Marathon Spectating 101

 by Jessica Green
The 2014 Portland Marathon is this weekend which means one Hot Bird is getting ready to race while the other is setting up her cheer strategy. The other day, a friend asked me, "What can I do for [our friend]" who is running the marathon this weekend? That same day, a client told me about how excited she is for her family to be able to come out and support her on race day.  Both of these comments got me thinking about how to be the best supporter to those who are giving it their all on race day. Here's what I came up with.   

Rule #1. Respect the effort. Acknowledge the upcoming race and how much effort your friend or family member has put in for many months for this one particular day. Runners want/NEED to get excited for their race day and what better way to do than by hearing how excited someone else is for them.  

Rule #2. Show up and cheer your heart out! This is so incredibly valuable to runners. There is nothing like knowing your friend or family is waiting for you at mile 19 to help get you through earlier troublesome miles. Bottom line, your cheering makes a HUGE difference. 


Rule #3. If you said you are going to be cheering, don't you dare flake. There's nothing worse than planning to see someone at a certain point in the race and them not being there because, oops, they didn't realize you were counting on them. 

Rule #4. Communicate ahead of time where you will be. This includes a specific point on the course and a specific side of the course.  Most likely, it's the runner that will find you if it's a crowded race, so they need to know where to look. 

Rule #5. Cheer for everyone. Your runner isn't the only person running that day. Since you're already out there, go ahead and cheer everyone else on. We don't care that we don't know you, we just love to hear you cheer. It gets us fired up!

Rule #6. Flair is fun. The Hot Birds LOVE their signs. For bonus points, make one sign for everyone and for your runner(s). You can always reuse them too. 


Rule #7. Avoid the crowds. Some of the hardest miles in longer races are the ones with the least amount of spectators along the course. These places might be a little bit harder to get to, but it's worth the effort for your runner. The other option is to park yourself somewhere in the second half of the race when your runner might need your support the most. For half marathons, we love mile 10. For marathons, mile 19 or 20 is good.  

Rule #8. Avoid saying "you're almost there" or telling runners how much further they have to go. We know exactly how far we have left and it might not feel like we are almost there even if there's only 1 mile left. Instead, just tell us to crush it or that we're looking good. 

Rule #9. Check for road closures. Make sure your spectating plan isn't spoiled by unforseen road closures. Check the race website the day before for road closure information and plan accordingly. Also, plan to arrive well ahead of your runner, so you don't miss them!

Rule #10. Congratulate your runner. Regardless of the outcome, your runner trained hard, showed up on race day and hopefully crossed the finish line. They want to talk about it. Let them. Congratulate them even if you couldn't attend the race. 

For all you runners out there, don't forget to thank everyone around you for supporting you through your training and on race day. 



Giving Back with Citi's Every Step of the Way Program

What have you done lately to give back? So much of running is about focusing on yourself, your goals and how to become a better, healthier runner or self.  It's important to take a step back at least every once and while and focus on the athletic community around you rather than yourself. More specifically, focus on those who are not quite as fortunate as you, or don't have the access that you have or the knowledge that you do. Share your wisdom or your volunteer your time or donate a dollar or two.  

This year, Citi has made giving back as easy and one, two, three with their Every Step of the Way Program ( ). Nine U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes. Nine programs in need. A $500,000 donation from Citi. And they are asking us (as in you) to help decide where it goes with just a click.  While you're deciding how you personally want to give back, find inspiration by learning about each of the programs Team Citi's athlete's support in the video below.  And don't forget to choose which program you want to support too!

This post was created in partnership with Citi®. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Interview with a Runner

This week's runner is Carolyn Hagen. Originally from New Jersey, she now lives in Hell's Kitchen with her fiance and English Bulldog. After Sandy sidelined her first full marathon goals last fall, she set her sights on the NYC Half Marathon shaving off 34 minutes from her time last year. With a new half PR behind her, she's getting ready to take on the NJ Marathon this spring for her first full marathon ever! 

When did you start running and why?
Last year, living by the West Side Highway I saw a ton of runners so I figured I would give it a try! However, to get myself committed to running I signed up for a race so I would have a goal to work towards . . . the goal was NYC Half Marathon because that's what most people do when they decide they want to start running, right? Oh and my fiancee is an avid runner.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
Don't over train and listen to your body - this whole running thing is supposed to be fun and release stress, not something to cause stress.

What are your current running goals? Are you training for anything? 
NJ Marathon on May 5th - 1st marathon ever!

What/who inspired or inspires you to run?
My fiancee - Ironically, he likes to run alone so that means I run alone. I enjoy it though because I can zone out and listen to music.

Favorite way to sweat other than run?
It used to be hot yoga but due to training I've scaled back - so regular yoga is now my fave!

What is your favorite running workout?
Weirdly enough it's the long runs - I like to know I'm about to accomplish something major and it feels phenomenal when it's completed.

Interview with a Runner

What can we say about Rob? He's funny, witty, convinced an awesome girl to marry him, runs, is really good at stick figure drawings and oh, likes to complain about things. He lives in Tribeca NY and plans to get famous via the internet. He's a recovering lawyer who tutors High School kids. He's a 3 time NYC Marathon deferrer - we are getting him to run it this year - look out 2013! Check out his blog and Facebook page for insights and laughs.

How do you know us - Hot Bird Running?
I own a BBQ Chicken establishment in Brooklyn, NY.  Every day, Meghan and Jessica run by and wave.  I thought we were friends.  In 2010, they stole the name of my business and used it as their own.  I recently initiated a high stakes law suit to bar them from diluting the "Hot Bird" brand.

OK, fine. I went to Hamilton College with them. (note from the Hot Birds - and he thinks our biz name is VERY clever!)

What are your current running goals? Are you training for anything?
A HORRIBLE toe injury put me on the shelf for several months. It happened during a yoga class. I'd share pictures with you, but I put them on facebook and a lot of people flipped out. Apparently feet pictures are a "thing" for some people (not in a good way).

Now that I have recovered enough to run with only mild pain, my running goals are:

a) Run at least 2 days per week;

b) Increase to 3 days per week after I complete goal "a" once; and

c) Run the NYC Marathon (I’m now a three time deferrer).  I just can’t get over how hot it gets in August.  I sweat a lot.  Everyone’s all like “Oh, you just have to run at 5 am.  It’s not so hot then.  Yeah, it’s not so hot, but it’s 5 am.  That’s insane.  No one does that.  Plus, it’s still hot.  And 18 miles is really far. 

Who or what inspires you to run?

What is your favorite running route/place to run?
The bagel run I do every weekend morning.

Who is your favorite person to run with and why? 

I love to run with other people.  So if I picked a specific favorite, I'd have to deal with “how come you don’t like running with me the most??????” conversations.  I don’t want that.

Instead, here is a list of characteristics of my ideal running buddy, taken from actual traits that I admire in runners.  

An ideal running partner: 

-        Talks A LOT.  Like non-stop.  

If I have to do the talking, then I get winded too fast.  Then I get tired and want to stop.  So I like to run with someone who does all the talking for me. Like a live podcast.  

 One friend literally recounts stories from the New Yorker to me on long runs.  Why is that great?  Because every one else hates reading the New Yorker and doesn’t have the patience to slog through a whole 30-page article.  When a friend takes the time to read it, AND remember the fun details, AND tell them to me like a little story, I almost forget how hot I am on mile 2.  It’s like running with Malcolm Gladwell.

- Is faster than I am, but only a smidge.

If your friend is too fast, then you feel like an ass for ruining their run.  If they are way slower than you are, then you get antsy.  So the ideal running partner runs a little faster, but not so fast that you have to tug the back of her shirt when she pulls ahead.  

Running with someone faster means that sometimes I get tired and huffy puffy and bitch a lot.  But it also means that when we train together, I’m forced to work harder than I probably want to, which isn't a bad thing and gives me plenty to complain about at the time.  

- Doesn’t let me stop when I want to.

I warn everyone up front that I'm going to complain a lot.  The best running partners tolerate my complaints, but do nothing to accomodate them.  

Like when we're running and there's a big hill, I’d be all, “this is hard, I don’t want to go up that hill, I’m tired, Running is stupid, can’t we just stop, I hate you, why did you make me do this, it’s 5 am in the morning and August, I’m sweating so much, did my heart just stop beating?  I think it did, do I look pale?  Why aren’t you sweating?”  

The ideal running partner just says, "Shut up, Rob."  

Then I shut up and berate my running partner in my head.  When I finish my imaginary rant, we’d be at the top of the hill and I’d say, “That was easy.”  We'd laugh.  Then I’d collapse and an ambulance would pick me up.  It was fun for everyone.

- Is organized and motivated.  

I won't negotiate how far we’re going to run, what time we’re going to run, or where we’re going to run.  But if someone else has a plan, I'll just do it.  It's especially helpful when someone else puts together a calendar and emails it to me. 

But the best running partners never cancel.  Once someone cancels, then it's allowed.  I try to come up with any excuse I can muster to get out of a run if I'm feeling lazy.  If the other person has never canceled on me, then I know I can't cancel because I'll get in trouble.  However, once there's been a cancellation, it becomes allowed and expected.  Like stopping at a water table during a race.  If you go by the first ten tables without stopping, you don't think about water.  Once you stop and drink and your legs take a break and realize how magical it feels to stop and rest, then ever water station becomes a little panacea of awesomeness. 

-  Carries one of those idiotic looking fanny backs with water.

My friend Jess does this.  I didn't want to mention names, but she wears one of those tool belt things and it looks ridiculous and I mock her for it relentlessly.  Goddamnit, though, I love that thing when I'm thirsty and she lets me have a sip.

What is the best piece of running advice you ever received and who was it from?
In 1980, my dad ran the NYC Marathon in 3hr 19min (suck it, Meghan). I was two. To commemorate my dad's race, my mom bronzed one of his disgusting, smelly sneakers. My friends thought it was stupid to have a golden shoe in the living room.

So when I first started running, and was feeling particularly lazy and unmotivated, my good friend Ryan said, “Hey, if your dad can run a marathon in that heavy bronze shoe, you can do half in those shitty Brooks. So I did.






 What is your favorite running gear/piece of clothing?
Body Glide. Second favorite is this hideous yellow Fred LeBow shirt (the combination of the mustard yellow and the face picture is a real winner):


Best 80's Running Songs for Your Playlist this Fall


Neon pinks, yellows, greens and oranges of the 80's are popping up everywhere in the running world from neon clothing to neon running shoes.  Polish off your brights with our totally 80's playlist guaranteed to get your neon moving!

  1. Just Like Heaven – The Cure   Listen

  2. 9 to 5 – Dolly Parton   Listen

  3. And She Was – Talking Heads   Listen

  4. Billie Jean – Michael Jackson   Listen

  5. Like a Virgin – Madonna   Listen

  6. Don't Stop Believin' – Journey   Listen

  7. I Wanna Dance With Somebody  – Whitney Houston   Listen

  8. You Can Call Me Al – Paul Simon   Listen

  9. Need You Tonight – INXS   Listen

  10. Dancing With Myself – Billy Idol   Listen

  11. If I Could Turn Back Time – Cher   Listen

  12. Upside Down – Diana Ross   Listen

  13. Come On, Let's Go – Los Lobos   Listen

  14. Centerfield – John Fogerty   Listen

  15. You Shook Me All Night Long – AC/DC   Listen

  16. Take on Me – A-ha   Listen

  17. Girls Just Want to Have Fun – Cindi Lauper   Listen

  18. 867-5309/Jenny – Tommy Tutone   Listen

ENJOY while running or whenever!  The 80s will never let you down!


Wellness Wednesday

Stress is all around us. That's why it is important to take time out and relax. A run is a great way to disconnect and feel free. We recommend one more step - stopping and breathing. You can call it meditation or you can just call it a relaxing few minutes. The point is to stop, close your eyes and take deep breaths.

We recommend taking 5 minutes in the morning or at lunch to stop and breath. Sit in a comfortable position (or lie down), close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Count your inhalations and your exhalations. So, on the inhale, count (1,2,3) as you inhale and then count (1,2,3) as you exhale. It's okay if your mind wanders, keep coming back to the breath.

Even if you can only do it for 1 minute today, take the time. Your body and mind will thank you. Happy Wednesday!