Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Highs Of 2009

This was an exciting year for me and Team FatBird on the running front, which saw the growth of the Team FatBird running community and various marathon training operations. I had a 'quiet' year in terms of race participation, as I officially ran in one 10km, 15km, 21km and 42km, Ultra-Marathon race each. However, the successes of Team FatBird Runners & Marathon Trainees more than rewarded me and the team with their many PBs and rave reviews. The following are key highlights of 2009 as we welcome 2010:

1. Launched Operation NightHawk, a 12-week night marathon training program for Sundown 2009
2. Successfully organized Operation Kingfisher, a 6-week half-marathon training program for the Singapore Bay run/Army Half Marathon (SBR/AHM).
3. Achieved my half marathon PB of 1hr40min at the AHM (with no specific training)
4. Participated in run-leading and marshaling for the various Nike Runs and Race Preparation Training
5. Getting Team FatBird involved in SCSM09 Run For A Cause by recruiting runners for charity, and offering free marathon training for RFAC participants, and getting rewarded with a most meaningful and rewarding experience.
6. Getting Team FatBird Pacers team appointed as official marathon pacers of SCSM09. participants to achieve their respective timing goals. We had a larger team of 50 Pacers this time.
7. Extended Team FatBird to manage and lead more I-Run sessions
8. Fielded Team FatBird Athletes in the NorthFace 100 Ultra-Marathon
9. Achieved my 10km PB of 44min at the Nike Human Race Run (without training as well)
10. Completed a most successful Operation Sunbird, a 12-week full marathon training program for SCSM 2009
11. Initiated and implemented the Run With Marathon Pacers Program
12. Made lots more new friends and running kakis
13. Enjoyed a whole year of injury-free running

May 2010 bring more cheers and joys in running for me and Team FatBird :)

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

MR25 Ultra-Marathon 2009

Photo Slideshow, courtesy FatBird DO
Facebook albums from Byron, Joe, Alex, acleong

It is a yearly ritual for us MR25 Runners, as well as friends from the running community. With all the festive feasting and revelry, the MR25 Ultra-Marathon which allows us to run 10.5km laps around the MacRitchie trails from Dawn (7am) to Dusk (7pm), offers the perfect setting to burn off those excesses during Christmas and New Year. I have participated in this annual race since 2005, save for the 2007 edition when I was away for the Chiangmai Marathon.

Beverly and quite a number of maiden Ultra-Runners joined us for the first time this year. The renovated MR Visitor Centre offered a good registration/lap point for the 250+ registered runners. There were a few new rules put out to make the race a much better experience, such as the 2hr per lap rule, and not taking short cuts via the Golf Course. My plan this year was to run in the FatBird BaseBuild Zone, aiming to complete 70min 10.5km laps. I advised Beverly to go with a 90min lap time as pace, and to take it easy the first 3 laps.

It was great meeting up with friend and runners from Team FatBird, Punggol Runners, SgRunners, MR25, SAFRA Runners, Pacesetters from Malaysia, and all the photographers who were on location. There were so many photographers this year, and it was a pleasure to pose for them as we ran by. I did the first lap in 1hr13min, and felt good. Had a quick chat with Joe and Charlene, before proceeding for lap 2. There was more space by then, as the runners have dispersed along the trails. The weather was cool, and the ground was a tad muddy with the early dawn showers.

Lap 2 was done in 1hr10min to rousing cheers of supporting friends. I took a banana and some 100plus, and then saw senza coming with her more photographer. As I passed Nancy, we exchanged X'Mas greetings and some words of encouragement. CK Chin was running well too. Had a nice chat with ex MR25 Club President, Steven Lee, and happy to know he has been very consistent with his running, coming off a strong marathon at SCSM09. Lap 3 was completed in 1hr10min as well. My legs were still feeling fine, just that I was a little hungry. I grabbed a Powergel and banana before proceeding to the next lap.

The 4th lap was quite uneventful. I was spending more of the time focusing on my running form, and taking care not to overstride. I could feel my calves tightening with each steep upslope along the trails. I took care not to push too hard, and just wanted to complete. The sun was rather strong along the Golf Course area, but I was feeling cool about it. I was wondering where Bev was along the course, and met Steven Ho at the water point. He was looking good, and was determined to finish the 5 laps in good time. I completed lap 4 in 1hr11min, and was happy to see the Sunbird trainees out in full force to support...Rose, SC, Amy, Cathelin, Hock Chye and the gang. We took some nice photos before I set off for my final lap. Then mentioned that Bev was on her 4th lap, so I was hoping to catch up.

Vincent told me that lunch was ready, and I was quite tempted to take something as I was quite hungry...decided against taking the oily and messy stuff, but chose to take a banana and Powergel. The 5th lap saw me walking a little up the Northern Trails, but generally I was still running. I wanted to conserve to see if I have reserves for a 6th lap. Gave ham some encouragement as well as telling Jason to push on for the finish. It felt a lot better once I was out of Northern Trails, as the upslopes were decreasing. I was pretty sure that the Cheese cakes, log cakes, fruit cake, kueh lapis I had consumed during the Christmas season gave me good energy to push on....haha.

With just 2.5km left along the Lornie Trails, it got easy as my spirits remained high. Saw XP on the final 1km stretch and we ran along for a bit, before I finished lap number 5 in 1hr15min. The total time was 6hr21min, including rests and stops for food and drinks. I was satisfied since I had the chance to 'burn' and didn't have to work too hard for it..hehe. YN and Darren were just going for their 6th lap...well done. YN should have a good chance for Podium if she does 7 laps like last year.

While waiting for Bev, we had fun taking group photos and talking about the experience. Those who did the Ultra for the first time found the course to be tough, and going in loops of 10.5km made some of them feel like hamsters...haha. It is no wonder that most wanted to stop at 5 laps. However the ladies were generally stronger in the 'mental' department, and a lot more of them were going for the 6th lap. PS was very strong, and looked to be in contention for Podium. I went for a quick wash-up and soon, people were shouting that Bev was coming back. We all cheered and clapped for her maiden Ultra-Marathon finish...well mean feat at all.

We had a chance to sample the lunch, which was not bad. The 100Plus were ample, and the finisher's top looked very nice. Clutching the certificate of completion, signed by Mark Dyson, MR25 Club President, the finishers went to collect their finisher tops with pride and joy. The beaming smiles and congratulatory hand-shakes added to the already touching scenes of completion of the MR25 trail Ultra-Marathon, a run that is respected by even the toughest trail runners and marathoners.

Beverly was very happy and proud of her accomplishment, as she secured a treat from the boy for her feat. As I sit on my sofa typing, she has slipped on her Compression Tights, and is doing her leg drains in the air-conditioned comfort of her room. I look forward to doing Mr25 Ultra-Marathon 2010 with an even bigger group of runners. Till then, A Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to all!

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Back To The Western Slopes

After a restful and heavy-eating post SCSM09, it was a nice homecoming to our ex training ground at the Mt. Faber region this weekend. In preparation for the HK Marathon in Feb10, we have planned for more runs at more hilly areas like MR and MF to better ready for the final hilly part of the HK race. The weather was immaculate...crispy cool, as the few of us gathered at the SAFRA MF ClubHouse. A quick brief of the rather convoluted but challenging 20-26km route later, the 15 of us set forth along Depot Road towards Pasir Panjang Rd, turning up to Buona Vista Rd. The pace was below 6min/km for most of the first 10km as I covered the rear with Arthur and Beverly.

It was nice chatting with the runners about SCSM, HKM and Sundown as we soaked in the fresh Sunday morning air. DO led the first group of Keonz, YN, Terry, Spencer, Andy, Costner, acleong, while I was with the second group as we entered into the first hilly area of NUS. It felt good to be back on the slopes after all those long runs on the flat and hard ECP surfaces for the past months. I was happy to feel the workout in spite of making the occasional stops to gather the flock in between checkpoints. By the time we exited NUS, all had worked up a good sweat and was eager for more scenic spots.

Entering Science Park and Kent Ridge Park, we had gathered Priscilla, zco, Bev, acleong, Arthur, Toh after Costner/Eng Pat went off to a slightly different route. Johnny and Alex who were slightly late, were seen entering the NUS area at that point. The small group with me were impressed with the scenic views of Kent Ridge Park, and enjoyed the ride up the slopes. Without too much trouble, the group made it to the tank area to have our first toilet stop.

Along the way, I showed them some of the other scenic running areas. The downslope of Bukit Chandu was enjoyed as a nice breather, before setting up ourselves for the ascent up the final slope of Mt. Faber. By the time we reached the Kampong Bahru side, a number of them felt they have enough workout and decided to return to the ClubHouse for a good 20km. Arthur, Bev, Toh and myself proceeded up MF along the steeper Kg. Bahru side. I was impressed with their tenacity as they made their way gingerly all the way to the top. From there it was another nice downslope to enjoy before another 4km and a couple of smaller slopes back to ClubHouse. By then the sun was high up, although there was still a cool breeze blowing.

We completed 26km at least, and with the slopes, the effort did feel like 28-29km for some of the runners new to the terrain. Overall, all were happy with the rather hard, but manageable workout, before settling into Ah Kun for that cuppa and good kaya Toast. We have lots more discussions about the MR25 Ultra, HK Marathon, Xiamen Marathon, and the upcoming FatBird Weekender in the North-Eastern 'Spring Of Wealth' to usher in the New Year. There is also a upcoming Post SunBird Certification Dinner for all Pacers and Sunbirds to look forward to. It is beginning to look a lot like Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Facebook photos by Andy

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

SCSM09 Reflections...

With the successful completion of SCSM09, it is also time for me to take a breather from all those long weekend training runs and preparations of the Marathon Pacers. Looking at the rave reviews and compliments from the appreciative runners who have made their dream timings and completions at SCSM09, it was all worth the extra distance (no pun intended) we went to map the pace strategies and plans, organize pace training and familiarization runs, provide sufficient opportunities for the runners to prepare ahead of the race, and finally meet and pace with them in completing what would be the 'mother' of all marathons in Singapore.

Pacing for the 4:00h yet again this year, I was happy to see such a large group of runners following the group and being able to make it to sub-4hr timing. I felt that the field of marathoners this year was much stronger than in previous years, as many of them came prepared, and were able to last most of the way with the Pace Team. Being the sweeper of my pace team this time, I had the pleasure and vantage view of the group running in unison and nice formation. I was heartened to know that all the other Pace Groups in our team also had similar experiences, and were able to bring many 'Pacees' across to their target timings, closing up with the finish 2-3min after the cut-off pace time for their respective groups.

With the feedback and comments from all quarters, I will be doing a post mortem with my marathon pace team, to see how we can improve and contribute to benefit even more marathon runners seeking to accomplish their dream target timings. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Team FatBird Runners, sponsors and partners, friends and runners from the various running clubs, running kakis and friends, the running community for all the support, encouragement and constructive feedback provided to Team FatBird to accomplish the SCSM09 mission in our philosophy of Follow Our Pace, Win Your Race!

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Monday, December 07, 2009

SCSM09: The Photos Say It All!

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Saturday, December 05, 2009

SCSM09: All Systems GO!

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Friday, December 04, 2009

SCSM09 Special Feature: Follow Their Pace To Win Your Race


Straits Times SCSM09 Special Supplement: Wednesday, 2 Dec 2009

Know Your Pacer, Recognize The Face;
Follow The Pace, Ace Your Race!

Click on the Poster for their individual profiles!


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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Marathon Pacers Training: The Melting Pot

Run With Marathon Pacers Finale, Courtesy DO, Byron

The 50 slots for the Run With Marathon Pacers finale session was signed up in less than a day. We opened up another 30 slots, which were signed up in 2 days. On this Sunday morning, with just 7 days away from 0612, the 80 registered participants, along with some walk-ins, together with the Sunbirds and Marathon Pacers gathered at The PlayGround @ Big Splash for a record turnout of close to 180 runners for a long weekend TFB Training Run.

The Pacers were decked out in ‘Full Dress Rehearsal’ mode with our Race Day Gear, Pacer identification balloons, timing bibs and Pace Bands. The Sunbirds were out in full force too, especially with this all important ‘Passing Out’ and training completion of Ops Sunbird….10 weeks of progressive training runs and preparation for the SCSM09 Full, Half & Quarter Marathon distances. Many of the trainees have come a long way, with a couple having slashed many minutes from their long distances, improving on Personal Best times, weight losses from 5-12kg, and high levels of race-day readiness. Coach Jonathan gave the final tip of the Ops Sunbird Training, aptly Race Day Preparations, followed by introductions of the various Pacer Teams to rousing applause and cheers, followed by a virtual run-down on the race day route.

The group photo session went through very smoothly…it was as though all the runners knew what to do, as they assembled in double-quick, precision timing….such were the high grade of training the runners went through, including how to take nice group photos :)
As the various groups were flagged off with both Pacers and Pacees in tow towards Fort Road, many curious onlookers were watching the timing balloons and chatting among themselves who the Pace Groups were, and which ones they might consider following on Race Day. Decked out in red for the men, and green for the ladies, the Marathon Pacers should be distinctive on race day, especially with their different coloured balloons and timing bibs on the backs of their running vests.

As we ran towards Fort Road, the 4hr group was already maintaining a good 5:36min/km pace. The 2:00h 21km group were also following at the same pace. We waved to familiar faces and encouraged the other runners to run along with us. As we passed the various Pace Groups after the U-Turn at the end of Fort Road, lots of cheers and applause ensued.

All were in high spirits, and were enjoying the tapering 18km (for Full Marathon) and 13km (for Half Marathon) run at race pace. The 4hr group was still running in close-knit fashion after 5km, and by then had gone on to our optimal pace of 5:34min/km. The 3:45h group in front, and the 4:15h group behind us maintained that front section of the train, with the respective groups maintaining their paces. It was an interesting sight to behold as these rather large groups ran as though in formation and marking time to a T.

The 2:00h 21km group turned back at F1 Carpark, and we wished each other well, before proceeding onto our respective paths. The 4hr group hit 10km in 55.5min; still maintaining that 5:34min/km Pace. The spirits were high as we approached the Sailing Centre U-Turn. A quick swap of the pace balloons among the Pacers for trial, some hydration top-ups later, and away we went for the final 6km. Once again, we cheered and encouraged the various groups as we pass, all the time maintaining that still steady 5:34min/km. The respective Pace Groups were maintaining their paces well, and all were looking strong and cheery. The Pace Group Leader and Deputy were maintaining the lead and body well, while I was sweeping at the rear about 30m away, with 3-4 runners.

The final 2km was pretty interesting as the front runners knew the end was in sight. Like a rocket finishing its mission still with very ample fuel-stock, there was a tendency to want to push and burn off some of the excesses. With my constant nagging of ‘Imagine we still have 26km to go’, their strides were contained and the ‘horses’ were restrained. By then we were on an average pace of 5:33min/km, slightly better than target Optimal Pace for the first 21km.

Before long, we could see Byron the Sports Photographer in the distance. YN, Darren and a few others in the body moved up, while I ushered the rest to move up slightly to have a nice ‘ACTION RUN’ group photo. According to my GPS-enabled time-piece, we ran 18.13km in 1:41h, a pace of 5:33min/km….very nice indeed. A victory photo for the 4hr group to celebrate a job well done, as we approached the FatBird Nest for our well-deserved isotonic drinks and refreshments.

The large 6:00h Group...steady wins the race

The rest of the groups soon returned, and once again, the 4:45h group was the largest with the loudest cheers….I joined in for their celebratory finish, which came with Party Poppers, small horns, and whistles….a nice way to end the 3 session Run With Marathon Pacers series, the 10-week Operation Sunbird Marathon Training, and the 12-week Marathon Pacers Training Programs. The other pace groups all returned to similar rousing finishes, giving a wonderful and warm feeling that all the many weeks and months of hard work and perseverance has made all of us feel so good, notwithstanding the final race on 0612.

A final briefing was given to all the participants at The FatBird Nest on the final week of tapering, as well as race day meet-ups and coordination among the Pacers, Sunbirds and the runners. Special limited edition of Team FatBird-New Balance Marathon Pace Bands were given out to Sunbirds and selected ‘Run With Marathon Pacers’ participants. All 42km participants will meet up with the respective Pacer Groups from 4am at the Outdoor Amphitheatre @ The Esplanade. We should proceed to the start line by 4:55am. The 21km runners will assemble at 5:45am, and proceed to the start line by 6:15am. After The SCSM09, we invite runners to meet with the Pacers, Sunbirds and Pacees at The Tan Kim Seng Fountain (near Cenotaph) at 11am, 12pm and 12.30pm for some post-race chatter and group photos.

With this successful completion of the Operation Sunbird Marathon Training & Run With Marathon Pacers sessions, Team FatBird would like to wish all the participants at SCSM09, especially those Sunbirds, Pacees & Pacers who have trained and done group runs with us, a most fruitful and rewarding Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon on 06 Dec 09. Your Spirit Has Been Our Inspiration. We look forward to have you all Follow Our Pace, Win Your Race!

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