Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Of Marathon Pacers & Sunbirds

Marathon Pacers & Sunbirds, courtesy FatBird DO

As I held my arms out for a warm cup of kopi-O, I began to recall the exciting training session we had on Sunday morning with the Sunbirds & Marathon Pacers. It was a morning of plenty...participants, tips, distances and workouts to be covered....Operation Sunbird session #3 provided the perfect setting for the 80+ runners.

The Marathon Pacers gathered for a group photo, while the Sunbirds enjoyed their morning chit-chat with Coach Jonathan and the trainers. With a recap of the previous week's teaching, and this week's focus area, the Sunbirds were all ears, with their eyes zoomed intensely on the FlightZONES system as well as Jon's download. A good question from Sunbird Cathelin about nasal congestion was answered well, along with the importance of core strength to develop proper running form.

Section of Team FatBird Marathon Pacers

After the group photo, which had runners spilling off The SandPit, FatBird's Nest at The PlayGround @ Big Splash, all gathered at the start point for their 7km, 16km, 24km and 28km endurance run @ BaseBuild Zone. We had a good time maintaining a chit-chat pace, looking at the nice seaside, getting to know one another, and sharing tips and info about distance running and training. It was nice to see many runners armed with proper hydration belts, Heart-Rate Monitors and Distance Pods, and their efforts to keep to a sustainable Zone 2 effort.

Met many familiar faces along the way, from the speedy groups of Vivian, Ronnie & Tony, to pacer friends, to Team FatBird trainees and runners from previous Operation NightHawk & Kingfisher. The friendly smiles, enthusiastic hand-waves and bodies-in-fluid-motion all made for a delightful setting along the East Coast Park. Team FatBird's running group was by far the largest along the stretch, even though we were pretty stretched out in a few main sub-groups....thus, there wasn't much time for boredom to set in. The U-Turn along Changi Coastal Road provided some fun as we cheered one another on as we pass. the front groups were not that far off from the mid-pack and rear, which was testimony to the steady Zone 2 pace they were keeping at.

It was heartening to see the Sunbirds hard at work, with nary a walk, and with focused but relaxed running posture and forms in steady strides and pretty good cadence. The breathing were regulated, with the shoulders held up steady....practising some of the tips dispensed by Coach & The Trainers :) I had more chats and sharing with the Sunbirds and Pacers on the way back, hearing interesting stories about Indian Expeditions, training sessions very early in the mornings, inline skating champions, hill running, et al. At around the F2 area, the skies became very gloomy, threatening to 'Cry Out Loud'.

Then we encountered something out of the ordinary, very strong winds blowing up a sand-storm, and some even thought it was a tsunami brewing...haha. I held on to my cap and pushed on. With the opening of the skies, many ran helter-skelter for shelter....however, the Sunbirds were not in the least bit intimidated. We continued to push on, every step taken getting a backward slide of 1.5 steps.....real challenge to keep in line. I veered away from the sea, looking down to avoid the wind and sand from getting to my eyes, driving my arms to stay in forward motion, and pushed towards the final 2km to The PlayGround.

With 1km to go, it happened. Thunderstorm, followed by heavy rain, whacked down on us. I decided to abandon the remaining 4km, figuring that it would not be good mileage anyway....truth is I don't like to be wet...hehe. I could see Raymond and eline heading straight for The PlayGround, and I followed suit. I got back to the warm FatBird Nest just in time before the big downpour. DO, Kia Liang, K3 and their group were caught in that big time....totally drenched, but looking so happy....guess they welcomed that relief from the earlier hot weather. The Marathon Pacers like Nigel and Teck Wee continued onwards for the full 28km, while we completed with the Sunbirds at 24km. Everybody cheered each time the remaining runners returned from the heavy rain. The bunch of hungry runners walloped bananas, apples and isotonic drinks....satisfying...arhhh!

As the rain subsided along with the timings being recorded by the Sunbird Registration & Training Team, there were already discussions on next week's 20km-30km hilly run in the Western Hills Region. 1-2 runners even canceled their races next Sunday to join the Sunbird's Session #4. It should be another memorable workout experience for most....something I am already anticipating and looking forward to. Hmmm, I have finished my kopi-O and a nice hot bowl of seafood kuay teow soup....time to give my tired legs a simple rub-down and massage of the foam roller and uSqueez. Till then, watch for the posting of Training Schedule and Tips From The Coach for next week at the Sunbird microsite....and a small takeaway for all this week from me - LOSE TO WIN; RUN SLOW TO BE FAST :)

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