It was slated to be the longest night training LSD in the NightHawk Program, and turned out to be the most challenging as well. The initial conditions were rather cooling as we ran alongside the green lung of OUTR, but once out onto UTR, we had to contend with a few traffic junctions and some heat generated from the road traffic. There was some relief when we hit the connector road along
Mandai Roadand it was rather nice pacing all the way to Mandai Lake Road, the entrance to the Zoo.
The HM folks reached their U-turn point at
Yishun Ave1/Mandai Rd at a good average pace of 5:40min/km. When they turned back, they would be trying for a slight negative split, running slightly faster in the second half if their conditions allowed and their fuel tanks have been economically managed up till then.
The FM group turned left onto
Mandai Roadfor that longish stretch towards Mandai Zoo. The group was rather tight knit with about 8-10 runners bunched up running at comfortable pace. A quick gel, drink and regroup later, the group was back on the return for the remaining 15.5km. Groups 2 and 3 quickly surfaced from the distance, telling us that they probably were running at quite a fast initial pace. Group 1 runners and pacers were rather bunched up with 2 main sections, 1 going at about 5:20min/km, and the other 5:35min/km, not too bad since we could cater to the different running targets within the same pace group.
The Kookaburra Program was into its 3rd session, and with basebuilding in mind, the Kookaburra trainees were all too happy to go along with the running guides doing 16km and 25km distances. Because the group is smaller, they were able to keep together within their respective timings and eventually completed 26km, not too bad for only the second time they were running with FatBird.
The key lesson for the night must surely be the sudden change of weather to one with humid conditions 1.5hrs into the run. That made the return leg of the runners much more challenging, and there were a few incidents of ‘loss of power’ through fatigue and dehydration. Although many brought along their fuel belts and hydration packs, they were not prepared for those levels of humidity and warmth. The humidity got on to some of the runners who had emptied their hydration ahead of plans, and there were really no water points along that longish stretch of
Mandai Road for replenishment. By ¾ of the journey, paces were dropped in Groups 1, 2, 3 and 4, with a number having to take more walk-breaks to recover and gain a second wind.
With a strong base built up over the past few weeks, the trainees were able to eventually overcome the challenges of the Wild Night, although many were drained by the heat and felt quite exhausted at the end. It was a good experience for all the Nighthawks to understand how their bodies perform for night running, the humid conditions leading to rapid loss of fluids and electrolytes, the low visibility causing the mind to tell the body it is tired and wants to go to sleep, etc. If not for the groups that they were running along with, many of them would have stopped and walked all the way back.
Back at MacRitchie Amenities Centre, there were more time spent this evening on debriefs and feedback on the feelings of the challenges of running at night. We have learnt much about night running and that it poses different challenges from day running. The NightHawks and Kookaburras can be proud of themselves that they went through the Wild Night relatively unscathed although some had encountered difficulties along the way. It is through toughing it out at such runs that we can be conditioned better for race night – the mantra of ‘Train Hard, Race Easy’ never rang so true with the NightHawks & Kookaburras until this evening.
We are glad we got to experience the tough conditions, which will serve to strengthen us as well as not to take the marathon/half too lightly, esp. one that is run at night. We now enter the final stages of marathon training with the culmination of the longest LSD next weekend, all 21km-35km of running glory, this time in the morning and going at Optimal Pace. Till then, we will have a good rest while reflecting on the lessons we garnered from The Wild Night Run at MR.