Eight Miles in Valley Forge

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Happy Sunday!  Today I decided to change things up for my long run and venture to Valley Forge National Historic Park to get my eight miles in.  It was overcast and a little breezy, but it didn’t seem too bad.  Once I got parked at the visitor center and on my way, the wind picked up a LOT.  The path leading away from the center was just exposed to hard whipping winds.  I kept plodding along and found that once I got to the lower valleys of the park, the path was nicely protected from the wind and it was really pleasant out.  Still, I made sure to wear gloves which was a good idea.  During my run, I tried to snap some pics of the area.  Unfortunately, everything looks very dead and bare, no real signs of springtime growth yet.

IMAG2438There was a Revolutionary War reenactment/tour going on.

IMAG2439Quite barren looking around mile 2/3.

IMAG2440To get as many miles in without doing the much longer loop of the park, I ended up running past Valley Forge Farm, which I had no idea existed (I live under a rock, clearly).  A little ways ahead was a covered bridge I wanted to check out, but there was a lot of traffic going by and no foot path, so I bagged that idea and doubled back to the main part of the park and continued on.

I ended up getting back to the visitor center with about 1.75 miles to go, so I ran back on the super windy path towards the big monument in the park.  You could see how hard the wind was pummeling the flag flying by the structure.

IMAG2441IMAG2442IMAG2443IMAG2444I passed the same reenactment for a third time (I don’t think anyone noticed) and ta da, long run complete!

IMAG2445I felt really good during the whole run.  Valley Forge Park is a nice challenge because there are some decent hills scattered throughout, so you really get a workout running them.

map15mar15elev15mar15run15mar15All but three of my splits were sub-9:00, which made me pretty happy.  I am feeling very strong in my training so far and am optimistic this is going to result in some good race times in the next couple months!

Track Thursday

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In the past few years I have been running, speed-work has always been something I did on the treadmill (unless I counted soccer games that week).  For the first time, I went to a high school track to take care of my workout.  I know, I know.  Where have I been for the last whatever many years of running?


Dan wanted to do some intervals, but found he was still not 100% to run after recovering from the stomach virus I shared with him (whoops).  He told me to just do my own thing and I decided to tackle the four mile speed-work run on my schedule:

4 Mi: Warm, 2 x 1600 in 7:21 w/ 800 jogs, Cool.

Track translation:  two loops moderate warmup pace (0 – 0.5 mi), four loops hard (0.5 – 1.5 mi), two loops recover (1.5 – 2 mi), four loops hard (2 – 3 mi), two loops recover (3 – 3.5 mi), two loops cooldown (3.5 – 4 mi).

In hindsight, it would have been better to have my Garmin set to 0.5 mi splits instead of the normal 1 mi splits.  Oh well.  I was pretty happy with how my workout turned out.  I had thought that if I wasn’t forcing myself to be at a certain speed for the entire 1600m, a la treadmill, I wouldn’t be able to hold the pace.  Turns out I’m actually just fine holding a faster pace, and often was a little faster than needed.  I consider that a bonus.  Here is the split grab from my Garmin Connect upload:

run12mar15Again, the 0.5 mi breakdown would have been better, but keeping an overall 8:00 pace sounds pretty okay to me.  I felt REALLY good after that run.

I think I’m going to have to add in more track workouts in the future, because that was seriously a lot of fun to try!  And now I can join the rest of the runners who have known this was a thing for ages.

AT&T Back On My Feet 5 Miler Giveaway

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I’m really excited to host a giveaway again this year for the AT&T Back On My Feet 5 Miler!  I hosted a giveaway last year and ran the race, you can see my recap of the event here.  This year there are some new changes and I am happy to be giving away not one, but TWO free race entries!

Before I get into the new things about the race, here are the general stats:

Date: Saturday March 28, 2015
Time:  8:00 AM
Location:  Schuylkill Trail Connector by the Philadelphia Art Museum

Back on My Feet is committed to building a stronger and healthier community. The AT&T Back on My Feet 5-Miler helps to provide support to our services to improve the self-sufficiency of those experiencing homelessness. All proceeds from the race will benefit the local BoMF Philadelphia Chapter.

The 5 mile race takes you out on an out and back from the Art Museum area.  There is most definitely a hill, those of you who run the Philadelphia Half Marathon and Marathon will know this hill very well (it’s the same around mile 9/10).  It’s doable, I promise!

And now the new stuff!  Aside from the regular race, there is also a Kids’ 100m Race that starts at 7:30 AM.  Registration for the kids’ event is $10.  There is also going to be a shoe drive collection at the race, so if you’ve been looking to get rid of some gently worn sneakers, this is a good chance.  And rally your friends to help out because the largest individual donation of shoes gets the donor a free pair of Mizuno running shoes!

Also new are the packet pick-up locations.  Packets can be acquired at the Center City and University City locations of Philadelphia Runner on Friday March 27th from 11am – 7pm.  There is still packet pickup prior to the race start on Saturday.

If you’re going to be in the Philadelphia area the weekend of the 28th and are looking for a good test of how your spring training has been going (especially for the Broad Street Run) this is a great race to run!  The atmosphere is amazing, the camaraderie of the runners electric, and you’re supporting an amazing organization that started right here in Philadelphia.

I am really amped to be giving away two entries into this race!

Ways to Enter:

  • Like the Back On My Feet 5 Miler facebook page to get all the info and updates about the race.  Leave a comment stating you did this.
  • Follow the Back On My Feet 5 Miler race on Twitter and leave a comment.
  • Tweet about the giveaway using the following and leave a comment below linking your tweet:  “I want to win a FREE entry to the @BoMF5Miler from @phillynerdgirl! http://wp.me/p1kM4d-1g7″
  • Leave a comment about what race you are most looking forward to this spring!  :)

The more entries you do the more chance you have of winning one or possibly two of the free spots for the race!  Just remember to leave a comment for each entry you do!  I will be using the random.org number generator to select the winning comments.  I will announce the winner on Wednesday March 18 at 5PM (Eastern time).  Good luck and happy running!! :)

MC Half Training Week 3

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Or as I will call it, the week that wasn’t.  Aside from my two indoor soccer games on Tuesday and Sunday, I got a lunch time run in of 4 miles on Thursday and then that was it for my running.  I’m chalking it up to the fact I was just really poor at time management and fortunately, it’s only week three.  Week four is off to a much better start.

I hauled ass at work yesterday and managed to get home while the sun was still out.  Shocking.  I had planned to do a usual gym run plus weights, but then when I wrapped up at the office I really wanted to get outside.  So, I layered up, turned on the tunes, and set out for an easy-paced jaunt around the neighborhood.

run23feb15The easy pace turned more into a negative splits run.  I was trucking down the last 0.2 miles because a really good song came on.  It felt really good to get outside in the fresh air, even if it was only 20 degrees or so.  Funny enough I am finding I don’t mind running outside in the cold so much as long as my hands are warm.  The first mile it took a bit for them to warm up (even with gloves on), but after that I felt completely into the temps.  It also helped there was a nice sunset going on.

#scenesfrommyrun caught a pretty sunset 👍

A photo posted by Krissie J (@phillynerdgirl) on

I have my first race of 2015 (finally) this Saturday.  My last 5 miler I managed to hold about a 7:59/8:00 pace.  I’m hoping maybe to hit 7:50, but we’ll see.  The legs are feeling good so I’m hopeful.  :)

MC Half Training Week 1

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Week one of my half marathon training for this spring is a wrap and in typical fashion I’ve already made some adjustments to the plan.  I like to think of my training plan as being in a state of constant flux, but as long as I generally get the miles and workouts planned done I’m happy if it’s not perfect.


Here’s the breakdown of my actual workouts for week 1:

Monday – co-ed indoor soccer, 40 min.  I was the only girl so I ended up playing the full 40.  I was TIRED after that game.  We lost, which wasn’t fun but at least I got to play hard the whole game.

Tuesday – Peak Physique chest/triceps workout, 3 mi @ 9:22 pace.  Nice and sweaty after this one.

Wednesday – Peak Physique back/biceps workout, 3 mi tempo run (1 mi @ 6.5 mph, 1 mi @ 7.0 mph, 1 mi @ 6.5 mph).  This was supposed to be 4 miles, but I was crunched for time.

Thursday – I had planned to do my long run during lunch.  Then I thought about the fact that in 24 hours I was going to be on a mountain snowboarding and should probably just not tire my legs out.  It was a good decision.

Friday/Saturday –  Killington, VT!  We drove up Thursday night and stayed in Vermont through Saturday night.  It was a complete blast.  I’d never been to Killington before and loved it.  I was sad I missed out on the really good snow that rolled in Sunday through yesterday, but not everyone would have been able to take off for the first couple days this week.  Oh well.  We got in several hours on some tough trails and I was BEAT after that.  I’m already itching to get back out before the season winds down.


Sunday – ladies’ indoor soccer, 33 min of playtime.  We kicked butt and I had a really good night rotating between midfield and defense.  Second half of the winter season is off to a great start!

Total miles:  6
Total workout minutes:  a LOT.

Jingle Bell Jog 5K

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I didn’t end up putting my racing shoes away for the rest of the year when I finished the Philly half marathon.  I am on Bryn Mawr Running Co’s email list and got a message in my inbox about upcoming races, one of which was local, fairly small, and, honestly, the age group times from the previous year made it too tempting.  I didn’t care that it wasn’t a big race I’d be potentially placing in, I just wanted to see what I could do.  Plus, a 10:00am start meant I could wake up at a normal hour.  Priorities.

Final race of the year tomorrow! #runchat @runbmrc #jinglebelljog5k

A photo posted by Krissie J (@phillynerdgirl) on

Sunday was fricken cold though.  The temperature was 41, but with the gusty winds it felt like 30.  I wore shorts & my Pro Compression socks because I’m insane and people told me that just looking at me made them feel cold, haha.  I was hoping to get some race photos of me running in the socks but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen, oh well.  To keep warmer before the start, a few of us huddled in the bathroom which provided great wind protection.

The race course begins on the high school track.  You do one loop around then head off to the soccer fields and run two loops around the trail that encircles the fields before heading back to the track for a final loop.  When we started, I was keeping pace for a bit with the group of guys out in front before they started pulling away.  I felt pretty good, but the wind was whipping hard and made breathing not fun.  On the loops I tried to stay as much above 7:30 per mile as I could (thank you trusty Garmin).  My lungs felt like they were bleeding a little, but maybe I’m just a wimp in the cold like that.  After the loops on the running path, I made my way back to the track and was amped when I heard people cheering.  I came up the small hill and pushed it hard to hit the finish in 22:21!

I came out hoping to place in my age group and instead ended up being the first female overall and 9th runner overall!  After I got warmer clothes on, I got some high fives from a few of the other runners.  It felt pretty damn good to be a winner.  I hung out for the awards and got a nice, high school-style trophy and a $15 iTunes gift card.

IMAG1853I’m going to have to make a fun shelf display to hang my race medals and show this off.  I’ve actually got some spiffy ideas forming for how I want to set that up in the teal “Princess Kitty” room.  Stay tuned for that in the future.  ;)

So now I can officially say I am done with races until January.  The 5K is becoming a sweet spot kind of race for me.  I was so happy that even though it was a small race and I had a good chance on placing high, I didn’t slack up on going hard.  I hope 2015 brings me closer and closer to under 20 minutes.  I plan to train and run as hard as I can to get there.


Philadelphia Half Marathon 2014

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Where do I begin with this race?  I signed up to run the Philadelphia Half Marathon several months ago through a charity entry with Back On My Feet.  I ran the race last year but ended up having a bit of a rough time with it.  I enjoyed running through Philly, as always, but the race was just an off one for me (though not enough to take me out of doing any more races, that’s for sure).  So, I signed up and started poking and prodding my friends, coworkers, and family to help me out and donate to my race cause.  I feel a lot of love towards BOMF and wanted to not only hit my fundraising goal, but exceed it.  Through their awesomeness, I actually was hooked up with a pair of Saucony Ride 7’s.  Gore-tex is the official sponsor of the Philadelphia Marathon and offered pairs of shoes incorporating their technology to a handful of people associated with BOMF, including fundraisers.  I was contacted and asked if I’d like a pair to train in and run the race in if everything felt good.  Who could say no?

IMAG1735About a week and a half before race weekend, I hit my goal and once the company matches go in, I’ll have raised over $1000 for BOMF!  That started the excitement of the upcoming race!  I enjoyed having a bigger purpose to just running the race and was happy to not only meet the minimum, but pass it.  I am eternally grateful to the people that helped me get there.

Saturday rolled around and close to lunchtime I made it into the city to go get my packet and say hi to some friends at the expo.  The expo was your usual affair of vendors/speakers with free samples here and there to collect.  I got my bib, shirt, packet, and then grabbed a bite to eat with a friend at Bar-ly in Chinatown (good food and beer at that spot!).  When I got home, I did my usual pre-race prep of laying out all my gear for the morning and making sure all of my gadgets were charged up.  Since I was a “late entry” from being a charity racer (you aren’t fully registered til you hit the minimum), I didn’t have a name printed on my bib.  This was actually great because I could write in whatever name I wanted!  I went with the obvious choice (can’t believe I hated that nickname ages ago).  I wasn’t entirely sure if my outfit would be okay with the weather.  Race time was expecting upper 30s, cloud breaking into sun, and at the finish it would be above 40.  I went with a pair of Nike shorts, a long sleeve Nike top, Pro Compression socks, my Ride 7s, and a Moving Comfort sports bra.


Bright and early on race day I got up, got dressed and put on sweats, readied my gear bag for the check-in, threw some peanut butter on a bagel, downed a 5-Hour Energy shot, and was out the door with a bottle of water for the drive into the city.  My plan was to park in University City near Drexel’s campus (my old haunt) and walk to the start crossing over Spring Garden Street.  There were runners everywhere getting warmed up and heading to the Oval.


I was rushing to get downtown so I could meet up with the rest of the BOMF runners to get a team pic, but trying to find parking in UCity delayed me a bit and I ended up missing the group shot.  Boo.  I made a pit stop in an empty row of porta-pots to pee one last time, took off my sweats and checked my gear bag, then wandered to corrals as the national anthem rang out across the crowd.  It was nearly time!  The parkway was packed and I ended up just hanging in the corral ahead of mine.  I felt a little weird about it, but the crowd was too thick to try to work my way back to where I needed to be.  I felt calm but excited as the first group of elites went off on their way.


We shuffled up to the start and a little after 7:00am we were high fiving Mayor Nutter and running up the parkway.

Miles 0-6: Center City

This part of the course is flatter than flat and full of a lot of people cheering.  I spotted the City Fit Girls cheer group and gave them a shout and a wave before taking off towards Love Park.  The first three miles flew by.  I wasn’t really looking at my watch as I had my sleeves down, but just enjoyed the music I had pumping through my headphones.  The city definitely felt electric!  Running up Columbus Blvd, I tried to keep from weaving too much and just ran what felt good.  I skipped the first water stop as I wasn’t really thirsty yet.  Coming around the bend to head toward South Street, we passed the Sixers cheerleaders and soon a row of fans offering booze and water to anyone that wanted to partake.  The crowd wasn’t really thinning out on the road yet, so I ended up sticking to the outer parts of the turns to get better space.  I got warm enough to pull up my sleeves and checked my Garmin for the first time.  I was averaging just under 8:00 and felt great.  Coming up Chestnut Street, the high buildings messed with the signal and my Garmin drunkenly thought I was running sub-6:00.  I laughed as that was definitely not possible!  I spotted the Back on My Feet cheer group and shouted at them as I passed by.  Nearly halfway through!

Miles 7-10:  University City/West Philly 

This is probably one of my favorite parts of the race.  I went to Drexel for my chemistry degree and running through the campus just gives me such a good vibe.  It was great to see so many students up early cheering for the runners.  I kept my pace steady around the turn onto 34th street and readied myself for the climb.  I slowed a little, but kept driving my knees upward and varied between pushing hard then relaxing a little until we started cresting the hill.  Once we got to the bridge by the zoo, it was a nice downhill jaunt before I readied myself for the next climb.  Lansdowne is no joke.  I’m not sure how it compares to Hospital Hill at the MC Historic Half, but it’s hard work to get up it.  Last year I ran/walked the hill and I was determined to not stop this time around.  I slowed to above 9:00, but kept going and soon the hill was over!  Cresting that hill felt great and I picked it back up again.  I saw some great signs along this stretch and then decided to take a very brief walk break through the water stop just so I wouldn’t slosh it all over my face.  Shortly after came the last downhill towards MLK Drive and the final stretch of the half!

Miles 11-13.1:  West River (MLK) Drive & Finish

I kept my stride short on the downhill to prevent slamming too much on my heels and knees.  I was still feeling really energetic.  I breezed through mile 11 and then finally felt the hills catching up to me halfway through mile 12.  I checked my watch and knew I was making good time.  Even though I was feeling a little fatigued, I made a point to stay as far under 9:00 as I could.  I had a specific time in mind (and not my previous best time for a half) and knew I was close to try to get it.  The Art Museum got closer and closer and soon I was heading up the final small hill.  I had a lot of awe for those runners that would not be joining me to head to the finish, but instead were heading to Kelly Drive to go run another 13 miles.  Maybe one day I’ll be one of them, who knows.  Once I saw the finish line in view, I threw myself into a sprint as much as I could.  I smiled and threw my hand up as I crossed the finish knowing that I had now beaten my fastest time from MC Historic Half just six months ago!

Screenshot_2014-11-23-15-08-55Pumped doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt.  I shaved 7:38 off my time from the spring and came within three seconds of beating my 6’1″ boyfriend’s fastest half marathon time (if only I hadn’t walked that one water stop!!!).  I was beaming!  I met a college/work buddy for some hellos, grabbed the rest of my food, picked up my gear bag and made my way back towards University City.  I stopped to watch the runners making their way past the Art Museum and again sat in awe at those who said they were going to turn left this year.


phillyhalf2014splitsI felt all the happy, post-race feels, hopping on Instagram and Facebook to congratulate every person I saw posting about their race experiences.  I had though the MCHH was going to be my favorite race of 2014 (and onward), but Philly came back and proved why I adore this city so much.  The running group I interact with on Facebook, the awesome people in my life that supported me for this race, the amazing work BOMF and all the charity partners do, the incredible fellow runners on the course, and the kick butt fans that came out to watch all of us on a cold November morning made this the best experience it could have been.  I cannot wait to come back next year.  I’m excited to see what my races in 2015 will bring and how far I can take this little running hobby of mine.  ;)