Thursday, October 30, 2008

2008 Chosunilbo Chuncheon Marathon

At The ChunCheon Marathon Start Line

Race Pack collection was a breeze. By just entering our surnames into the computer, the Organizer was quickly able to retrieve our full names and pre-packed race kit. In there was the bib no., ChampionChip and a unique ASICS sleeveless running sports jacket. Saw many of the local running groups collecting their race packs too....and they mostly look like very good distance runners.

It was a bright and sunny morning. We put on our long tops, with another running singlet, and track top to meet up with DO, Half-Timer at the lobby. Ripley, Vincent and another friend went separately to the race site at ChunCheon Stadium. We were surprised to see the blazing sun, and the weather getting warmer. I decided to don just my short sleeve FatBird red top with 2XU long tights. Bev was snug in her pink Nike long-sleeve tops, with a runaholic singlet, and a Nike ¾ tights.

Getting warmed up at the start

Baggage deposit was a cinch, and the helpers were very friendly. We all gathered around the warmer at the information counter, and there we met Woodstock, Ripley and Vincent. We could see the runners gathering at their respective pens based on their marathon PB timings, and the Pace Groups were all decked out in colourful balloons designating 3hr-5hr groupings, with 10min intervals. It was impressive to see the 3hr Pace, these guys must be running an easy sub-3hr marathon to be able to Pace comfortably in that grouping.

Vincent and I @ Start

DO and I went to Pen ‘D’ for runners in the 3:42-3:53 grouping. All the runners were gathered round the track of the stadium. After some exercises, the individual Pens were flagged off 1 group at a time. By the time my Pen went to the starting mat, 5min had elapsed from the gun time. Beverly was all excited as the cut-off time for this marathon is 5hrs...those who do not make the cut will be hauled up the bus...*sweat*. I started my Garmin 405 with the timing and Avg Pace on...I was hoping to reach a 5:10min pace for a 3:40hr timing if possible. Most of the runners had their gloves on, including me.

The first 5km was a gradual up-slope, but I was more affected by the chilly winds. My throat was dry, as I trotted along at 5:20min pace to get warmed up. I could see the 3:40hr pace group in the horizon, and I got into a steady pace to enjoy the scenery. After getting warmed up, I felt better, and decided to pick up the pace. The scenery got better as we run around the lake and dam area. It was a sea of people throughout the whole run, and all looked very ‘seasoned’. I noticed there were few ladies; maybe because of the ‘only full-marathon distance’ offered, and the cut-off of 5hrs?

I enjoyed the scenery as I recalled various parts of the course where the ‘Marathon Boy’ went through. It was really scenic, and the weather was cool in spite of the blazing sun. However, parts where there were no sun were chilly. The gloves I had on were really useful. The SpeedCage I had on were taking in the impact of the hard and cambered rolling hills as they meandered around the lake. Feeling quite good, I went into a 5min/km average pace after the 15km mark, and subsequently ran ahead of the 3:40hr pacers. Around the 20km mark, I finally spotted DO....he went into a blistering first half, and was slowing a little due to the impact of the hard ground on his knees. I continued on my 5min pace as I ventured towards 3rd quarter of the marathon. As it was noon, the sun was really beating down on us. The local Korean runners were feeling the heat, and it did not help that the water points were 5km apart.

At 28km, my left sole felt a tingling sensation, and then my right sole. It was the pounding on those hard flooring. I tried to focus on the beautiful scenery at hand, but my feet were hurting. By 30km, I could feel blisters forming in both my soles...ouch! A quick check on my 405 showed that I had slowed to an average 5:02min/km pace. Knowing that it would be difficult to go for a 3:30hr finish (my Boston Qualifying time), I decided not to push too hard for fear of getting cramps or even having my soles ‘burn up’...yikes! The parts where we ran into the farmland and countryside were COLD, with rather high-speed chilly winds...some runners were bending their heads down and facing the challenge head-on. I decided that I had better not stop there to walk or stretch, since the cold winds will ‘kill’ me.

By 35km, I could feel the burning sensation on the soles of my feet. I slowed down the pace in order that they can take a break from the pounding, if at all possible. With 7km to go, my average pace was down to 5:04min/km. Many of the runners were getting cramps and medical attention; others were walking and braving the heat and the exhaust from the cars along the highway. The earlier 30km where the entire roads were closed was sorely missed then. I decided to take it a km at a time from the 37km mark. I know that I will do a sub 3:40hr, but not so sure if I could push for a 3:35hr finish. Nevertheless, I pushed on....the experience is that my cardio was still ok, but my feet was the factor dragging me back. With the blisters forming, I could only run more gingerly.

Then it was 2km...a lot of supporters lined the streets offering drinks, support, and song & dance to cheer the runners. I could still manage a friendly wave back to acknowledge them for their kind support. I picked up speed for the final 1.2km. As we ran into the stadium, the crowd was a feeling like we were returning from an Olympics Marathon...hehe. I did the final lap round the stadium track to finish with my arms held up high for a 3:36hr Garmin time finish. The clock read 3:41hr as I ran through to rousing cheers of the crowd, photographers snapping finishing photos, and mini-skirt gals handing out finisher medals. It was a nice experience, one which I will cherish for some time to come.

I immediately went for 3 cups of Pocari Sweat, and collected my goodie bag after returning the ChampionChip. Since none of my running kakis were back yet, I went around looking for the medical tent for treatment of my blisters, but to no avail. Before I could pursue further, I was asked by a screaming man to help him with his cramps. I spent a good 10min tending to the poor guy, before the medical personnel came. DO came along too, and we proceeded to the finishing gantry to wait for the rest to finish.

We waited in anticipation and soon saw our gang finishing....Vincent in about 4:15hr; Beverly made the cut with a very good time of 4:28hr; Woodstock finished in 4:31hr; Half-Timer did 4:47hr and Ripley completed in 4:59hr. All did well to complete within cut-off time, and Beverly was especially pleased with her run. My Garmin 405 recorded a total distance of 42.29km...hmm, quite an accurate course, factoring in the slightly longer distance around the cambered roads I took.

As we left, the place was still abuzz with activity of many vendors hawking their sports wares, the sponsors giving product demonstrations. There were still runners completing their runs, although we were not sure if they would be given medals after the cut-off. As we took our long walk to the taxi stand, we exchanged stories and experiences of the challenging but scenic race route, the good organization of the whole event, the great km distance markers, the heavy grunting of the Korean runners, the interviews of runners conducted while they were on the run, and the lots of goodies that were on sale at the race site. It will be one good marathon experience, and I would surely recommend it to runners who would want to do a Asian Marathon to try the ChunCheon Marathon.

Distance: 42.195km__Time: 3hr36min__Pace: 5:07min/km

Offcial Results HERE (Bib 4096)

Photo SlideShow HERE

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Marathon PB at The ChunCheon Marathon

Yes, achieved my Marathon PB at The ChunCheon Marathon in Korea this morning.

Distance: 42.195km
Chip Time: 3hr36min

Official Confirmation HERE

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Korea Running...

Come day-break tomorrow, I shall be heading off to Korea with family and friends for what will be my first back-back weekend of Marathons....yes, 42.195km @ ChunCheon this Sunday, and then 42.195km @ Seoul next Sunday....hehe.

It will be a good re-visit of Korea for me, and I intend to take the pace easy with lots of sight-seeing, walking and even shopping...*gasp*. I will not be going for any PB in both the marathons, but more to soak in the 'COOL' atmosphere and large running crowd typical of Korean races. Running in the cold weather will be something I hope I can survive in without 'freezing' up.

I am so unprepared for this trip that I do not even know the iterinary up to this point, and of course, I do not have all my race confirmations, not to mention even have the chance to take a look at the course. I will just be reliant on my good traveling companions of Bev and DO to tell me more about the race routes and expos, where to shop, which mountain to trek...hmm, I heard 'Ginseng Mountain' or something like that...haha.

I will not have much access to the comp nor even online access, so there will not be much updates here. However, Team FatBird's activities and runs are in the good hands of the team, and news flow from the Team will go to the Team FatBird blog more regularly for updates. I hope to be able to send some news updates through Team FatBird to pass on to SgRunners and the running kakis and friends.

Thanks for all the well wishes and kind words....till then, see you all back in Singapore in November :)

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Lunar Racer For A Pacer

Nike Lunar Racer

Feels so light, yet with ample forefoot cushioning, and even heel cushioning. Very good feel and speedy too, on a 10km run. Looking forward to bringing it for longer FatBird Pacer runs once I am back from Korea. Meanwhile, I think it will be a very good pair for even casual runners going for better speed and performance :)

Excerpts from SneakerFreaker site

For the full effect, you really need to pick this sneaker up, and when you do, you'll be blown away by how little this thing weighs. Try 5.5 ounces to be precise... Not sure how that figure compares to the Mayfly, but this thing is a lot more practical and stable. We've been calling for some new-wave design to come through for a while now, and Nike have answered our prayers and delivered us the Lunar Racer. Rejoice!

Given Flywire’s early success with middle-distance Track and Field events, bringing its lightweight support to distance racing seemed natural. So, too, did marrying the technology with Lunarlite foam, Nike’s most advanced new cushioning system. Flywire works like cables on a suspension bridge, providing precisely engineered support for the foot. The Flywire filaments are placed only where support is required, allowing for the reduction of materials, which equals reduction of weight. Made with Flywire, an upper weighs mere grams, while Lunarlite foam is both lightweight and highly responsive, two qualities which are usually mutually exclusive in cushioning. The foam also distributes the pressure patterns evenly across the foot more to protect it from pain and injury—all important for distance events. In the Nike Zoom Victory Spike—designed for middle distance Track and Field events—Flywire proved a great success in competition. After Nike athletes Kara Goucher and Bernard Lagat both medaled in the 2007 World Track & Field Championships in Osaka, designers looked at where else the innovation could be applied. The marathon was a natural choice....

The Full Review

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Tapering ahead of ChunCheon Marathon

Team FatBird's Marathon Pacers

Pacers setting their PaceBands

It was FatBird's 8th weekend of the Pacers Marathon Training this Saturday. The distance was supposed to be 30km-34km. Because I was in tapering mode ahead of next weekend's ChunCheon Marathon in Korea, I planned to do only 18km. I took the opportunity to brief the Pacer Group Leaders to take care of the various Pace groups during their individual runs, as well as welcome some new members to the team.

We started off at about 7.10am, running towards NSRCC and Changi Coastal Road. I tagged along the 4hr Pace Group, led mostly by Raven and Ultraman. There were about 8 others running in this group. The 3:45hr Pacers were slightly infront, whilst the 4:30hr Pace Group was a little behind. I could see that all the Pacers were trying their best to start off conservatively, and run to their respective paces....I knew it was not easy, and I appreciate them all for trying and doing their best.

It was a smooth run all the way to NSRCC, with the 4hr Pace Group averaging 5:45min/km pace. DO and I decided to turn back, and we took turns to run along with the rest of the groups. It was a good opportunity for us to chat with the teams, understand their challenges and concerns, as well as to give them some guidance and motivation for their very long runs. It was fortunate that most of the runners brought their own hydration and fuel as advised, for it turned out to be scorching HOT.

The 4-Hr Pace Group

DO and I, along with Bev, returned to start point in 2hr+. Along the way, we chatted a little with the TriFam Pacers as well as the Newton Shoe Trial-ers. Our new FatBird Team T attracted good feedback from fellow runners....hope that the Marathon Pacers top will bring the same interest and enthusiasm for all. I managed to hand out the training shoes to some Pacers, who had a chance to try it out for the first time.

Although the weather was challenging, all the Pace Groups returned strong, up to the final 5:30hr Pace Group. As we chatted with Ben Pulham from Racers Toolbox, zco the impressive 5:30hr Pace Group Leader finished his run looking great. Ben was suitably impressed with our 'madness' and enthusiasm for the long distance training under such conditions....hmm, we hope to get him to join in for some of our Pace Runs very soon....hehe.

A Confident & Jubilant Team

With the various Pace Groups taking shape, and conditioning themselves physically and mentally, I am confident we will have a very good outing at this year's SCSM08. Very soon, we should be seeing more marathon trainees joining our Pace Group Runs, and hopefully, we can arrange for them to try out some of the gadgets like Pace Bands and even marathon running shoes...well, more action in the month of November....meanwhile, let me just go to Korea and enjoy my very first back-back full marathons :)

Photo Slide Show from FatBird's Photo Album

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

FatBird's Autumn Collection

A Glimpse of Team FatBird's latest running top for use at I-Runs and other FatBird run-leading events:

FatBirds in their RED outfit in front of Fat Bird :)

Team FatBird at I-Run @ River Promenade

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

FatBird Pacers Training Session #7

FatBird Pacers, courtesy FatBird Esther

It was a record turnout for this morning's FatBird Marathon Training for the Pacers and trainees. I estimated there were 50-60 people, comprising both Pacers and Pacees. The weather promised to be a dry but hot one. We had our trial Pace Bands just in time for the Pace Leads, thanks to FatBird Esther and her team.

I divided the group into the Pacers and Pacees, then gave a quick brief of the route, before introducing the Pacers to the runners. We started off promptly at 7am, and very soon, the 3:45hr Pace Group was in front of DO, Ultra, Raven and I. There was a sizeable following for the 4hr Pace Group, and I was even pleasantly surprised to see Marcus and his friends from the TriFam Pace Team joining our FatBird Training....they too could be gunning for a 4hr finish this SealBoon, HophIng, Cheow12, Alvo, and quite a few others were running along tightly. A quick browse behind showed YN and the many others following the 4:30hr Pace Group led by Charmane and Kok San.

There were a few additions to the Pace Team, with Ang Lai Soon, Kok San, Joe, among the few of joined us for the Pace Training for the very first time. DO got his Garmin 405, and do did Feet...:). With the new toy, many of us now have very high-precision tools to help with guiding the pace and measuring distances. The 4hr Group was aiming to do an average pace of 5:30min/km, and we were pretty consistent all the way to the 14km U-Turn along Changi Coastal Road. The 4hr group arrived at the U-Turn in 1hr20min.

It was interesting to see the various Pace Groups fan out along ECP and Changi Coastal. The Pacers and runners were all focused on running together and moving forward. Along the way, we met many other running groups and kakis, SAFRA Tampines inclusive. DO and I continued on from the 14km point for an additional 2km forward as we had planned to do 32km as our final long run before ChunCheon Marathon in 2 week's time. All the 4hr Pacees turned at the 14km and continued with their 5:30min/km pace.

After the U-tuen at 16km for DO and I, we continued running at abour 5:30min/km while chatting and cheering the other Pace Groups as we went by them. Met up the 5hr Pace Group at NSRCC, and they seemed to be on good pace. Then we saw the 5:30min/km Pace Group...hmm, they have gone a little fast, but thats because of their lack of pace timings to guide them along. They should be good as the weeks progress. Bumped into Gentle at the Canoe Centre, who was asking if there were more Pace Groups ahead. I asked the 5:30hr Pace Group Lead, zco, to slow a little to maintain pace.

The sun was beating down on us furiously. Those who did not hydrate themselves properly were suffering. I too was feeling the effects of the heat, but it was good that I had my Gatorade and Powergel mix with me....I sipped regularly, and that gave me a regular stream of energy to work with...hehe. Still, I had to make 2 more toilet stops to cool myself and take more water in. Saw Nomad, and then as I neared MacD, saw Kok San. Told him it was just 1.5km to go, and he picked up the pace to run together. With about 800m to finish, I could see SealBoon, and then ran up alongside to finish in 3hr3min. The iced-cold 100plus was heavenly, and we had 3hr15min marathoners serving drinks....what more can we ask yah? haha. Thanks to Ultra and his water support team :)

We took down the timings of the Pacers, and when all were back, we had a very nice group photo session. FatBird Esther's new tripod came in very handy, and we all had a nice time posing around the trunk of a rather large tree. After the photo session, I gave a very quick brief on the need for hydration and re-fueling, especially on such a warm day. I think more of the runners may invest in hydration belts, and start training with powergels and other fuel. As we progress with the FatBird Marathon Training Program, I am heartened to see many of the runners and pacers getting stronger and more steady with their pacing in long runs. If we can all keep up with regular training attendance and trying our best to train to pace with proper hydration and re-fueling, I am confident of yet another bountiful year of PB-breakers....SCSM08, here we come!

Distance: 32.3km__Time: 3hr3min__Pace: 5:40min/km

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

The week after F1

With the F1 completed, we resumed I-Run @ RP in town this week. The turnout was well over 110 runners for both Tuesday and Thursday. With the drinks control system in place, it seems that there have been sufficient isotonic and mineral water for all at the end of the run, even for those who did 10km....yes 10km.

This week, we started with a small group of I-Runners (those who could run at an average 5:30min/km-6min/km pace) on a new extension of the 7km route to about 9.8km. I lead the route on Tuesday, with David doing it on Thursday. The 10km route was quite a nice one, extending to the Floating Platform area twice at the Esplanade area. Those who did it enjoyed, and next week should see some of the gal runners join in too.

Thursday evening had some new runners like Sling, Senza, Ming and tktan join was fun as usual with FatBirds out in force, as well as some I-Runners whom we have missed for 2 weeks. The weather was kind, especially after the afternoon showers. We had a good run as always at RP, and it seems that more will be wanting to try longer distances as the marathon looms. I hope the new FatBird colours will be ready soon for I-Runs at RP and CBP to bring more colours to both locations :)

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Saturday, October 04, 2008

The NorthFace 100

North Face 100 Lead Runners @ The Start

Team FatBird Support Crew & Lead Runners

DO and I signed up to be the NorthFace 100 Ultra-marathon lead runners at the 11th hour, after race organizers felt that it would be good to have runners running in the trails to have someone guide and cheer them. About 300 runners have signed up for this grueling race, part of the NorthFace 100 regional series.

The plan was to have Hui Ying run the first 4km, then DO and I to run the body of about 8km along Northern Route and then onto Rifle Range trails. There will be mountain bikers who will take over the lead for the Bukit Timah/Zheng Hwa trails. Anna was to be the tail, sweeping the rear pack runners.

SgRunners all raring to GO!

The race started at 8am sharp, and we estimated that the first people to be back would be Lexus and some of the MR25 runners. There were also some sponsored Northface teams which were pretty strong. The Gobi runners were also out in force, along with good representation from SgRunners. Team FatBird was there to provide some support stations along the way, as well as do a little photo shoot and media coverage for their lead runners...hehe.

True to form, Lexus arrived after about 17min. Walter from Running Lab was impressed. Then we saw Khek Hong Leong, and then Bug...wah, Bug was fast. Then Hui Ying came...good run from her. DO took the walkie-talkie from her, and away we went chasing after the front 8 runners. They were running below 5min/km pace, and in the Northern Route, that was something. We exited Northern Route in 20min from the zig-zag bridge, and continued to push towards Rifle Range trails. With about 500m from Rifle Range Road, we heard that the front runner has reached. The Bikers took over. I reached the CheckPoint 2 in 39min, after running for 7.5km. We handed our walkie-talkie to the remaining Biker, and stayed at the CP to cheer a;; the runners coming in....lots of familiar faces. It was fun. Then Anna came with Ham and her friend.

Since we expected the front runner to return only after about 3.5hr to the same CP, we proceeded to walk about 4km to Binjai Park kopi-tiam for some solid food....wonton noodles never tasted so good....we were so hungry...haha. By the time we reached back to CP2 after brunch, it was 11.30am, and we heard that the front runner had turned at Bukit Panjang just 30min ago. We knew then it must be a tough run there; to be confirmed later by Lexus and Bug. We chit-chatted for a bit, before we saw the first Biker come at 12pm. She mentioned the first runner coming in, and true enough, it was Lexus. He was way ahead of the field and looking strong.

DO and I paced Lexus from there along Rifle Range Trails....Lexus would be walking up the slopes to avoid his hamstring cramps erupting....a very smart strategy. We followed behind, keep a distance, but yet remaining close enough to give him encouragement. Onto Northern Route, Lexus picked up speed and we had a hard time keeping, this guy is still so fast after having run 45km. With 2km to go, Lexus' hamstrings were real tight, and he was hitting his legs to get rid of the pain. I encouraged him to keep going, albeit not to rush. Finally, we made it out of Northern Route and he was 'chiong-ing' all the way to the end-point at zig-zag bridge...a superb finish, to rousing cheers of the crowd.

DO and I went back to pace the 2nd guy, an ang moh, and also the rest of the 8 runners. Bug came in 8th position, and was a great run for him. After about 13 men, the first lady came back. It was a German, very steady. Lai Chee was close behind in 2nd position. After we finished running with Lai Chee to the finish, and walking back to the carpark, we saw Lesley coming in in 3rd position. Wow, so happy for them....Women's Champion team. Hong Leong came back in 6th position, and together with Lexus, their team F1 Runners captured the Men's team champion. Colleen and Cui Ying did well to clinch third place Womens', after the sponsored NorthFace women's team.

We hung around and enjoyed the nice buffet spread from Subway, and chatting with the runners who had finished. RealRunner and TLR came in later, and they looked good. The mid pack started to come back as we made our way to the carpark. Met F1 Runners there, and congratulated them on a good finish. It was an interesting experience we had, and I figured we ran a total of about 15km, and walked 7km...haha...nice way to spend a Saturday morning, soaking in the adventure of trail running. Heard from Walter that they might do it even bigger next year....let's hope this will open up opportunities for more trail racing in Singapore.

Photo Slideshow from La Senza's cam

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