Saturday, April 12, 2014

Gold Coast Marathon Training 2014

Operation Kookaburra - Gold Coast Airport Marathon (GCAM) 12-week training program got off to a smooth start at Changi Beach which saw close to 50 participants joining in for its kickoff session.

On a cool night, buzzing with activity by Changi Beach point, the Kookaburra trainers/pacers met with the trainees for the first time, and quickly melded into their respective target training groupings.  

A quick briefing was conducted to inform participants of the Team FatBird FlightZONES structure of the 12-week program, and how we would be proceeding to build up our foundation and long run endurance for a good showing at GCAM 2014.

The Kookaburras started off alongside the Ops NightHawk participants (who were in their sixth session in the run up to Sundown Marathon) and soon were settling in to enjoy the night's training run of 13km-21km.  For a first session, the enthusiastic Kookaburras did reasonably well, although more work will need to be done to help find their sustained paces in the weeks of training that will follow.

The quiet of the cool night was abuzz with the Kookaburras and NightHawks's footsteps and the regular chatter amongst pace group members as they strode along the 'mentally draining' Coastal Road stretch.  Running parallel to the Changi Airport, this 14km stretch (7km each way) offers the runners very good training for pace and building up their mental strength for long distance running.

The good mix of Groups 1 & 2 Full Marathon trainees along with Group 3 FM and HM trainees provided the Kookaburra trainers/pacers with plenty to do, stretching their pace management boundaries wide to reign in the well strung-on runners - a commendable effort from the trainers/pacers who did a great job.

The night ended rather young for the Kookaburras as most had no problems meeting the training objectives and returned 'home' within the set paces for their respective distances.  Bananas and isotonic drinks greeted and rewarded the happy Kookaburras for the good effort and enthusiasm for training displayed.

We look forward to the next face-face session with the Kookaburras in a fortnight, where we will do another night flight, this time longer and along the mystic trail road and park connectors of the Reservoir/Mandai Reserves.

Run Kookaburra, Run Kookaburra,
You Have Got What It Takes!

Photos by FatBirds Meng Kiat, CK Chin

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sundown Marathon Lead Up Run #1

The Sundown Marathon Training (Lead Up) Runs series is an integral part of the Sundown Marathon program to help Sundown Runners build up for a good race on May 31.

Two weeks before Lead Run Run #1 on Mar29, registrations already busted the maximum allowable being closed...and that happened to Lead Up Runs #2 and #3 as well - registrations for all 3 Lead Ups maxed out even before we got underway with Lead Up Run #1.

In anticipation of a large crowd, the Sundown Organizer (HiVelocity) together with the Sundown Pacers worked closely with the hydration sponsors 100Plus & Maxinutrition to put together what turned out to be an eventful and exciting night for the 400+ Sundown Runners who came.  The first ones started to drift in from 7pm, and by 8pm, the Playground @ Big Splash, ECP was buzzing with the heat of excitement.

The Sundown Pacers were on hand to welcome the runners into their respective pace groupings of Half Marathon (2:00h, 2:15h, 2:30h) & Full Marathon (4:00h, 4:30h, 5:00h, 5:30h, 6:00h), stamped them with the Sundown Marathon chop, and assimilated them into the team.  

A warm welcome from HiVelocity was given before Team FatBird briefed the runners on the evening's routes, training paces, safety instructions, and introducing the Sundown Marathon Pacers to the public for the very first time.

Then there were the futile attempts to fit everyone into the group photo to shouts of "Sundown, Sundown, Bring On The Night!" - everyone was so highly charged that there was not really a need for flashes, but cameras with telescopic lens :D  

The respective Pace Groups were then flagged off to the sound of the blaring horn, and with the lighted wrist bands provided and the blinking lights on their bodies, the Sundown Runners & Pacers strode down ECP towards Fort Road, looking like a flock of lighted, blinking birds - a sight to behold.

The night flight then went along Mountbatten road before turning into the serene Geylang & Tanjong Rhu Park Connectors.  The run along the quiet riverside on the ride with greenery on the left, interspersed by occupied park benches made for quite a relaxing and therapeutic run, and the occasional light breeze in what was a humid evening helped stoke the already high spirits of the runners - song and laughter broke out midway as the runners approached the Viper water point at the entrance to Gardens By The Bay - East.

The Maxinutrition drinks station, stocked with iced cold Viper isotonic & electrolyte drinks was a welcomed sight for the thirsty flock as they shouted with joys of "Sundown, Sundown, Bring On The Night!".  

After a regroup, the runners continued across the Marina Barrage, and when they saw a crowd gathered, joyful choruses of "Ehh-Oh Sundown Runners Ahh...I Wanna Be A Sundown Runner Ahh...HOOhh-HAHhh" broke out to applause and appreciation from the public, who were amused and impressed by these groups of runners maintaining steady paces and yet looking and feeling so happy and relaxed.

The Half Marathon groups took their cues from their Sundown Pacers and turned back for their return back to Big Splash for a 17km BaseBuild pace run completion.  The Full Marathoners proceeded towards Marina Bay Sands, which was choc-a-block with many people and activities around the bay.  

The Sundown Runners broke into song a few more times as they cleared the way for a relatively smooth passage to Fullerton Bay Hotel before making their U-turn back to Big Splash.

The Lead Up Runners were having so much fun as a group that they did not feel too bad in spite of the clock closing in on their 'sleepy' bodies and having to contend with humidity.  The group energies and the motivation by the Sundown Pacers went a good way in ensuring that the groups stayed close together and in pace all the way back.

The Half Marathoners completed their joyful journey from 10.30pm onwards while the Full Marathoners reached back to Big Splash at 11pm, leaving them with ample time for another 2km-4km to complete the 26km distance prescribed. 

The beeline for the iced cold 100Plus was well managed by HiVelocity and the tired runners were just happy to relax on the floor, sipping their iced cold drinks and maxi milk for recovery, while listening in to the debrief and instructions for Lead Up Run #2.

As Lead Up Run #1 came to a close at 11.30pm, the high levels of endorphins kept the runners, especially the Sundown Pacers buzzing as more group photos were taken, coupled with excited chatter and sharing of tips and information.  

It was a very successful and immensely enjoyable lead up run, which would not have been possible without the outstanding organization of HiVelocity, the professionalism and commitment of the Sundown Pacers, as well as the enthusiastic participation and engaged cooperation of the Lead Up Runners - you all ROCKED THE NIGHT!

Sundown, Sundown, Who's The Best!
Sundown Runners, We're The Best!
Sundown Runners, Bring On The Night!  HOOhh-HAHhhh

Photos from FatBirds CK Chin, Meng Kiat

Monday, March 17, 2014

Ops NightHawk 2014: Maiden Night Mission

It was moderately hazy in the later part of the week till the afternoon of the first night Long Run session, where light showers across the island cleared the skies and made for a crisp low-PSI night, just the kind that makes the more than 100 NightHawks turn up at Macritchie Reservoir (MR) Amenities Centre by 7:45pm.

For many, it was their maiden training session specifically for a night marathon, while others have not experienced running long distances in the green lung of Singapore in the night.  It was an adventure of sorts that many had been anticipating for the whole week, all eager to get in their first night long training run.

There was a buzz of activity at MR Amenities Centre, which normally see lower human traffic by 8:00pm.  The enthusiastic chatter of the of the NightHawks more than drowned the mic system we were using for briefings, not to mention the breaking of the quiet of the night - but then, it was a good thing as the adrenalin rush soon got all of us through our very first night run of 15km-23km.  It was not quite as easy as it seemed, as running in the night is really quite a different kettle of fish than daytime running.

After the usual training brief and group photos, the respective pace groups of trainers, pacers and trainees, many armed with lights and blinkers got off to a smooth start through the dark and onto the brightly lit Thomson Road, before turning into the quieter Lower Peirce Reservoir (LPR) Road, skirting Casuarina Road and then onto the Old Upper Thomson Road (OUTR).  

As we ran along OUTR, we could almost imagine how it was like in the old days where this place was a Grand Prix track and how the fast cars were zooming past to loud cheering fans.

As we enjoyed the serenity and peace of the night, we found enjoyment and unison running as groups with a purpose, in steps and paces at times, with the occasional commands of the NightHawk Pacers giving guidance on direction and safety.  

We found time to share our experiences as well as tips on night running, and for many of us, it was an interesting experience of learning about our own capacities and abilities to sustain good paces at night.

 While the Half Marathoners almost reached the end of OUTR before U-turning and heading back to base, the Full Marathoners moved towards Mandai Road and then onto Seletar Reservoir Park.  It was quite and beautiful at night as we ran past the brightly-lit driving range with the row of cars parked along the roadside, accompanied by the moonlit sky smiling upon us as we ran in groups to the toilet point at the top.

After a good break and filling up of water bottles, we made our way back via the slip-road by the Observation Tower.  The paces were still well maintained at BaseBuild effort when we entered back onto OUTR, which were sustained all the way back to MR.  

Because of the poor lighting at certain spots, coupled with the effects of tiring legs, there were a few tumbles and thankfully, there weren't any serious injuries other than a few cuts and bruises.  All these incidents do make night running more interesting, but at the same time serve as reminders that running at night do require extra doses of concentration, coupled with good proprioception abilities.

All the NightHawks returned by 11:15pm, which allowed the training to end sufficiently early for all to have a good wash-up before taking public transport back for home by the 'witching hour'.  As we looked back at this first session of night training, we were all smiles that we were able to complete with strength, although it turned out to be quite a challenge for some of us towards the end.  

The terrain and effects of the night did present obstacles, and we were glad that the NightHawks completed the Challenge in good form and high spirits.  The adrenalin rush post-run kept many wide-awake as they went their separate ways for supper or just a nice soak with R.I.C.E. treatment at home.

Dusk Came And The NightHawks Have Emerged!

Facebook photos by NightHawks CK ChinMeng Kiat

Ops NightHawk ProgramOps NightHawk Facebook


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