The NightHawks gathered for their finale run at Parkland Green ahead of next weekend’ Sundown Marathon whilst the Kookaburras were just getting in their first 30km training run at Optimal Pace.
We had a special guest in the form of Aileen Ho, an avid marathoner with more than 100 marathons to her name and the newly published author of Around The World In My Running Shoes, who offered a glimpse of her content-rich marathon travelogue and a good deal for the FatBird runners present.
The night run started promptly for the Sundown Pacers, NightHawk and Kookaburra marathoners at 7:15pm and soon they were coasting at Optimal Pace along the lengths of ECP. The night was rather cool and because of the holiday, the crowds of families and holiday makers were out in full force, making the long run quite interesting for all of us.
As it was a final trial for next weekend’s important Sundown Marathon race, all the Sundown Pacers and trainees took extra efforts to test out their sustained Optimal Pace as well as put their final preparations into action – a final rehearsal for the actual night.
The NightHawks completed 13km (HM) and 18km (FM) strongly, with lots of reserves in their tanks, all set for the big race. They look all set to perform strongly to beat the night for next week’s Sundown Marathon.
The smaller group of Kookaburras in the respective FM groupings of 4:00h, 4:30h, 5:00h and 5:30h went for the full works of 23km-30km to emerge strongly for the night. With half of the Kookaburra Program completed, the runners will be looking forward to the final half of the program and their longest runs right after Sundown Marathon, in early June.
With only 2 weeks to race night, the NightHawks were all charged up for their 15km and 25km Optimal Paced (OP) long run on a Saturday night at Parkland Green.
With the race routes and timings finalized, the long training run this evening incorporated the main portions of ECP, Gardens By The Bay and even with the hill loop at the Marina Barrage for good measure.
Under the guidance of the NightHawk trainers and Sundown Pacers, the contingent of NightHawks put up their best showing thus far with strength and speed endurance sustained throughout the targeted distances.
The cool weather (after the bout of afternoon showers) make the run so much easier and enjoyable, and before long, we were already past the midway mark and still raring to go. The NightHawks also took the opportunity to test their hydration and fuel plan to make finer adjustments where required.
The NightHawks proved to be well conditioned for night long runs, especially after they had progressively built up their mileage and paces with more than 5 runs in the night. By 10pm, most of the trainees were back at the training area, replenishing fluids and carbs with isotonic drinks and bananas.
A briefing was conducted with respect to the importance of good nutrition, hydration and rest during the tapering week to maximize performance on race night.
We ended training early and on a high note, with the NightHawks clutching to their just-issued red training singlets, and planning how they will match with race gear and shoes.
The Sundown Pacers will be at Race Entry Pack Collection (REPC) on May 20-22, and there will be a meet-up on race night for all Sundown Runners as well. Do visit them and have a chat with your timing group pacers, get your pace bands and possibly get advise on the pace strategy for race night.
After two successful lead up runs in March and April to train and prepare Sundown Marathoners for the night marathon in May, the Sundown Marathon Pacers from Team FatBird conducted the final and longest run of 19km (HM) and 32km (FM) at PlayGround @ Big Splash.
The turnout was much bigger than the first 2 sessions, probably hitting 300 runners – all eager to put in their final long run before starting the tapering phase next week. Most registered runners reported by 6:45am, allowing the Sundown Pacers to organize and brief everyone on the routes and pacing objectives, including a quick 5min of dynamic warmup to get everyone’s adrenaline flowing.
The Sundown Pacers looked great in their Compresssport Pacer singlets, and were highly visible for the respective pace groups to follow. The flag-off horn sounded at 6:50am for all runners, who soon settled into their respective pace groups as they approach Fort Road and Gardens By The Bay (GBB).
The skies were clear and the sun was heating all the runners up. Thanks to Sundown Organizers setting up two hydration points, well stocked with iced-cold isotonic drinks and water, that the lead up runners often looked towards as motivational check points. After 10km of running, many of the runners were soaking with perspiration but continued to keep to their Marathon Pace (MP).
We made a concerted U-turn around Marina Promontory loop to return back to GBB and Fort Road. By then, the sun’s heat was ‘piercing’ through our skin adding a new dimension to the already challenging MP.
Once the mid-point of the required distance was passed, we increased to an Optimal Pace (OP) which would provide the runners some practice of achieving a negative split (ie. running the second half at a slightly faster time than the first half of their run). Some of the runners could not sustain the pace but were ‘collected’ by our trusty pacers at the rear guard of each pace group.
The Half Marathoners did a U-Turn at Parkland Green to return back to Big Splash for a good 19km paced run. The confidence levels were high for a good race on 28 May night. The Full Marathoners proceeded on towards Big Splash, led by their determined Sundown Pacers who were keeping to OP by then.
The heat made the run after 22km very challenging, and a welcome respite was granted at the second iced-cold water point, a real savior for the tiring runners. The strong ones in front were taking all the heat in, treating it as conditioning and toughening for their marathon bodies.
Some of the newer marathoners were quite affected by the heat, but with the ample drinks provided, there were no incidents of anyone ‘hitting the wall’. By 10am, all Group 1 runners have returned, followed by Group 2 at 10:15am. The timings achieved were commendable, especially in such hot and humid conditions.
The 5hr, 5:30h and 6h pace groups all returned by 11am, the maximum time (4h) allowed for the runners to be on their feet during this phase of training. Anything longer would put the runners at risk of fatigue and could sabotage their recovery and preparations for a good race 3 weeks later.
Drinks and bananas were welcomed at the end point to replenish all the lost electrolytes and glycogen. A few had empty tanks, but most of the runners returned very strong, with ample reserves to continue for another 10km is required to do so. With the series of three lead up progressive runs completed, the Sundown Marathoners looked set to be amply prepared for a successful race night with the Sundown Marathon Pacers.
We wish all Sundown Marathoners, especially those who have joined us for training and lead up runs a successful and fruitful performance in your respective HM and FM on 28-29 May.
TheKookaburras (Gold Coast Marathon training) and NightHawks (Sundown Marathon training) convened at MacRitchie Reservoir Park (MR) on Saturday evening for their week 9 Optimal Pace training and Week 3 Base Building respectively. It was to be the longest run for the NightHawks and so we assembled at MR Amenities Centre by 6:30pm.
This route traversing the MacRitchie (MR) and Upper Peirce Reservoir (UPR) reserves all the way to the Mandai Zoo has always been the most challenging and interesting every year for our participants training for the Sundown Marathon. The route is one of ups and downs with winding stretches and also a long PCN flanked by water bodies.
After a bout of afternoon showers, we were treated to cooler weather as we ran towards Upper Thomson Road and then onto Lower Peirce Reservoir. The respective pace groups ran in tight-knit outfits for safety as well as taping on the groups’ energy to see them through the long night.
Every year, we would have some trainees who might hit the wall after 25km and would have to take public transport back to the start point, so this time all were ready with some loose pocket change and good hydration on them.
The first half of the run was at easier Marathon Pace (MP) for all to get sufficiently warmed up and into the groove. All runners were chatty and feeling strong as the meandered along Old Upper Thomson Road (OUTR) and then onto Sembawang Road towards Mandai Road. The Half Marathoners turned back at the Mandai Road/Yishun Rd junction for 20km, while the Full Marathoners headed for the Zoo.
There were areas which were quite dark and runners were reminded to be vigilant and have higher leg-lifts to avoid any trip-ups. Pacers had their blinking lights on to serve as guideposts for the runners, and we mostly ran against the flow of traffic and on pavements where available for safety reasons.
The FMers reached the U-turn point of 17.5km at the Zoo by 9pm before turning back for the say way back. The return trip was faster as we turned up the pace to Optimal for a negative-split attempt and also a transition of pace from MP to OP. With the string base built up over the last 8 weeks, we were happy to see most of the NightHawks able to maintain the pace, especially in the face of rolling slopes and winding roads.
Hydration and fuel plan were put to good use with gels and other carbs intake at various points of 15km, 23km, 30km to have sufficient glycogen to sustain the faster pace. All groups managed a good run to return to the start point by 11:05pm, 5min ahead of the cutoff imposed for safety and injury-avoidance reasons.
As the various groups completed their runs, there were shouts of “Sundown Runners, Group…We Are The Best!” echoing through the night, evident that the runners still had sufficient reserves in their tanks for that last few km should they be required to add to their run mileage. Such is the readiness condition of the NightHawks that they go into tapering mode after next week with full of confidence for a strong night marathon completion on 28-29 May.
The NightHawks Completed The Longest Run Strong! The Kookaburras Are Building Up A Strong Base!
The 3rd CarFreeSundaySG saw a good turnout of i-Runners and Cyclists in front of the steps to the National Gallery. Runners started to stream in to the i-Run kiosk at about 7:00am and by 7:15am, we had a good group of 40 runners to get the dynamic warm-up underway. Led by Team FatBird‘s i-Run trainers, the runners were taken through 10min of dynamic running drills and warm-up exercises to get the engines ready for ‘ACTION’ at 7:30am.
The VIPs flagged off the contingents promptly and our i-Runners strode along in their 3km, 5km and 7k categories. With the 5km segment of Shenton Way completely closed to traffic, we had good access to the roads along with the cyclists and those on mobility vehicles sharing the same corridors of advance.
Our NightHawk participants (training for Sundown Marathon) made their way from Parkland Green at ECP down to CarFreeSundaySG to do 2 laps of 5km as part of their long run requirements of 22km (HM) and 33km (FM).
From 8:30am, the respective pace groups to the i-Run registration point for their drinks and the start of their 2-3 laps of 5km around the closed road segment. There were smiles and applause as the pace groups with their runners pass, with encouragement from those gathered around the i-Run water hole.
There were also many other running groups like RunningHour, Pasir Ris Runners, Tiong Bahru Runners that paid the i-Run gathering point a visit and rested while continuing on for their subsequent 5km laps. There was a hive of activity and it was encouraging to see so many people from all walks out and about exercising and keeping fit.
The NightHawks kept to their respective training targets and left the Padang area by 9:00am for their return back to Parkland Green for that extended distance that are necessary to build their base for a good Sundown Marathon showing in May.
The i-Run activities continued till 9:30am before we base farewell to those runners who hung around to mingle and share running stories and simply catching up with fellow runners.
The NightHawks capitalized on the great weather to complete their training by 10:45am for their longest run to date, enhancing their confidence levels for next weekend’s longest pace run training. They were still running in tightly-held groups till the finish at Parkland Green, 3-3.5hrs later. That speaks volumes about the conditioning and readiness of the NightHawk participants for a good buildup to race night.
It was a successful CarFreeSundaySG and NightHawk training session! Oooh Aaah!