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

Fat-Blasting Strength & Conditioning Workouts in 2016

Fat-Blasting Strength & Conditioning Workouts in 2016

 
 
With the help of qualified weight-management experts fromTeam FatBird, this 8-week programme incorporates Nutrition,Well-Being and Fitness Workshops coupled with 8 sessions of strength and conditioning workouts and group exercises will show you how to get into great shape for a fitter and leaner you in 2016!
 
Team FatBird wishes to congratulate successful participants of these new LTW locations which started from Jan 2016:
These are some excerpts of some of the participants who lost big and won big:

Tan Mei Li (Grp 206)I was tested being pre-obese at 63.4kg before I came for Team FatBird’s weight management program. I learnt that regular exercising and proper eating habits were key to my success in shedding 4kg.  I dedicate my success to Team Fatbird and all its instructors that gave me motivation and positive mindset.

Jason Cai (Grp 202)Thank you Team Fatbird and Caryl for all the motivation and guidance throughout this period! And of course everyone of you who has work so hard to lose weight! Keep our healthy lifestyle ya!

Kim & Chew (Grp 206)In the past, we have little success losing any weight. After we joined this LTW program organized by Team FatBird, we manged to lose 2.4kg and 3kg respectively. We wish to thank Team Fatbird, its trainers and crew for journeying with us through this 8-week program.

Margaret Teo (Grp 206)Prior to this LTW program, I was already working out 5 times a week but without much improvement in my weight. After signing up the LTW program, I was delighted by my 4kg loss in just 8 weeks. I thank the trainers, nutritionists and especially Team Fatbird for their dedication and hard work in helping to get me motivated with those highly energetic exercises and proper eating habits that have helped me.

David Teo (Grp 206)
These motivational LTW workouts helped me shed 6.5-kilos in just 12 weeks. Gave me good knowledge on correct food intake, workouts and proper guidance by dedicated and qualified trainers.  I am especially thankful to Team Fatbird’s instructors, nutritionists and all its crew that have helped me throughout this 8-week weight loss program.

J (204)
A very big thank u to Radha and the Fatbird team!! ??
Hope we can have good news soon on the continuation! ????
Meanwhile do rem to maintain and stay healthy!! ????
Climb stairs n healthy plate!

Lily Lim (202)
Thanks to HPB n Team Fatbird all the instructor. After joining this Lose To Win, I totally lost 6.4kg – so happy now can become (sui sui) grandmother 🙂

Arthur Ng (202)
Tks so much for the whole group of LTW management including FatBird team.

Tan Book Kak (206)
This Lose To WIn Program has helped me lose 6kgs in the past 12 weeks. I am very motivated by the trainer’s dedication towards their participants and I wish to participate in their future programs. Thanks Team Fatbird and all its trainers for my big improvement.

Claren … (202)
Many thanks Team Fatbird. Your guidance and motivation is much appreciated.

Team FatBird
 Lose To Win™ Organizer

 
Marathon trainees joining Run @ CarFreeSundaySG

Marathon trainees joining Run @ CarFreeSundaySG

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It was a special long run for the Falcons and Nighthawks as we ran into the closed roads of CBD area as part of the second edition of CarFreeSundaySG.  Our i-Run booth, stocked with drinks was already established by 7:00am right in front of the National Gallery.

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The long run marathon training for the Falcons and NghtHawks started at 6:45am from Parkland Green, ECP.  Along with the Sundown Pacers in training, we were placed into different pace groupings and our objective was to complete the 17km (HM) and 28km (FM) long run on target pace, at the same time enhancing the aerobic foundation and distance conditioning for all.

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A number of the runners who participated at the recent Twilight Ultramarathon took a break to rest their legs, while others who came back from their record-breaking times at Seoul and Nagoya Marathons were having light duties.

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The cloudy and windy weather made for good running conditions and it was evident in the faces of our runners, who were chatting and enjoying themselves enroute Gardens By The Bay, Marina Barrage, Marina Bay Sands and into Shenton Way.

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As we ran in our pace groups, we could see many bikers and runners from Gardens with growing numbers when we reached MBS.  The atmosphere felt like we were in a race, just that there were no race bibs and timing chips on our bodies.

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When we reached into Shenton Way, there was a hive of physical activity as the cyclists, roller-bladers, unicyclists, motorised scooters were on the right, while the runners, joggers, brisk-walkers and families strolling kept to the left.

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Our marathon trainees made pit stops at the i-Run booths for refreshment, before moving on for 1 lap of the 5km closed route for Half Marathoners while the Full Marathoners tackled 2 laps.  As we were in training, we did not stop for too long to keep the pacing honest.

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The Falcons who were in tapering mode completed their training slightly earlier with the faster Optimal Pace while the NightHawks were maintaining Basebuild Pace for some good foundation buildup.  The majority of the runners and pacers completed their training on target, and by 10:30am, most were already back at Parkland Green for the post-run training debrief.

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It was a fruitful and enjoyable marathon training session overall with a touch of difference by joining in the CarFreeSundaySG segment.  Post-training condition of all trainees and runners were good, many with reserves in their tanks, signs of not over-stretching which meet long run training objectives.

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The Falcons will put the pedal to the mettle at next weekend’s 2XU Compression Run while the NightHawks will move into the 30km territory at next weekend’s Long Steady Distance (LSD).

The Falcons & NightHawks Had A Field Day At CarFreeSundaySG.

 

Photos from FatBirds ChinBeverly and Rand