Photo Contributions from Ronnie Goh, Tan Kim Lai, Running Shots
The weather was just perfect for what would be an enjoyable and fruitful 10km and 21km x-terrain challenge of trail, sand and road for the FatBird Runners and Sunbirds in their first official race since they embarked on the training 6 weeks ago.
We arrived at the Changi Exhibition Centre at 5:15am to a growing group of team members and fellow runners who had already begun taking photos and preparing for the race. All decked out in their favourite Team FatBird jersey tops, many of the Sunbirds were all excited about this race as it was not only the first time doing this course for most of them, it was also a time-trial of sorts to measure the progress of their Sunbird journey.
In the end, they passed with flying colours, many scoring Personal Bests on what would be a tougher course than the typical road race. After the group photos were taken with much fanfare, the runners lined up comfortably in the starting pen. With two other races happening in the same morning, there was a smaller crowd but with some real serious challengers at the NBRR – a number of Kenyans, Moroccans and local champions sighted, in the midst of many more ‘real runners’ 😀
The first 2km of sand was smooth, except for the puddles of water accumulated from the early showers, causing us to side step and adopting a more cautious start. Once out onto the road, we quickly settled into our steady paces and into that long ride up and down the ‘mentally challenging’ Changi Coastal road. The paces were tapered at various stretches due to temporary lapses of focus, but things perked up whenever there were shouts of encouragement from friends and fellow mates from across the other side of traffic flow.
It was pretty smooth going in nice weather till the 15km where there was a mini human wall from the bunching up of the 10km runners which started 30min later. Fortunately, that was not too long a stretch before we hit the beach stretch – it was here where most of the photographers were positioned, as if expecting the the soft sand to suck the final breaths from the unknowing runners. The more experienced ones could be differentiated from the newbies as evident in how they tackled the sand to make smooth exits back onto the final 3km to the finish.
The skies remained overcast and cloudy, with even a few droplets of rain felt, affording a quick recovery for an easier coast home to the finish line to loud cheers and crowd support. Many of the Sunbirds reported better than expected finishing times and Personal Bests, a lot attributing the good showing to the tough hills and trails training they had experienced in the first phase of Ops Sunbird. There were beaming faces all round, with many making time to visit the sponsors’ booths for more photos and post-race fanfare.
After a rather no-fuss collection of the nice finisher medal and tee, we proceeded to grab drinks, bananas, apples, biscuits and spent time cheering the remaining Sunbirds and FatBirds coming through as well as catching up with our friends and supporters at New Balance, Soleus watch and RUN Singapore magazine.
It was an eventful and fruitful race for the Sunbirds and also for the rest of the FatBird community and friends who not only did well in terms of executing their race plans, but also the joy of meeting with so many friends and familiar faces as well as soaking in the whole friendly post-race atmosphere.
Congratulations to the race organizers for another well executed NBRR. To all runners who raced and overcame this x-terrain challenge – You All Are 100% REAL RUNNERS!
After last weekend’s baptism of fire at the twin hills workout, the Sunbirds were a lot more prepped up and mentally ready the continuing hills challenge in Weekend 5. The morning mist gave the air a cool feeling as we went along our ascent up the Mt. Faber slopes after a 4km run in at target training paces.
Once at the mid-section of MF, off we went with the main challenge of the 30min-60min routine covering the prescribed number of 1.6km MF loops for each training group. The weather remained cool, which helped us to better sustain the efforts, especially on the climbs.
Many of the Sunbirds put the tips on hill training and running form to good practice, allowing them to overcome the challenges a lot better this week. Many of them looked so strong as they lapped up the hill loops like experienced marathon veterans.
All was not done when the hill repeats were completed. The different pace groups then gathered themselves for some pep talk and advice from the respective trainers before moving off for their next challenge – a sustained 8km-12km at target pace along rolling hills and slopes so well known in that western region.
Very good effort from the Sunbirds as there was very minimal walking and a lot more steady-paced running, testament to the very strong cohort of Sunbirds this year – the members of the Happy Group was markedly reduced with many more joining Groups 1-3. The training crew have been doing a wonderful job of guiding their charges along and making sure they execute the training routines well and safely.
The Post-Run briefing had to be conducted in a few waves as the completion times of the Sunbirds were varied over this longer course, and we would not want to hold the earlier birds for too long as they were on to their next activity – recovery shopping walks for running shoes and gear for their upcoming races and of course for SCMS.
Overall it was a very well executed workout by the participants, many of them still looking strong after all the hills and slopes, although the hunger pangs’ were already felt midway doing the hill repeats 😀 This is a resilient flock, hardened by the elements as well as the ‘tougher challenges’ meted out to the enhanced Sunbird program for this year.
The Sunbirds are progressing well as we enter the final phase of basebuilding next week, followed by a Half Marathon time-trial at the New Balance Real Run to gauge the progress of training. We are sure many of the Sunbirds will do well with their strengthened base, so long as they remain injury free and continue to do their homework for adaptive recovery.
As we dare to dream of achieving our SCMS goals, backed by our diligence and perseverance, we are reminded of this motivational tune:
“Somewhere over the high hills
And the dreams that we dreamed of
Dreams really do come true…”
We kicked off with the hills training segment of the Sunbird Program this morning at the Mt. Faber training area. As there was a slated Mizuno Wave Run at about the same time, we made some adjustments to the timing and the routes of advances to the twin hills of Labrador Park and Mt. Faber.
The respective Pace Groups were flagged off separately for their independent workouts according to their planned distances and Basebuild paces. There was a good distribution of participants in each of the 4 groups with more runners in the faster Groups 1,2 and 3. The run up to Labrador Park was smooth as the Mizuno Wave runners have yet to be flagged off…already there were race marshals deployed along Alexandra and Telok Blangah Roads.
The Labrador ‘Figure Of 8’ hills repeats were lapped up with much gusto as the trainees felt pretty strong. All were steady up the hills, being careful not to over-extend themselves since they had more ground to cover at MF. When the time limit was up, most of the trainees were able to do 2-3 repeats, before proceeding back out towards the MF slopes.
The HM Sunbirds were happy they were giving the MF slopes a miss this round as they headed back to ClubHouse for a total of 15km. The FM groups proceeded up Morse Road strongly in spite of the draining workout at Labrador. From there, they went for the 1.6km MF repeats given the stipulated time. Many were strong enough to go for 2-3 laps, with Group 4 deciding to do just 1 lap to save themselves for the remaining 4km run back to ClubHouse.
The feedback at the post-training run debrief was that although they found the hills workouts challenging, they liked the format in which they could do them as teams, making the difficult hills more achievable and quite a number of Sunbirds actually found that they felt stronger after all those hills training.
As we munched on our post-run bananas and reflected on the morning’s run, there was a sense of satisfaction as well as anticipation of more hills awaiting us in the coming weeks. The Sunbirds Were Thrilled By The Hills!
Photo Slideshow (c) FatBird Chin