Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ops SunBird #6: Shifting into high gear

Training Report by FatBird Anthony
Photo Slideshow by FatBird DO

Operation Sunbird Session #6

It rained the whole night, ahead of the Ops Sunbird 6th session at The FatBird's Nest @ The PlayGround. It was still raining in the morning, but not surprisingly, I had only one call asking if the run was going on....such was the understanding of Team FatBird's modus operandi - No Run, No Fun....We won't call off any run, especially weekend training LSDs which are so hard to come by. In inclement weather, we would at worst call for a delay to the start or shorten the distance slightly.

Briefing of Marathon Pacers

It was a great turnout by the Marathon Pacers, many having come back from their overseas races and business trips, NorthFace 100 Challenge, and even Mt. Kinabalu expeditions :) The Sunbirds too turned out in strong numbers, many arriving as early as 6.40am, just waiting for that 30km to be served. Coach Jonathan gave a refresher on running form, as well as preparations for training to run long distances, including post-run recovery. We begun Pace Training with the Sunbirds running alongside the Pacers, whom will be training in their respective pace timings and strategies as a group.

After the customary group photo, the field was flagged off in their respective groups according to target paces. I was with the 4hr group, targeting to run an average 5:40min/km pace for 35km. YN, Spencer, Yamsong and myself were joined by the 2:00h, 2:15h 21km Pacers Kelvin, Angela. The skies were cloudy, the ground dry, and the weather was cool. The Pacers don our Pacer Training top to test them out, along with the allocated trainers for the run-in. We could see the 3:45h Pace Group of Henry, Angelo and CH in front, whilst the 4:15h group of Eline, Andy and team were just behind. It was great to see all keeping to their paces. Saw Wee at the 9km mark near NSRCC, and exchanged greetings. It was not too crowded at ECP this morning, presumably many runners thinking that the weather would be bad, and so calling off their runs.

Miranda and Kelvin turned at the cal connector, while the rest of the 42km groups continued on to Changi Coastal Road. Our 4hr Pace Group was still mantaining 5:41min/km pace as we turned around at the 13km mark. The 3:45h Group was consistent...*kudos*. We were still feeling quite good as I reminded yamsong to hold his horses. The return had us crossing paths with the rest of the Pace Groups and Sunbirds, and the 4:30h, 4:45h and 5:00h were the biggest groups, with cheers and applauses. That perked all up a little, as we increased pace in the very cool weather.

We chugged along back towards The PlayGround, and taking advantage of the nice weather, we upped the pace slowly. By the 26km mark, we were averaging 5:37min/km. I told the rest that we had some buffer and we should just get into cruise mode...haha. There were not much chatter by then as all were focused to completing the remaining 4-9km. It was a nice change of scenery as we proceeded past the start point towards Fort Road. The weather remained cool, and that allowed us to sustain the pace. The other Pace Groups and Sunbirds were all enjoying the runs and each time we met, there would be claps of encouragement for is always fun to be training and running in groups.

When we reached back to The PlayGround, Yamsong had finished his 30km with a solid pace of 5:36min/km. I proceeded along with Spencer and the rest towards the Cable Ski area and bumped into the happy 4:30h group of DO, Li Lian, Helen, Nigel, and an entourage of Sunbirds. This group looked so strong, as if they had just ran 10km, when they had by then covered 26km. Doing these return loops allowed me to be able to see most of our pacers and Sunbirds, and it is always a joy to watch them in serious training. Ben was so steady and focused in just completing his pace, trying to adjust his timing to fit the 6hr Pace Group's requirement. I also bumped into quite a number of familiar faces, notable Wee San who was looking trim and fit, and running strong....she has improved remarkably.

Suan, Beng, Amy, Yong and the Sunbirds were leading the way towards Fort Road as we exchanged greetings on the run for the final pass. I took a U-turn just before the Cable Ski area, and by then, I was running alone with 3km to complete. I continued on with a 5:35min/km average finish till the end of the 35km at The PlayGround. Those who did 30km were back and replenishing themselves with bananas, apples and isotonic drinks; at the same time sharing happily their conquests of the 30km distance and feeling so good after such a long run. Many of them did not look any tired than running 10km, and most would have been able to go for another 5-10km if called upon...hehe. Ramesh was waxing lyrical about the banana he took at mid-point which boosted his energy levels way high.

As more of the Marathon Pacers and Sunbirds from the other Pace Groups returned, we were busy handing out refreshments and distributing Pacers Training Gear. Many small groups were around The SandPit and Lawn area, sharing and chit-chatting about their training progress and improvements since joining Operation Sunbird. Weight loss asides, many Sunbirds have indeed been conditioned for more challenging conditions like the time they were at MF hills, or when they faced the Sand Storm, or even last week's sweltering heat....all these have made them stronger runners, not only physically, but mentally.

I have no doubts many of them are on the road to completing a commendable 10km, 21km and 42km marathon at SCSM09...the only question that remains would be how fast and in how good a form would they do? That would be all up to the individual Sunbirds' industrious training attitude, coupled with good discipline and a degree of sacrifice to make it for all the remaining training sessions. The training next weekend would see us inching up in the distance, and if the heat comes back on, it would surely be a good test of our base and foundation. Till then, Your Marathon Destination will be Our Race Preparation for you - Operation Sunbird #6.

Friday, October 30, 2009

HPB Special: Are You Exercising Enough?

HPB SPECIAL Feature in SHAPE Magaizine (Nov09 issue)

The Health Promotion Board (HPB), organizer of the I-Run, has done a special health feature in the Nov09 issue of SHAPE Magazine to promote a healthy lifestyle through exercising. The first part features runners at the I-Run @ River Promenade starting off for their evening runs of 3km, 5km, 7km. Some of the regular I-Runners (average of 160-200 runners per Tues/Thurs session) who have been joining these Team FatBird led runs may find themselves in the photo insert :)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Party At Our Pace

As we enter into high gear for the training of one of the most important distance running race in the local calendar, The Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2009 (SCSM09), we will be doing lots of long distance weekend runs to hone our paces in the hope of completing our marathons in target times, fine form notwithstanding.

With the recent announcement of Team FatBird Marathon Pacers for SCSM09, many have been asking what the roles of Pacers are, how best to follow a Pacer' timing, and what and how Pacers can help runners achieve their marathon goals. We would like to share the Oct 08 Runners World Article on Marathon Pacing with all SCSM09 participants, especially those in the half and full marathon categories. Enjoy!

RunnersWorld Oct 08 Feature


Marathons are never easy, but pace groups make them less hard and more fun. Want proof? Follow along.

By John Hanc

Photograph by Ryan Donnell

PUBLISHED 09/10/2008, RunnersWorld Magazine

The tall, thin man with the salt-and-pepper beard hesitated before he stepped through a crush of runners and elbowed his way to a table at the Philadelphia Marathon Expo. "What," he shouted over the din, "what is this?" Seated behind the table, I launched into a prepared 60-second speech. "This is the Clif Bar Pace Team," I said. "You can take one of these and use it to pace yourself." I gestured to the thin paper wrist bracelets, each printed with mile splits adding up to a 26.2 goal time; the bracelets were organized by predicted finishes from three hours, 10 minutes to five hours, 30 minutes.

"Or you can run with one of our pace-group leaders."

"How much does it cost?"

"Nothing," I said.

"You mean I can run with my own pacer...for free?"

"Well, there'll be other runners with you. But you don't have to worry about your mile splits. Just stay with us, and we'll get you across the finish line in the time you want."

He raised his eyebrows.

"No, really," I said, abandoning the script. "These people are good. They'll get you the time, or no more than two minutes faster."

He snatched up a four-hour bracelet and smiled. "I haven't run a marathon in 20 years," he said. "I wish you guys had been around then."

Indeed, 20 years ago, the only runners with pacesetters were elites who had paid "rabbits" to help them hit splits on their way to fast, incentive-pay-laden times. Today, however, pace groups have become as integral to the modern marathon experience as timing chips, gel stations, and postrace space blankets. If you've run a marathon--or even a large half-marathon--in the last five years, chances are you've seen them: troops of runners clustered around a leader carrying balloons or a banner emblazoned with a goal finish time. When marathons offer pace groups, an estimated 30 percent of the field chooses to run with one (the 4:00 pace group attracts the largest crowds). "Our runners expect it," says Virginia Brophy Achman, executive director for the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon.

Sometimes the pace groups are led by volunteers from local running clubs; sometimes they're outfitted and organized by major sponsors. Nike, for example, will sponsor the groups at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on October 12, where approximately 100 pacers will lead 20 groups, with projected finish times from three hours to 5:45. (Chicago employs multiple leaders per team, in case of injury or illness.) Part cheerleader, part psychiatrist, a pacer spends many hours during the race encouraging, cajoling, and reassuring scores and sometimes hundreds of relative strangers to their dream finish line.

The pace group booth is one of the most popular at prerace expos, and not only because people want to sign up or get a bracelet with the splits. In Philadelphia last November, a distraught woman with frizzy hair and frazzled, bloodshot eyes poured her running heart out to the Clif Bar Pace Team's founder and co-captain Darris Blackford. "I did my last long run three weeks ago. It was 20 miles, but now I'm thinking I should have gone farther. I'm not sure what pace to go at because the program I was following said I should run my long runs two minutes below race pace, but now I'm not sure what my race pace is because I didn't get a chance to do a tune-up race."

The Complete Article CONTINUES HERE


Check out the Team FatBird Marathon Pacers' website for details of the Marathon Pacers' schedules and activities in preparation for the SCSM09.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ops SunBird #5: Pace Training & Heat Conditioning

Attentive Sunbirds @ Session #5

It was the day just after the Nike Human Race 10km, and the gruelling NorthFace 100 Challenge of 25km, 50km and 100km distances. A number of the Pacers were taking a rest, whilst the Sunbirds were set to do a recovery 18km-28km run, or was it? The turnout was not bad considering that many were coming to do back-back LSDs.

Coach Ben Pulham came in place of Jonathan who was nursing a bad stomach. The Marathon Pacers were out in good numbers though, although a number of us had races on Saturday. This morning saw us kick-starting Pace training, with the various Pace Groups running along with the trainees. The various groups were dispatched one after another, ending with the 21km and 10km runners. All were faithfully adopting a steady pace, which was indication of the good base the runners have built up over the past 4-6 weeks of training.

I ran along with the 4:15h group, then the 4:30 group, before heading back to join the 4:45 and 5:00h pace groups. It was nice to see the various groups running as a bunch, with the pace group leaders providing guidance on the direction and pace to the runners. There were also good sharing going around the runners, who have got to know one another over the few weeks. The 10km group turned back at F2, while the 21km and 42km runners proceeded on to NSRCC. It was cloudy at first, but the sun was threatening to rear itself. It was fun and motivating as the various timing groups clapped and provided encouragement as we run past one another.

The group gathered at NSRCC (9km mark) for a pit stop, and was generously offered iced cold drinks by the SAFRA Toa Payoh runners who were also doing their LSD. The Sunbirds and Pacers were thankful for the nice gesture, especially when the sun was already out by then. The various timing groups then proceeded back towards The PlayGround for lap 1. Along the way, I had a good chance to run along the various pace groups, and get a sense of their spirit of cooperation. The 21km runners of SC, Rose and marcob were the epitome of motivation as they trotted along in their slow but very steady pace, with no walking.

Spoke with Li Lian and Annie who were running the 4:15 timing, and then Nigel, Fang Jie and their 4:30h group. All looked strong for the trip to F2, and I soon moved ahead to wait for them. Saw a Sunbird who wasn’t feeling well, and advised him to cut short the run. I was surprised to see him later on, covering 20km+, as he mentioned he would go on after feeling better....such was the resolve of these Sunbird trainees to put their worth of training in, without looking for any excuses to shorten the runs nor slack....I am always impressed and heartened by them.

After 23km, I spent some time at the F2 toilet point welcoming the various groups, and cheering them on. They ran much stronger this morning in spite of the heat. Annie was commenting that it was one of the hottest runs she has encountered. After realizing she just did a 15km on Saturday, I advised her to be happy with another 28km, no more . Nigel joined the 2 ladies to complete the final 5km. The rest of the groups, esp. the 4:45h group led by Terry also came on strongly. K3 was full of smiles after 23km. Ramesh said he felt stronger after banana and isotonic replenishment. I turned back along with Nicholas, Beverly, Irene, Patrick, and the 5hr group.

The final 5km run was filled with lots more chats with the Pacers, and encouraging some of the slowing runners. I was able to maintain to BaseBuild zone for 95% of the 28km run. The heat provided some very good conditioning, as hydration and refuel became important factors affecting the trainees’ performances. DO, Wee and Darren welcomed the runners back to The FatBird Nest with shouts of ‘Job Well Done’ and ‘Isotonic Drinks & Bananas’. I downed a few cups of 100plus and an apple before continuing to speak with the Pacers about their training and gear.

As we progress to cover even longer LSDs over the next few weekends, we will be starting earlier to allow runners sufficient time to complete their runs before taking severe beatings from the heat. Pace Training will go into overdrive as we encourage runners to test themselves at certain paces over longer distances and varying conditions. Pace Group & Section Leaders will monitor the progress and performances of all Sunbirds and Pacers, hopefully to advise them to make incremental enhancements to form, distance and pace. Things should get even more interesting and fruitful, and I will strongly urge all Pacers and Sunbirds to avoid missing training sessions from now.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Nike Human Race 2009

Race Report by FatBird Anthony
Field Photos by FatBird DO
Racers & Runners from Nike, Team FatBird, Sunbirds, SgRunners

FatBird Runners @ Human Race: Birds Fly, Human Race!

It was a humid morning as me and DO slow jogged from Suntec City to The Singapore Flyer/F1 Pit Stop for the Nike Human Race 10km race, The Day The World Runs. Team FatBird has provided run marshalling and pacing for the 3 training sessions to prepare runners for this race, and this morning, we were to take it easy and just soak in the atmosphere, and let the good organizers plan everything.

It was evident from Race Pack Collection that the organization for this year’s Human Race was going to be good, and I was most happy to be participating as I had to miss the inaugural version last year. After catching up with familiar faces, I lined up by 6:50am, and inched my way to about 10m from the start. I could see the elites and partners, and of course Team FatBird members DO, YN, Spencer, Terry, Keonz and a few Team FatBird Runners nearer to the front.

After a rousing warm-up session by the electrifying band, we were flagged off at 7.20am. The route was spacious, and soon I was running quite freely at about 4:20min/km pace...oops, a tad too fast for me....tried to slow down a little. A few overtook me as I was happily drafting off someone in front. I could see Spencer slightly ahead in a very good form. YN, Terry, DO and the rest were always around. Nike's Yian Soon was up ahead too. At the U-turn in the Kallang area, I cheered for a few familiar faces like Vivian, Ronnie, Sumiko who were always in the front pack. I was reminding myself not to push too hard, and using my breathing as a gauge. As we entered into the Kallang Theatre area, I could see Ben, Scott and a mini bunch moving at break-neck pace J. The sun was out and the humidity was near unbearable. I steadied to a 4:30min/km pace.

As we came out from the PA side, I waved at DO, who took a nice photo. I could see Eric in front, and decided to chase after him a little. There were a few others who were running close-by, and we could all feel our bodies being drained by the heat trapped in that red T-Shirt. Out of the PA, it was near to the 7km mark, and we faced that familiar slope which always appear at SCSM and AHM...hehe. Because of the heat, I did not skip any water stations at all, save for the final one where we had to climb the slope. I felt it too bothersome to go all the way left. MR25 Stephen Lim was there, and he was generous with his ‘clicks’ of the pro camera he wielded.

A young guy was pacing and ‘pushing’ up that final slope, as both of us went for it. Once we reached the top, I just let it flow. I could see the front runners slowing a little as I inched forward. When I saw the 9km mark, I felt it was a tad too early. Still it was good news. My Garmin showed 39min+ at that point, as I rounded the turn into the F1 Pit area. I could hear announcements from the MC, and the 500m mark was clearly visible. At 42min+, I increased the pace hoping to record sub 45min. The final 400m was so long and straight, but I was motivated by the celebrations of sounds and music at the finish line. I just focused on the timer, and crossed the finish in 44:45, made sub-45min....distance recorded on my Garmin was 9.93km though.

Keonz (39min), Spencer (43min), Han (43min) were already there as we exchanged greetings. Vivian came for a chat, whilst Ronnie was solidly fast at 38min. Then Terry came in 48min, followed by YN in 49 min (with a position finish), and then more FatBirds, Sunbirds and SgRunners arrived. We had a good time taking group photos, munching on ice-cream, clutching onto the finisher’s wrist-band and boxes of nutritional snack bars. The sea of Red just made recognizing people so difficult, but still we managed to get quite a large gathering at our spot.

A Flock Of Happy Birds & Human :)

As we had to rush down to The NorthFace 100 locality to support our Team FatBird Athletes and friends participating, we left the F1 Pit at 8.45am. Team FatBird Runners achieved many PBs, and were very satisfied with the 10km outing. The organization of the event was great, and goodies galore. There were no fuss about distance markers nor drinks stations...everything went smoothly. One up for Nike and the organizers of The Human Race 2009. We shall be back in 2010. Birds Fly, Human Race!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Official Marathon Pacers for SCSM09

Aiming to finish your full marathon in less than four hours? What about five?

Fret not, because New Balance has appointed Team FatBird as the Official Marathon Pacers for the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2009!

Appointed by the Official Apparel Sponsor, New Balance, Team FatBird comprises of experienced distance runners and marathoners who will offer Pace Groups for the full and half marathon categories on 6 December, helping you get closer to a variety of finishing times.

Riding on the success of the team’s Marathon Pacing efforts at the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2008 race, Team FatBird is thrilled to bring the " Follow Our Pace, Win Your Race" philosophy to the Singapore Marathon 2009, complementing this year’s belief in the ‘Your spirit, our inspiration’ theme.

“We are very pleased to be working with Team FatBird on this project. I believed the experience that they have picked up in previous races will enable them to assist all, whether you are first-timer and/or a seasoned marathoner, in having a better race this year.” Patrick Wong, Country Representative of New Balance.

Announcement @ SCSM09 Facebook

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Team FatBird Running Top 2009 - Version 2.0 Customised!

Ops Sunbird #4: The Western Slopes & Hills

Training Report by FatBird Anthony
Photo Slideshow by FatBirds DO , Spencer

Ops Sunbird Session #4 - The Western Hills

Trainer Ong from SAFRA Mt. Faber was alerted earlier in the week that Team FatBird Runners will be training there this Sunday. He extended a warm welcome to us, and even informed the security....but he and the SAFRA Runners were still surprised by the large group of Sunbirds & Pacers that showed up at Mt. Faber. The menu of 15km-25km-30km kept all the trainees in suspense for the week, as they were not aware of the actual routes beforehand.

The morning started with a good recap of the previous week's lessons, Sunbird questions to Coach Jonathan, as well as the Coach's tips for how to benefit from running in hills and slopes to build leg strength for distance running. A group photo followed, and then yet another round of detailed instructions on the routes. First up was the group run, separated into 3 main sections, moving into Labrador Park. For many of the runners, it was their maiden experience running in that part of Singapore, not to mention even visiting Labrador Park.

Tips from Coach Jonathan and TFB Training Team

The spirits of the Sunbirds were high as they enjoyed the scenic views, while at the same time quietly preparing for some serious hill repeats :). A visit to the Dragon's Tooth for a prayer, before being dispatched to do the 800m loops. The first loop saw many energetic runners bound up the rather undulating slopes with gusto, and then glided down with ease in the recovery. The second loop posed a slight challenge for the 10km & 21km trainees, but they still made good progress...well done! Most of the 42km trainees managed a 3rd loop, and their faces lit up with pride and confidence after that exercise.

Were they ready for more? Not a doubt was expressed as the troops moved in tandem, managing steady paces towards the next hill objective...yes, the famous slopes of Mt. Faber. The Training Team had originally planned for a Kampong Bahru ascent, but on consideration that the runners were not so conditioned for slopes, we decided to go up via the more gentle, albeit longer Morse Road. I was with the front group as we held a gingerly pace up the familiar slopes of Morse, to me, at least..hehe. Saw the SAFRA Runners on their way down, and we exchanged greetings.

It was pleasant to see most run non-stop all the way to the car-park RV area, assembling and refueling for the next mission...35min hill repeats of the 1.6km Mt. Faber Loop. As the majority of the 42km trainees and some of the 21km trainees were ready, we started off towards the top of MF. It was pretty silent on the way up....not much chit-chatting....all very focused on getting up there. As we shouted out to the remaining distance markers to the top, the Sunbirds were encouraged enough to maintain pace, with firm arm swings to aid with the climb. It felt so good reaching the top, greeted with the soft breeze blowing at our faces....some deep breaths to recover, before doing a relaxed jog down the 800m back to the car-park for 1 loop. The front group took about 10min-11min/loop, good enough for 3 loops.

The 21km Sunbirds did 1 loop, before being led back by Kelvin, while the 42km Sunbirds continued on for more loops. It felt good for me at least to be back training at the MF hills. It has been quite a while since I ran in the area, and I was really savoring the hill repeats. After 3 loops, most of the Sunbirds and Pacers seemed to be satisfied with the day's hills, and were looking forward to move to flatter terrain...haha. They had done well thus far, and deserved a isotonic break at the Petrol Station at the foot of the hills. I announced that the Sunbirds had just 5km left, while the Pacers would go for 10km more. The group set off towards the Harbourfront direction, before turning to Kampong Bahru for the final 2km short climb back to SAFRA ClubHouse. By then, we had done about 3hrs of running, and the sun was rearing itself high up.

Sharing about today's grueling experience

Back at the ClubHouse, we were greeted with the sweet tastes of iced-cold isotonic drinks, bananas and apples. Some were slumped on the ground, heaving sighs of relief that they had completed the hilly run. Rose and SC were sharing experiences of their hills conquest...they and the other Sunbirds really progressed so well to reach so far. With the completion of the MF Challenge, they were up at least one notch in mental and physical strength...definitely putting them in good stead to finish the year-end SCSM09 in fine form.

The Marathon Pacers took a quick drink, before moving as a group to complete our final 5km for a total 30km distance. David Ye has improved by loads since we first met him when he joined the Pacers Program. He was then going for 27km-28km at steady pace. The rest of the Marathon Pacers have grown much stronger, and they will be all ready to get into Pace Training in the 7th week.

The final 5km loop was burning hot, with the sun's rays beating on our faces and backs. I felt it was very good conditioning for the legs and 'mind'. Looking at the front Pacers of Keonz, YN, Terence, Spencer, eline, Sin Guan, Matthew and Jie, I felt a sense of quiet confidence for these runners who were so determined to build themselves up for their respective pace groups. Of course the 5hr-6hr pacers who were not too far behind were doing well to condition themselves for the big day as well.

When we reached back to The FatBird Watering Hole @ ClubHouse after the 30km, we had been running for about 3.5hr, not bad on such a hilly terrain coupled with heat and humidity. The Sunbirds had washed up and were sipping on their kopi and muching on kaya toast at Ya Kun, smiling and waving at us from their air-conditioned nice :) We had a final briefing for all the Pacers, before dispersing before noon...great timing. I jested earlier with a few Sunbirds that they might find next week's flat-run in the East a walk-in-the-park compared with what they have experienced today...haha. We might see some Sunbirds fly then ;).

OPS SUNBIRD - Your Marathon Destination, Our Race Preparation (for you)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Ops SunBird #3: Of Intense Heat, Sandstorms & Thunderstorms

Training Report by FatBird Anthony
Field Photography by FatBird DO

Operation Sunbird - Your Marathon Destination, Our Race Preparation

As I held my arms out for a warm cup of kopi-O, I began to recall the exciting training session we had this 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.

Team FatBird Marathon Pacers

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.

Tip & Focus Of The Week

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!

FatBird Watering Hole @ The Nest

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 :)

Thursday, October 8, 2009


LOSE TO WIN @ I-Run River Promenade, Courtesy FatBird DO

It was an interesting evening at the I-Run @ River Promenade this Thursday as Team FatBird was joined by specially selected contestants of the LOSE TO WIN contest at the I-Run @ RP. The media was on hand to capture the workout and run by these dedicated group of contestants who were on a 3-month fat-to-fab kind of journey in a bid to lose pounds and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

It was an interesting 3km run led my Team FatBird run marshals and pacers who provided the steady pace and motivation for the BIG ON WINNING runners around the scenic River Promenade. The stretching routines were welcomed warmly by the runners as well as TV crew who joined in for their share of a fun workout. The runners did very well in the end, completing the 3km run with nary a walk in between.....their 'longest run without a walk' in the words of a contestant. All the best for their remaining 4-week journey. We will watch for the airing of the program on Oct 21 (English) and Oct 23 (Mandarin)....till then, Continue Losing To Win Even Bigger :)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Ops Sunbird #2: Sunbirds in the trails and hills

Operation Sunbird - Session #2

The second session of Team FatBird's Operation Sunbird saw a large turnout on Saturday morning at one of the green lungs of Singapore, MacRitchie Reservoir (MR) Park. More than 70 runners gathered at the new facilities at MR CarPark/Canteen for 8km, 16km, 22km and 28km runs in the famous MR trail terrain, as well as the slopes along the Pierce Reservoir Road.

Training started with a good recap of last week's tip and focus area, with Sunbird Coach Jonathan Fong fielding questions on heart-zones training. Jon went on to share this week's focus area, followed by David and Keonz's briefing of the running route and zones to run in. A number of new Sunbirds managed to join in this week, after getting their accounts activated. The weather looked cloudy and cool, primed for a nice training run.

Sunbird Sharing Session with Coach Jonathan

After the customary Group Photo session, we hit the narrow trails with the various groups running in their respective BaseBuild zones. All were cautious and slowly warming themselves up, in what was new terrain and training ground for many. The 42km Sunbirds were slightly ahead as they have more ground to cover, followed by the 21km and 10km runners. Coach Jonathan and the Sunbird Training Marshals David, Keonz, Anthony, YN, Terence, Henry along with Marathon Pacers Nigel, Kelvin, Nicholas divided themselves up to guide and show the runners their respective training routes and requirements.

New Sunbirds like Joey were lapping up the new experience, while marathoners like WP, TW were sticking well to the BaseBuild/TempoBird zones, building up their fuel efficiency in the process. Coach Jonathan along with the Sunbird Trainers dispensed more tips on the run to help correct form and posture. The 10km group did an early turn at the end of the trails, while the 21km folks had the good opportunity to see some slopes along Island Club Road and Pierce Reservoir section. The majority full marathoner trainees joined the Pacers into the more hilly Upper Pierce section, and were rewarded with some 'air-cond' stretches and nice scenery.

The Sunbirds had a 'wild' time 'eating' the slopes steadily, and learnt how to tackle hilly terrain in a more controlled fashion, without wasting too much 'fuel' and accumulating too much 'wastes' in the process. The recovery on the down slopes was always welcomed with huge 'sighs of relief and satisfaction' on the job well done :) Those Sunbirds with proper hydration systems were having it 'easier' while the rest were swearing that they will get proper fuel-belts and hydration packs once they get of of those slopes alive...haha.

With the 14km mark reached at the 'Main Gates', the Sunbirds followed DO and his trainers towards home at MR. The Marathon Pacers looked longingly as they were turned back into Upper Pierce by FatBird Anthony for 'ONE MORE TIME' :) However, being Pacers, they have to develop strong mental strength, and always be ready to take on additional distances using their 'reserves' haha. Min, Beverly, zco, Terence, Charmane, Benny, Teck Wee, Eng Pat and the 42km Pacers went for their final air-cond loop with nary a frown, in fact with smiles on their faces, showing their appreciation for the 'training on slopes' :)

With 8km to go, the skies looked gloomy, as the final pack hasten their speed, without sacrificing on the form and need to stay within the heart-zones required. The rains finally came with 5km left. It was a welcomed relief for many of the runners returning to base. The cool weather allowed heart-rates to stay low without sacrificing intensity....primed the runners for a strong finish. Back at FatBird Watering Hole in MR Centre, isotonic drinks, bananas and crunchy apples were consumed at rapid rates and with great satisfaction...the hard workout drained much of the fuel and reserves of the trainees.

Replenishment @ FatBird Watering Hole

Lots of excited chatter by the trainees of the challenges they faced along the trails and slopes, and about their sense of accomplishment of having completed such a tough run. With this experience under their belts, all of the Sunbirds and Pacers inclusive would have moved up one notch in terms of their mental and physical endurance for distance running. Most are looking forward to their next challenge in 2 weeks time when they will see even more slopes and challenging terrain....meanwhile, they will go through a series of recovery and tempo runs to prepare themselves.

OPERATION SUNBIRD - Your Marathon Destination, Our Race Preparation!

Those remaining Sunbirds who did not managed to get their accounts activated are advised to contact Terence soonest at, so that they will be able to assess all the tips, information and training schedules for the remaining 8 weeks of marathon preparations for SCSM09.

Team FatBird Photo Slideshow

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Nike Human Racers @ Training

The Human Racers - Raring To Go

There was a hive of running activity at The Playground this morning for the Nike Human Rcae Training run. Many were the regular 'Nike Runners' who have followed Nike Runs for a bit, but there were some new ones too. The Human Race promo boards came, which added a touch of colour and sense of the upcoming race on Oct24.

Team FatBird were present to lead the runners for the 7km run, along with Coaches Ben Pulham and Gana and their teams dispensing advice and running tips to the runners. LunarGlide+ shoes and Nike+ Sportband were on trials yet again, continuing to garner favourable feedback and appreciation for the opportunity to test-drive the latest Nike Running products. I had a good time catching up with the runners who were waiting for warm-up, and also chats with Sunbirds who there for their recovery runs.

Ming from Nike opened with a good round of introductions of Ben and Racers' Tolbox, Gana's Team, and The Team FatBird Pacers. Ming went on to share Nike Singapore's recent Hood-To-Coast adventure, which was surely inspiring to those who are into long, endurance running and relays. That was followed by Ben, along with Team FatBird, leading a good round of dynamic warm-up. The photographers were busy snapping away at the runners doing the various stances.

The 7km run was started off with the group's pace well controlled, and having them run along ECP in a bunch always bring attraction and attention to the Nike Runners. With their bibs, these runners seemed like they are in some kind of a race, but yet running steadily without any rush. Lots of sharing happen in such group runs, with the runners learning from the running coaches and pacers, interjected with regular shouts and claps of encouragement by the folks from Nike, Racers' Toolbox and Team FatBird.

200m from the finish became the point for the runners to get into 'form' for that fluid running posture, almost poetry in motion, 2-3 in mini-groups, running 'tall', looking focused, all poised for that 'photo and video' moment by the professional cameramen. It was good fun to pace to the final 50m, and then making a 'strong' finish with arms driving, legs striding to the finish....ahhh, a job well done!

After a heave of satisfaction from the workout, replenishing with bananas, apples and isotonic drinks, it was that time to get down to the 'signature' cool-down conducted by Coach Pulham, followed by of course the presention of The Beaver Award and Training Prizes. The final installment of the Human Race Training Run will be next Sunday at the Asian Civilization Museum, and till then, let us have more Human Racing :)

Photo Slideshow by FatBird DO



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