Operation Sunbird, Team FatBird’s structured marathon training for Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM17) got off to a flying start from the Singapore Sports Hub on Sunday morning. The program saw the return of many satisfied trainees as well as a number of new participants, all looking to get some serious run training in for a good showing at SCSM in Dec 2017.
After a welcome and overview of the 12-week training program outline, the runners were placed into respective training groups according to their abilities as well as race targets. The Half Marathon (HM) and Full Marathon (FM) groupings were each led by 1-2 experienced FatBird trainers and pacers who will guide the Sunbird trainees throughout their training journey.
The kickoff session had the trainees doing their first long run at BaseBuild Pace of 12km for the HM Sunbirds and 22km for the FM Sunbirds. It was a controlled but smooth start for all to get into the groove. By mid point of the run, most have settled into their target training paces and were running together with their respective trainers in groups.
Many of the trainees have just come back from a good break and were looking forward to this operation to whip them into racing weight and shape. At the mid-point of this long run, most of the Sunbirds were still maintaining target paces while a few newer ones were showing some signs of strain in their faces.
The heat from the sun on our return provided challenges and conditioning opportunities to the Sunbirds for a tougher than expected long run. With the guidance of the experienced Sunbird trainers, all runners completed their first session with flying colours.
A cool-down stretching session was conducted to help ease those tired muscles. A debrief of the morning’s run was conducted with some tips on how to maximize the Sunbird marathon training before concluding the session at 10.30am.
It was a smooth start for the Sunbirds at their first training session with Team FatBird. This will set the stage for progressive workouts of basebuilding and pace training in the following weeks to strengthen the marathon abilities of all participants.
The SAFRA Singapore Bay Run & Army Half Marathon 2017 was successfully organized for a responsive crowd of more than 40,000 runners on 20 Aug 2017. This year’s earlier starting time at 4:30am made it even more conducive for runners who did not relish in running too much in the heat of the sun.
Our runners gathered by 3:30am at the Esplanade Amphitheatre for pre-run warm up routine of jogs, drills and some strides, before moving to the start pens at 4:00am.
Although there was an initial delay in the start and also congestion for the first 1km, the Kingfishers and FatBirds eased into the flow by executing our race and pace plans to a tee. The weather was a tad humid initially, but got more airy and comfortable as the crowd dispersed and spread out.
We kept to our Optimal Pace for the first half of the race, patiently picking off slowing runners after the 6-8km mark. The relatively flat race route this year was much improved with less sharp twists and turns, and hydration points were better stocked and well positioned.
After the midpoint right about where we exited from ECP, we maintained our Optimal Pace with some of us increasing pace slightly for negative splits. With the strength and speed developed from all those hills and track training, the Kingfishers found that they could maintain the faster paces with little issues.
The final 3-5km was the best part for many of our Kingfishers as we maintained pace to overtake many more runners for a strong finish at the Padang area for what was a solid performance for our marathoners.
Congratulations to all Kingfishers and FatBirds who outdid their expectations to secure Personal Bests, Season Bests and even Top-10 positions in their age categories.
The following are some of the happy comments from our Kingfisher trainees:
“Feeling grateful at having exceeded my own expectations at today’s AHM. Aiming for an average pace of 6:05-6:10, but managed to achieve 5:53 average pace for a PB of 2:06 (or 2:03 if corrected for the extra 500m course length). Hot and humid, but focused on good form throughout, with a burst over the last 6km. Looks like all the track work and hill repeats worked their magic! Big thank you and thumbs up to Anthony Sum and all the trainers at Team FatBird!! And also to all fellow runners in Group 2 for the motivation and company!” – Paul Ong
“Done and dusted, Army Half Marathon 2017!Special thanks to Team Fatbird running group, chief Anthony Sum for your training and guidance, constantly checking and correcting our running form during the run, and I had reaped much benefit from those hill and track workout (which I disliked) haha. Of course not forgetting trainers and team members, you guys are source of motivation for me to come for training and see you all at Sunbird operation” – Jen Soong
“Thanks Chief! My net time is 1:48hr. A PB for me. Those trainings from FatBird really helped. A 6min improvement since eco run not to mention that AHM is 500m longer.”
“Hit several PB today. Watch shows best timing at 1km, 2.4km, 5km and 10km. Thank you Team Fatbird Anthony Sum for the training” – Catherine Lam
“Thanks for the training. Finished my 10km for SAFRA” – Ha Nguyen
“Thank you Anthony and trainers for the guidance during training. Complete the race with no pain.” – Marc Chong
“Glad to have completed AHM with improvements of a couple of minutes (new PB) although could have been much better if not due to inexperience in starting out too fast for first 16km of the run. Thanks to the structured trainings from TeamFatBird that helped me manage to complete and still get a PB. Looking forward to Ops Sunbird training in September. WooHaa.!!!” – Christopher
Photo Contributions from FatBirds Rand, Jacqueline
Are you looking for a proven results-oriented marathon training program to help you achieve your desired performance targets at your upcoming Key Marathon Race?
After 7 weeks of intensive training for strength and speed endurance, the Kingfishers showed their readiness for the Army Half Marathon this coming weekend with a series of good runs at the program’s 18km time trial and achieving Personal Bests at The Shape Run, Performance Series, Kuching Marathon, Brisbane Marathon.
With their dedication to the structured Ops Kingfisher training program comprising of speed development at the track to hills repeats at Mt. Faber & Labrador Park to the weekend steady-state fast-finish long runs and cruise intervals, the Kingfishers have progressed strongly to reach their current form and state of readiness for their Half Marathon mission this weekend.
The final long run of 18km @ Optimal Pace threw up very good potential PB-indicators for the Kingfishers on Sunday. From Group 1 to Group 3, both trainers and trainees held on well to maintain Optimal Pace (7-10s faster than target Marathon Pace). This is testament to their strength and speed endurance developed over the course of these 8 weeks of training.
Those Kingfishers who did not participate at the Time Trial ran their own races very well, and following were some of the postings on their outstanding performances:
“PB … A big thank you to all Trainers at Team FatBird..”
Mei Ting @ Shape Run 2017
“2nd Performance Series done for the year & clocked unofficial 2:06:29. Closed to PB, if not a PB. Thanks to TFB trainers & Group 2 running mates.”
Chow Wah @ Performance Series HM 2017
“I definitely had a strong run for the first 16km. Thanks to Team Fatbird coaches for the constant push during trainings! I would like to think I ran with better form today as compared to the first race…”
Crystal Quek @ Performance Series HM 2017
“…completed his first #brisbanemarathon17 by overcoming 9 deg winter temperature, undulating terrain of 342m elevation, contact lens fallen from one eye, 50m tracking back for mistakenly dropped glove and lack of training mileage, to finish in PB of 3:29:43.”
Trainer Kong Soon @ Brisbane Marathon 2017
“Congratulations on the podium and Champion Singaporean with timing of 3:46:11”
Trainer Steven Ho @ Kuching Marathon
This final week before the main race on 20 August will see the Kingfishers doing active rest and recovery, with a couple of shorter tempo and fartlek runs thrown in at Race Pace to get into optimal condition.
Team FatBird trainers would like to wish all our Kingfishers Personal-Best performances at the SAFRA Army Half Marathon!
Are you looking for a proven results-oriented marathon training program to help you achieve your desired performance targets at your upcoming Key Marathon Race?
In week 3 of the 8-week structured training for Army Half Marathon, the Kingfishers amped up their speed and strength buildup at the track and hills to good training effect.
Friday evening’s speedwork at the track was a good buildup from week 2’s trackwork, with a mile time trial, main menu of 800m sets, followed by 400m sets before rounding off with a fun relay competition to cap an evening of fruitful workout at the Serangoon track.
The activation drills and the weekday strength ‘homework’ done by the trainees were showing results in the better posture and running form sustained during the high intensity interval sets.
The strides and arm-swings were providing much improved propulsion resulting in faster overall times for the 400m-1,600m distances at sustained effort.
The Sunday hill run and repeats at Mt. Faber provided the Kingfishers with the much needed terrain to hone their strength and endurance on hilly terrain, which will go towards enhancing their stride length to some extent. The running form were kept in check throughout the execution of the 2 hour hill run workout to ensure that the trainees get the best training adaptation in their continued buildup towards a fast Half Marathon race.
With 5 weeks remaining to AHM, the Kingfishers are showing good progress with some intensive but smart training. They will go on to Half Marathon target pace runs in the coming weeks to work in a good chance of hitting their target timings and Personal Bests for 10km and Half Marathon at AHM.
The Kingfishers Killed The Track & Hills In Week #3
Gold Coast Airport Marathon (GCAM) Trip & Race Report – by FatBird Anthony Photo Credits: Run Society, ShaoFei, Mohan, Marathon-Photos
12-Week Operation Kookaburra GCAM Training We started training and preparations for Gold Coast Airport Marathon (GCAM) in early April with the kick-off of the 12-week Operation Kookaburra, our signature training program for Singapore-based marathoners attempting GCAM Personal Bests (PB) and Boston Qualifiers (BQ). The first 40 who signed up for the Run Gold Coast package from Scenic Travel received the training for free as an incentive, while a few marathoners paid for training to prepare for other races in the June-Aug period.
We had a good build up with lots of long basebuild, steady and pace runs to sufficiently condition our runners for their quests at GCAM17. It was nice to see a number of returning trainees coming back to better their GCAM performances from the past few years.
Returning For Yet another Personal Best (PB) and Boston Qualifier (BQ) target In addition to conducting the Kookaburra training, I was also signed up for GCAM17 marathon in a bid to secure my Boston ticket for 2018 – I had planned to revisit Boston Marathon after giving 2017’s edition a break (which I qualified for at GCAM16 with 3h24min).
So, I had a dual mission of providing training to Kookaburras as well as getting in race-ready condition for a reasonable shot for PB at GCAM17. As I will ‘advance’ into a new age group in 2018, my qualifying criteria would be easier with an addition of 10min to 3h40min in the 55-59 age group.
Travel with FatBirds to Gold Coast
A pre-departure briefing was held to a large crowd of Singapore participants 3 weeks before we left for Gold Coast, including those who have signed up with Scenic Travel. We gave the usual tips of what to prepare for cool-weather marathon-ing, and also invited a few who did not manage to get onto the Kookaburra training program to join us for our final Tapering runs. These participants benefited from that 1-2 runs and eventually did very well at GCAM17.
New hotel at the Mantra Legends – breakfast is great After landing on Friday and doing brunch and shopping at Pacific Fair, picking up our race packs at the Race Expo, we were whisked to a smooth check in at the Mantra Legends.
The Mantra is just a stone’s throw away from my past favourite Grand Chancellor (renamed to Novotel) and has an awesome breakfast spread to my liking. My room is comfortable and spacious, with even an oven, coking stove and utensils provided…nice!
Carbo Loading Welcome Dinner The team gathered for our customary carbo loading dinner at the Fables Restaurant in the hotel to a nice spread of seafood, Mexican and Asian delights. Carbo loading and indulgence had reached a new level.
We retired early for the night to get in a shakeout run the next morning, before more carb loading at the Legends lunch. I piled on more protein of chicken and fish in addition to the few eggs for breakfast, to top the carbs that was loaded the night before. I must have gained 1-2kg after all the eating, which should give me ample firepower for Sunday’s race.
I organized a 5km shakeout run on Saturday for the runners in our team to have a feel for race weather conditions as well as to calm their nerves a little. It was well attended by the enthusiastic bunch, many who were first time GCAM participants that have trained with Team FatBird and are looking to get their PBs and BQs here.
We had a nice run along the Surfers Paradise beach front in comfortable weather, followed by a great breakfast spread back at the hotel.
Race Day As usual, I haven’t been sleeping much for the past few nights due to the dry weather and ‘foreign bed’ syndrome. I wasn’t too worried as I have had sufficient rest back home before traveling for this race. I was carbo loading and fuel-ing right up to race morning according to plan. Just that this time I added much more protein in addition to the base carb-loading I had always been accustomed to.
Although there were warnings of an impending cold draft on race day, we were fortunate to be blessed with the same marathon-conducive weather as previous years. The team gathered early and were transferred by coach to the race site before the flag off of the Half Marathon at 6:00am. All the marathoners were huddled in the Tourism Events Queensland (TEQ) SEA tent for warmth and comfort, preparing for final top up of isotonic drinks and bananas. I did a light warm up and some strides just to get the engine lubricated sufficiently for a start at target race pace, which was 4:45min/km for a 3h20min goal.
The few of us had planned to go with the Pacers at 3:10h (Carlos, Ren Gang), 3:20h (Anthony, Robin, Han Chee), 3:30h (Yian Soon) and 4:00h (Alice, Chee Peng, Kong soon, Daphne) with the rest adopting positions in the spacious pens just behind their respective Pacers.
The marathon race was flagged off promptly at 7:20am after the Australian National Anthem. The start was a tad congested by some runners finding their paces and getting warmed up. It took about 1km to settle in and by then, the 3:20h Pacers which I was eyeing was ahead by 100m. I settled into 4:45 min/km pace before moving up to 4:40 min/km pace to close the gap with the Pacers.
I found Han Chee slightly in front and signaled to him with a thumbs up. I passed and he ran slightly behind me for the next 20km before having to do a toilet break due to a bad stomach. Han Chee’s momentum was broken by a few more toilet stops subsequently, causing him to miss his BQ target. Meanwhile, I kept my sights on the 3:20h Pacers, who seemed to be running faster at 4:40 min/km pace instead of 4:45 min/km.
Although I had only 2 hours of sleep the previous night, I felt sufficiently strong to maintain 4:40 min/km pace till I closed the gap with the Pacers at the 21km mid- point. As always, the course was well supported with drinks and enthusiastic supporters out to cheer the runners with high-fives and shouts of encouragement. It is one of the distinctive highlights of the GCAM and why it is such a favourite with the record crowd of Singapore marathoners.
I saw a number of Singapore runners on both sides of the road along the way, including our national elite marathoner Ashley Liew who was looking blazingly good. With the sun beating down intensely, a number of runners were slowing slightly, including the Pacers to their targeted 4:45 min/km pace. I finally caught the Pacers at about the 28km mark before running alongside them for about 2km.
I ingested gels and electrolytes according to plan and it seemed to keep the cramps away, and providing me sufficient energy to maintain pace. Although I could go to 4:35 min/km pace, I decided to play it safe and be happy with just doing 3:20h which would have been already a PB for me. I was feeling good through to the return back to Southport at 31km before tackling the final 10-11km, which was the more challenging portion of the entire course.
As we ran past the cheering MC and spectators, and leaving their voices in the distance, runners who had been pushing the pace were paying the price with cramps and dropping of speed. I felt strong and continued to overtake more runners before encountering some twitches at the toes and left feet at the 35km mark. I adjusted my stride slightly and slowed by 3-5s/km to let the twitches ease and it did help. I popped an extra electrolyte tab for the finishing stretch.
A quick glance at my watch at the 40km mark showed that I was 2min below a 3h20min finish. I was quietly confident of completing in 3:17 or 3:18, which would have been a good PB and the first time I went below 3:20h in any marathon race. The final 1km was exciting with all the cheers from the crowd, and at the turn with 250m remaining, I ran tall and proud with long strides to clear the finish in 3h 18min 08sec nett time.
I was happy with how I ran the race, especially with a negative split of about 1min (1:39h for the first half) and (1:38h for the final half). The pace was also pretty consistent throughout the 42km.
This is a marathon Personal Best of more than 6min from my GCAM16’s timing of 3:24:28, and also qualifies me for Boston Marathon by more than 20min – I needed 3:40h for Boston Marathon 2018 as I move into a new age group of 55-59. I met Robin at the finish who did a massive Personal Best of 3h17min. Carlos did an outstanding 3h05min and Ren Gang (the China Kookaburra who did 3h11min) to qualify for Boston 2018 and we were already discussing plans to attend Boston together.
Yian Soon also BQed with a 3h39min timing. 85% of the Fatbirds (Alice, Daphne, Chee Peng, Nelson, Josephine) and Kookaburas (Linda, Mong Teng) just to name a few achieved PBs, with many shaving off massive timings of 20-30min or more from their previous bests. Such was what a good course and conducive weather can do for marathon timings, and GCAM has always been able to deliver where it matter.
This year also saw a breast to the tape by a Japanese newcomer, Takuya Noguchi, who unseated defending Champion Mungara with a strong kick at the final 250m bend for an exciting finish. Marathon idol Yuki Kawauchi finished in a close 3rd with a strong 2:09 timing.
Gratitude & Thanks
The mood at the TEQ SEA tent was celebratory with many happy FatBirds, Kookaburras and Team Singapore marathoners who traveled together with Scenic Travel. We would like to thank the GCAM organizers for executing another immaculate race, Stella and Khim from Tourism Queensland who were supportive throughout, and Scenic Travel staff (Shem and Janet) for always being there to meet all the runners’ needs and to ensure that our races went without any hitches.
A shout out and kudos to all of them for making our GCAM race a golden and memorable one.
We will surely be back for GCAM 2018 with even more participants from Singapore.
Run Kookaburras, Run Kookaburras, Gold Our Race Has Been!
The weather in the morning was cloudy, albeit still humid, typical of the SIngapore weather in mid year. The Kookaburras were all motivated to put in their final long run at goal marathon pace, and to test out their race apparel, shoes and in-race hydration and nutrition plans.
The brief to all participants was to run at their respective Optimal Race Pace (Goal Race Pace less 7secs) for as much of the prescribed distance as they could sustain their pace for, It would be a trial of sorts to evaluate their readiness to hit their target race paces in more stringent weather conditions than in cooler and less humid Gold Coast weather.
Most of the Kookaburras did well to complete their required distances within average Optimal Pace, although a few still started to fast in the beginning and started to fade after 3/4 of the distance.
Overall, all trainees managed to complete their 18km (HM) and 28 km (FM) within regulation time. Over post-run isotonic drinks and bananas, the GCAM-bound runners were given a final brief and advice on tapering and preparations for a good marathon in cool weather conditions at Gold Coast on July 2.
We are expecting to see a number of good showing for the Kookaburras at GCAM17, with lots of Personal Bests and a couple of Boston Qualifiers if race day conditions are great.