The Army Half Marathon (AHM) 2014

The Army Half Marathon (AHM) 2014

After a solid 6 weeks of training with hill repeats and runs, track and speedwork, tempo and cruise intervals and paced runs through to 21km, the Kingfishers were all roaring to do their best and set some records at the SAFRA Singapore Bay Run & Army Half Marathon 201 (AHM14).

After last year’s route bottlenecks and dimly-lit areas causing slowdown and stoppages to the runners, SAFRA conducted recce runs to receive feedback from the SAFRA Running Club and Team FatBird early to refine the route for a much improved race experience – and the runners were not disappointed this morning, with potential choke points being re-routed, dim areas like the Gardens and Tanjong Rhu areas well-lit and running passages wider and clearer for a much smoother passage.

The Kingfishers RV’ed at 4:00am at the Esplanade Amphitheatre in their smart race gear, looking in great condition.  We conducted a mini group warm up and dynamic activation for those who were present and by 4:30am, we had taken a couple of nice group photos and moved into the start corral as a team.

Although some runners thought it was Team FatBird who would be officially pacing for the AHM14, it was actually the runners from SAFRA Running Club forming the large contingent of Half Marathon (HM) Pacers.  Some of our FatBird trainers and pacers were on hand to run along with our Kingfishers to provide encouragement and motivation too.

The weather at the start was a tad humid, but it got cooler as the crowd spread out after the flagoff at 5:00am.  As expected, a large race like the AHM will always be a little congested with many runners, but we had sufficient space this time as the passages are wider.  By 3km, we were into the groove and moving ahead quite steadily.

As the Pacers did not have their balloons on time, it was quite hard to spot them from the distance – fortunately they were in large enough groups to be seen as we neared them.  Still, our Kingfishers were trained to manage their own Optimal Paces and run to their respective Race Plans.

The first half of the race went pretty smoothly, with ample hydration points and some music and cheerleaders especially along the quieter Marina Barrage and Gardens By The Bay.  The momentum was fluid with the runners quite well spread out – at least for those aiming for 2:15h and below, there were not many walkers seen.  Also, because first light was not out, the number of runners taking selfies and photos were markedly diminished, again minimizing blockages to the running paths.

We were able to sustain a good pace, and as practiced during training, a number of us popped a gel after 1hr or 11-12km of running for a sustainable race pace in the second half.  Other than a couple of sharper U-turns, the next 10km to the finish was smooth going for many of us.  As we neared the finish line at the Padang, we could hear cheers coming on for the Half Marathoners as well as the start of the 10km race on the opposite side of the Esplanade Bridge.

The atmosphere was great as we ran into the finishing chute with our arms raised high for a happy finish.  Many of the Kingfishers recorded good timings and Personal Bests (PB).  We had 3 Kingfishers who placed top 10 in their respective categories – Congratulations to Kingfisher Mabel (2nd Women’s Open), Kingfisher Ngee Hung (7th Men’s Veteran), Kingfisher Cher (4th Women’s Open, although due to chip timing fault, she could not claim her rightful prize at the end).

This year’s route distance was spot on compared with than last year’s shorter course – More Kingfishers and runners have actually scored much better race paces and may even record PBs factoring this additional distance in.

After collecting the well deserved finisher tee-shirt and medal, the Kingfishers gathered at our usual post-race spot near the Tan Kim Seng fountain.  Lots of happy faces and congratulatory handshakes, and of course, victory photos and jump shots.  

Overall, it was a well organized AHM14 and a good set of results and performances for the Kingfishers and FatBird Runners.  Special mention and thanks to the AHM14 organizing committee for involving Team FatBird in their route planning and incorporating the inputs for a much better route and accurate distance.

The Kingfishers Soared At The Bay!

With AHM14 nicely wrapped up, Team FatBird will be starting our next training program, Operation Sunbird 2014 in a fortnight.  We look forward to this structured 12-weeks of training to ready ourselves for yet another good race at the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS) 2014!

Facebook Photos from FatBirds MK, Chin, SuatHar

Straits Times Run @ Hub 2014: Training Run #2

Straits Times Run @ Hub 2014: Training Run #2

Team FatBird conducted the 2nd lead up training at the beautiful Ponggol Waterway for a good turnout of enthusiastic Straits Times (ST) Run Half Marathoners.  A number of them were returning trainees from the 1st training run at Bedok Reservoir Park, whilst the rest were joining this training series for the very first time.

The Ponggol Promenade area at Tebing Lane was already bustling with joggers, walkers and bikers before sunrise.  It was good advise that the ST Run Organiser, Inifinitus Productions gave for the runners to arrive by 7:00am.

We started the dynamic warmup and drills by 7:10am, and along with group photos and route briefing, we were all ready to run off by 7:30am.  The trainees were assigned to their respective Pace groupings of 1:50h, 2:00h, 2:15h and 2:30h to attempt to maintain race pace for the whole distance of 12km.

The first half of the run had us running alongside the Waterway on the left, with lush greenery, fountains dotted with smaller parks and pavilions.  Our runners kept to the pavement for most of the time, and running on the shared tarmac whenever there were no sighting of bikes travelling at fast speed.

As we turned the bridge at around the 5km mark, we could see the runners still maintaining pace within their respective pace groups, and looking strong to boot.  After the U-turn to the other side of the Waterway, we were aiming for iced cold isotonic drinks at the 6km mark.

We could see other pace groups on the other side of the river as we ran, and the cheers and applause to encourage one another were spontaneous.  The smiles on the runners’ faces were evident as they ran with pride and joy in being able to keep pace through to 8km mark.

We did a turn towards the Coney Island direction and had to contend with the final 4km of run without much cover under the blistering heat of the emerging sun.  Still, the runners held steady and kept up with the target paces for as long as possible.  There were the occasional slow-down or even short walks to recover from the intensity, but as soon as the Pacers came along, the runners again picked up their legs and continued running.

Running and pacing as a group is certainly a lot easier than having to do it on one’s own.  Before we knew it, we were just 1km from the finish line, and the Sunrise Bridge was in sight.  Sensing that, the runners’ worked hard to sustain pace to finish strongly, with many bettering their own training timings.

Sufficient isotonic intake along with bananas for replenishment helped the runners regain their strength to recover rather quickly.  The respective group Pacers led their runners for a good 10min of static stretching to ease off any tightness with the aim to speed up recovery.

Lots of positive feedback and exchanges abound, with Coach Ghana and the FatBird trainers on hand to dish out simple but effective advise on how to improve ourselves for the HM race on Sep 28.  

With the finale training run On Sep 13 @ Sports Hub, we can expect an even better turnout with many of the satisfied trainees returning as well as those who had missed the earlier runs to show up.  It will also serve as a final time and pace trial for race day.

Facebook photos from Nicholas Heng, CK Chin

International Marathon Travellers

International Marathon Travellers

Marathons gain traction in sports vacations – TODAY Paper, Friday 22 August 2014

Singaporean runners and marathoners are going places…literally – more overseas marathons to whet our running and marathoning appetites coming on stream. 

Fly with Team FatBird to these scenic and friendly international race courses…and bring our Singapore flag along!
Ops Kingfisher: Speedy Hills For Speedy Birds

Ops Kingfisher: Speedy Hills For Speedy Birds

With barely 2 weeks remaining to race day, the Kingfishers were introduced to their third hills training ground for what turned out to be hills repeats at SpeedyBird Pace 

The 4km run into the start point was already one of rolling hills with good elevation to make a grown man sweat buckets.  And if that was not enough to break a sweat for some, the faster groups were guided to do activation drills to prepare them for the main course.

The 1km loop made up of a good up slope in the first segment to make sure that the trainees were given a good workout, before breaking into recovery mode with some nifty footwork to build up the stride rates for improved cadence.

The 2 sets of 3 repetitions were executed to a tee by the respective groups with just sufficient rest intervals tailored to each group according to their HM targets and abilities.  The strong base that have been built up till now put the Kingfishers in good stead as they ‘flew’ around the 1km repeats with measured grace while maintaining good form and posture.

The main course was consumed with gusto and enthusiasm as the 
Kingfishers found their recovery requirements were shorter than allocated, pointing to improving cardiovascular strength and speed endurance.  They were able to sustain the prescribed 85-90% effort for the 6 repetitions, with a couple of runners even wanting to go for extras – of course that would not be done during training to avoid over-reaching and risking injury.

A nice dessert of body weight resistance circuit was served immediately.  The short post-run HIIT bursts got the Kingfishers all pumped up even after having done 10km worth of high intensity running, providing a good closure with some core work to complement the lower body conditioning.  

The evening ended on a high ‘in endorphins’ for most of the runners.  The Kingfishers will be looking forward to test their base in this coming weekend’s 21km Optimal Pace run, a sort of preliminary time trial for a good gauge of their performance potential on Aug 31.

The Kingfishers Enjoy Speed & Hills!

Facebook photos from FatBird MK

Happy 49th Birthday, Singapore!

All runners, friends and fellow Singaporeans, let us celebrate as One United People in this country where rainbows of a thousand colours brighten up our beautiful skies – Singapore, Our Homeland!

Happy 49th Birthday, Singapore!