*Picasa Photo Slideshow*
The first Night training run for many…the first visit to MacRitchie Reservoir for quite a number….many of the Ops NightHawk participants have been excitedly anticipating and looking forward to the Mystic Reservoirs Run, a night LSD (Long Slow Distance) done at BaseBuild zone to help condition trainees to run long distances in the night.
80 had gathered at the MacRitchie Reservoir (MR) centre at 9pm. The excited chatter and preparations turned the usually quiet gathering point into a hive of activity, with a few curious onlookers soaking in the atmosphere too. Other than the trainees, a capacity team of Trainers and Running Guides were on hand to provide support and management of the run. The registration desk was signing trainees orderly, while small groups had gathered to discuss their plans for the night, others were taking photos and wondering what the night had in store for them.
A briefing of the Safety Running Tips for Night Running was conducted by the Training Team, followed by a route explanation. Many of the trainees were geared up in compression wear and hydration systems, essentials for night training, especially for longer distance running in minor roads and accesses. The group were flagged off at exactly 9.30pm to the flashes of a few cameras. All were in high spirits as we headed towards Upper Thomson Road (PONY AXIS), skirting along the edge of the Reservoir.
With such a large group of runners, movement along PONY were taken more carefully, with Running Guides (RG) at various constriction and traffic points to marshal the runners. The 42km RGs and their runners were slightly ahead of the 21km grouping, allowing for a string-along in narrow file, to keep within the confines of the road pavement. The weather was rather humid in the first 3km stretch, but the trainees were not in the least bit affected, as all were focusing on building up their steady pace. By the turn off PONY into LPR/OUTR, the runners had settled into their respective groupings, running along with at least 1 RG to show the way.
As we moved onto OUTR, a former Grand Prix circuit famous for its fast cars in the old days, the quiet of the night had crept up onto us. We were still running at conversational pace, which was the correct zone to train at for the night. Amy was chatting with me that it felt just like not too long ago when we had the first Night Run Session @ MR in 2009, just that the group of RGs and trainees were much larger now, with many new faces…almost a totally different make-up. That bode well for the program as it showed that more runners were taking on long distances, and were prepared to train seriously for their races.
With Chin Huat, Fang Jie, Kate just in front, and Mohan, Jill, Tejinda, Jacqualine just behind us, it felt safe and not quite as hard, as we conquered that winding and cambered 3km OUTR stretch. The 21km trainees turned back at the end of OUTR for their 16km total distance, while the rest of the 42km/84km trainees moved ahead to the next Reservoir. The front group had already gone further ahead, and as we were entering, they were already leaving Seletar Reservoir for the return leg. We cheered for one another as we passed, and with the night getting cooler, the faces were smiling even as they ate up more than 10km. Our group reached Seletar Reservoir refuel point in 1hr25min, with 5min to spare :). After a quick top-up, we went on the return leg, still chatting a little about those cars that had curtains and their engines switched on by the side of the road…haha.
There were golfers hitting balls at 11pm at the Executive Golf driving range, and the bright lights of the area provided better visibility as we headed out. The final group led by Angela were just about reaching the U-Turn point, as we shouted words of encouragement across. Mohan’s group had settled into a steady zone by then. I ran ahead slightly to look for lone trainees to join, and found Joe. Running together as a group at night didn’t feel boring at all, and it even felt quite easy as the different night scenery offered a good change, plus there were lots to chat about in good company. Many of the runners were feeling the Z monsters by then as they find their bodies wanting to go to rest. Fighting off fatigue after a long day and the body’s natural reaction of wanting to go into rest mode is one of the challenges of night running, and such night training runs will help condition our runners to better handle the situation on Sundown Night.
The 21km trainees successfully completed their night mission before the stroke of midnight. Accelerade and 100plus, along with bananas were provided to replenish the energies of the good workout. My group of 42km trainees reached the end point by 12.30am, welcomed by the applause of the trainers. After a finishing pose, we helped ourselves to the refreshments, as we discussed excitedly about the interesting route of the night. Some of the trainees have already washed up, others were resting and relaxing while sharing their night adventure, a few were chatting with the trainers and RGs about gear and conditioning for night races. Although it was already 1am, a good half of the crowd were still around, presumable high on endorphines, and soaking in the atmosphere of being near the quiet forest of MR at that time.
The final group of Angela, Joey, SC Lim, Dan, HC and a couple more finally crossed the finish at 1.10am, completing their 23km mission in fine form, warmly welcomed by the group of supporters and trainers at the MR Centre. Even before settling to have their refreshments, they were already excited telling us their conquests, as well as new found strategies for tackling night runs. It was great to hear and see the trainees all enjoying the experience of the night training, and Operation NightHawk will certainly bring us back to that mystic reservoir area in due course. After a mini birthday celebration with cheese cake as refuel, I felt most satisfied and happy with the experience, as we strolled out as a group from the MR Centre before 2am. Mission MYSTIC RESERVOIRS Accomplished. Thanks to all Running Guides, Training & Support Crew, and NightHawk troopers for making it an enjoyable session. When Dusk Cometh, The NightHawks Emerge!