After a good 21km and 30-35km in weeks Week 9 and 10, the NightHawks and Kookaburras went into Week 11 with a tryout at Optimal Pace for 18km and 28km.
The weather was warm and dry this morning, with some cloud cover in the first 10km of the run. All the trainees were happy that training is coming to a close soon, and that they have prepared well for their target races (Sundown & Gold Coast Marathons) on July 5-6.
By now, all the trainees are very familiar with training proceedings and most have built up a good base to sustain well for their targeted race distances – its now more of fine tuning their equipment, pacing and running form to get better race timings where possible.
Proudly donning their training and ‘finisher’ tops, the NightHawks and Kookaburras went into Optimal Pace on the get go, heading towards Fort Road. The Gatorade support stations were already set up for us to have cold isotonic replenishment when we past, with the trainees practicing picking drinks on the go.
When the respective pace groups headed towards Gardens By The Bay, the skies were still providing good cloud cover and that allowed us to run a tad faster than target pace. When we returned back into ECP and passing the Gatorade Support point again, we settled into a more manageable Optimal Pace.
A number of NightHawks who had a good 30km Optimal Pace LSD last week were finding the pace challenging this week, likely due to the lack of recovery from that hard effort last week taking a toll on the body.
Still, most of the runners were able to keep up with pace, albeit at more laborious effort. With the sun emerging from the 10km mark, the bar was raised as if to give the NightHawks and Kookaburras a final challenge to be even better prepared for race day.
The Half Marathon runners were glad they could turn at the Cable Ski area, while the Full Marathoners continued their steady paces towards F2 CarPark for that much needed Gatorade drink.
Groups 1-4 FM did well enough to maintain target pace all the way till the U-Turn point at NSRCC + 500m, with a couple of ‘speedsters’ picking up the pace to eventually overtake some of the pace groups in front.
Trainees found a new surge of energy after their tanks were refueled, pushing on all the way back to Parkland Green for 27km+. It was definitely a tougher workout this weekend, what with the increase in pace for some, as well as the warmer temperatures all round.
Still, mission was accomplished when all returned back by cutoff timing. The Kookaburras are now ready and looking forward to their Golden Race (GCAM2015) in 2 weeks, whilst the NightHawks will put in one final session of Night LSD next week to condition sufficiently for the Sundown Marathon.
The mood was positive and all trainers and trainees were pleased with the good weather we have had for all our training sessions, as well as the low incidents of any injury that may sabotage our race plans.
The NightHawks & Kookaburras Are Ready!
Photos by FatBirds Onin, Jayson
In Week #9’s training, the NightHawks and Kookaburras were tasked with their longest paced run (Marathon Pace) of 35km for the Full Marathoners and 21km for the Half Marathoners.
Because of the SEA Games that is currently happening, we made a swap of training locations with that of ECP/Gardens By The Bay to have our longest training run at the fringes of the 3 Reservoirs, starting off from MacRitchie Reservoir Park.
The turnout was subdued due in part to the opening ceremony of the SEA Games as well as the weekend’s Muar Marathon in Malaysia where we have a number of trainees and trainers participating.
The evening started well with the trainees coming in early to collect their coveted NightHawk/Kookaburra training tees which came in very nice colours and of very good quality from New Balance SG, apparel/shoe sponsor of Ops NightHawk. Some of the trainees put on their training tees immediately for the night’s long run.
After a quick briefing, we pushed off in respective pace groups along Thomson Road towards Peirce Reservoir Road. A string of blinking lights worn by the NightHawks and Kookaburras could be seen clearly, and were useful as guiding light for the following runners.
The night was cooler than last week’s at ECP/Gardens, due mainly to the heavily forested reservoir areas which gave off cooling gases. There were also mild drafts of wind which provided us with quite a refreshing run.
Instead of turning into Executive Golf Course and Seletar Reservoir, we headed straight on along Upper Thomson Road, Sembawang Road passing Nee Soon Camp. The FMers parted ways with the HMers at the Maindai Link/Yishun Ave 2 junction as that was the U-turn point for the HM runners for their 21km distance requirement.
The FMers continued along the rather long Mandai Road at steady paces on the rather comfortable running surfaces. It was a mild rolling terrain along that long stretch before we hit the large signboard at the entrance to the Mandai Zoo/Night Safari.
Groups 1-3 continued on till we reached the Zoo toilets for a total distance of 17.5km before taking a break at the toilet and drink fountain. There was hive of activity with tour buses and tourists coming out of the Night Safari after their mystic adventure with the night animals.
After a good water break, the groups headed back out to the signboard, With good timing banked in, some groups were able to spare some time to take a few candid group shots with the wild nature billboard and some funny animal poses.
With good execution of their individual fuel and hydration plan, the trainees were looking strong up to the 21km mark. Some of the runners even upped their paces slightly to attempt to run a negative split, in preparation for the next few training session’s Optimal Pace requirement.
As we ran as groups along the longish Mandai Road back, it was still pleasant as we had each other for motivation and encouragement. We did pick up a couple of straggling birds along the way, and with encouragement, they continued to push on till we hit the next milestone near Nee Soon Camp where they could get some iced-cold isotonic drinks from the small provision shop.
By the time we re-entered Old Upper Thomson Road, the spirits were high as we meandered along the quiet road and there were a number of sightings of the Wild Boar pack (about 15 animals) moving along the forest fringes.
The soft strides of the NightHawks and Kookaburras along the OUTR in the quiet of the night provided the tempo for us to keep to Marathon Pace and enjoy the remaining segment of the return route. Soon, we reached the Lower Perice Reservoir Toilet. A quick check of the distance told us we have completed 31km and we were still feeling rather strong.
With just 4km+ left to complete the night’s run, all were very motivated as we ran all the way back to MR Amenities Centre with chit chats and easy breathing. Although the legs were tired, which was understandable at that stage, we did not feel like they were broken and many of the runners could actually run another 10km for a complete FM should they be asked.
All the groups reached back to the end point before the stroke of midnight, feeling very happy and satisfied they had accomplished 30km-35km of running at MP.
We will be entering Optimal Pace training from next week with one more 30km run before going into the Tapering Phase. Those trainees who have missed the longest run in week #9 are encouraged to come for next week’s run to have better conditioning and preparedness for race day on July 5.
The NightHawks & Kookaburras Have Completed The Longest Run!
Photos By FatBird Chin and NightHawk Laura