Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ops Sunbird #4: The Western Slopes & Hills

Training Report by FatBird Anthony
Photo Slideshow by FatBirds DO , Spencer

Ops Sunbird Session #4 - The Western Hills

Trainer Ong from SAFRA Mt. Faber was alerted earlier in the week that Team FatBird Runners will be training there this Sunday. He extended a warm welcome to us, and even informed the security....but he and the SAFRA Runners were still surprised by the large group of Sunbirds & Pacers that showed up at Mt. Faber. The menu of 15km-25km-30km kept all the trainees in suspense for the week, as they were not aware of the actual routes beforehand.

The morning started with a good recap of the previous week's lessons, Sunbird questions to Coach Jonathan, as well as the Coach's tips for how to benefit from running in hills and slopes to build leg strength for distance running. A group photo followed, and then yet another round of detailed instructions on the routes. First up was the group run, separated into 3 main sections, moving into Labrador Park. For many of the runners, it was their maiden experience running in that part of Singapore, not to mention even visiting Labrador Park.

Tips from Coach Jonathan and TFB Training Team

The spirits of the Sunbirds were high as they enjoyed the scenic views, while at the same time quietly preparing for some serious hill repeats :). A visit to the Dragon's Tooth for a prayer, before being dispatched to do the 800m loops. The first loop saw many energetic runners bound up the rather undulating slopes with gusto, and then glided down with ease in the recovery. The second loop posed a slight challenge for the 10km & 21km trainees, but they still made good progress...well done! Most of the 42km trainees managed a 3rd loop, and their faces lit up with pride and confidence after that exercise.

Were they ready for more? Not a doubt was expressed as the troops moved in tandem, managing steady paces towards the next hill objective...yes, the famous slopes of Mt. Faber. The Training Team had originally planned for a Kampong Bahru ascent, but on consideration that the runners were not so conditioned for slopes, we decided to go up via the more gentle, albeit longer Morse Road. I was with the front group as we held a gingerly pace up the familiar slopes of Morse, to me, at least..hehe. Saw the SAFRA Runners on their way down, and we exchanged greetings.

It was pleasant to see most run non-stop all the way to the car-park RV area, assembling and refueling for the next mission...35min hill repeats of the 1.6km Mt. Faber Loop. As the majority of the 42km trainees and some of the 21km trainees were ready, we started off towards the top of MF. It was pretty silent on the way up....not much chit-chatting....all very focused on getting up there. As we shouted out to the remaining distance markers to the top, the Sunbirds were encouraged enough to maintain pace, with firm arm swings to aid with the climb. It felt so good reaching the top, greeted with the soft breeze blowing at our faces....some deep breaths to recover, before doing a relaxed jog down the 800m back to the car-park for 1 loop. The front group took about 10min-11min/loop, good enough for 3 loops.

The 21km Sunbirds did 1 loop, before being led back by Kelvin, while the 42km Sunbirds continued on for more loops. It felt good for me at least to be back training at the MF hills. It has been quite a while since I ran in the area, and I was really savoring the hill repeats. After 3 loops, most of the Sunbirds and Pacers seemed to be satisfied with the day's hills, and were looking forward to move to flatter terrain...haha. They had done well thus far, and deserved a isotonic break at the Petrol Station at the foot of the hills. I announced that the Sunbirds had just 5km left, while the Pacers would go for 10km more. The group set off towards the Harbourfront direction, before turning to Kampong Bahru for the final 2km short climb back to SAFRA ClubHouse. By then, we had done about 3hrs of running, and the sun was rearing itself high up.

Sharing about today's grueling experience

Back at the ClubHouse, we were greeted with the sweet tastes of iced-cold isotonic drinks, bananas and apples. Some were slumped on the ground, heaving sighs of relief that they had completed the hilly run. Rose and SC were sharing experiences of their hills conquest...they and the other Sunbirds really progressed so well to reach so far. With the completion of the MF Challenge, they were up at least one notch in mental and physical strength...definitely putting them in good stead to finish the year-end SCSM09 in fine form.

The Marathon Pacers took a quick drink, before moving as a group to complete our final 5km for a total 30km distance. David Ye has improved by loads since we first met him when he joined the Pacers Program. He was then going for 27km-28km at steady pace. The rest of the Marathon Pacers have grown much stronger, and they will be all ready to get into Pace Training in the 7th week.

The final 5km loop was burning hot, with the sun's rays beating on our faces and backs. I felt it was very good conditioning for the legs and 'mind'. Looking at the front Pacers of Keonz, YN, Terence, Spencer, eline, Sin Guan, Matthew and Jie, I felt a sense of quiet confidence for these runners who were so determined to build themselves up for their respective pace groups. Of course the 5hr-6hr pacers who were not too far behind were doing well to condition themselves for the big day as well.

When we reached back to The FatBird Watering Hole @ ClubHouse after the 30km, we had been running for about 3.5hr, not bad on such a hilly terrain coupled with heat and humidity. The Sunbirds had washed up and were sipping on their kopi and muching on kaya toast at Ya Kun, smiling and waving at us from their air-conditioned nice :) We had a final briefing for all the Pacers, before dispersing before noon...great timing. I jested earlier with a few Sunbirds that they might find next week's flat-run in the East a walk-in-the-park compared with what they have experienced today...haha. We might see some Sunbirds fly then ;).

OPS SUNBIRD - Your Marathon Destination, Our Race Preparation (for you)

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