mile 2. Not a perfect Fartlek, but for my first I’m at least proud I managed to change up the pace. I’ve always gone out for runs and just run. Sometimes there was a time goal, but most of the time it was just to hit a distance and be done with it. I like the change up and having a new purpose for every run.

Hitting the 4 mile mark felt great. I felt like I’d gotten in a workout, but didn’t feel drained. I easily could have kept going for another couple miles, which was how I had hoped I’d feel today.

I walked through the front door beaming with excitement about a training cycle starting off so well. Buster was very happy for me.

He celebrates with naps.

He celebrates with naps.


A strong run was exactly what I needed to feel confident about trying 26.2 again. I know there will be terrible days mixed in with these great ones, but I’m excited to feel this great a few more times before November 2.


Who else is taking the long approach to NYCM training? Any veterans of the race out there to offer me amazing advice? Or at least tell me if bus or ferry is a better option for getting to the start. That would be great. 

A Few Good Runs

The Spring semester is over.

I have been waiting to say that since January. It feels amazing to finally have one of the hardest semesters of my grad school program under my belt and a 3.7 GPA to boot.

With all the free time on my hands in the past couple days, I’ve been pretty productive.

My desk made the transition from academia to wedding planning.

Welcome to wedding planning headquarters. Assistant wanted.

Welcome to wedding planning headquarters. Assistant wanted.


The guest room is cleaned and ready for summer occupants (aka my brother- he claimed the guest room when Jim and I moved in).

Little (much bigger) brother. AKA "Man of Honor"

Little (much bigger) brother. AKA “Man of Honor”

Buster has been going on lots of long walks and getting plenty of outdoor time, enjoying the beautiful weather.

He loves being outside, but I think he's more of a sunbather than a runner.

He loves being outside, but I think he’s more of a sunbather than a runner.

And, of course. I’ve been running.


My New York City Marathon training schedule starts on Monday. After too many hours researching different plans by different coaches I’m told I should have heard of; I went for the 24-week beginner training schedule via the Nike+ Running app. I like it  because it’s a 5 run/week plan and it eases you into the high mileage pretty gradually. With Boston not going so well I want to make sure I am cautious about building my mileage and safely build my body back up to where it should be. Sounds logical, right?

I have gone out on my past few runs with no specific goals in mind. I simply want to build my mileage up and feel comfortable along my normal route so when the training officially starts on Monday I don’t feel tired and sore week one. Something tells me that’s not the best way to start off a 24-week routine.

Overall, my past few runs have been slow, but they’ve felt easy and they’ve been consistent. Consistency has always been a struggle for me so I’m taking this as a good thing: I know my starting point for this training cycle so I can gauge what’s “Pushing it” and what’s an “easy run” more easily.

This was Friday:


Slow and steady

Slow and steady

There was nothing notable about this run other than the view and gorgeous weather. Every time I run my neighborhood am I still impressed by the view at least once or twice. I really hope that never goes away.


Then there was Monday…



A little slower than Friday and my legs were sore, but I wrote that off to a crazy weekend at work and an absurd amount of daily steps logged to FitBit lately. Calfs were tight but it wasn’t anything concerning. The big hill and I cursed at each other, but I came out on top. So suck it, hill.


And yesterday:



Pretty much the exact same as Monday. A little tight, pretty slow and overall non-noteworthy.


The key about these runs is while they had their faults, I never felt bad or tired during any of them. Yes, my legs were a little tight or sore, but my breathing never got tight and I never felt “done” at any point. For 2.5-3.5 miles this shouldn’t be an accomplishment, but sometimes it is. When I come off a bad training cycle or a bad race sometimes the mental takes over the physical and I can feel defeated pretty quickly.

I’m not doing that this time.

New York is a new race for me. This isn’t the third repeat of the same training schedule for the same race that’s broken my heart three times. New York races and I love each other. Every March I give up my St. Patricks day weekend in Massachusetts simply to run a few laps in Central Park in the freezing cold for the NYC Half. We’re good to each other.

So that’s about all you’ve missed in my life over the past week. I can’t wait to start the training program next week and really get into a full 26.2 regimen again. Yoga is going to be a big part of it, and so will spin classes.

But we’ll get to that. For now I need to go stop Buster from eating that Save the Date he’s been eyeing on the counter.


What runs feel the best for you? Is it your normal running route or changing it up to a new city? Advice for speed work workouts that won’t make me want to cry? Or will want to make me cry but in the awesome way? Let’s hear it. 




The Anti-Bride

You know when you’re in Junior High and you talk to your friends about what your dream husband would be like?

Sadly, Jessica Biel claimed Justin Timberlake before we had a chance to meet and ride away in his Bentley. Luckily, I found my present-day Prince Charming at a motocross track a few years back and so I didn’t mind too much when she officially became Mrs. Timberlake.

I get to be Mrs. Kooienga.

Clearly I win for amazing last name. Or last name that gets misspelled/pronounced incorrectly/laughed at most often. Usually some combination of the three.

In case I had any hope of this not being the case, Jim and I went to start our registry at Crate and Barrel a few weeks ago. We both find the whole idea of a registry very awkward. It’s basically telling your friends and family “Hey, thanks for being happy for us. Show us just how happy by buying us things!”

Too much power for one couple.

Too much power for one couple.

As we were signing up for the registry the nice sales lady needed to collect our basic information.

Sales Lady: Sir, your last name?

Jim: Kooienga. K-o-o-i-e-n-g-a.

Sales Lady: I’m sorry, how do you pronounce that?

Jim: Ko-in-ga

Sales Lady: (turns to me) Oh honey, you’re taking that?

Me: Well, I can’t ask the kids to if I won’t. 

After Jim settling down and deciding not to cause a scene at a busy store on a Sunday afternoon we went about our registry the best we knew how. Which, it turns out, was not at all. Again we found ourselves very overwhelmed with the options and protocols and just how many sets of dishes and glassware adults are supposed to keep in their home. Eventually we registered for about 6 items and got the heck out of there.

Jim decided he should be in control of the gun. He didn't give me a reason, he just said "I should be in charge". Ok, 12 year old.

Jim decided he should be in control of the gun. He didn’t give me a reason, he just said “I should be in charge”. Ok, 12 year old.

This happens with basically every wedding related task we’ve completed. The first run we go in with high hopes then feel overwhelmed by the process, go home, collect ourselves and go back  for a wildly successful round two a week later.

There are certain aspects of it I enjoy, like scheduling cake testing. Yes, I would like to come to your bakery and sample your cakes. All of them. And all the icings. Perhaps some toppings and fillings too. You know what, just have it all ready, I want options.

Then there are the not-so-fun parts. Like explaining to family members why certain people aren’t invited. Or being asked to pick out EVERYONE’s wardrobe. I love great-aunt so and so, but I could honestly care less what she wears. No, there is not a wardrobe theme I would like the guests to abide by. I did not know that was a thing.

Please stop being a thing.

I don’t want it to seem like I’m not excited to be getting married. I love Jim more than I ever thought I’d love another person and cannot wait to be his wife. I love that our closest family and friends will be there to celebrate with us. And yes, even the idea of wearing a super pretty dress and getting dolled up for the evening has grown on me. I won’t pretend the idea of being the center of attention has grown on me. That still creeps me out, but I’ll deal with that the day of. Have I mentioned I was the girl at Klienfelds that actually ducked when the cameras came around? Ducked, like I thought if I was down low in a wedding dress they couldn’t see me. I’ll share that one later, but I think it makes the point of how little I enjoy the idea of being the center of attention. 

Pretty dresses. Lots of cameras.

Pretty dresses. Lots of cameras.

Generally after we get home from round one of whatever task we’ve taken on, my first order of business is to lace up and go out for a run. I’ve found myself turning to running more and more during this wedding planning process. As the girl who always wanted to elope I never planned on finding myself in the situation of planning a wedding. I also never thought I’d be a runner. Running reminds me that people change and situations change and you have to go with whatever makes you happy.

Boston certainly wasn’t the race I had hoped for but it has brought me back to a place where I’ve rediscovered the basic joy I find in running. Yesterday I took Buster out for a walk along my usual running route and couldn’t help but just be a little slap-happy about the nice weather and the fact that I’ll be running outdoors every day from now until November.

Yes, many of those runs will be training runs for the New York City Marathon.

Many of those runs will also be just because I feel like it.

We have to do what makes us happy in life. In 5 months it will be wearing a pretty dress and saying some nice words to Jim in front of a lot of people.

Today, it’s going for a run.