NightHawks & Kookaburras Ran A Terrific Night

NightHawks & Kookaburras Ran A Terrific Night

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TheKookaburras (Gold Coast Marathon training) and NightHawks (Sundown Marathon training) convened at MacRitchie Reservoir Park (MR) on Saturday evening for their week 9 Optimal Pace training and Week 3 Base Building respectively.  It was to be the longest run for the NightHawks and so we assembled at MR Amenities Centre by 6:30pm.

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This route traversing the MacRitchie (MR) and Upper Peirce Reservoir (UPR) reserves all the way to the Mandai Zoo has always been the most challenging and interesting every year for our participants training for the Sundown Marathon.  The route is one of ups and downs with winding stretches and also a long PCN flanked by water bodies.

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After a bout of afternoon showers, we were treated to cooler weather as we ran towards Upper Thomson Road and then onto Lower Peirce Reservoir.  The respective pace groups ran in tight-knit outfits for safety as well as taping on the groups’ energy to see them through the long night.

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Every year, we would have some trainees who might hit the wall after 25km and would have to take public transport back to the start point, so this time all were ready with some loose pocket change and good hydration on them.

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The first half of the run was at easier Marathon Pace (MP) for all to get sufficiently warmed up and into the groove.  All runners were chatty and feeling strong as the meandered along Old Upper Thomson Road (OUTR) and then onto Sembawang Road towards Mandai Road.  The Half Marathoners turned back at the Mandai Road/Yishun Rd junction for 20km, while the Full Marathoners headed for the Zoo.

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There were areas which were quite dark and runners were reminded to be vigilant and have higher leg-lifts to avoid any trip-ups.  Pacers had their blinking lights on to serve as guideposts for the runners, and we mostly ran against the flow of traffic and on pavements where available for safety reasons.

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The FMers reached the U-turn point of 17.5km at the Zoo by 9pm before turning back for the say way back.  The return trip was faster as we turned up the pace to Optimal for a negative-split attempt and also a transition of pace from MP to OP.  With the string base built up over the last 8 weeks, we were happy to see most of the NightHawks able to maintain the pace, especially in the face of rolling slopes and winding roads.

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Hydration and fuel plan were put to good use with gels and other carbs intake at various points of 15km, 23km, 30km to have sufficient glycogen to sustain the faster pace.  All groups managed a good run to return to the start point by 11:05pm, 5min ahead of the cutoff imposed for safety and injury-avoidance reasons.

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As the various groups completed their runs, there were shouts of “Sundown Runners, Group…We Are The Best!” echoing through the night, evident that the runners still had sufficient reserves in their tanks for that last few km should they be required to add to their run mileage.  Such is the readiness condition of the NightHawks that they go into tapering mode after next week with full of confidence for a strong night marathon completion on 28-29 May.

The NightHawks Completed The Longest Run Strong!
The Kookaburras Are Building Up A Strong Base!
Photos By FatBirds Chin and Onin
i-Runners, NightHawks, FatBirds zoom in on CarFreeSundaySG

i-Runners, NightHawks, FatBirds zoom in on CarFreeSundaySG

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The 3rd CarFreeSundaySG saw a good turnout of i-Runners and Cyclists in front of the steps to the National Gallery.  Runners started to stream in to the i-Run kiosk at about 7:00am and by 7:15am, we had a good group of 40 runners to get the dynamic warm-up underway.  Led by Team FatBird‘s i-Run trainers, the runners were taken through 10min of dynamic running drills and warm-up exercises to get the engines ready for ‘ACTION’ at 7:30am.

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The VIPs flagged off the contingents promptly and our i-Runners strode along in their 3km, 5km and 7k categories.  With the 5km segment of Shenton Way completely closed to traffic, we had good access to the roads along with the cyclists and those on mobility vehicles sharing the same corridors of advance.

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Our NightHawk participants (training for Sundown Marathon) made their way from Parkland Green at ECP down to CarFreeSundaySG to do 2 laps of 5km as part of their long run requirements of 22km (HM) and 33km (FM).

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From 8:30am, the respective pace groups to the i-Run registration point for their drinks and the start of their 2-3 laps of 5km around the closed road segment.  There were smiles and applause as the pace groups with their runners pass, with encouragement from those gathered around the i-Run water hole.

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There were also many other running groups like RunningHour, Pasir Ris Runners, Tiong Bahru Runners that paid the i-Run gathering point a visit and rested while continuing on for their subsequent 5km laps.  There was a hive of activity and it was encouraging to see so many people from all walks out and about exercising and keeping fit.

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The NightHawks kept to their respective training targets and left the Padang area by 9:00am for their return back to Parkland Green for that extended distance that are necessary to build their base for a good Sundown Marathon showing in May.

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The i-Run activities continued till 9:30am before we base farewell to those runners who hung around to mingle and share running stories and simply catching up with fellow runners.

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The NightHawks capitalized on the great weather to complete their training by 10:45am for their longest run to date, enhancing their confidence levels for next weekend’s longest pace run training.  They were still running in tightly-held groups till the finish at Parkland Green, 3-3.5hrs later.  That speaks volumes about the conditioning and readiness of the NightHawk participants for a good buildup to race night.

It was a successful CarFreeSundaySG and NightHawk training session!  Oooh  Aaah!
Photo Albums from:
FatBird CK Chin
FatBird Beverly

 

 

The Boston Marathon 2016

The Boston Marathon 2016

The Boston Marathon Race Report By FatBird Anthony

It was at the Sydney Marathon in 2015 that I unexpectedly qualified and eventually was accepted into my first Boston Marathon, a dream for most serious marathoners to at least participate once in this holy grail of marathon-ing.

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I have heard so much about The Boston Marathon, its glories as well as all the controversies, but more so about the unpredictable weather challenges and the famous Newton Hills and HeartBreak Hill that makes it one of the more challenging races for any experienced marathoner.  I was part of a group of 30 from Singapore for the Boston Marathon 2016, and I took up the VIP package from Marathon Tours as recommended by the Boston Marathon website, twin-sharing with my travel mate Ngee Hung.  Before departure, I had much help from fellow FatBird Ngee Hung with all the bookings as well as the advice on how to prepare for the challenges of the weather in Boston Spring.U-IMG-20160417-WA0006
The flight into Boston was a torturous 26hr affair with a 6hr stop in London Heathrow, making us so tired when we finally got to Boston Marriott Copley Place on Saturday afternoon.  We hopped on to the nearby race pack collection and expo upon checking into the hotel.  The crowd was thick as the whole city of Boston was suddenly full of marathoners for the big race on Monday Patriot’s Day.

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We collected our bibs with no problems but moving around the expo was difficult.  I went straight for the ‘must-buy’ Boston Marathon jacket but missed out of the very popular tee shirts as the men’s sizing was gone by the time we arrived.  We took a few photos before going back to the hotel and had a good rest.

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On Sunday morning, we put on our race gear for a short ‘testing’ run along the scenic Charles River.  Lots of running groups were up and about and we even bumped into Meb Keflezighi.  The weather looked a lot more promising and we were satisfied that race day would be better weather than the rainy and cold Boston 2015.

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The rest of Sunday morning was spent checking out the finish area at Boylston Street and Copley Square, meeting fellow Singapore runners for lunch and dinner, and shopping for race essentials.I turned in early for the night and had a good rest before waking up bright and early Monday morning.  Took a breakfast of peanut bread with coffee before the VIP bus brought us to the start point at Hopkinton, some 40min drive away.  We had a private staging area away from the public area, which was really good as it gave us some space to prepare ourselves and access to the toilets.U-J2


We over-prepared ourselves with food and warm clothing and blankets, but were quite happy to leave them on the bus to be donated to the needy as the weather was warm enough not to require them.  At 9:45am, we put on the bare essentials and made our way to the Athlete’s Village and start corrals.

The Race

We checked into Wave 2 at 9:55am and were soon in the queues for our respective corrals.  There was about a 1km walk to the start line and along the way bumped into fellow Singaporeans and even the famous Tarahumara Runner Quaimare who was in my corral.  The excitement was high as the groups of runners prepared for the start.

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Wave 2 was flagged off by the gun at 10:25am.  By the time I stepped on the chip-mat, it was 4.5min after the first corral left.  The first 10km of the course was generally down slope and this is the portion where many a marathoner have made the mistake of running too fast and paying the price when they come to the hills between 26km-32km.

U-461801_226403601_MediumI took the initial miles very carefully and kept to a conservative pace of 5min/km along with many of the steady lady runners.  There were water points every 1mile, well stocked with Gatorade and water.  Loud cheers rang through from supporters on both sides of the roads, making the atmosphere a highly charged and motivating one.

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U-461801_226508165_MediumIt was warm in the first 15km of the race with the sun beating down on us furiously.  I was contemplating if I should remove my inner piece of clothing, but decided against as the weather might change to be colder – anything could happen to the unpredictable Boston weather.  I was more tolerant of the heat than many of the American and European runners who were showing signs of heating up.

I got my first Clif gel at around 17km, and popped it in with some water provided at the next hydration point.  I was maintaining pace at 4:55min/km and soon was hit by some strong headwinds and cool weather.  I was glad I had my beanie and gloves on as it was starting to get a little chilly.  The Half Marathon mark was crossed in 1hr43min.

 

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Soon I could hear very loud cheers and screams by thousands of supporters in the horizon – yes, the famous Wellesley Girls screaming and waving with boards asking to “Kiss Me” and all holding out their hands for high-fives.  The atmosphere was electrifying, and I too gave them high-fives at various stretches of the 200-300m line up.

After the e461801_226444488_Mediumuphoria, we soon arrived to the first challenging hills of the course – the Newton Hills.  The climb was rather steep but quite short, so it did not pose too much of a problem for most marathoners in my wave.  Once we passed that, we were hit with the famous Heart Break Hill, which actually is a series of rolling hills.  Coupled with the headwinds, this stretch really zapped much of the energy out of many of us.  I almost broke into a hamstring cramp, but was contained only when I slowed down for the tingling to ease off.

That hills took us to the 32km mark, and from there, the final 10km was generally more down slope.  If one had run the first 32km well and not expended their full resources, the final 10km could be a breeze and a chance to make up for lost time for a strong finish.  I maintained my pace at 4:50min/km and was able to overtake many of the tiring runners along the way.


The Final 10km

The femaleU-461801_226707134_Medium runners were very strong, keeping up with their steady paces all the way.  I ran along with them most of the time to keep to a steady pace, along with my trusty Garmin 235 as a guide.  The crowd got thicker as we approached the city of Boston and got nearer to the finish at Copley Square along Boylston Street.  The cheers were incessant, and that provided a lift to my tiring legs as I continued to stride along to overtake more slowing runners.

U-461801_226254301_MediumThe turn into Boylston Street was euphoric as we approached the final 600m.  I could see the iconic Boston Athletic Associations emblem in the finish arch in the distance as I picked up my strides to go for a quick finish.  My legs were feeling good and with both sides cheering, I crossed the finish line in a net time of 3:29:43, a Boston Qualifying (BQ) time for my age group of 50-54 – my third BQ since the first one in Sydney 2015.

I felt happy and thankful that I completed Boston strongly and feeling great.  As I walked along to collect my well-earned Unicorn finisher medal and space-suit, there was a surreal feeling of calm and quiet within me.  I moved on to get some bananas and chocolate milk to replenish lost carbs and protein before going to the S segment to meet with Team Singapore runners.

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U-IMG_4765Lots of exchanges and photos later, I was with Ngee Hung back at the hotel for a nice hot bath and stretching out of the legs.  There were already postings of my timing splits in facebook from friends in Singapore monitoring the race, many whom were U-DAY2-2rooting and showing their support.  I would like to thank all of them including my family and close friends who have been quietly supporting and cheering me on as I complete this historic and iconic marathon race, which many have deemed the holy grail of marathon running.  With my first Boston Marathon in the bag, I have a couple of observations and takeaways for others who might be interested to attempt this race one day.

Lessons & Takeaways

  1.  Prepare well for the unpredictable Boston weather – the temperatures can blow hot and cold even during the race, so wear very versatile clothing which can be stripped off when it gets too warm, but never throw anything away until you cross the finish line on Boylston Street
  2. Start & maintain a conservative pace for the first 21km, especially the first 10km when it is generally down slope.  Coupled with the adrenaline rush, many runners tend to out-pace themselves and have to pay the price when they hit the wall in the second half of the race where the series of hills and winds come in
  3. Hills & More Hills – the rolling hills after the HM mark have been known to break many a fast runner’s strides to a crawl, offsetting early gains in the flatter portions by a huge percentage.  Do more hills runs and repeats during training, best to put some steep rolling hills after the 25km mark for that enhanced simulation of actual course conditions
  4. Have a good hydration and fuel plan – with the many hydration points and 3 gel points (1 on both sides of the roads at every mile), there is no excuse for being under-hydrated and under-fueled
  5. Race starts from 10am, and there could be a waiting time at the Athlete’s Village for 2-3 hours.  Get yourselves comfortable with warm clothing and some food while in the tents, and bringing the bare essentials when you are called into the starting corrals.
  6. Official merchandise sells out very quickly, so you might want to hit the race expo as early as you can find time

More Photos HERE!

Sundown Marathon Lead Up Run #2

Sundown Marathon Lead Up Run #2

3 hours before the start of the second Sundown Marathon Lead Up Run at The Playground, there was a heavy downpour island-wide, especially heavy in the East Coast area where we were expecting more than 300 participants for long pace run.

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We kept our fingers and toes crossed, and we were blessed with clear skies at 4:30pm for the long run of 14km and 26km to get underway.  More than 200 runners made their way in time for the 5:00pm registration and promptly issued light bands and sticks for a ‘happening’ night conditioning run.

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Water points stocked with iced-cold isotonic drinks and mineral water was ready for the Sundown Runners at Car Parks C4 and F2.  The Official photographer was busy snapping photos of the runners and pacers, including the briefing and dynamic warm-up drills sessions the Pacers took the Sundown Runners through.

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The NightHawks who were into their 6th week of structured marathon training with Team FatBird was also lined up alongside the Sundown Runners for their buildup long run at Marathon Pace (MP).  The 10min dynamic warm up set the runners into the right mood and blood pumping to the music carried by the Pacers.

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At 6:15pm, the Sundown runners in their respective pace groupings were flagged off in waves to the sounds of air-horn breaking into the dusk.  The groups of Sundown Marathon Pacers along with their troops of runners looked very C140neat and impressive, running to a certain tempo and carrying an impressive aura about them as they strode their way down towards Fort Road and then the access road leading to Gardens By The Bay (GBTB).C159

The skies were still bright when we turned back just before hitting GBTB, and as the various groups of runners passed, loud cheers and blows of the whistles could be heard from the distance.  The portable music set the tempo for all of us to keep in step, and the Sundown Marathon Pacers were impressive as they shouted words of encouragement and providing guidance to the runners.

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Once back onto ECP, the Pacers led the runners through with songs and shouts of “Sundown Sundown, Ooo Ahhh!”  The high spirits of all runners shone through as they found much fun and ease with keeping to the challenging MP through the energy of the group.

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We made a quick stop at the first hydration point at Car Park C4 Shelter, before the Half Marathon Runners made a U-Turn at the Y-junction just before turning into Cable Ski.  The Full Marathon participants continued on their merry journey towards Sailing Centre and then NSRCC, before making a U-Turn back to home base.

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At the 18km mark, a few of the runners felt the strain but were still making good effort to keep up with the main packs who were sustaining MP at easy pace.  The high energy of the groups kept the runners’ spirits high in spite of tiring legs.

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The blinking lights on the runners and pacers looked bright and visually pleasing, which made for easy identification of the running groups from Sundown.  There were cheers of encouragement from holiday makers and families gathered by the sea-side, making the whole run very interesting and motivating for all.

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As we neared the end of the run at 14km and 26km respectively, each of the pace groups closed ranks and shouted group slogans and singing songs for some very good shots from the Official Photographer.  Although the skies were clear after the bout of rain, the humidity levels remained high, which made this finish for all participants even more impressive.

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Isotonic drinks and bananas made for great replenishment after the long run, followed by respective group debriefs and two rounds of static stretching to relief those achy muscles, conducted by the experienced trainers from Team FatBird.

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With 2 lead up runs under their belts, the Sundown Runners will keep up the momentum with a few more progressive long runs of their own, before returning for the final installment of the Lead Up Run Series on May 7 with long steady runs of 21km and 32km at Optimal Pace.

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As we bade goodbye to the Sundown runners, there were lots of appreciation and words of thanks from the marathon trainees for the Sundown Marathon Pacers and Organizer, making our efforts in putting the lead up group training runs together all the more sweet and satisfying.

Sundown Runners, You Are Limitless!


More Photos from FatBird CK Chin

 

NightHawks braved the sunny skies

NightHawks braved the sunny skies

The Sundown Marathon Pacers and NightHawk marathon trainees went into the fifth week of training with a stronger foundation as they tackled 18km and 30km of long steady distance running from Parkland Green, ECP.

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Ahead of the 2XU Compression Run the next morning, there were a few Falcons who turned up for a shorter run.

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Although a warmer day than last weekend’s training, we were happy to have clear skies after the past few days of moderate air conditions.  The Sundown Pacers along with the NightHawks were comfortable as they set off in basebuild pace, with the plan of upping to Marathon Pace (MP) in the second half of the run.

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The route towards Fort Road and Gardens By The Bay was pretty clear for some good running as Groups 1 through 4 settled into their Basebuild Pace (BP) and chatted with one another in a Zone 2 FlightZONES effort.  It was great to see the confidence of the trainees growing as they tackled the initial miles with ease and control of their paces.

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The sun was out in its full glory by the time we hit the Gardens towards Marina Barrage, but that did not affect any of the NightHawks’ momentum.  It was always great fun to run along Marina Bay Sands and admire the magnificent skyline of the Financial District, and when we looped back from the Promontory @ Marina, we were able to pass other pace groups, giving us opportunities to cheer and encourage one another.

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The Half Marathoners finished off back at Parkland Green for 18km, with replenishment of iced-cold Gatorade and bananas.  The Full Marathon trainees and Pacers proceeded on towards PA Campsite, and by then have already revved into Marathon Pace mode.  With regular hydration and fuel top-up, the runners were able to maintain the transitioned MP all the way to the 24km mark at a steady pace, and with the groups intact.

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The remaining 6km was run with more effort, but that was where the marathon training kicked into effect to establish the distance  ‘conditioning’ and endurance that is so important for the marathoners.  The NightHawks were impressive as they showed little signs of fatigue, soldiering on steadily for the completion of 30km back at start point.

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Marathon training with Team FatBird have seen a number of trainees with healthy weight loss through progressively increasing mileage, especially at the weekend Long Steady Runs (LSD) sessions.  The regular training schedule with marathon tips on heart rate training, nutrition and diets, good running form, active recovery, and strength training programs of hills and speedwork have benefited many runners and trainees in our marathon training programs.

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With the foundation phase in their belts, the NightHawks will look forward to putting their strength and endurance at next weekend’s second Sundown Marathon Lead Up Run.  There will be nary a doubt they will run strong and full of confidence along with many runners who have registered for Sundown Marathon at the end of May.

 

The NightHawks Are Emerging!

 

Photos by FatBird Onin