Friday, November 20, 2009

Run With Marathon Pacers - Session #1

Run With Marathon Pacers #1, Courtesy DO, Byron

It was the longest run for the Sunbirds of 35km, as well as the start of the 3-run series of ‘Run With Marathon Pacers’. To better organize the various groups training with the Pacers, we had the Sunbirds gather in the FatBird Nest and then the Marathon Pacees (who were generally new runners who have signed up to familiarize with the Pacers and their paces) assembled at the open space at The PlayGround@Big Splash.

After the tip #8 was dispensed to the Sunbirds by Coach Jonathan and the FatBird Trainers, the 150 runners assembled together for a welcome and introduction of the various Pacer Groups. That was followed by a detailed route briefing, before the customary Group Photo, and then the flag off of the respective groups starting with the 6:00h down to the 3:45h together with the 21km and 10km runners.

Each Pace Group easily had 10 runners running along, and as we got into pace, there were lots of cheering and chatting to get to know one another. The 4hr Group was maintaining 5:42min/km pace for the first 9km, a tad behind optimum pace, but we took the time to get warmed up (in that rather cool weather...hehe). It was nice getting to know a few of the new ‘Pacees’ following our 4hr group. Keonz was heading the group, with Spencer, YN and Anthony providing the mid and rear guard. Weison, Kevin and the 2hr group was true to form in maintaining an equivalent pace till NSRCC, where they U-turned for their remaining 21km journey.

We could see the 3:45h group in front, and signalled to CH to up the pace, before we all ran into the Changi Coastal stretch. The weather remained cloudy but nice. Changi Coastal was full of bikes and bladders plying the routes, and we took extra care to stay vigilant in order to avoid any nasty incidents. The U-turn at the 13km mark had our pace down to an average of 5:39min/km. It was fun again as we cheered the various pace groups and their runners coming to the U-turn point. The 4:15h group was rock steady, the 4:30h group was large and smiley, the 4:45h group gave the loudest cheers, 5:00 group was large but very focused. The 5:15h and 5:30h groups were a little thin, as most of the runners joined the 6hr group. The pacers did well to maintain their respective optimal pace plans, hardly skipping a beat.

It was a sight to behold as we see large groups of Team FatBird Pacers and Runners running along Changi Coastal. Some biker shouted from across the road ‘FATBIRD!!!’...I thought he looked like SC5, but I will have to confirm ;) As we got back into NSRCC, we spotted more familiar faces, but did not really stop to chat for long as we had a ‘pace’ to maintain. Yamsong and the 4hr runners were maintaining the pace well, and was soon rewarded with our 1st toilet break just after the sailing centre. Keonz continued to push the pace after a short break, while we tried to catch up slowly but surely (average pace down to 5:38min/km). I informed the rest we had some buffer built up, but we should try to take advantage of the nice weather to maintain pace.

We reached back to The Playground (26km mark) still feeling good, and posed for Byron who was taking running shots. Byron was a real help with taking the runners in action, and his ‘ACTION’ photos make for good material in our field reports :) Onwards towards Fort Road we went, still feeling good. The 4hr group was maintaining well, and we soon saw CH turning back. The 21km 2:30h pace group of Ee Lyn, Angela, accompanied by Helen looked steady with their Pacees running alongside. We cheered again, and before long, spotted the SAFRA MF runners at Carpark B1 area. They too shouted ‘Jia You’ as we made good progress. I told the group that we would take another toilet break after we U-turn at the end of Fort Road.

The turn back put us in good view of YN who was closing in on our 4hr pace, followed by Li Lian, Johnny, Matthew and the 4:15h group, and then the 4:30h group. There were other ‘Pacees’ strung around these few groups, and we made sure we gave one another some applause as we crossed paths. We reached back to The PlayGround for 29km. With just 6km to go, our spirits remained high, as we made sure not to drop our paces. It was by then 5:37min/km pace. One of the 4hr runners bade farewell, vowing to join us again next week. Yamsong was feeling a little of the effects, and slowed down a tad to maintain a sustainable pace.

Keonz and I pushed forward, our sights set on the Yellow Toilet, the final U-turn back to The PlayGround for the finish. We saw more Sunbirds and Pacees coming our way, and again, we cheered one another as we pass. It is always the encouragement and cheers that motivates and relieves the boredom in such long runs. We soon reached the Yellow Toilet, and as we turned, we saw Yamsong, followed by YN. The 3:45h group had turned slightly earlier, and now it was our turn to be bound for end point. Everyone looked happy enough, with smiles of encouragement, knowing that we will complete the 35km in good shape.

Our group (4:00hr) finished 34.5km in 3hr13min, at an average pace of 5:37min/km. The rear guard along with the body finished in about 5:40min/km. It was a hive of activity at the Pavilion down by the finish point, as we took some drinks and mingled with the runners who had finished. Most were very satisfied with the pace and the entire run. Wee was with his family to support the runners too. Patrick had a blazing run, starting with the 4:30h group, and then moving up to eventually finish with the 4hr group.

As more runners returned with their Pace Groups, there were cheers and smiles of joy as they accomplish the final long run in good form. It was great for the ‘mind’ as they bring with them the knowledge they can complete the race at the desired pace (with even some buffer built in) on the big day. There were not much complaints of soreness, nor shoes giving problems. The weather was real kind to all, allowing us to end this long run with such a good feeling. The 5:30h and 6:00h groups completed their runs dutifully before 11:30am, which was the cut-off of the 4hr15min they should come back by. With all the happy faces, we grabbed the opportunity to take more photos for the marathon album.

A Job Well Done!

Next weekend will be the start of tapering, with a 28km run on Saturday for all Sunbirds, Pacers and Pacees. Registration for Session 2 of the ‘Run With Marathon Pacers’ was opened on Saturday. A quick check showed that ¾ of the slots have been taken up. We will see yet another large group at next weekend’s 28km paced run, and it was be another opportunity for the runners to hone their paces and try out their hydration, fuel and gear for race day. After this morning’s experience, we expect the runners to be even more prepared and conditioned next weekend. We are on the final stretch of the Journey Towards SCSM09. The Team FatBird Marathon Pacers will be there in full force to provide the pacing and guidance yet again. Follow Our Pace, Win Your Race!


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At 5:39 PM, Blogger 非凡 said...

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