Army Half Marathon 2014 - Mission Accomplished!

After a solid 6 weeks of training with hill repeats and runs, track and speedwork, tempo and cruise intervals and paced runs through to 21km, the Kingfishers were all roaring to do their best and set some records at the SAFRA Singapore Bay Run & Army Half Marathon 201 (AHM14).

After last year's route bottlenecks and dimly-lit areas causing slowdown and stoppages to the runners, SAFRA conducted recce runs to receive feedback from the SAFRA Running Club and Team FatBird early to refine the route for a much improved race experience - and the runners were not disappointed this morning, with potential choke points being re-routed, dim areas like the Gardens and Tanjong Rhu areas well-lit and running passages wider and clearer for a much smoother passage.

The Kingfishers RV'ed at 4:00am at the Esplanade Amphitheatre in their smart race gear, looking in great condition.  We conducted a mini group warm up and dynamic activation for those who were present and by 4:30am, we had taken a couple of nice group photos and moved into the start corral as a team.

Although some runners thought it was Team FatBird who would be officially pacing for the AHM14, it was actually the runners from SAFRA Running Club forming the large contingent of Half Marathon (HM) Pacers.  Some of our FatBird trainers and pacers were on hand to run along with our Kingfishers to provide encouragement and motivation too.

The weather at the start was a tad humid, but it got cooler as the crowd spread out after the flagoff at 5:00am.  As expected, a large race like the AHM will always be a little congested with many runners, but we had sufficient space this time as the passages are wider.  By 3km, we were into the groove and moving ahead quite steadily.

As the Pacers did not have their balloons on time, it was quite hard to spot them from the distance - fortunately they were in large enough groups to be seen as we neared them.  Still, our Kingfishers were trained to manage their own Optimal Paces and run to their respective Race Plans.

The first half of the race went pretty smoothly, with ample hydration points and some music and cheerleaders especially along the quieter Marina Barrage and Gardens By The Bay.  The momentum was fluid with the runners quite well spread out - at least for those aiming for 2:15h and below, there were not many walkers seen.  Also, because first light was not out, the number of runners taking selfies and photos were markedly diminished, again minimizing blockages to the running paths.

We were able to sustain a good pace, and as practiced during training, a number of us popped a gel after 1hr or 11-12km of running for a sustainable race pace in the second half.  Other than a couple of sharper U-turns, the next 10km to the finish was smooth going for many of us.  As we neared the finish line at the Padang, we could hear cheers coming on for the Half Marathoners as well as the start of the 10km race on the opposite side of the Esplanade Bridge.

The atmosphere was great as we ran into the finishing chute with our arms raised high for a happy finish.  Many of the Kingfishers recorded good timings and Personal Bests (PB).  We had 3 Kingfishers who placed top 10 in their respective categories - Congratulations to Kingfisher Mabel (2nd Women's Open), Kingfisher Ngee Hung (7th Men's Veteran), Kingfisher Cher (4th Women's Open, although due to chip timing fault, she could not claim her rightful prize at the end).

This year's route distance was spot on compared with than last year's shorter course - More Kingfishers and runners have actually scored much better race paces and may even record PBs factoring this additional distance in.

After collecting the well deserved finisher tee-shirt and medal, the Kingfishers gathered at our usual post-race spot near the Tan Kim Seng fountain.  Lots of happy faces and congratulatory handshakes, and of course, victory photos and jump shots.  

Overall, it was a well organized AHM14 and a good set of results and performances for the Kingfishers and FatBird Runners.  Special mention and thanks to the AHM14 organizing committee for involving Team FatBird in their route planning and incorporating the inputs for a much better route and accurate distance.

The Kingfishers Soared At The Bay!

Facebook Photos from FatBirds MKChin, SuatHar

The Finale Tempo

To maintain peak form for this Sunday's Army Half Marathon (AHM), this evening's finale session of Ops Kingfisher was mapped to a tempo paced run of 10km, with the final 1-2km going back to HM pace.

The turnout was quite good as a few had come by to pick up their Kingfisher race singlets as well as to enjoy the touted scenic route we would be doing.

After the routine dynamic activation, the respective groups took off at the prescribed pace of HM Pace less 30s for 10km along pretty flat terrain.  The 3km stretch of Depot and Alexandra Rds were ran well, bringing up the heart rates to TempoBird range.

After crossing over to Labrador/Berlayer Creek, the beautiful stretch of boardwalk led us into the serene and lighted Keppel Marina.  There were not too many runners this evening, giving our Kingfishers clear access to maintain their prescribed paces without too much trouble.

The stretch around mini Keppel Island perked up our senses with the pretty yachts and boats against the silvery light of the moon.  The cool breeze provided us more energy to maintain the rather hard pace, and all of us made it back to Berlayer Creek for our technical water break.

By the time we headed out of Labrador Park and at the junction of Telok Blangah Road/Henderson Road, we had covered 10km of sustained tempo pace - a real achievement for most of the Kingfishers as they rarely run these type of workouts on their own.  Moreover, it provided a good indicator of the high readiness levels of the Kingfishers, which will see us through this Sunday morning.

The remaining 1.5km up Henderson Road were executed at HM pace to recover as well as to pare down the effort and intensity so as not to over-stress the legs.  Back at the Clubhouse, a good 10min cool down stretch served to ease any tension and tightness before calling a close to Ops Kingfisher by 9:00pm.

Team FatBird would like to congratulate all Kingfishers for sticking it out and completing the intensive 6-week (12 group training sessions) training program with commitment, perseverance and good work ethics.  We are confident of a good race by all Kingfishers, and would like to wish all participants a tip-top outing at the AHM this Sunday.

Watch For The Kingfishers At The Bay!

Photos by FatBird MK

Finale Long Paced Run

With just a week to race day, the Kingfishers got together for one final long run at Optimal Pace to tune up for the Half Marathon race on Aug 31.  

The Kingfishers were early to collect their Kingfisher finisher singlets which signified their qualification of reasonable attendance at the full training program.  This year's colours were a mixed range, which suited most of the runners to a tee, and together we appeared as a kaleidoscope of running colours :D

The respective groups carried out their pre-run routine of dynamic warm up and drills, before a quick brief of the AHM route was given to highlight certain potential 'choke' points and 'slow-down' areas at U-turns.

Most of the groups went for a paced 15km optimal paced run to test out all their systems as well as level of sustainability of pace for their respective target completion timings.  The rather cool weather made for easier running as the first half of the journey was covered in a lightly quicker pace.

After a short technical halt at the Sailing Centre, the Kingfishers kept up with their paces mostly, all the way to the end point.  ECP was indeed busy with many other runners, including a large walking group led by ESM Goh Chok Tong.  

We were able to weave through the thick crowd and kept with our optimal paces all the way back to The Playground.  A few runners reported niggles as well as some who were glycogen-depleted quite early due to inadequate pre-run fuel up.  

All these minor injuries and pre-race routines would need to be resolved and fine-tuned over the remaining few days - still in time for race day without too much of an issue.  The Kingfishers will be going into next week's race with good confidence of easy completion, with PBs and better race timings a real possibility if all systems go smoothly.

The Kingfishers Are Race Ready!

Facebook Photos from FatBird Nicholas

Track Mania

With less than 10 days to D-Day, The Kingfishers put in their final track session to get  a necessary speed endurance check.  Although it is close to race day and the runners are peaking well, we are still doing maximum volume with retained intensity to ensure that the runners have 'speedy' legs to work with in the next few weeks.

After the dynamic drills and mile run done, the main course of 4 x 4 was served.  The respective pace groups under the guidance of their trainers and timekeepers went through the 2 sets of 4 x 800m repetitions like clockwork, moving on/off track with smooth exchanges and active rests for the first set, and advancing to 'floats' in between repetitions for the second set.

All in, 8-10 sets of 800s were completed with good sustainable paces by the Kingfishers, who were pleased with their ability to sustain competitive paces with very short or no rest intervals. 

With the firm speed base established, the Kingfishers will put in a final long run this weekend to establish Optimal Pace for 80% of race distance before doing a mini taper for the AHM on Aug 31.

In the remaining 10min before the stadium lights went off, we were able to put in a good round of static stretches to ease those 'tightness' and provide a reconditioned state for the coming weekend's training run.

The Kingfishers Are Speed Enabled!

Facebook photos by FatBird MK