Ops Kingfisher Weekend #3 – Blazing The Trails

Ops Kingfisher Weekend #3 – Blazing The Trails

As part of the strengthening regime of the Kingfisher Program, the flock visited one of our favourite training ground for trail running at MacRitchie Reservoir (MR) Park.

For many who have not been to MR in recent years, it looked all too unfamiliar but yet interesting.  For those who have been there for past training sessions with Team FatBird, it brought back many nice memories of charging up the trail slopes and tackling the uneven ground with some fleet footwork.   


MR was as usual abuzz with many runners and trekkers on their weekend workouts, with quite a number of running groups getting ready for some trail running action.  After a briefing of trail etiquette and safety observances, the respective pace groups were flagged off towards the Northern Route.


The first 3.5km stretch of the Northern Trails took some steam off the runners, and by the time they hit Island Country Club Road, the lactate buildup and high heart-rates are starting to affect the runners.  With a reasonably good base built up, the Kingfishers were able to recover somewhat to settle into a steady pace as they approached the forested roads of Lower Pierce Reservoir (LPR) and then Old Upper Thomson Road (OUTR).

By the time they reached the U-Turn point some 8.5km later, the large groups have broken into smaller segments, making for more comfortable pacing and sustainability.  Some gels were taken at the 12km mark, while hydration  was a more important need in the very humid morning.  

The pace group leaders were doing a great job of keeping their respective groups together, directing traffic at critical turning points, as well as motivating and urging the tiring runners on to maintain their respective paces.  There was nary a ‘slacker’ in sight, and by the time we climbed the SICC slopes back onto the Northern Trails, the majority were a spent force with just that small amount of reserves left.


When signs of the lack of power is evident with some indications of low fuel tanks, that is the point where the real effects of training will kick in to push the trainees both mentally and physically.  The final 4km back to MR Amenities Centre will stress the runners a little more in a bid to test their thresholds and in the process, with enable them to make adaptive progress and strengthen as runners.


By the end of 17km, it was evident from the look of the Kingfishers’ faces and feedback from the runners that this was one of the toughest challenges they have experienced to date.  In spite of that, many actually enjoyed the whole trail experience and were requesting for more of such training to be incorporated for future training programs.

With the completion of a busy running Week 3 of tempos, hill repeats and trail endurance runs, the Kingfishers are all ready for the second phase (weeks 4-6) of training which will see them enhancing on the strength&speed while upping the ante with long weekend endurance runs at Optimal Pace.  We are all looking forward to bring our newly-developed strength and speed to optimize and maximize our training for peak performances come September 1.


The Kingfishers Blazed The Trails!

Facebook Photos @ FatBird Chin


Kingfishers Attack The Track

Kingfishers Attack The Track

As with all Kingfisher and PowerFLIGHT training, speedwork at the track is always highly anticipated and one of the start attractions of the programs…the 80 Kingfisher participants were not disappointed.

It always bring an air of excitement whenever we visit the Serangoon Stadium, home of our track training.  Because of the size of our group, the caretaker and fellow runners would always sense our presence and in a way, everyone enjoys the motivation of running with many different groups, all giving one another the extra push to go that much faster and stronger.

While waiting for the rest of the Kingfishers to arrive, the earlier group were served a warm-up cocktail of some easy laps and running drills just to get things started.  By 1900hrs, we served the appetizer in the form of a mile (1.6km) time trial, a good gauge of the trainees’ level of sustainable aerobic fitness, which will help determine training paces for the main menu of interval sets.

The 3 Groups, along with their respective trainers, clocked up a smooth mile run before before briefed about the main menu.  The main menu, comprising of 2 parts were dished out to the delight of the runners, 800m interval sets with rests in between to recover and catch a breath, before swallowing in the subsequent sets.

This batch of Kingfishers have done some groundwork and seemed to be quite prepared for the track dishes, and soon Part A was consumed in good form.  While waiting for Group 3 to complete, Groups 1 and 2 were tasked a side dish of push-ups and burpees to which they injested with not much of a complaint.  

A quick briefing was given for Part B (400m sets) of the main menu, and then they went on the track to attack the final dish.  By the time they were done, all were having flushed faces, heavy breaths of recovery, but with smiles of satisfaction for an evening of speedwork well executed.

We were right on the dot with time management.  By the sound of the first horn (indicating the pending closure of the Stadium’s day), we had completed our debrief with a heads up for our hills training session in the weekend.  

As we walked towards the stands where the baggage were, bottles of hydration clutched in our perspiration-drenched palms, there were much chatter and discussion about how much we have enjoyed the track training, and how it was a maiden track experience for many of us who have never ran seriously in a track since our school days 😀

The Kingfishers Love The Track, The Kingfishers Will Be Back!

5 weeks of training remain – REGISTER for Ops Kingfisher 2013 Program HERE! 


Facebook Photo Album @ CK Chin

Ops Kingfisher 2013: A Hilly Kick-Off

Ops Kingfisher 2013: A Hilly Kick-Off

Photo Credits: FatBirds Adelene & Kelly

Ops Kingfisher 2013 kicked off with a roar up the slopes of Mt. Faber (MF) this Wed evening.  The 6-week intensive program of strength and speed saw a turnout of highly charged participants, many whom have been looking forward to start some serious training to prepare adequately for their Singapore Bay Run/Army Half Marathon (SBR/AHM) quest.

After segregating the runners into groups of comparatively capabilities, and a quick brief later, we headed out along Henderson Road up the slopes via Morse Road, before settling at the mid-point MF Loop for the night’s main menu.  The newbies did just as well as the more seasoned runners as they chugged up the MF slopes steadily, many with an air of confidence in them.

Hill Repeats were dished out to the by then warmed-up trainees, and along with their respective group trainers, tackled the 1.6km MF circuit with Basebuild pace for a sustained 40min hill workout that left most with a ‘high’ after this’ baptism of fire’ of Team FatBird’s PowerFLIGHT program.  

The trainees demonstrated the commitment and resilience that was evident of their mental preparedness for the upcoming challenges of this program, and at the end of the main menu, most wore smiles on their faces with the satisfaction of having sweat dripping and heavy breathing as they recounted the number of loops they had achieved.


The earlier ones were treated to a little something extra – some push-ups and burpees just to extract that little bit left they might have reserved, ensuring that they burn off that bit more, and hopefully inch their cardio fitness slightly forward.  Such ‘pleasant surprises’ might sometimes be sprinkled onto the menu of Kingfisher sessions just to spice things up for everyone, serving to enhance participants’ alertness and responsive levels.

Groups 1 and 2 took the slightly longer route back, while Group 3 were quite happy to take the shorter, but not necessarily easier Henderson route back to the ClubHouse.  

All in, it was a great start for the Kingfishers – those that have done the program before were happy to be back for more of the ‘good stuff’; while the new ones, although awed by the toughness, were happy to have completed the challenge.  They were pleasantly surprised to have overcome any initial mental barriers they might have before the start.

The next 6 weeks will see the Kingfishers progressing on to do a variation of workouts, from speed and intervals on the track, to tempo and fartlek runs in Parks; and then there are the many hill combinations which will make this a short but exciting training journey for all.

Those who have missed out on the first session, fret not, as there are still available training places for those who are seeking a structured group training program.  For details and registration, please visit the Ops Kingfisher website www.OpsKingfisher.com

Running The Bay? FatBirds Will Show The Way!

Gold Coast Airport Marathon (GCAM) 2013

Gold Coast Airport Marathon (GCAM) 2013


Photo Credits:  Scenic Travel, Team FatBird, Ops Kookaburra

A record 355 runners from Singapore signed up for Gold Coast Airport Marathon (GCAM) 2013.  After the Japanese, Singapore was the second largest contingent represented at this IAAF bronze-label marathon race.


This year, Team FatBird once again put together a 12-week Ops Kookaburra marathon training to prepare runners for this important overseas race, and a cool-weather one at that. From as early as 6 months ago, we held lead-up runs, run briefings as well as pre-departure briefings to keep all Singapore runners up to speed on important preparations for the race.


We had runners participating in the 10km category held on Saturday and the HM and FM categories on Sunday 7 July.  There were invited media accompanying the large group from Singapore to provide adequate coverage.  Many of the fastest Singapore Marathoners were also using the GCAM race to better their times and go for qualification of important regional competitions.


Team FatBird marathoners, along with runners from other running clubs/groups, were all excited as many would be going to GCAM for the first time, all eager to outdo themselves to turn in stellar performances as many had done before them.  The main group departed on Thursday evening, and arrived to the GCAM Race Expo for a tour while waiting for group collection of race packs/bibs by the good people at Scenic Travel, our tour agent taking care of 150pax for this trip.  The Race Expo was a good experience for many, coupled with good discounts and buys…many of us walked away with bags in our hands and gleeful smiles.

The specially arranged Welcome Carbo-loading dinner for the Singapore team at Grand Chancellor Hotel was a pleasant one with very good seafood buffet topped with pasta and good Australian fare.  We enjoyed a warm round of bonding with familiar faces and getting to know new runners alike.  Thanks for making the arrangements, Tourism & Events Queensland (TEQ).

 

On early Saturday morning, a small group of about 15 set off for the 10km competitive and 5.7km fun run.  One unique and welcomed arrangement at GCAM is the spread of the race over 2 days, leaving the main HM and FM races till Sunday, thus having good crowd control and avoiding any potential human jams or chokes along the running routes.  

Southern Cross 10km finishers – Photo Credit: Run Society

All of us enjoyed a great Saturday outing with our families and friends who were beginners but yet got to experience the marathon experience with us.  Some of us even scored PBs for the 10km race because of the cool weather and conducive atmosphere.  We all got back to the hotel by 9:00am in time for the sumptuous breakfast and sharing of our race experiences of the morning.

Sunday morning was where the big races were.  The Half Marathon (HM) runners got up extra early for the 6:30am start at SouthPort Ave.  The temperature of about 14C was reasonably good, although some of the newbies found it a tad chilly.  Still, the weather warmed up nicely once the race began, and as per the established running culture in Australia, every runner was running seriously towards their objectives, guided by the established Pace Runners.  

The course which included the other side of the FM route was gentle giving our tropical runners a good chance of breaking their personal bests, which many did eventually 1.5-2.5hrs later.  The finisher tee (given out only when we complete the race) was a nice grey shade, plus the medal in the shape of the numbers ’21’ was unique as it was elegant, befitting of international race standards.


The Full Marathon (FM) group, which numbered 250 or more from Singapore, started at 7:20am in the reverse direction of SouthPort Ave.  We had many top marathon runners from home looking to beat their personal bests with the top few eyeing places in the SEA games – eventually, Mok Ying Ren did a personal best of 2:26 to establish a PB as well as qualify for Sea Games.  Ashley Liew also did very close to PB at 2:35, Derek Li at 2:45, Thow Wee with a PB of 2:53, Wen Long at 2:57…together taking the top 5 Singapore runners to go below 3hr at GCAM.

The FatBird runners and Kookaburra trainees did extremely well with a high percentage of easily 70% establishing PBs of sub-4h and sub-5h timings.  The great weather allowed many to push beyond what they were capable of back in Sunny Singapore…some were able to sustain the good paces all the way, while a few learnt quickly that the paces were too strong to be brought past the 26-28km marks…still, the good buffer built up in the first part of the race enabled most to do PBs of good margins even in spite of the lack of experience racing in fast paces.

Many of our runners reported that they were most impressed with the running culture at GCAM, with runners walking leisurely and not being too interested, non existent at all.  Every runner was focused on completing the marathon in good form, and the respect for fellow marathoners and the marathon distance was very evident in their behavior and approach to the race.


There was a large gathering of the Singapore Runners at the TEQ tent post-race to share and congratulate one another for their good performances, take photos and basking in the warmth of the sun on the open field just in front.  From a short distance was the giant screen showing the race (still ongoing) and gathering of thousands to visit the sponsors and corporate tents or collect baggage.  It was a very well organized with neat layout at the Race Site.

Lots of cameras and smartphones clicking finisher photos of jubilant runners in finisher tees and proudly donning their finisher medals.  A group photo of Team Singapore was taken at 12:30pm with a record turnout this year.  It was indeed a successful marathon event for all our runners and a proud moment for Team FatBird and TEQ in seeing many of them achieve good performances after the 12 weeks of Kookaburra training.  The brilliant smiles and hearty laughter showed that only only did we ran very well, we have also thoroughly enjoyed the outstanding race atmosphere at experience that is so uniquely Gold Coast Airport Marathon.


Scoot which was the main carrier for many in our team supported the experience well with in-flight contests and post-race photo competitions which will see runners winning flights and race participation to GCAM 2014.  Team Scoot also sent in good participation to race both the 10k and HM on consecutive weekend days – they surely have a strong team of runners – Get Outta Here (and Run)!

In true fashion of our tagline, “Come For The Run, Stay For The Fun”, the few days post-race was full of fun outings to the many sights and experiences in Gold Coast, from the Theme Park Worlds to SkyPoint Climbs, Whale-watching, National Park hikes and walks in Wildlife Sanctuary, there was just too much to do and too little time and money 🙂  

An earlier group left on Monday while the larger group departed on Wednesday for home, and judging from the comments and feedback from Team Singapore, the GCAM was one race and experience that will stay with many of us for a long time to come…already, many are looking at bettering themselves at GCAM 2014, with many new ones looking to join in for that Golden experience they have heard so much about.


Run Kookaburra, Run Kookaburra,
GOLD Your Race Has Been!

Congratulations to Team Singapore on your outstanding performances at the GCAM 2013.
We look forward to seeing more of you at GCAM 2014.

Good On Ya, Mate!



Ops Kookaburra 2013: Operation Finale

Ops Kookaburra 2013: Operation Finale


After 2 weeks of bearing with the hazy conditions on the island and the pent-up energy from the lack of mileage, it was no wonder that there was a good turnout for our final training run before we depart for GCAM in a few days.

The weather looked threatening in the morning with lightning flashes and cloudy skies, but it turned out well enough for the Kookaburras to start our race-pace tapering run.  Many were decked out in their Kookaburra race singlets and race day gear for a final test-drive before packing them off for the big international marathon.


As the trainees took to the East Coast pathway highly charged, most were wearing happy and confident smiles, with the knowledge that they have put in their best effort for the whole training journey and are now in good form to do a solid race in Gold Coast.


There was a light drizzle along the way, and coupled with light, cool winds, the weather was just perfect for a ‘feel’ of what we might expect on actual race day, albeit with a lot less humidity.  It was nice to bump into many other running groups out training for upcoming races like the Bay Run/AHM or just simply having fun after the ‘moody’ patch with the haze in the past weeks.

All had a good 2 hour run in cool weather and cloudy skies, with just a couple of us getting caught in heavier rainfall at the tail end.  There was a quick debrief followed by lots of chatting and sharing among the Kookaburras, all getting excited for the GCAM trip.  The enthusiasm even rubbed off on those who are not going down under this year, but have pledged to go for GCAM 2014 after feeling the positive and encouraging vibes from the Kookaburras.

As we wrap up a successful 12-week Ops Kookaburra program, we wish all Kookaburras and Team Singapore a good race and fun-filled trip to Gold Coast.  Importantly, remember to enjoy the journey and Go For The Run, Stay For The Fun!

Run Kookaburra Run Kookaburra
Gold Our Race Will Be!

Photo Slideshow @ CK Chin
Kookaburras Poised For Gold Coast

Kookaburras Poised For Gold Coast

After the 2-week break from participating at the Sundown Marathon, the Kookaburras were glad to be back for our final long run before tapering for the Gold Coast Airport Marathon (GCAM) on 6-7 July.  It was quite a decent turnout considering that there were a couple of other short races happening in Singapore and across the Causeway.  The Kookaburras were also happy to collect their training singlet tops to do trial and testing of gear and equipment they would be using down under.

This being Week 10 of the 12-Week program, we are already into Optimal Pace training –  out to push the paces to see where we stand in terms of speed endurance for the long distance.  The majority of us being in the Full Marathon category, the target distance for the morning was 32km at sustained race pace, a challenge that would not be for the faint heart-ed.


Fortunately for us, the morning was rather cool and a tad windy, albeit with a slight haze from the Sumatra fires.  We made use of the nice weather to push a faster pace for the first 10km, extending to 14km and then 21km.  The route along ECP was convenient as there were ample public water stops; and passing Checkpoint C4 allowed for quick isotonic drinks stops for the respective pace groups.


The first 21km was covered at better than Optimal Pace for many of the Kookaburras, giving us the confidence that we would be able to push the pace in the much cooler temperatures of Gold Coast.  Most of us have recovered sufficiently from Sundown to be able to run hard, although some effects of the Night Marathon could still be felt.  A few who have had earlier training runs/races on Saturday decided to just stop at 21km, happy with their ability to keep to target race pace for at least half of the full race distance.

 

The second loop of 9-11km to complete training requirements was one that tested the mental resolve and strength of the Kookaburras to sustain pace with their already tired legs and heavier cardio cycles.  With their experiences gained from past marathons and group training workouts, most managed to find a “second wind” to push on and eventually completed the challenge.  

The lessons and experiences learnt from all these long runs in areas of speed endurance, pace sustenance, hydration and nutrition plans,knowing our bodies and capabilities, including race strategies would be useful in getting us the desired results at GCAM.


With barely 3 weeks to race day, the Kookaburras will be tapering and making adaptations from all the weeks of long runs to build up a good form.  There will be a pre-departure briefing for all GCAM-bound participants which will be useful for the many whom are going there for the first time.  We are also going as a rather large contingent, making this trip and race one that many of us are looking forward with anticipation in terms of both the run and the fun we will share.


There is one final group training run before we set off for Gold Coast; one that we will officially be passed out as Operationally-Ready Kookaburras, donning our blue/yellow Kookaburra singlets with pride.