Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ops Sunbird #9, Run With Pacers: Coming Together

Operations Report by FatBird Anthony
Photography @ FatBird Gallery by DO
ACTION Photos @ Facebook by Byron

Call To Action: Follow Our Pace, Win Your Race!

Marathon Pacers & Pacees: We will achieve together

After a week of heavy evening showers and wet weather, the record turnout of Fatbirds, Sunbirds, Pacers & Pacees were greeted with clear skies, with a light touch of cool winds at The PlayGround @ Big Splash. The FatBird Nest was crowded by 6.45am, as I met David Shum and his entourage of students and helpers setting up for the Edward Whistler Charity Run. After some arrangements and coordination later, we moved most of the Pacees and Sunbirds to the open space at the Playground for the group briefing.

Marathon Pacers' Pre-Run Briefing

Sunbirds' Pre-Flight Preparations

We had 3 group briefings conducted separately…the Pacer Briefing by FatBird Anthony, the Sunbird briefing by Coach Jonathan, and the ‘Run With Marathon Pacers’ participants by FatBird David, Terry and the team. While there seemed to be a sea of people, the proceedings went on in quite an orderly manner….thanks to the good work put in by the FatBirds and Pacers who helped out.

A round of introductions of the various Pace Groups, followed by the 10km, 18km, 28km route briefing, and the large group photo shot, the enthusiastic groups were flagged off in the direction of Fort Road. It was nice to have Ben Pulham from Racers Toolbox join the 3:45h group to share his experiences on running and pacing fast distance runs. We had quite a large 4:00h group today, and I was having a good time getting to know some of them, as well as explaining our Optimal Pace Strategy. The enthusiastic group had quite a fair bit of questions ranging from nutrition, hydration, making toilet stops, breathing and running form in general.

The first turnaround at Fort Road was again opportunities for us to cheer and applaud the various Pace Groups running past, and as usual, the 4:45h and 5:00h groups made the most noise..tsk tsk. The 4:00h group was real focused, and Pace Group Leader, Keonz was maintaining a good 5:38min/km pace. The body of Pacers Darren and YN were towing the line well, as we hit the 10km mark in 56min, about 5:35min/km. I told the group to maintain our pace for at least up to 21km, and re-evaluate later. We welcomed the shade along Changi Coastal Road, and enjoyed the cool breeze blowing in our faces. Loy and I were covering the rear, 10m from the front pack.

The U-Turn at the 2nd Shelter was a welcome as we ran back towards ECP, in anticipation of meeting up with our fellow Pace Groups & runners. The groups were very much still running together, and keeping their respective paces….well done. Cheers and applause, some Hi-5s, and more words of encouragement ensued. I could see that the 4:00h runners were still going strong and were able to keep up. We reached back into NSRCC area, made some water-stops on the run, and generally practiced with the Pacees how we would be taking breaks and yet maintaining the pace. Runners who went off for water or toilet breaks, caught up slowly but steadily with the Pace Group (who maintained Pace throughout). We held on to a steady 5:35min/km.

After 23km, some of the runners who were not feeling well slowed a little, while 1-2 hit the wall early due to the warmer weather then, and the lack of conditioning on their part. Nevertheless, the slightly faster pace we had achieved for the first 21km, allowed them some luxury to slow down a little and still stay within target. With 3km to go, we still had a number of runners who were staying with the pace, as we completed the near 28km at an average of 5:35min/km for the 4:00h group. The 2:00h half-marathon group also did very well to stay within that pace, and we had a number of happy Pacees.

After a quick drink and some group photos, we were down at the end point to cheer the rest of the Pace Groups and runners returning. The 4:15h, 4:30h, 4:45h all returned strongly with very few stragglers behind. The 5:00h and the 2:30h (half-marathon) groups also ran to target pace and returned with some nice finishing poses for the camera. Byron, decked in his very nice Monash University top, was most busy with capturing ‘ACTION’ shots of all the runners. He had to be called back a few times as he tried to sneak off for a quick drink, as the stream of runners up to 5:00h returned….haha.

There were a few run events happening at The PlayGround area as we moved around from The FatBird Nest to the Pacee water point to the Milo Van at one of the carnivals. There were Sng Paos and Nasi Lemak kindly contributed by friends who were organized the Edward Whistler Run…thanks guys! When most of the runners returned, we conducted a short briefing on next week’s Marathon Pacers’ Run, Race Pack collection and ‘Meet Marathon Pacers’ @ Floating Platform, carbo-loading dinner arrangements, race-day meet-ups and post-race group photos and gatherings.

As we enter into the final week of tapering, there remains lots to do in terms of race-day preparations, resting our legs, recollecting all that we have gone through and learnt in the past 10-12 weeks, preparing race day equipment and fuel, as well as doing some research for those who would need a back-up ‘Run-Walk’ strategy if they feel insufficiently prepared. The Sunbirds, who have gone through most of the 10-week program, would be sufficiently conditioned for the mission, and confidence of completion within target should be good. Barring any injuries or sickness, we are confident and hopeful that those who will Follow Our Pace will Win Your Race!

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