Saturday, November 7, 2009

Ops Sunbird #7: The Pacers' Longest Run

Training Report by FatBird Anthony
Operation Sunbird #7 @ The FatBird Nest

It was to be the longest run for the Team FatBird Marathon Pacers of 38km, before the tapering begins. The final 3 sessions of the Marathon Pacers Training will have SCSM09 participants join us for 34km, 28km and 18km runs with the pacers. The Ops Sunbird trainees was also out in full force, as they ramp up the LSD mileage to 33km. It was a flurry of activity before dawn as the Pacers took their profile shots followed by a quick brief, whilst the Sunbirds gathered for their marathon tip from Coach Jonathan. All the Pacers were decked out in their white training tops, which made for easier recognition, as the various pace groups were flagged off - 3:35h, 4:00h, 4:15h, 4:30h, 4:45h, 5:00h, 5:15h, 5:30h, 6:00h, 2:00h, 2:30h.

Team FatBird Marathon Pacers 2009

I was with the 4:00h pace group who was out in full force. After going on even pace for a short while, we decided to up the pace slightly to practise our Optimum Pace Plan. Yamsong and Lawrence joined us, whilst we could see the 3:45h group getting further into the horizon. We were pretty focused this morning, and we treated this like a final rehearsal for race day. By 9km at NSRCC, we have banked in some time. Weison, the 2:00h Pacer ran at our pace, and he took his leave when we reached the 10.5km mark before crossing into Changi Coastal. The weather was getting warm, and the skies were clear blue in spite of weather forecasts of late morning showers. The air was humid, but our training tops were surprising wicking away the perspiration pretty well. I had on my cushioned trainers to give the performance trainers a rest, and also to check how long they can take me in a marathon.

At the 12km mark, we clapped and acknowledged the 3:45h pace group as they pass. We were still maintaining a good pace in spite of the weather. I was happy I had my fuel belt with me, topped with Gatorade Mix and 2 Powergels. We cheered one another as we passed the respective pace groups. They were doing great with the paces, and running as a group. The 4:30, 4:45 and 5:00 were the largest groups. The 5:15, 5:30 and 6:00 groups were also into their respective zones and practising their own pace plan. We took our first toilet break after the Sailing Centre. I was feeling the heat as I wet my head with water. I could feel the body heating up, which would mean deteriorating performance. Keonz and I ran with Lawrence for the next 5km towards The Playground. We met a few familiar faces who were also putting in their long runs...Eileen, Wee, Jason, tigger, Wen Long, Robert, Cheow, and a couple more. Because of The New Balance Real Run tomorrow, some were doing shorter distances.

I was glad to see The Playground (FatBird’s Nest) which meant that we were able to maintain an average pace of 5:35min/km for 26km. The sun was high up by then as we ran towards Fort Road, offering very little shelter. I told Keonz we would have to take a water break at B1 on the return just to cool off. YN & Spencer had turned into The Nest for refuel, whilst Yamsong and Lawrence continued to push on. I took a longer water break at B1 to cool off, before resuming the approach to Cable Ski. By the 30km mark, I felt my pace slowing, possibly burning off lots of fuel and losing water and salts. It was great to see the 4:15 and 4:30 pace groups, all looking strong and cheery, with Nigel even taking time to blow a whistle...hehe. Johnny, Matthew, Eline, Sin Guan, the 4:15 Pacers looked very strong indeed, followed by DO, Nigel, Costner and the Sunbirds Li Lian, Kate and a few others.

By the 32km mark, I told Keonz to continue on with the pace, while I decided to call it a day at 35km. I went to the C4 toilet for more cooling down, before turning back. Along the way, I was cheering and acknowledging the Sunbirds and Pacer groups who were sprawled all along ECP. I could see Genevieve and Toh running within the distance, not too far from the end point. It was great to see Byron with his professional camera taking in shots of us finishing the run or passing through The PlayGround. Byron had done his 15km earlier, and this year he seemed to be better prepared, and without his nemesis, the ITBS flaring up so far.

After a banana and 5 cups of 100plus, I went back to the start point area to chat with Byron, and help him identify the various pacers and Sunbirds that were passing through. The 4:45h pace group, led by Terry, did very well. All returned in good form for some nice photo shots by Byron. Kudos to the Sunbirds who were training in such heat for their longest run yet, and many looked to be really drained by the heat. It is with their base of Sunbird training that have helped them condition mentally and physically for such tough long runs. Many of them will overcome any obstacles put to them on race day to finish victoriously.

Next Sunday will see the start of the ‘Run With Marathon Pacers’ series, where SCSM09 registrants for the full and half marathon will be invited to run with the marathon pacers to familiarize themselves with the pacers and some degree of pacing, in order they may achieve their completion targets for the race. It should be an interesting run as there could be runners of all capabilities and experiences attempting to run at sustainable paces in training runs. It will be a good gauge for them to evaluate their chances of completing SCSM09 within or close to their target timings. Till then, Follow Our Pace, Win Your Race!

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