Saturday, April 3, 2010

ONH #5: High Noon In The Morning

.As we progressed towards the midway point of Operation NightHawk, all Full Marathon trainees were looking forward to their longest LSD to date. The Half-Marathoners were going to have a time-trial to gauge their base, before determining their training pogram for the following few weeks.

A quick brief of the training requirements and routes were given, before we proceeded on to the run by 7.20am. The first stretch towards Fort Road was nice, as we greeted the Mileage team near B1. The close-to-4hr runners took the lead and maintained a 5:50min/km pace. The respective groups fell into place, and soon conversations about RRS and Sundown preparations ensued.

It was nice to see that all trainees were well prepared with hydration, gels and even salt tablets. Even though there are toilets along the way, the trainees were encouraged to bring isotonic and sugar/carbo mixes with them for replenishment. This being the 5th week of training, most of the trainees have already built up a reasonable base, and were also careful not to push too hard initially. By the time we hit F2 area, the sun was way up high. Lots of water loss in such hot and humid conditions increased the workload we had to carry.

Being the first 10km, we were able to maintain good pace, and sustained for the next 3-4km. The heat took its toll on us at the PCN stretch, and we sure were glad to hit the more shady Coastal Road. I had wanted to pause at the 3rd shelter to encourage the runners, but when I saw the barren stretch to the 4th shelter, I decided to get through with the hardship before coming back to the 3rd shelter. CH, K3, Ashok, Kate, Charlotte and team were going strong all the way to the 4th shelter. Ashley and team took the U-turn at 3rd shelter for 29km.

My Gatorade mix was finishing fast. I decided to follow on once the final 25% of runners passed my location. Alan was still strong at that point, and was just a bit miffed when I told him to turn at the 4th shelter...hehe. It was nice to see Edward coming by on his bike to cheer us on, shouting "FATBIRD..." each time he passed one of our runners. The final 12km back to The Nest was a sheer mental challenge. I could feel the heat beating on my back real HOT...I could almost feel myself catch fire...haha. TJ told me he had to rinse his head, else he would be seeing stars soon. I then relayed that message to all our runners to get cooled down. It was just great that ECP has quite a number of toilet points after NSRCC.

With 6km to go, I had to go to the toilet to 'cool' myself, and took walk breaks to bring the body temperature down. I felt like a 'heated' engine that would need a good measure of coolant. I was hoping that our runners would take water breaks and run more carefully. When I saw TL pacing Jill, I was relieved to know they were well taken care off. We walked for a few short stretches, and chatted about the virtues of taking 'power-walks' to cool the body.

My group completed the 31km in 3hrs, but it felt like a lot longer. We took many more walk breaks today. Back at The Nest, all were happy to be in the comfort of the shade, and downing cups of iced-cold isotonic, along with apples and bananas....really appreciate the efforts of the NightHawk Logistics Crew for making all these happen. The ice melted away in double-quick time, and the Crew had to replenish mid-way.

With the final trainee back by 11.30am, 4hrs after the start, it was a nice conclusion to what would be one of the toughest run for many of us. I am glad we managed to stick to the schedule within regulation time. Although we did not stay till 12pm, we experienced High Noon 2 hours earlier. The NightHawks have survived this heat test, lending to better conditioning for the mind and body. The cool of the night at next week's training will certainly be a welcomed change.

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