portland marathon

Race Week Tips

With the Portland Marathon this Sunday and many other marathons and half marathons scattered throughout the rest of this month and into November, it's time to get serious about race week prep. Surprise - it's not all about running!
Here are a few tips and strategies for your race week and on race day:

  1. Sleep. Go to bed a bit earlier this week. Shut off the computer and the TV and give yourself a few extra hours of rest. The two nights before the half marathon is when quality sleep matters the most. You’ll most likely be too amped up the night before the race to sleep well or for very long anyway.
  2. Rest. If an injury is starting to flare up, take a few extra days off instead of worrying about getting your final runs in. Your primary goal this week is to do everything possible to get your body feeling fresh and ready to run on race day. Your fitness is already established, so any running at this point isn't going to get you in better shape for race day.
  3. The Expo. Race expos are fun and it’s a great way to check out new gear and products. Take advantage of the bargain prices but never, ever wear anything that you bought at the expo on race day. Stick with what you know! The same goes for the food samples, buy some to try after the race but don’t eat anything new on race day. Also, avoid eating too many of the free samples of sports drink and energy foods – you don’t know how they will react with your stomach.
  4. The Day Before. Either walk around for 20-30 minutes or jog for 2 miles. Avoid spending hours at the expo. Get home, put your feet up and rest!
  5. Race Morning. Aim to drink about 16 oz of water the morning of the race (about 2 hours before). This is enough time for the water to pass through your system. Eat your normal pre-long run breakfast about 1 hour before your start time.  You might want to wear an extra layer and some gloves or socks for your hands that you can toss at the beginning of the race (tossed clothes are collected and donated). For extra cold mornings, bring hand warmers for your feet and hands - just don't forget to take them out of your shoes before you start running!
  6. Know Your Race: Familiarize yourself with where the water, refueling and medical aid stations are on the course. This information is usually found under the course description section on the race website.
  7. Run Your Race. Don’t allow your adrenaline to take over at the start. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the start and run faster than planned. At the start and during the first few miles, ignore everyone around you and focus on your pace and your strategy. Let people pass you – stay on your pace. You’ll be passing those people soon enough! It’s better to start 1 minute too slow than 1 minute too fast. One minute too fast will zap your energy and most likely cause you to hit “the wall” earlier in the race.
  8. Post Race. Get warm and get food and water immediately after crossing the finish. Take the mylar blanket and grab food.  (Bananas, energy bars, sports drinks, fruit, and bagels are all good options). Even if you can’t eat immediately, you’ll need to put something into your system with 30 minutes of finishing. If you're checking a bag, then put some post-race food in this so you don't have to rely on the food provided by the race.

And last, but not least, trust your training. You put in the time and the effort and that is what matters come race day. You can’t control the weather, the crowds, the temperature. You can control how you choose to deal with those factors on race day. Believe in yourself and your hard work and dedication will shine through! 

Good luck runners!

Marathon Reflections

I completed my 12th maraton on Oct 5th. I use the word "completed" because I am thrilled to have finished it. I'm battling a weird hamstring injury, I moved and changed jobs about 6 weeks before the marathon. My mind was not in marathon mode! I wanted to attempt the race because you never know what's going to happen on marathon day. I set 3 goals and I told myself that it's okay if I don't finish -I didn't want to risk long term injury.

I spent the week before the race resting and icing. I foam rolled, I got a massage and I gave my hamstring a lot of TLC. It was feeling better but the nagging sensation didn't go away. I wasn't sure my hamstring would last 26.2 miles.

Race morning arrived and my friend and I got to the start, hugged and wished each other luck. This is the first race I've ever started thinking I might have to bail out. I hooked up with the 3:30 pace group and hoped to hang on to that time. My training runs put me at a faster time but my leg wasn't making it through long distances so I decided to back off early.

I felt good until mile 11.5. At that point, we got stopped by a train (yup! only in Portland, Oregon will your race be stopped by a train!) and then began a slow, gradual hill. It's one of those where you don't quite realize you are on a hill until you see it on a map. My hamstring did what it had been doing at mile mile 15-18 in my long runs - just kinda stopped working. It doesn't seize up, cramp or feel sore; it feels like I'm running in mud.

At this point, I didn't think I was going to finish. I kept giving myself distance goals - just get to the bridge and then you can stop; just get to mile 18 and you can stop. Just get to mile 21. Jessica jumped in with me at mile 21 and helped me push through those last 5 miles. They were slow but i kept plugging along. I had to let go of my ego and say, I'm happy and proud to finish this marathon - regardless of my time.

The fans, especially my fans, motivated me and helped keep me going. I am so happy that I finished; that I didn't quit and kept plugging along. In my situation, I knew my hamstring and the sensation well enough to know that I wasn't causing more damage. If I felt that I was going to strain my hamstring and cause more damage, I would have stopped. Having support and "coaches" surrounding me with encouraging words helped push me through my mental barriers of "I can't keep going".

I learned a lot more from this marathon than the marathons when I BQ'd or PR'd. I learned that it's okay to change your goals and sometimes a finish is the best thing you could have ever imagined.


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. 



Prepping for Marathon Training

By Jessica Green

As a primer to our impending fall marathon training seasons, Meghan and I signed up for the Helvetia Half Marathon last Saturday - an amazing race that we recommend to all.  Meghan, who's running the Portland Marathon in October, starts her training on Monday, but I don't start my training for the NYC Marathon until mid-July.  With over a month until official training starts, I decided to to run last weekend's half hard to see where I was at since it was my first half back since my pregnancy.

Miraculously, I woke up Sunday feeling better than I felt before the race. Then I went for a hike in hilly Forest Park and was quickly reminded how much my legs need to recover from the race. Marathon training is about to begin and it's VERY important for me to take the right steps in my preparation to ensure a healthy, happy body going into training. So, I'm taking the week completely off from running and hard leg work and focusing on stretching, strength for my upper body and a little R&R.

We get asked a lot, "What should I do?" during the weeks leading up to the beginning of a marathon training plan. The answer isn't that simple and definitely isn't cookie cutter. For example, look at me. I'm taking an entire week off from running one month out from the start of my official marathon plan. Others should use this time to work towards building up to 20 miles a week or adding an additional run day over the next month.  No matter what type of runner you are or what you do in the next monthor days, the truth of the situation is that you are already in "marathon training." Albeit, it's not part of your 16-week plan, but it's still impacting how successful your training is going to be. 

The best thing to do right now is to listen to your body, identify and address any aches and pains and continue to work on becoming a stronger runner through regular strength and stretching. You've heard us say this countless times, but there's no time like right now to let it soak in.  Once your official plan kicks in and the miles start to climb (faster than you think) it gets harder and harder to find time for strength work and R&R. Use the last few days or weeks wisely whether it's a few more longer runs, adding more strength to your workouts or giving yourself a few much needed days off.  Continue to adhere to the 10% rule of increasing your mileage and your long run distance. Lastly, I recommend enjoying the final week before your official training starts with a low mileage week because you start to build as soon as you hit Week 1! 

Need more detailed advice on what you should do to prep for marathon training based on your level of fitness and training? Ask us! We are here to help and would love to guide you in the right direction!

In the meantime, I'll be doing these two stretches all week long to help my legs recover from last week:


Fall Marathon Training Tips

 Training for a fall half-marathon or marathon? You'll have some long runs ahead of you and we want you to look forward to them (instead of dreading them!) Here are our top tips for getting through it with a smile and injury free.

1. Get up early and run. It's hot out and heat will affect your run and how you feel. Take advantage of empty streets (in NYC) and enjoy a long run. To know how heat affects your pace, see this nifty calculator from Runners Connect.

2. Water. Drink lots of it throughout your day. Bring water with you on your runs over 1 hour or know where water fountains are along your route. 

3. Find a buddy. Run with a friend or meet up with a group. Those long runs are well, long and having someone to talk to or to help push you through to the end is awesome. Jessica and I became such good friends because of running! 

4. Bring Money. Just in case! You might need extra water, a coconut water, food or a subway ride home. 

5. New Routes. Pick new routes and/or place to run. A change of scenery might be just what you need to put some pep back into your runs. Need some help with routes? Check out MapMyFitness for routes.

6. Ice. Buy ice packs (bags of frozen peas work great)! They will become your best friend during training. Your muscles swell and might be inflammed after long or strenous workouts. Ice helps reduce the swelling by constricting the blood vessels and the cold from an ice pack provides pain relief.  For those who want the real deal, we love our Nortech Labs Reusable Hot/Cold Pack (size 8'x10')

7. Train Smart. Marathon training is a challenging, long term, phsyically demanding commitment.  Enter into it wisely and listen to what your body tells you throughout your training.  Remember, you are training not just for the finish line, but also to arrive at the start injury free on race day.  Treat your body to an extra rest day or a sports massage every once and a while. If you are in NYC, schedule a massage with the best massage therapist in town, Jennifer Mayer

8. All runners are not created equal.  Follow your own training plan adjusted to your phsyical needs, abilities and schedule.  Just because the other people you in marathon training are running 40 miles a week or not doing any speedwork, doesn't mean that's right for you. Personalize your training and understand what workouts YOU should do and how much is appropriate for YOUR body.  If you would like to learn how to implement tempo runs, interval workouts, hill training properly contact us to schedule a private coaching session.  We are offering a Fall Marathon program. Start anytime. Click here to read more about the program. 

There are so many great races this fall: NYC Marathon, Chicago Marathon, the Marine Corp Marathon, and the Portland Marathon to name a few. Comment below and tell us which race you are running.