Sunday, November 30, 2008

Team FatBird Marathon Pacers: The Final Countdown

After what began as a passion and desire to provide PaceMaking services to the SCCM08 20 weeks ago, Team FatBird Marathon Pacers has finally completed its 15 week marathon training program this Sunday morning at ECP, The PlayGround @ Big Splash.

The Pacers were bright and early this morning, along with the large turnout of Pacees and marathon trainees, many of whom have joined FatBird on our marathon training journey as well as new ones who for the first time were experiencing the FatBird training machinery and culture...hehe....hope they liked what they experienced. Trainers David and Ronnie had planned for this morning's 18km familiarization of portions of the SCSM08 final route, which was a refreshing welcome from the almost-becoming-routine weekend runs along ECP towards Changi Coastal Road and back...the tough training was behind us...haha.

FatBird Ronnie gave a thorough briefing and away the group of about 60-odd runners set off towards Fort Road, running into Kallang Stadium, and along the People's Academy section. The Pacers, in our white/blue Nike training gear (we will be donning a brand-new set of darker shades for race day *hint*) led the runners along in tightly-knit packs, watching for all at traffic sections and important turning points. After about 10.8km of running, the group reached the U-turn point near The Singapore Flyer. All were relieved by the water-stop and recharged with isotonic drinks in what was a rather hot and humid morning.

The Pacees were taking in the run well, and most were very relaxed, a good sign ahead of next Sunday's race. The idea was to do a shorter distance in the final weekend, at about similar race day intensity, but without being drained off. Lots of final tips on nutrition, pacing, marathon-ning were being dispensed by the experienced marathoners, and the spirits were high. After the break, the group proceeded back along the same way, bypassing the Kallang section this time. Before long, we hit Fort Road to nice winds and cloudy skies. All were very cheery and felt strong even as we draw close to the finish. I urged them to etched in their minds this positive image, to be replayed on race day for a strong finish.

4:30hr Pacer David Shum conducted a good round of stretches in the warm-down routine for the runners. The isototic taps flowed and were dry very quickly this morning, but not before all were refreshed and drank to their heart's content. While awaiting for the Pacers group photo shoot, I had the opportunity to brief all Pacers and runners on Team FatBird Pacers race day preparations and how to spot and follow our Pacers. FatBirds DO and Jancy also briefed the group about race day gear requirements and the carbo-loading arrangements.

When the Pacers and chosen Pacees finally collected their highly anticpated race day top, all were excited and pleased with what they saw, and will surely look forward to don the gear on race day with pride as a Team FatBird Marathon Pacer, leading and motivating runners to reach their important target times at SCSM08.

Team FatBird -
Follow Our Pace, Win Your Race!

Photo_SlideShow, courtesy FatBird Jancy

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Final Two Weeks...

Team FatBird Pacers

It was a record turnout for Team FatBird Pacers Training session this morning, and it was an opportune time to capture all the various Pacer Groups and a large group photo to boot....aiya, forgot to take a group Pacer photo in the end....nvm, next week.

Final Brief

All were ready to implement their Pace strategies for race day, and I was raring to try out the strategy after having rested for 2 days. My left butt wasn't so tight anymore, and I had on my Lunar Racer to do a final test for race day. After a quick brief to the crowd, we set off with the 4hr group taking the lead. Ultra, Aero, myself were running to a average 5:30min/km pace, with Yamsong, HophIng, Matthew, babumouse, Bose, Soloman tracking behind. I explained the 4hr Pace strategy to Aero and the other runners.

The Run Off

Along the way, we met with so many running groups and familiar faces....lots of waves and hi-s and it was really nice to see so many out for their final few training runs. Ran by F2, and the Lunar Trials were taking place....waved to the Nike folks, and they gave some good encouragement. We reached 10km in 54min, well within 5:30 pace. I encouraged all to maintain that pace to 21km, and then we can drift(slack) a little...hehe. We reached 12km along Changi Coastal Road in 1hr5min...good time.

After the U-turn, it was refreshing to see the various Pace groups all running in tight packs and according to pace...I became confident that Team FatBird will deliver on race day. Shouts of encouragement ensued as we ran past the various groups. Back to F2, the Lunar trails were still in progress, and Ming started on his own run. Earlier, we touched 21km in 1hr54min (6min of buffer). With about 6km to go, were maintaining an average 5:27min/km Ultra, Aero, Matthew, Yamsong and myself were stil bunched up, as we navigated the final 5km along ECP. The sun was beating down on us, and we could see many tired faces along the way. We finally completed the 24km run back at The Big Splash in 2hr10min, an average pace of 5:26min/km.

We were all pretty drained by the weather, and witgh the pounding on those hard grounds, legs were getting battered and tight....glad that this will soon be over in 2 weeks time. Ultra went to get the iced-cold 100plus...wah, shiokzz. We offered some cold drinks to the F1 Runners who had completed their 30km+ recce run, and they are real fast....Lexxus, Hong Leng and gang. Had a good chat with them. I managed to brief the Pacers on race day admin and carbo-loading session with Pacees. The team spirit was high, and everyone was looking forward to the big day.

The Chosen Ones :)

A lot of runners joined us, including SgRunners IMD, babumouse, LaserRunner, renohtaram, phoenix and a couple of I-Runners and SAFRA runners too. It was one melting pot (haha...literally) at The PlayGround @ Big Splash, where we had fun exchanging tips, stories and pearls of wisdom for race day. The 21km group of Pacers and Pacees performed very well, and were in high spirits. With one more training run next Sunday for Team FatBird, it is time for us to rest and consolidate ourselves so that we will be able to deliver our mantra - Follow Our Pace, Win Your Race. Cheers!

Distance: 23.92km__Time: 2hr10min__Pace: 5:26min/km

Team FatBird Photo SlideShow

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Rainy Weather @ IBP

The rain stopped in time for the I-Run @ IBP. Because of the rain-out situation last Wed, this week's attendance was lower. However, there were quite a few new runners. Most of the runners at IBP have progressed from 3km to the 7km and 10km distances. As the 10km runners were familiar with the route, I had a chance to do a 10km easy run without much stoppages, short of waiting at the mid-point near the 2nd bridge.

A light drizzle came on midway through the run, but it was rather relaxing. My left leg has been feeling a little tight with all the pounding on the hard grounds at ECP and RP, and it was relief to be able to run on softer tarmac along the canal route at IBP. I thought about many things, but mostly about race day preparations for Team FatBird Pacers, and how we will deliver our loyal Pacee runners to the finish line according to their targets.

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

FatBird Marathon Training Session #12

Team FatBird Pacers & Trainees

Its 3 weeks to D-Day. The weather this morning was immaculate...cloudy, cool, although slightly humid, and nowhere near the kind of air we find in overseas temperate weather. The Pacers assembled early to get fitted for their race day tops, and fortunately, most of them found the right fit...*phew*. Thanks to FatBird Terry and Esther who helped to coordinate the tryouts as well as pack the tops in proper packages according to Names and Pace Timings for a personalized print.

Section of Team FatBird Pacers

I gave a quick brief to the Pacers and runners about the 28km route before starting off towards NSRCC/Changi Coastal with my 4hr group. Ultra, Raven, Cheow12, Soloman, YN's friend, and 2 more were running in the 4hr Pace Group as we moved along at 5:30min/km average pace. I informed the group about our race day strategy and that we should attempt to keep to that 5:30min/pace for up to 21km, before slowing a little to allow for drift. With that, we should have a buffer of about 4min for the Pacees, providing a safe margin.

We reached 10km in 55min...hmm, not bad. We chatted less as the group strung along Changi Coastal stretch. There were so many faimiliar faces that my arms got tired just waving to them...haha. We turned at the 4th Shelter along CCR, 14km mark, still maintaining the 5:30min/km pace. It was great to see the 4:15hr, 4:30hr, 4:45hr, 5:00hr, 5:15hr and 5:30hr groups running to pace, and in bunches. With 3 weeks to go, the team is coming together and peaking at the right time...I am so heartened :)

When we got to the Sailing/Canoe Centre, it was near 21km and avg pace was about 5:33min/km...slight drift. I told Cheow12 that we could afford to average out to 5:40min/km pace after that. Ultra took a pitstop at the toilet, and Raven continued with Soloman slightly behind. Saw the Too Family training hard and looking good for race day. David Tay and TriFam Pacers were out in force, putting in some good paced mileage. When I reached 26.5km, I took a walk break to wait for the rest to come closer....until about 5:40min/km pace before I finished off the final 800m. It was refreshing to have 3 cups of iced-cold 100plus, thanks to Ultra, Niwas, Esther and the drinks support team.

The 4hr group came back within 5min of my zone. Terry reported that all the Pacers were fitted. I had a good time handing Alber, Freddy and Deep their training gear and shoes. The rest of the Pacers got water bottles to help them collect rain water....haha. We took some nice group and Pacer photos, before I gave a briefing to the Pacers on the training schedule for the next 2 weekends, the final week's SCSM08 route recce run, as well as carbo-loading session on Dec 5. Then I handed out the Group Leaders' caps to the leaders as a symbol of their leadership as well as wearing those caps to be visible on race day to Pacees. They were pretty excited and happy with the colours of the gear and caps, although some found extra fascination with the colour of the water bottles...haha.

Overall, it was a good paced run for me and I can say for most who attended. The Lunar Racer I had on served me well, especially with a thinner and air-ier pair of socks. I will likely wear the Racer on race day for its sheer lightness and vibrant colour...hehe. A light drizzle came after the entire run, as we proceeded to wash up. I went with one group to Old Airport for my favourite Lor Mee, while another group went to Telok Blangah for Scissors Curry Rice....sinful, but well deserving carbo-reloading after a long distance run :)

Photo Slideshow

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Sunday, November 09, 2008

Lunar Trials with Team FatBird

Happy FatBirds with Lunars

Lunar Trials with Team FatBird Pacers

This morning was the start of the Lunar Trials with Team FatBird at ECP. It rained through 3am in the morning, and by 6am, the rain had abated. Many people have called/sms-ed earlier to cancel their turnup because of the rain, but all the FatBird Pacers were there for our training, as well as try out the Lunar Trainers and Racers.

Reached Carpark B1 at 6.45am, and saw the Sim Wong Hoo and his creative gang prepping for a 20km training run. Said hello to a few of the familiar ones, and then spotted Raven who mentioned the Lunar Trials shoes were there. We helped with the informal set-up, and by 7am, the rain had stopped for what would be great weather for a run.

Briefing to the Pacers

Gana was there with his team of national distance runners, some of them capable of running 2:50hr marathons. I managed to find a pair of Lunar Racer, with a slight upsize to US10.5, which fit me to a T in this case. A few small groups were gathered for their runs, and I invited them to join us for some pacing work as well as try out the shoes.

Sacha and Gana gave a brief followed by some tips for marathoning. I gave a quick brief to the newcomers of our paced run for the day, and away we went. Most of the newcomers followed the 4hr pace group, with a section following the 4:30-5:00 Pacers. It was a cool morning that was simply great for running. I managed to catch a few more new runners along the way, and one of them going for 3hr20min this year was even coached by Kien Mau....a number of serious runners were out putting in their final homework, leaving lots more in the cozy comforts of their warm beds at home...hehe...hmm, those who are willing to put in the effort will duly be rewarded, I am sure.

Since a few of us did 20-32km yesterday, most of the Pacers did about 10-12km this morning.The lunar shoes had good responses for their cushy feel, especially on the hard concrete of ECP where we trial-ed them. The Pacers had pleasant experiences with the shoes, and were pretty excited with the feel and responsiveness of the Lunars. Many think they can go the full marathon in them. I had a nice time with the Lunar Racer, and I believe I could go in them for a full marathon without too much problems.

The SAFRA MF folks popped by for a visit, and did a quick try-out of the shoes too. It seemed their training run was cancelled, and the few hard-core runners did turn up to run anyway...hehe. After packing and washing up, 10 of us adjourned to East Cost Road for delicious Prawn Noodle and Hgoh Hiang. A nice, wonderful Lunar experience indeed :)

Photo Slideshow from Team FatBird's Album

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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Team FatBird Pacers, The Final Month

The Team FatBird Pacer Team are into the final month of preparations for the Marathon, and I am pleased with the good progress with 10 weeks of training. The month of November will be a busy one for Team FatBird as we embark on Lunar Trials with Marathon Pacees and trainees alike. We will have additional and separate Lunar Trials sessions with Team FatBird for Sundays and Thursdays, where designated FatBird Pacers/Run Leaders will run along with Lunar trial-ers for 15km-20km distances.

These FatBird Trials-Leads should be wearing a mix of Lunar Trainers and Racers to get a feel of the Lunars for marathon/half-marathon distances, as well as dispense tips and advise to the trial-ers on preparations for marathons and the importance of selecting the correct shoes. This means that there will be 2 separate training sessions for Team FatBird in November:
1. Marathon Training with FatBird Pacers – Saturday mornings
2. Lunar Trials with Team FatBird Pacers (Sundays, Thursdays)

This Saturday morning was our 32km Pace run at ECP, and it was good for me to be back with the 4hr Pace Group. A good turnout today from the Pacers as well as the Pacees. After a quick brief, we ran off towards NSRCC/Changi Coastal Road. I took the opportunity to try my pair of Lunar Racer. I ran for the first 10km stretch with yamsong and another 4hr Pacee, at about a 5:35min/km average pace. I had a good chat with them, before turning back to meet up with the rest of the Pace Groups. All were running together tightly, diligently following their pace times.

On the return, I bumped into many familiar faces, including the trifam Pacers team led by David Tay and Luke. It has been some time since I ran with them, so it was good to spot them....somehow, I think we will be running along on race day :). Had chats with DO, then zco, about their recent marathons and the upcoming ones. My Lunar Racer felt cushiony and light as I chugged along. With about 1km to go, I increased speed and finished the 20km run in 1hr50min. Found time to distribute some Korean goodies which I brought back from the recent trip. The ChocoPie was popular since I told all that it was given out as fuel at the 20-30km marks of the Korean marathons.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

ChunCheon Marathon Photos

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

2008 JoogAng Seoul Marathon

The Startline @ Seoul Marathon

Blisters on my soles just after the ChunCheon Marathon gave me doubts if I could start at the JoongAng Seoul Marathon the Sunday following. The problem was aggravated by my adventure with the family up Mt. Sorak on Tuesday. We got into Seoul on Thursday from SokCho, and met up wth Max to collect the race pack at the Olympic Village hotel on Friday. I was disappointed when the organizer told me that I was not registered as I have not paid after confirmation of the registration, and that they did not have a race pack and ChampionChip for me. They advised that I could still go for the race, although I will not have official timing recorded, and have no certificate to show.

By Saturday, my soles were still sore, and I decided to just go for a sight-seeing run to try out the Seoul Marathon route. Beverly did not want to risk any injury, especially after her good run at ChunCheon just a week ago. Sunday morning’s weather was not too cold, as Max, DO and myself made our way to the Sports Complex by MRT. There was already a crowd when we arrived, and on the way to baggage deposit, bumped in SlingRunner, Vincent and Brokie. They were all charged up waiting to score good timings with their fresh legs. DO had just recovered from his injury at ChunCheon, and would be taking it easy too.

hmm....getting warmed up :)

Since I was not going for timing, I queued way back behind the 5hr pacers and runners. By the time I crossed the Chip mat, 5min had elapsed. I started my Garmin 405, and tried very hard for the first 3km to weave in and out to reach to the 4hr timing group. My legs felt good, but the air and surrounding scenery left much to be desired. The runners ran closely as a pack throughout, and it was difficult to move forward. My impression was that these were serious runners able to maintain a good, sustainable pace. I went into an average 5:03min/km pace, and felt quite comfortable for the first 21km.

At 15km, I saw DO, and he was running quite carefully. I moved up as I felt good, and it was not until 24km when I felt the numbness on my soles. By then I was too far away to turn back or cut short on the out/back course. The Kenyan lead pack were seen reaching the 30km mark when I was just at 20km...haha. Sling and Max must have been much further ahead, and I tried hard to spot Vincent and Brokie amongst the thick crowd. By 28km, my feet was feeling sore, and I slowed down to about 5:25min/km and ran more carefully. I decided that I should just complete the whole run since I was more than halfway through.

The crowd was still heavy at 30km. The highway and streets were lined with bands and cheer groups, playing loud music with dance, something lacking at ChunCheon Marathon. The ground was softer too, but there was really no scenery to speak was ‘mental’ and boring running at this course. Choco Pie and bananas were served around the 32km mark, and I thought it was too late into the run to do that. I picked up a Choco Pie and gave the free gel a miss. My legs were feeling really sore, and I slowed to 5:35min/km pace. I tried to amble along to maybe do a 3:45 timing.

The slopes came at the 34km and 37km marks, and they really gave the fatigued runners a tough challenge. I was not in the mood then to ‘chiong’ since I knew that my desired timing was slipping. I just ran gently, with small strides, up the slopes. It was fortunate that the downslopes were not too steep for they would hurt my soles even more. 5km to go, and I was staring at a 3:50 finish. I just relaxed and countdown the km markers. My long sleeved dri-fit shirt along with the running singlet kept me warm when the cold winds blew. My legs were feeling stiff, although not really troubled by cramps as I was not really pushing. I slowed to 5:55min/km pace, and quite a few babes and aunties overtook me with 3km to go. I chugged along, and pushed for the final 1km. I had intended to veer off and not go past the finish line, but the thick crowd and barricades forced me all the way into the stadium and across the finish. My Garmin showed 3hr49min, and the digital clock showed 3hr53min. I was glad the run was over as my feet hurt real bad.

After some light stretches, I spent the next 30min looking for Max and DO. Finally spotted Max who came back with a fast time of 3hr25min. Together we waited for DO. Brokie and Vincent then came up and took a few group photos. Brokie did 4:04hr and Vincent did a screaming good runners we have in the FatBird Pacer team...hehe. Finally DO came hobbling back in 4:41hr.....he suffered from a bad case of knee pain and had to walk most of the final 10km. We still found time to whip out the Singapore flag for some memorable pics. Heard from Sling later that he did 3hr12min, qualifying him for The Boston to all of them.

There are a few key observations and lessons from the Korean marathons over these 1week. I would say that the Seoul Marathon’s organization could be improved, and the route/course is good if one is going for timing. However, it was pretty boring and not much scenery to offer. Vincent found that the course and weather was more favourable to ChunCheon's, which had its fair share of slopes and cambered, hard roads. I would’nt mind doing ChunCheon again, but cannot say the same for Seoul. This experience tells us that doing back-back marathons take a firm toll on the body, and with our need for a longer period of recovery from the stresses to the body, it would be some time before I consider doing another back-back marathon again.

However, I enjoyed the whole Korea Marathon journey, and will remember that it was at ChunCheon when I did my PB of 3hr36min, a time which I think will be hard for me to better in a long time to come. Running in cooler weather does make a great difference in the sustainable speed we can achieve. While the cardio aspects remain good, the strength of the feet and cadence will have to be further developed through interval and tempo training sessions.

Distance: 42.195km__Time: 3hr49min__Pace: 5:25min/km

Photo SlideShow from DO's Camera

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

SCSM08: Final Prep With Team FatBird

Marathon Training With Team FatBird Pacers

The Team FatBird Marathon Training Program for SCSM08 is into its final 4 weeks. The final run of 35-38km was just concluded last weekend. Do not miss out for the remaining marathon and half-marathon preparations with Team FatBird.

Click HERE for the full Program

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