Sunday, November 29, 2009

OPERATION SUNBIRD: The Finale...0612, The Race Is Here!

Operations Report by FatBird Anthony
Photography @ FatBird Gallery by DO
ACTION Photos @ Facebook by Reuben, AC Leong, Byron Wee

Record turnout @ Ops Sunbird Session #10, The Finale

The 50 slots for the Run With Marathon Pacers finale session was signed up in less than a day. We opened up another 30 slots, which were signed up in 2 days. On this Sunday morning, with just 7 days away from 0612, the 80 registered participants, along with some walk-ins, together with the Sunbirds and Marathon Pacers gathered at The PlayGround @ Big Splash for a record turnout of close to 180 runners for a long weekend TFB Training Run.

Marathon Pacers - Battle Ready

The Pacers were decked out in ‘Full Dress Rehearsal’ mode with our Race Day Gear, Pacer identification balloons, timing bibs and Pace Bands. The Sunbirds were out in full force too, especially with this all important ‘Passing Out’ and training completion of Ops Sunbird….10 weeks of progressive training runs and preparation for the SCSM09 Full, Half & Quarter Marathon distances. Many of the trainees have come a long way, with a couple having slashed many minutes from their long distances, improving on Personal Best times, weight losses from 5-12kg, and high levels of race-day readiness. Coach Jonathan gave the final tip of the Ops Sunbird Training, aptly Race Day Preparations, followed by introductions of the various Pacer Teams to rousing applause and cheers, followed by a virtual run-down on the race day route.

The group photo session went through very smoothly…it was as though all the runners knew what to do, as they assembled in double-quick, precision timing….such were the high grade of training the runners went through, including how to take nice group photos :)
As the various groups were flagged off with both Pacers and Pacees in tow towards Fort Road, many curious onlookers were watching the timing balloons and chatting among themselves who the Pace Groups were, and which ones they might consider following on Race Day. Decked out in red for the men, and green for the ladies, the Marathon Pacers should be distinctive on race day, especially with their different coloured balloons and timing bibs on the backs of their running vests.

As we ran towards Fort Road, the 4hr group was already maintaining a good 5:36min/km pace. The 2:00h 21km group were also following at the same pace. We waved to familiar faces and encouraged the other runners to run along with us. As we passed the various Pace Groups after the U-Turn at the end of Fort Road, lots of cheers and applause ensued.

All were in high spirits, and were enjoying the tapering 18km (for Full Marathon) and 13km (for Half Marathon) run at race pace. The 4hr group was still running in close-knit fashion after 5km, and by then had gone on to our optimal pace of 5:34min/km. The 3:45h group in front, and the 4:15h group behind us maintained that front section of the train, with the respective groups maintaining their paces. It was an interesting sight to behold as these rather large groups ran as though in formation and marking time to a T.

The 2:00h 21km group turned back at F1 Carpark, and we wished each other well, before proceeding onto our respective paths. The 4hr group hit 10km in 55.5min; still maintaining that 5:34min/km Pace. The spirits were high as we approached the Sailing Centre U-Turn. A quick swap of the pace balloons among the Pacers for trial, some hydration top-ups later, and away we went for the final 6km. Once again, we cheered and encouraged the various groups as we pass, all the time maintaining that still steady 5:34min/km. The respective Pace Groups were maintaining their paces well, and all were looking strong and cheery. The Pace Group Leader and Deputy were maintaining the lead and body well, while I was sweeping at the rear about 30m away, with 3-4 runners.

The final 2km was pretty interesting as the front runners knew the end was in sight. Like a rocket finishing its mission still with very ample fuel-stock, there was a tendency to want to push and burn off some of the excesses. With my constant nagging of ‘Imagine we still have 26km to go’, their strides were contained and the ‘horses’ were restrained. By then we were on an average pace of 5:33min/km, slightly better than target Optimal Pace for the first 21km.

Before long, we could see Byron the Sports Photographer in the distance. YN, Darren and a few others in the body moved up, while I ushered the rest to move up slightly to have a nice ‘ACTION RUN’ group photo. According to my GPS-enabled time-piece, we ran 18.13km in 1:41h, a pace of 5:33min/km….very nice indeed. A victory photo for the 4hr group to celebrate a job well done, as we approached the FatBird Nest for our well-deserved isotonic drinks and refreshments.

The large 6:00h Group...steady wins the race

The rest of the groups soon returned, and once again, the 4:45h group was the largest with the loudest cheers….I joined in for their celebratory finish, which came with Party Poppers, small horns, and whistles….a nice way to end the 3 session Run With Marathon Pacers series, the 10-week Operation Sunbird Marathon Training, and the 12-week Marathon Pacers Training Programs. The other pace groups all returned to similar rousing finishes, giving a wonderful and warm feeling that all the many weeks and months of hard work and perseverance has made all of us feel so good, notwithstanding the final race on 0612.

A final briefing was given to all the participants at The FatBird Nest on the final week of tapering, as well as race day meet-ups and coordination among the Pacers, Sunbirds and the runners. Special limited edition of Team FatBird-New Balance Marathon Pace Bands were given out to Sunbirds and selected ‘Run With Marathon Pacers’ participants. All 42km participants will meet up with the respective Pacer Groups from 4am at the Outdoor Amphitheatre @ The Esplanade. We should proceed to the start line by 4:55am. The 21km runners will assemble at 5:45am, and proceed to the start line by 6:15am. After The SCSM09, we invite runners to meet with the Pacers, Sunbirds and Pacees at The Tan Kim Seng Fountain (near Cenotaph) at 11am, 12pm and 12.30pm for some post-race chatter and group photos.

With this successful completion of the Operation Sunbird Marathon Training & Run With Marathon Pacers sessions, Team FatBird would like to wish all the participants at SCSM09, especially those Sunbirds, Pacees & Pacers who have trained and done group runs with us, a most fruitful and rewarding Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon on 06 Dec 09. Your Spirit Has Been Our Inspiration. We look forward to have you all Follow Our Pace, Win Your Race!

1 comment:

nanami said...

I guessed I was one of the pacee wanting to 'cheong' during the final 2km! haha. Thank you so much for the training. See U on race day:) Janelle


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