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
The second half of Ops Kookaburra and Ops NightHawk marathon programs started with the participants breaching the psychological 18km (HM) and 30km for the Full Marathoners (FM).
It was yet a humid night and ECP was buzzing with weekend activities with lots of merry making as well as cyclists, runners and walkers doing their fair share of healthy exercising.
The FatBird marathon trainees were all pumped up to do their longest run to date, and having the flattish route was meant to provide a more conducive environment for pace training and gauging of our pace sustainability.
Since we had done a similar route just 2 weekends ago, the briefing was kept short to allow for more time to cover the longer distances. With the faster marathon pace targets, the expected end of training would be just over 11pm, allowing ample time for the participants to catch public transport home.
The first half of the run went well with smooth pacing all the way to Gardens By The Bay, Marina Barrage, Marina Bay Sands, rounding off from the Promontory before making our way back to ECP again. The trusty trainers and pacers kept the trainees humming along steadily at target paces with planned water stops along the way to ensure that proper hydration protocols were observed.
The HM groups completed their 19km of night run at marathon pace back at Parkland Green in about 2 hours or so, giving their confidence and morale a strong boost. The FM groups did well too, with just a small water/banana break at Parkland Green before moving ahead in flocks to complete another 9-11km.
The air was humid and many of us were sweating buckets, with swishing sounds of wet socks in our running shoes echoing in the rather quiet and serene night. A few of the FMers experienced fatigue and symptoms of ‘low sugar’ after the 23-24km mark, evident that there were no top up of the fuel tanks with gels or sugar mixes.
It was another good experience with takeaways for practicing hydration and fuel plans for possibly the next few long runs of 28km-35km. Without proper replenishment of the depleting glycogen stores at timed intervals, the likelihood of eroding performance and inability to sustain pace will occur especially past the midway mark of the FM.
All Kookaburras and NightHawks completed the night’s targeted distances in good form and many happy faces could be seen sharing their stories and how strong they felt during the run.
As we dispersed for our wash-up and making our way home, the night had only begun for the patrons at the restaurants and cafes around the Parkland Green area. Yet another session of training was successfully completed, and most trainees achieving the set training targets of the night with a number surpassing their own expectations…Well Done Kookaburras & NightHawks!
The NightHawks and Kookaburras progressed into week #5 with a new route and challenge – transition from the BaseBuild pace into Marathon pace (which will set the tone from weeks 6-8).
This being another night conditioning long run made it even more challenging, although the route along ECP along Gardens By The Bay and MBS is overall pancake flat. The weather looked threatening 1 hour prior to the training, but a check with our weather app showed we had a good chance of avoiding the rain, which we did eventually.
In view of the long 17km-28km distance, we had a quick briefing before starting off by 7:50pm as planned. The respective group Trainers, Pacers and Trainees were all excited to test their paces along the new route, and also to put the night’s training objectives into practice.
The whole route from ECP into Gardens and then MBS was well lit to our pleasant surprise, allowing us smooth access along the route. The only hazard was the myriad of night cyclists dashing about which we had to be vigilant about.
The NightHawk trainers set very steady paces which prevented trainees from starting too fast in the first half, leaving room for a highly negative split in the second half of the run. Although the night was windy, there were stretches that were humid. It was good that most of the trainees had hydration with them as advised.
The Half Marathon trainees had a good run of 17km and met their targets of returning with a faster Marathon Pace after 8.5km of BaseBuild run. The Full Marathoners were good through to 18-22km before some found the Marathon Pace harder to sustain in the final 5-6km.
Still it was a good training run for all, with many trainees having gone their longest distances for the first time. From the funny way some were walking, it can be seen that the trainees were indeed stretched. From the smiling faces when asked, it could be seen that all of them were proud and happy that they completed the mission and have advanced to the next level of conditioning.
The NightHawks and Kookaburras will advance into Phase 2 (Marathon Pace) from weeks 6-8 with more night conditioning runs of 30km+. This will set the stage for bringing all into the final phase (Optimal Pace) in weeks 9-12 with a couple of 20km+ (HM) and 30km+ (FM) to ensure sufficient distance and pace conditioning for a fruitful race.
The NightHawk and Kookaburra trainees were given a challenging night LSD in Week #3 of their training preparations for both Sundown Marathon and Gold Coast Airport Marathon (GCAM).
The afternoon showers provided a cool enough evening for the eager flocks to move their training distance base up the next level. Although the Basebuild pace was prescribed, long night runs always provide additional challenges as the tired bodies after a week’s worth of work has to overcome fatigue to sustain training paces with sufficiently good running form.
The training run started off from MacRitchie Reservoir Park meandering along parts of Peirce Reservoir and Seletar Reservoir, making the route an interesting one for all. There were sightings of wild boar as we passed parts of Old Upper Thomson Road (OUTR) which added to the mystic of running along nature in the night.
The quiet night run along secluded parts of the reservoir areas made for some therapeutic workouts and without the headphones and music on (for safety reasons), the trainees could enjoy the sounds of the night as they worked their way through their training paces.
The Half Marathon trainees did a U-Turn near the end of OUTR for a 16km total run, which was gamely achieved by all the runners – and all these just after 3 sessions of basebuilding. Although the HM groups were smaller, they were in no way less serious and committed than the Full Marathon groups in wanting to achieve their race objectives on 4-5 July.
The FM groups ran in tight-knit formation all the way to Seletar Reservoir Observation Tower or even the Main Gate for some, before doing a U-Turn to return back to the start point at prescribed paces.
All the Groups did a marvelous job of completing Week 3’s workout according to plan. Even better was there was no incident of any falls or injuries, mainly attributable to the observance of safety advisory by the NightHawks and Kookaburras – very commendable indeed.
The entire session completed before 11am, with even time for a quick wash-up before setting off for supper to recover some of the energy expended in the hard workout. A short stretching and debrief was conducted to inform trainees of the special equipping sales as well as proper gear up preparations to maximize training efficiency through to race day.
As we progress through Phase 1 of basebuilding, we will be looking forward to Week 4’s day workout at the Western Hills region to build aerobic and strength endurance with a menu of long rolling hills and repeats.
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