Meet Krissie J., the self-described “nerdy chick” behind Phillynerdgirl. When she isn’t hard at work doing biochemical analysis, you’ll find her running the streets of Philadelphia, enjoying some craft brews or snowboarding at the nearest mountain. She recently took part in the Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon in Philadelphia, and we sat down with her to get her tips on running a race and what cause pushes her to the finish line.
1. Why did you first start running?
A friend of mine was getting into running and mentioned it. I was a couple years out of college and looking to get into exercising and moving more. Running seemed the simplest way to start. All I needed was a good pair of running shoes and I was good to go!
2. What’s the best part about running?
There are so many awesome things about running. Physically, I feel better, happier and calmer after a good run. Then, there is the community. The running community of Philadelphia is one of the best and most supportive groups of people I’ve ever encountered. I continue to train for races for the camaraderie aspects of talking and running with other people as passionate as I am, as well as trying to improve my time for each distance. Setting a goal and then achieving it motivates me in all areas of my life and gives me something to work towards when I might be having an off day.
3. What’s the hardest thing about training?
Finding the time! Some races are easier to schedule time for than others, but long runs for half marathons or full marathons take some planning. I’ve only ever had to tackle a half (so far!), but you have to be sure you plan your long runs on days that make sense and don’t do anything the day or night before to throw off that plan. Sometimes, that means staying in on a weekend night to be able to get up early to fit in the run, but you find a way to make it happen.
4. Why the Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon Series in Philly?
The race is flat and fun. I love running through the city streets and the music and crowd along the way keep you going. The race is big, but you don’t feel overwhelmed. Plus, the course being flatter than many other races means you can really try hard for a fast time. The first time I ran this race in 2011, the winner set a course record for the US. Hearing that happened in a city I adore was amazing and uplifting!
5. What is one training tip you’d share with novice runners who may be running their first Rock ‘n’ Roll race?
Don’t go crazy with eating the day and night before the race! I’ve made a few mistakes eating the wrong thing (heartburn at 3 a.m. is no fun) the night before and keep my meals that day simple. For any half marathon, using your long runs to test out pre-race fueling is a good practice. You’ll work out any issues before race day!
6. What cause are you passionate about and why?
I discovered the charity Back on My Feet (BOMF) earlier this year when they asked me to host a giveaway for a race they held halfway to the IBX Broad Street Run. I was happy to host and did some reading on their mission. Their approach to helping Philadelphians experiencing homelessness touched me so much I decided to become a “fundracer” for the Philadelphia Half Marathon for the Philly chapter of BOMF. There are so many great causes out there that it is hard to pick which one to support, but this one inspired me so much. The members’ stories and the difficulties they have overcome through the running program are amazing and heartwarming. They demonstrate the resilience this city’s people have.
7. How did supporting a cause enhance your training experience?
When I am out there doing my runs, I know there are members and volunteers with BOMF depending on the efforts of all of the fundracers and donors to help their mission and goals. I hope to also participate in a group run they host. When you don’t feel like lacing up those sneakers to get out for a run, you think about the people going through so much and it inspires you to move and to help out.
8. If someone is visiting from out of town for the Rock ‘N’ Roll marathon, what would you recommend they see and do while in Philadelphia?
Oh, this list could become overwhelming! Aside from the main historic attractions, there are so many great things to do in Philadelphia! Here’s a great site to check out that will break it all down by neighborhood. I often use it even as a local! My favorite spots in the city tend to focus on craft beer: Eulogy, Bierstube, Monk’s Cafe, Race Street Cafe, Yards Brewery, etc. I highly recommend spending some time just people watching in Rittenhouse Park. It’s my favorite in the city!
9. What race day prep would you recommend to first time runners?
The night before a race, I lay out all of the gear I need to speed up getting ready in the morning: clothes, shoes, socks, any tech stuff like my Garmin watch, my bib with pins at the ready, directions. I eat a mix of carbs and protein that won’t make me feel too full but will provide energy for the run. And hydrate! Being dehydrated the morning of a race is the worst!
10. Why did you start your blog, Phillynerdgirl?
I started my blog a few years ago around the same time I really started to get into running and exercising more. I wanted a place to share any progress and pitfalls that I had, check out potential recipes and just share my passion for fitness and health. I knew a few other bloggers and, now, my network has expanded greatly. It’s great to say you’re traveling somewhere and get in touch with fellow bloggers who may know a great running route or spot to visit in their home areas.
11. What’s your favorite part about blogging?
Connecting with people who share your passions. When you’ve had a rough run and post about it, the encouragement and support from fellow runners is incredible. I’ve made some great friends and running buddies through my blog and continue to find new people and things to connect about!