Blessed with the haze reprieve this weekend, the Sunbirds were happy to gather at SAFRA Mt. Faber for one of the most challenging workouts in the Sunbird Program – the double hills repeats of Mt. Faber & Labrador Park Hills.
The run started off in the opposite direction from our usual Mt. Faber (MF) route, proceeding to MF Hills loop for the first set of 1.6km hills repeats. The HM Sunbirds did 2 repeats while the FM Sunbirds completed 5 repeats with an allocated time of 50min.
The weather was rather humid with the thick cloud cover, and by the time we left the Mt. Faber hills for Labrador Park, the sun had started to peek through the skies. Marathon Pace (MP) was averaged for all the timing groups.
The Sunbirds looked strong in spite of the few weeks of training disruptions due to the haze menace, pointing to the fact that the trainees did their own ‘Ninja’ workouts to maintain their cardiovascular fitness as well as their marathon ‘physique’.
The 2.4km Figure-Of-8 loops incorporating a challenging hill up the Labrador Tunnels served to tax the Sunbirds who had expended much of their reserves at the Mt. Faber Hills. That was the time that the runners would be stressing their legs and drawing upon fuel and hydration reserves for them to sustain the target paces.
A small group of runners did the 6km scenic Keppel Marina route to avoid incurring any risk to injury, especially with the few who were having niggles in their ankles and knees. The Sunbirds kept up with their target paces and at the end, 90% of them completed 90% of the training requirements for the morning.
It was evident that a number of Sunbird trainees, especially the newer ones who have joined us recently, have shed some excess weight, lessening the effort required normally for such a tough workout. With the dedication and commitment put into training, it is always satisfying to achieve the results set out earlier before the start of the program.
All Sunbirds returned back to the training area by 10:45am, well ahead of the maximum time allocated. There was a good post-run stretching for the HM trainees and also getting tips from the Sunbird trainers regarding injury prevention and running form.
The Sunbirds Achieved Double Happiness At The Hills
Photos by FatBird Onin
After 5 weeks of basebuilding, the Sunbirds arrive to Parkland Green, ECP for the start of Pace training in Week #6. The haze was kept at bay for most of the morning, allowing us yet another opportunity to get our much needed long pace run in.
Because of the Newton Challenge the following day, there were less Sunbirds as many were resting for a good Newton race. Still, for the many of us who are training for SCMS, we welcomed the clearer air with glee.
The route briefing was short as we wanted to get down to start running before the haze turned against us. The first part of the run was a tad faster than Marathon Pace (MP), mainly due to pent-up energy levels in the run-deprived Sunbirds.
It was rather cloudy as we ran into Gardens By The Bay, but the psi was mostly at the 100 levels and the air did not feel that bad. Still, a few of us were cautious in our breathing, although it could be more mental than physical effects we were experiencing.
The Half Marathon (HM) Sunbirds turned back at the Helix Bridge, whilst the Full Marathon (FM) participants proceeded on to the Marina Promontory before looping back to run back to Parkland Green.
The OSAKA-bound marathoners completed a shorter 16km run, along with the HM Sunbirds as they are tapering for OSAKA Marathon next weekend. Those who were to do Newton Challenge also did a shorter run just to keep the engines warm for a good race on Sunday.
A handful, mainly in Groups 1 and 2, with a few more from Group 3, went on farther to F2 and PA Campsite before turning back for 30km and 28km respectively. Marathon Pace or slightly faster was maintained by most groups, testimony to the foundation and base of the trainees who have strengthened over the past few training sessions.
There weren’t the usual large groups of runners at ECP, mainly due to the haze bordering on moderate levels, and possibly trending upwards by late morning. That allowed us more free range of access along the pathways, making pace running a lot more smoother.
All Sunbirds with their Group trainers and pacers returned by 10:45am, allowing us to finish training on a positive note and well within regulation time. Many of us were pleased to be able to get our pace training run in, and were already looking forward to the following weekend’s run at Sports Hub.
Photos & Collages by FatBird Ronnie
Weekend #5 was yet another good day for training as the haze levels were kept at bay, allowing the Sunbirds to complete their Basebuild Phase at the trails and slopes of the Reservoir terrain.
The group started off from MacRitchie Reservoir Park after a quick brief, and immediately proceeded along the Northern Trail @ MR in their respective pace groupings. We had a slight change of the route after Northern Trail to skirt past the private road of SICC via the 1.5km Venus Trail.
This trail portion made the overall workout a tad challenging as we normally would run along the concrete road which was a lot smoother. Still, all the Sunbirds were able to keep to their respective Basebuild pace, and if anything, most were running closer to Marathon Pace.
Once into Lower Peirce Reservoir road, we were back in familiar territory. We headed towards Casuarina Road and then Old Upper Thomson Road (OUTR) before the Half Marathon (HM) groups turned back for their 15km requirement of the morning.
The Full Marathon (FM) groups proceeded into the rolling slopes of Upper Peirce Reservoir Road to 2 sets of tough hills run, which most of the trainees fulfilled to the trainers’ satisfaction.
Once the mental ‘distraction’ were out of their minds, the trainees performed very well to overcome any imaginary obstacles that they might have envisioned before plucking the courage to sustain the good effort.
By the time we completed the rolling hills repeat, there was only 10km remaining, which boosted the morale of the Sunbirds – it didn’t seemed too difficult once we had completed the challenge on hand…a good confidence booster for all.
The run back along the trails were meant to tax the Sunbirds as they would have expended a fair amount of resources after the slopes. The runners would have to draw on their physical reserves and mental strength to tackle the 5km of trails back to the finish, and that was no mean feat.
“It was the hardest workout I’ve had in my life”, uttered quite a number of newer Sunbirds. They were glad they overcame the challenge presented to emerge stronger and happier that they have accomplished a tough workout.
All the groups completed their morning run by 10:30am, achieving most of the training requirements expected of them in Week #5.
The Sunbirds will look forward to Week #6, where we enter the Pace Run Phase, doing longer runs of 70-85% of their race distances at Marathon Pace (MP), conditioning them to eventually sustain a good race pace for the whole duration of their HM and FM races.
The Sunbirds Ran Well At The Trails & Rolling Hills
Photos by FatBird Onin
After a week of unhealthy to hazardous blanket of haze from the Kalimantan fires, the Sunbirds were thrilled to see a drastic dip in psi levels overnight, which meant we could activate session #3 of Ops Sunbird training.
There was a reasonably good turnout in spite of the upcoming Straits Times Run and a few overseas races this weekend. As many were joining FatBird training for the first time, the trainers provided an overview of the training program which focuses on building and strengthening the running base in the first half of the program, before progressing on to pace training in the 2nd half.
After last weekend’s hills and trails run, this morning’s workout aimed to stretch the resources of the trainees with a rolling hills run sandwiching a 2.4km Fig-8 hills repeat for good measure.
A 5km run at Basebuild Zone (2) into Labrador Park from start at SAFRA MF set the tone for the morning’s training requirements. Once into Labrador Park, the respective pace groups went about repeating their 2.4km laps with the hills tunnels in between providing a challenge to raise the effort for many of the Sunbirds.
The cloud cover provided good shade as we tackled the Labrador Park segment, although the humidity was still a contending factor for many of the runners. The experienced Sunbird trainers and pacers led their respective groups of trainees well as evident in most of them sticking closely and pacing steadily as cohesive units.
When the 30min for the HM and 60min for the FM were completed, the runners still had sufficient reserves in them for the 5-6km back to SAFRA Clubhouse. A number of new trainees who did not bring hydration along were feeling the effects of fatigue from dehydration after about 1 hour of running, but this would serve as a learning experience for all to have sufficient hydration for long runs.
The HM trainees completed their 14km and the FM runners completed 26km run back at SAFRA Clubhouse, wearing beaded sweats of perspiration on their faces but exuding a sense of satisfaction of finally getting that long run in (after many days of non-workouts because of the haze situation).
With week #3 successfully completed, the Sunbirds are confidently progressing on to the next quarter of training with more hills at Mt. Faber next week. We should be expecting more Sunbirds returning back for training in week #4, and hopefully with the haze abated by then, we would be able to finally have a smooth progression training towards our objectives for the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS) and a few other overseas marathons like the OSAKA, New York, Chicago, Chiang Mai and Taipei marathons.
The Sunbirds Were Soaring High In Clear Skies
Photos by FatBird Ronnie
With the gloom and doom situation of the unhealthy Haze levels for the past weeks, it was a blessing when the winds finally turned positive in our favor from Saturday that the STRun Organizers eventually put in a sterling job of conducting the Straits Times Run @ Sports Hub 2015 in clear skies on Sunday.
Team FatBird, once again the official pacers for the STRun had earlier conducted 3 well-attended progressive training runs to prepare participants of the 18.45km category for race day, and we sure were happy to report that we accomplished the pacing mission with flying colours (in spite of initial concerns that the race could be canceled due to unhealthy psi levels).
When we received confirmation from the STRun Organizer at 2am that the race was ON (as psi readings remained in < 100 levels), our team was real happy and excited as we made our way to OCBC Arena @ Sports Hub to meet and collect our Pacer bibs and balloons.
Along the way, we could see that the skies was clear and that there were no foul smells of any haze at all. By 3.30am, the RV point was buzzing with activity as we put on our Pacer Bibs and Balloons and took group photos with the equally excited runners as well.
The Pacers moved into the starting pens at 4:20am to take up position and shortly, the runners joined us in their respective target timing targets. The MCs were doing a great job of entertaining the runners gathered before the drums and band along with the fitness instructors took over to warm up the crowd.
The 18.45km race was started off promptly at 5:00am and soon all runners were gathered around their pace groups and running together. The weather was cool and calm as we headed off along Nicholl Highway with lots of chatter and encouragement for the runners and pace groups.
It was noticeable this year that all participants were running strongly and enthusiastically, in part due to their pent-up energy levels during the abstinence due to the haze as well as the good vibes of the race.
The hydration points were well stocked-up with water and isotonic drinks and the cheerleaders and marshals were very energetic and motivating when we ran by. By mid-point (9km) of the race, we were settled in comfortably and running a very sustainable pace which we know will bring us to the destination in good stead.
As we approached the Marina Barrage, we could hear loud cheers and music from a sizeable group of supporters, which perked up all runners passing through for the important final third of the race. We were charged up by the high-fives, dances, clapping and shouts of encouragement as we proceeded onto Gardens By The Bay East.
With 4km remaining, there were some signs of slowing from the runners, and that’s where the Pacers kicked into high gear to shout words of encouragement and give the runners a sense of how well they were doing up to that point.
Most of them found the extra resources in them to sustain their paces, and when it was just 2.5km to go (after cresting the small slope), it was a smooth going as we could all see the Stadium grounds and knew we were near to the finish line.
With 1-2 min of buffer remaining, the Pacers made good use of the time in the final 500m to encourage and push even more runners into the Stadium to beat their pace targets. We are heartened to see many giving their best efforts and picking up their legs to cross the finish strongly with arms held up high for that victorious pose.
After collecting the finisher tee and medal, we went onto the spacious carnival in the middle of the Stadium for drinks and bananas, and at the same time caught up with many of the runners for photos and congratulatory messages.
With the cool air from the air-conditioned Stadium interior, we felt comfortable and had great fun celebrating with all the STRun Pacers and runners in having many group photos and shouts of victory to end what would be one of the more memorable races we have participated in for 2015.
Kudos to the Straits Times for successfully organizing the ST Run @ Sports Hub 2015, and for Infinitus Productions for executing the whole race management and experience to a tee. And of course, a word of thanks to the Team FatBird Pacers who have banded together tirelessly over 8 weeks for Pacer training, Progressive Training Runs and delivering a great job on race morning to bring so many ST Runners to the finish in goal times.
Photo Credits CK Chin, Steven Ho, Rand Yan, Onin Tayson, Wai Pong, Margaret