Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ops Kookaburra: Happy Are We

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The rains came as forecast in the late afternoon, leaving an air of cool and crisp by 8pm when the trainees for Operation Kookaburra and Operation NightHawk gathered at the MacRitchie Reservoir. The Kookaburra Running Guides and some of the Nighthawk Pacers were put to the test to guide the runners through the 'Wild Night' terrain of slopes, along roads and Park Connectors in the midst of the green lung of Singapore. Because of the varying distances for the respective groups, the briefing was focused mainly on the route of advance and how we were to navigate the interesting terrain by night.

The Amenities Centre was crowded with Team FatBird trainees, and in the flurry of activity, forgot to assemble to get a group shot. Nonetheless, the runners were all anxious to go through the challenging, and to many, the longest LSD they would have done to date. Being the 3rd week of training, The Kookaburras were going for 16km (HM) and 25km (FM) whilst the NightHawks were going for 32km as planned. By the time we entered into Lower Pierce Reservoir (LPR) road, the quietness and coolness of the night settled on us. Moving along OUTR in single file, at respective paces set by the Pacers, light sticks helped illuminate our presence as we meandered through the winding stretch.

The cool weather helped us to maintain good pace all the way to Mandai Ave, where the 21km group turned back, and then at the Collabrium area, the 25km did their U-Turn. The runners were feeling good as they kept to their training drills and paces, staying within the groups, and focused on eating the km as they came. Applause and shouts of encouragement, with the occasional waving of light sticks ensued as the various groups passed one another on the turn. The cool weather was a close simulation of what we might get in Gold Coast, albeit at a higher humidity level. With such cool weather, the runners were able to sustain the paces with manageable effort for the longer distances....it was an ideal night for LSD training, no doubt.

On the return, one of the groups missed a key turning point and went an extra 3-4km, giving them a total run of 36km for the night - they were quietly cursing at the point of getting 'lost', but were pretty satisfied when they learned they did 34-36km at good pace, ahead of the longest LSD in the training program. Otherwise, the trainees had a great night's out and all returned with smiles of having achieved their training objectives and yet feeling good after the run. The Kookaburra trainees will be joining us again in week #5 for distances 18km and 28km, and we are looking forward to that Friday The 13th Night :)

Laugh Kookabura, Laugh Kookaburra, Happy Runners Are We!

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sundown Marathon 2011: Lead-Up Run #2

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Facebook Photos from FatBirds CHIN, JOE, DO, AC

The Sundown Marathon 2011 Lead-Up Run #1 on April 1 night was well attended, with a number of runners wanting to return for more. Lead-Up Run #2 was fully registered way ahead of closing, and we did receive a number of requests from fellow runners asking for a place in this morning's run.

This Easter Weekend saw new faces join Team FatBird and Sundown Organizers at The Playground @ Big Splash for the 20-30km Lead-Up Run #2. While Lead-Up #1 was a BaseBuild training run to shore up the foundation of the marathoner, Lead-Up #2 was at a stage where the runners would be running at target race pace with the Sundown Pacer team. The stage was set for a hot morning, and a special drinks point put up to cater to the runners who would be doing 10km loops to be able to get re-hydrated a few times during the run.

The briefing started at 7:10am to a crowd of 100+ with the introductions of the Sundown Pace groups as well as the pace and route of the morning. With 6 weeks to Sundown Race day, this 20-30km would be the 3rd final long run before we begin our tapering phase in the 2nd week of May. many of the runners came mentally prepared for the challenge, although some did not bring personal hydration nor fuel. This run would have been a good practice run to test out not only the legs and engines, but the hydration and fuel systems, other essential equipment and gear notwithstanding.


After the group photo session to cheers of 'Go, Go, Sundown!' and 'Run, Run, Sundown!', the respective pace groups of HM (2hr, 2:15h, 2:30h) and FM (4:00h, 4:30h, 5:00h, 5:30h and 6:00h) were flagged off. The Sundown Pacers (who were already in their 9th week of training) would set a target Optimal Pace during this session. The 4:30h, 5:00h and 6:00h FM groups were the largest, with many of the runners falling into these groups. As they ran towards the Y-Junction just before the Cable Ski section, they looked very uniformed and steady-paced, a sight to behold, with runners moving in sync with the Pacers. There were cheers, applause and whistles as the respective groups pass one another, with the many other park goers and runners giving their share of support and encouragement.

The first 10km loop was completed in very good pace. The runners looked strong in spite of the hot sun beating down on us. The HM runners went on to complete their 2 laps of 10km with reasonable ease, evident in the confident and happy looks on their faces. Friends and familiar faces kept our spirits up as we looked forward to bumping into them along the way, and hi-5ing or showing the thumbs-up to encourage one another. The drinks-point from Hi-Velocity's support was a godsend, which provided the necessary motivation for the runners to complete their 20km in fine form.

The NightHawk trainees (already into their 7th session) were looking very strong. Some of them have started at 6.30am to beat the blistering sun. For the rest of us, the weather provided good challenges and conditioning opportunities. Many of us took it in the right spirit and attitude, making the LSD so much more bearable. After 20km, the 4:00h group bade farewell to our HM 2:00h comrades-in-arms, before proceeding with the final lap. We were still running strong, and there was always the cheering to look foward to whenever the returning groups pass us. The whistles really perked up the runners and let them know they were doing great work, attempting to complete yet another LSD as part of their Sundown journey.

By the 20km mark, the 4:00h, 5:00h and 6:00h groups still managed to retain sizeable teams of runners, although the numbers have dwindled somewhat. Most of those who dropped out early had appointments and church services to rush to; not because they had expended their energy resources. All runners made the cutoff at 11:00am, exactly 3.5hrs after we flagged off the first group. Credit go to the Pacers and Running Guides who had painstakingly tracked the paces as well as the time taken by the Pacees/Trainees, providing guidance and assistance to turn them back at specific check points. Refreshments of 100Plus, bananas and Granola Bars greeted the finishers of the 30km and 20km distances.


Tired but satisfied bodies were gathered in the shade of the large trees, with the light breezes providing nice comfort in the sweltering heat. Many looked 'burnt' and spent, but having conquered the challenges of 20-30km was the prize for them, giving them additional confidence in the run up to the May 28 race night dateline. With the Sundown Lead-Up Run series completed, the Pacers have added an additional feather to their training cap, and we trust that more runners will be able to pace with us on race night - Follow Our Pace, Win Your Race!

Run, Run, Sundown - Yeah!

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

North-Eastern Wetlands & Trail Adventure

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Photo Slideshow @ FatBird DO

It was an outing we have been looking forward to do...a running tour of the Lorong Halus Wetlands in the North East. Thanks to SgRunners' Kayano, Barefoot Pua, Tekko along with Ponggol Runners who have meticulously seeked out and recce'd these very virgin trails and rocky wetlands, that the 100 odd runners from Team FatBird, SgRunners, Ponggol Runners and other running groups could gather for the joint exploration.

By 7am, the large group of runners gathered at the Kovan bus depot was already providing the buzz to the awakening heartland in the North-East. A short route briefing followed by the introduction of the marshals from Ponggol Runners and SgRunners - thanks guys and gals, and then the clicking and flashing of the cameras from the running photographers. These were the running heroes for such scenic group runs, who are competent runners armed with rather heavy camera sets, running up and down, way ahead such that we runners could have our trials and tribulations captured on film - these photo albums are contributions from some of these running photographers. Thanks.

With heavy rainfall in the past few days, the trails have become water-logged, soggy, muddy and rocky (due to the top-soil being washed away)...added a new dimension to the word challenge :) The runners were initially trying to do some toe-dancing, skipping and even gymnastics to avoid the muddy grounds, but eventually, decided that it was better to let the shoes take the dirt and soil in their strides. Those who came with trail shoes were delightfully testing out their gear and were busy exchanging notes on how each of their NB MT101 & Trails, Vibrams, Asics, Adidas, Nike Trails, etc were faring. Those in their pristine white-based shoes were overhead talking about how they should have worn their trail or worn-off shoes as advised in the event invite :)

The 8km of trail to the New Water Park really made us work and sweat, and it was not made any easier with the blazing-ly good weather, I mean the hot morning sun. We were glad to come onto nice, dry, clean tarmac if only for that small stretch. We had a nice photo and water stop before moving on along the scenic stretch towards the dam overlooking Coney Island.

Much excitement and laughter came about when we visited the old ferry terminal...I could almost feel the hustle and bustle of those early days when that must be a busy pier where ships and boats anchored for loading/unloading of goods and people.

The group brightened up when we heard we were not going back by the trails, but instead would try the new Ponggol Park Connector...whispers of Popeyes and Isotonic Drinks were heard as many of us were feeling hungry and thirsty by then. There was nary a shade as we progressed through the Park Connector. The sun was beating down on us ferociously, but yet the spirits of the runners were high...any opportunities to go into the shades of toilets and under the bridges were welcomed with smiles. There was even an imaginary 'mist' station set up under the bridge to simulate the cool effects of being in the shade. The Ponggol Runners and those who live near Sengkang went off on their way back, while the rest of us continued on towards Ponggol Park and the Serangoon Park Connector to Kovan.

By the time we hit Serangoon Park Connector, effects of water and glycogen stores depletion were being felt by the runners, and we were only glad to be just 2km away from civilization (places with food and water). Some could not wait and took the 'express' route which somehow allowed them to reach back to Kovan for the early MacD Big Breakfast and kopi-O with laksa or mee-pok in the food court. Bubble-Tea never tasted so good.....with water, sugar and carbo pearls :)

What made this Holiday Weekender enjoyable and special was the coming together of the few running groups to organize and share the experience of group running and exploration. It can be summed up with rough rough rough....wet wet wet....hot hot hot! Thanks for the chatter, company and comradeship...till the next Team FatBird: Weekender Run Series event.

Facebook Photos from Chin, Terry, DO, Mike,
Kim Lai, Ronnie, Tick Hock
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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Operation Kookaburra Kicks Off

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It was an evening that many of the runners planning to attend the Gold Coast Airport Marathon 2011 (GCAM) were waiting for - the start of Operation Kookaburra, a marathon training program tailored to prepare these GCAM-bound runners with a sufficient base to see them though this fast and PB-friendly course. The initiative by Tourism Queensland, GCAM and Team FatBird was a first for the Singapore running community to have a specific and structured training program for an overseas marathon.


Although the weather looked gloomy, and rain started in the late evening at different parts of the island, there was still a good number of Kookaburra trainees (of the 80 who have signed up to date) who turned up for the first session. By 7.45pm, the shelter at Changi Beach Park was all set up with the refreshment, baggage and registration points to take care of the 2 groups of trainees...the other being those who were preparing for the Sundown Marathon (Operation NightHawk). As the Kookaburra trainees arrived, the team of FatBird Running Guides were on hand to assimilate them as well as help them get settled in.

The Kookaburras will be going through a 12-week structured program, with weekly training schedules and information/tips dispensed to them, along with a private training area for sharing of information on training and GCAM support matters. There will be 6 fortnightly face-face group training runs with Team FatBird where they will be brought through the phases of base building and pace training. The first few sessions will focus on the BaseBuild phase of the FlightZONES system. Most of the training sessions will be in the dusk hours of the evenings and nights to simulate the cooler (although not quite as dry and nice) conditions in Gold Coast.

After a briefing of the training plan and the evening's route, the Kookaburras were flagged off together with their Running Guides for distances of 13km (HM) and 21km (FM). There was much enthusiasm as quite a number are joining FatBird's night LSDs for the first time, while others have been waiting for the start of training to kick off. As the Kookaburras ran off towards Coastal Road, they eventually settled into a front and mid pack, with a few taking it easy at the rear. The NightHawks, who were already into session #6 began their first session of Pace Training, with the respective groups starting with their Pace Group Leaders and teams.

As we ran along the 'long and mentally-draining' Coastal Road, we could see the flickering lights of the Pacers' blinkers and the luminous glows of the light sticks around the trainees' wrists and backs. There were quite a fair bit of chatting, cheering one another on, and making a little noise to keep the silence of the night to more bearable levels. The air was quite cool actually, in spite of the impending rain which did not come. By the time the front NightHawk groups reached NSRCC, the Kookaburras were already running back, smartly in groups. It was just the first session, and already they were able to keep in pace, partly thanks to more experienced FatBird Runners in their midst.

Most of the Kookaburra trainees made it back to the end point within the maximum on-feet time of 2.5hrs set for the FM category. The experienced runners in the group finished looking very strong but the newer runners did well too, in spite of this being the longest run they have done in quite a while. After refreshments of isotonic drinks, bananas and apples, they were given a post-run briefing as well as the next training session.

It was a great start for Operation Kookaburra. We are looking forward to see them face-face in a fortnight, especially for those who did not managed to attend the first session. We will continue to maintain communications and the dispensing of training information in The Nest. Meanwhile, there have been new enquiries and registrations for the Kookaburra Program. We hope to have a close-knit group by the time we are bound for GCAM at the end of June.

Facebook Photos from FatBirds Chin, Winston, DO
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Friday, April 15, 2011

Ops NightHawk #6 - from strength to strength


The NightHawks had a good start into Pace Training @ session #6, with many of the HM completing their longest run and in good pace, whilst the FM groups all did well to keep up with the pace plans for most of the way. The long Coastal Road, coupled with the tougher conditions of night running for many, made it a real challenge for all the NightHawks. It was their strong base of training that has given them a firm foundation from which to complete this challenging session.

With the first pace session successfully completed, the HM trainees will go through a phase of adaption and recovery, while the FM trainees and Pacers will breach the 30km mark and beyond in the coming week. All NightHawks must now rest well, recover, adapt to the effects of base training, before moving on to the next progressive phase.

Facebook Photos from FatBirds Chin, DO
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Monday, April 11, 2011

Gold Coast Airport Marathon 2011 OPENS!

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GCAM Promo Video from GCMarathon


RUN GOLD COAST


Running the Gold Coast Airport Marathon – be it for fun, for relaxation or achieving your personal best is a shining moment for every runner ! The fast, flat course runs next to the beautiful white, sandy beaches and Broadwater of the Gold Coast. And July 2-3 is the perfect time to be on the Gold Coast for your run - the air is cool, crisp and refreshing !

Registrations for The Gold Coast Airport Marathon are OPEN! ENTER NOW!


OPERATION KOOKABURRA

Tourism Queensland, in partnership with Team FatBird is pleased to present “OPERATION KOOKABURRA”, a marathon training program designed to prepare runners to compete & complete the 2011 Gold Coast Airport Marathon.

For information on the special Travel Package and Training Program, please ENTER HERE!

Don't miss the Kookaburra training kick off on April 15.
Limited slots are still available for the Kookaburra Training Program (FOC if you have registered for the GCAM from Singapore). REGISTER KOOKABURA HERE!

Email your queries and feedback to OpsKookaburra@teamfatbird.com.

See you @ GOLD COAST, mate !


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Saturday, April 9, 2011

ONH #5: NightHawks & Pacers Went Up The Hills...

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Photo Contributions by FatBirds Mohan1, Mohan2, AC, CHIN

but none came tumbling after...a solid outing for the NightHawk trainees and Sundown Pacers, who conquered the Western Slopes with a 16-23km run comprising of 5-9km of slopes. The morning started off with dark skies, and just as we were about to run off, the rain came. However, nothing could dampen the FatBird spirit, as we waited at Ya Kun and the front entrance for the weather to favor us.

Indeed, in 20min, the rain came to a startling halt, and we were able to proceed to the mountains for our 'Ninja' training. The 4km run-up was done rather gingerly, with many of us taking a conservative approach after hearing of the famous Mt. Faber slopes. The Hills Training tip was put to good practice as the NightHawks made their way up Morse Road, tackling the slopes in good form, and was not in a rush to challenge the undulating terrain.

When all had gathered, we went on a merry-go-round the scenic Faber hills area, soaking in the sights while at the same time checking our form and engaging our core. The NightHawks were told earlier to treat the hills as their friend, for hills help in strengthening our legs as well as muscular endurance....some even say that hills are speedwork in disguise :)

3-6 loops were completed within the allocated time, and most of the NightHawks looked like they could go for more...they knew better than to expend all their reserves at NightHawk training, for there were always more to do ;) The cool after-rain weather helped in part to boost the morale and energy levels of all, with many in a cheery mood. We chatted and sang on our way down the mountains, with the satisfaction that we have completed a challenging hill routine, and yet able to draw on reserves to do another 6-12km.

Back at the ClubHouse, some of the FatBirds who went to the 2XU Race were there to join the Full Marathoners for another 5-8km to round off their morning workout. With session #5 completed, The NightHawks and Pacers have built up a reasonable foundation for them to begin pace training from the next session.

NightHawks Ran, NightHawks Climbed, NightHawks Are Energized!

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Friday, April 1, 2011

Sundown Lead-Up #1: A Night Of Chill, Cool & Calm

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The first Sundown Lead-Up Run attracted good interest from the Sundown community, many of whom were looking to a 'conditioning' and trial of their abilities to sustain a long run of more than 15km in the night. The logistics boys were early to The Playground to set up The Nest, with nice tents and banners under good lighting at the PlayCoast area.

Together with the NightHawk trainees, we were expecting about 200 officially-registered participants for this night LSD. The Sundown Pacers/Ambassadors were on location to help with the registration and organization of the runners as well as warming them up with cool photo shots and chit-chats. The two registration queues buzzed with activities as the Lead-Up Runners and NightHawk trainees collected light-sticks, blinkers, wrist-bands for identification and visibility in the night.

Fiona from Hi-Velocity was in a generous mood as she gave out Sundown tee-shirts with a few short quizzes, and gave a warm welcome to all participants of the lead-up. FatBirds conducted the safety and route briefings, and of course, introductions to the pace groups to the runners. It was a challenge to fit all in the group photo, but nonetheless, the runners easily fell into positions and gave shouts of 'Sundown Yeah!'.

The first lap of the run was real fun and interesting as the groups were running closely-together along the footpaths in high spirits. Each time we pass a BBQ pit or gathering point, there would be cheers coming from the public and we responded with gusto and even whistles, to the delight of the crowds. A number, including a family of local TV personalities were asking if there was a marathon in the area :D




Although there were breezes coming in from the coastline, the night was still humid, and the workout challenging. The drinks point at the 8km U-Turn mark was a godsend, thanks to the good planning and execution of the logistics team. Running in the direction of The Nest would see people picking up speed, whilst running away from The Nest would be at a slower pace...haha. The crowd was rather well prepared for this LSD, armed with the necessary hydration belts/systems, they looked strong and knowing what to do during the whole run. Although the ground conditions were rather 'hard' and their feet feeling the effects after 15km, they saw that in positive light as part of strengthening and conditioning their legs and bodies for the rigours of night running.


The speedsters who ran too fast for the first 10km soon slowed down as fuel was expended too quickly, while those who started more conservatively chugged along in good form to close the gaps. Most of the runners managed to finish within the cut-off time of 3hr10min, with a few pushing on to finally complete before midnight. The sense of satisfaction could be seen in the faces of the tired runners sitting around munching on granola bars, bananas and downing iced-cold isotonic drinks.
They were thinking of the b words...burger and beer....just thinking only...haha. They would not want to let their good efforts be diluted by the empty calories from beer and such ;)

Many of the participants fed back that they liked the route and the cheers from fellow runners in groups, as well the drinks support point (which was only made possible with the help of the Hi-V logistics support....thanks guys!). They not only had a good workout, but also made new friends and had fun, all these while progressing with their Sundown Marathon training. The NightHawks, in their 4th session, also achieved their training objectives and learnt a lot about how their bodies function in such night LSDs.

The Sundown Pacers, by then in their 6th week of intensive training, are getting quite accustomed to running in such conditions within a group setting. A Night of Chill, Cool & Calm will aptly describe the Sundown Lead-Up Run #1 - Chill runners, Cool weather in the Calm of the night. It was a well-attended and successful lead-up run, and we all now look forward to the second and final Sundown Lead-Up at the end of April. When Dusk Cometh, The Sundowners & NightHawks Will Emerge.

Facebook Photos from FatBirds DO, AC, CINDY

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