Friday, March 5, 2010

ONH #1: Dawn Has Broken, NightHawk Has Woken!

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The moment many of the 100 registered trainees have been waiting for...At the break of Dawn, runners were seen streaming into The Nest (PlayGround @ Big Splash) for the kickoff of Operation NightHawk 2010, Team FatBird's marathon preparatory training for Sundown Marathon. This time saw the arrival of a number of experienced SunBird graduands, as well as many new faces too, some of whom were doing their first half-marathons and full marathons.

FatBird Anthony gave a warm welcome to the trainees and introduced the training partner Mileage and Coach Lim Kien Mau, as well as the strong training crew of Trainers and Running Guides. The trainees in the categories of 21km, 42km and 84km will have access to The NightHawk's Nest and the advisory and guidance of this strong Ops NightHawk Training Crew. Registration was was a smooth process, and with ample stocks of bananas and isotonic drinks, the training started off with an introduction by FatBird DO to the heart of Ops NightHawk training, The FlightZONESTM System. Coach Kien Mau then took over with lively session of sharing on the basics and essentials of distance running, with emphasis on rest and recovery systems.

With the amount of knowledge and information to be dispensed to the largely new group of runners, it could have taken even more time, save for the need to keep to the watch and schedule. After a brief of the route and the customary group photo, all assembled at the start line to be flagged off by Coach Lim and Trainer DO. There was an initial release of pent-up energies in the runners, before most settling into the targeted BaseBuild Zone. As it was only the first session, many of the runners were just finding their footing and attempting to regulate their breathing. I took turns to run along with the 21km runners, 42km trainees and even some of the 84km trainees (most doing their second).


The weather was cooling as we headed towards the Fort Road stretch and back. With the larger number of Running Guides we have this time, it was pretty comfortable running alongside the mini-groups of runners and showing them the way. The front bunch was headed by the more experienced Sunbirds who went ahead at quite a fast pace, probably not able to keep in zone due to their having rested for a good while after SCSM09..hehe. The mid-pack was doing well to keep in the BaseBuild Zone while the sweepers were covering the newbie trainees behind. We had expected to see a wider spread in terms of distance and pace abilities in the initial phase, with the gaps narrowing as we progress.

As the Trainers and Running Guides shared some tips and experiences while reinforcing The Coach's recovery advice, the Trainees were focused on their form, soaking in all the new information. Some even expressed that they never knew there was so much knowledge in running, and was just glad to know they would be learning a lot more in the coming weeks. Whilst the half-marathoners turned back at the PA Campsite, the full marathon trainees went all the way to NSRCC in what was considered nice weather in Singapore.

Maybe because of the cooler weather, some of the trainees did not hydrate sufficiently, and later on felt the heat and was beaten a little by the lack of water....something learnt which they would improve upon in the next run. There were a few smaller groups of runners training at ECP, plus the Metta Charity Run happening near Angsana Green. Overall, it was a relatively quiet morning at ECP, and we have no problems with passage of access. The full marathon trainees turned back at the 12km mark @ NSRCC, took a quick drink, and continued at a seemingly slower pace than when they had started. The sun was up by then, and the heat did take a toll on the pace of the trainees.


I was running the final 5km with Annie and a couple more new runners, where we exchanged information oo upcoming local races and well as the running scene in The Philippines. When we returned back to The Playground, all who did the 13km were already back and re-hydrated and re-fueled. As with most FatBird Training sessions, the trainees stay around a lot longer to mingle, share information, and get some advice from the Training Crew. The next hour got to be very hot, and soon the iced-cold isotonic drinks became such a hit that they ran out before the final few full marathon trainees could get back. We had more than enough bananas though, as most were only in the mood to drink..haha. We did get replenishment of the isotonic drinks, to the delight of those who came back from the scorching sun.

This BaseBuild run provided a nice start to Operation NightHawk 2010, with promises and anticipation of even more interesting and effective sessions to come. The Support & Training Crew stayed on behind to tidy up the minor kinks, and put in more arrangements to improve future training sessions. Initial feedback from the trainees, especially the first-timers, was indeed encouraging. They felt they had a good workout without feeling drained and too tired, which was the essence of base-building for endurance and conditioning. We now look forward to the first Night Training Run, happening in barely a week's time. The NightHawks have emerged, and we shall see more action in the weeks ahead. Dawn Has Broken, NightHawk Has Woken!

Photography by FatBird DO, Li Lian, AC Leong
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