Monday, 26 January 2015

FTKLAA Sport Toto 10km Race Report : Jun Shen

Hello All! Sorry for the long silence, we had a technical glitch that involves one of us not having the full use of internet, one with no PC or laptop, one on duty, one getting married, one busy with work, one busy training and one settling down in his new home. Nevertheless, we are here, always. it was a busy weekend for the team and the first report that came out was from Chan Jun Shen, where he and residednt ultra runner Deo ran the FTKLAA 10km Cross Country race. We have strong reason to believe that Chan has not gotten used to being a "land-lubber" after him protecting the country in the East Coast of Sabah (and not seen the land for a extended period of time), he clocked more than what he paid for in the race. Welcome back Chan, and welcome back dear readers, this is Chan's report.

I was in the vicinity of Pulau Mabul when I signed up for this race, there’re not many distance option for me to pick in this small scale race organized by FTKLAA and Sports Toto. As usual, checked with my 2ndskin team mates, initially I really thought I have to forgo my favourite Skechers GoSpeed 2 because I thought it’s gonna be a dirty CROSS COUNTRY.  Since Roy told me it’ll be mostly on road, I remained GoSpeed2 as my weapon of choice! It has been two months since I left Lumut for operations, I was floating here and there all over Borneo patrolling islands and shoals that most people wouldn’t know its existence in Malaysia. On completion of washing my ship on Friday, I rushed back to KL to meet my family and get myself ready for this race. My mum helped me to collect my race kit when I was still in Beting Patinggi Ali, it has a dry fit tee in the bag with all the race details.  
10km was never my distance, I seldom incorporate speedwork due to my fear for getting injuries. When I come back from sea after more than a fortnight’s sailing, I can’t be pushing the pace too hard but I still can do some LSD to be on the safer side. Ultimately, the main reason I love long distance running is because I’m a day dreamer, an excellent one. My mind can turn into sleep mode within seconds. I rather run slowly while enjoying the scenery than doing lung bursting speed work. 10km pulls me out of my comfort zone, make me run beyond my economical speed, I don't like it. If you see a fighter jets burning her after burner for speed, she trades off efficiency for speed. This is a similar situation with a 10km run. 10km has no room for mistake, too short for dreaming, it’s all about pushing HARD all the way.

When I arrived at the race site, the FTKLAA technical officials were having briefing for this morning’s race. I paid 30 cents to enter the DBKL public toilet to settle my pee poo business, queued for quite some time. It was my turn after a RELA staff came out, “submarines” floating in the toilet bowl. Early morning get bad luck =p I walked out of the toilet, get myself back to the racing atmosphere. The sound system was good around the tents area, we did some aerobic exercise to pump up our heart rate. However, as we proceed towards the starting line for briefing, I only saw the Race Official’s mouth moving and his super slow voice came from a speaker few hundred meters away. Once the gun goes off, I tried to place myself comfortably in the front pack. Within 2-3km, there’s a clear gap between the front pack, me and the chase pack. My Garmin Forerunner 620 kept beeping, so I took a quick glance, 3.20mins/km!!! I have a virtual partner in the watch, so I’m not running alone =)

Around 3rd kilometre I settled myself with 4.30mins/km pace. The track is amazing, kinda shady and slightly undulated here and there. The course is a little congested once the 6km runners were released, we also shared the course with the BAR Runners at the lake area so 3m course width is a little too narrow. I counted the front pack earlier, they’re 20 over super fast “Sport Toto Race Horse” galloping towards the finishing line, so it is unlikely that I stand a chance to go on podium. Collected ONE fluorescent ribbon, continued running. Then I came to the junction where I was supposed to turn left, I showed the marshal my ribbon, he asked me to keep right and continue to round the lake. I wasn’t sure so I just obeyed, then I came again with TWO ribbons in my hands and SHOWED him, he said keep right again. I obeyed again. Finally when I came with THREE ribbons, I slowed down and showed him all my ribbons, I asked him how many ribbons am I supposed to collect? He told me "ONE ribbon only, how am I suppose to know how you got THREE?". The ribbon, coincidentally same colour as my fluorescent 2ndskin team tee, perhaps he couldn't see it clearly. A little pissed at that time, but I forgive him since his spectacles so thick. Knowing that I’m certainly off the course, I did not stop running. This will be a very good weekend LSD for me! =) Not gonna podium anyway.

When my parents came with me this morning, I told them that if I don’t come back within 1 hour, there’s something wrong with me. Finally, I came to the finishing line marking total distance of 15.3km with the average pace of 4.58mins/km. I guess my parents knew that I went off course. My father was at the finishing arch taking my photo with his Blackberry.
Snapped by my father.
Catch up with Ong Wei Xiang my old time rival. Now he is too fast for me to catch already. =)
See the 3 ribbons in my hands and neck.

Deo handed me my long awaited Garmin Forerunner 920xt, I take it as my reward for running extra distance this morning. I know this course better now, my next race KL City Day Run will be at the same place, hopefully I can do better and run faster for my next race. =)

Monday, 12 January 2015

Tip Of The Month : Options for Quick Lacing

Traditional shoelaces’ has its history in shoes system for centuries. In the sporting arena, shoelaces are 
designed to provide variable type of fit for different sport. Generally, shoelaces are strings passing through a series of holes or eyelets and finished off with a commonly called “butterfly knot”. Loosening will give a widerfit whereas tightening it ensures the foot to be better secured. 
Skechers GoSpeed3 with elastic lace. Fast just got faster
In triathlon, transition is considered as the 4th discipline other than the swim, bike and run. It is crucial to 
save every possible second to have better guarantee of victory, even tying shoelaces is considered a waste of time. Many companies have come out with their elastic laces design to fulfil triathletes’ requirement. Elastic 
laces make the lacing more comfortable, allowing triathletes to slip into the shoes without having to tie shoelaces. The lace stretches as the foot pushes into the shoes and springs back giving a snug fit to the wearer. 
Not only this lacing system is secure, fast and easy, it is guaranteed that it will not be undone during 
Elastic laces made by Locklaces.
Another option of elastic lace with little knots along the lace.
The traditional laces has its own advantage, despite the technology in elastic lacing system, some 
companies still opt for the traditional laces. In sports that have no transition that requires “shoes-on-shoes off”, traditional laces is not a trouble for the athlete since the shoes will be secured to their feet till the end of competition. Undeniably, traditional laces offer more contact point, better tailored fit, and more 
control over the tension.  

Giro’s cycling shoes retro design has chosen the traditional lacing system. 
In conclusion, it is up to personal preference whether to shoose elastic laces or traditional lacing system. 
Ultimately, the option is yours. Personally, I prefer traditional lacing system for running events but when I race triathlon I’ll change it to elastic laces to save a every possible seconds to make my transition from bike to run as fast as possible.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Cyberjaya Twincity Marathon 2014 Race Report

Happy New Year! Sorry for the long silence, the team was having too much "off-season" that one of us forgot to update the blog as needed. Today's entry is by Deo for his Cyberjaya Twincity Marathon in 2014. Enjoy!

Oh, by the way, there will be an announcement for running clinic to be conducted  by the team with one of our collaborator soon. Do come back for the announcement soon ;-)

Cyberjaya Twincity Marathon 2014 Race Report
Somewhere along the dark stretch of road around Cyberjaya
[photo by Kahwai Low (RFF)]
It was the first edition of the marathon from the same organizer who organized the Cyberjaya Firefighter Half Marathon (CFF HM), I was told. Although it was end of the year when training normally would take a backseat, I was still excited to run this inaugural marathon, on a new route, despite part of the route was the same as the CFF HM and the stretch that went into Putrajaya was either I had ran the stretch before during my training runs or ran it during the BSN Marathon. I acknowledged that it was a first try for the organizer to organize a full marathon event but I also kept in mind that there were several hiccups on their side when they organized the CFF HM. What they did differently this time was to engage a panel of 'experienced' runners (although some of them with questionable level of experience), early when they started planning for the event. Taking this into mind, I expect the race would be organized with minimal, a very minimal, glitches especially if they have been advised well by the panel of 'experienced' runners.

Move forward closer to the race day, there was this irregularities in the race pack collection date. Never had I experienced before in any event in Malaysia that the RPC was done on Sunday and Monday, a week ahead of the race. It was not about it being held a week before the race but why was it held on Sunday and Monday, instead of Saturday, Sunday and Monday or Friday, Saturday and Sunday. What was their problem of not sparing that particular Saturday as an additional day of RPC? Only the organizer has the answer and maybe they had been advised such way by the panel of 'experienced' runners. Then after few participants voiced out their inability to collect the RPC on the said days, only then the organizer announced (not publicly, though, but just replying to comments and words got spread by mouth thereafter) that there'll be RPC on Saturday before race day at the race venue, which is fine for me. But instead of having a proper RPC facilities, race bib numbers and event t-shirt were just placed in boxes and on the floor/roadside (instead of proper tables). And the volunteers (they had been helpful) were scrambling to look for bib numbers from the piles in the boxes. Such a low standard of practice!

Race day arrived on Sunday. The venue at Persiaran Flora was a long stretch of road, maybe longer than the whole stretch of Dataran Merdeka. It was an appropriate venue to hold that size of an event with various tents (for goodies collection, sponsors' booth, refreshment, etc) were set-up at both sides of the road. Parking space was ample while many latecomers just parked their vehicles at the roadside of the deserted Cyberjaya. The start for the full marathon was nothing big, just a simple one, but delayed by few minutes after 4am. I tried not to be in the front of the pack but due to the low number of full marathon participants, I crossed the start line not long after the whistle was blown for the start. My target was simple - a sub 4:00-hours to make it 100% this year (6 out of 6). Anything above that is a defeat although I would still accept it gracefully. 

Not long before the delayed start of the race, with friends who opted to run this race while others were scattered around many other races happening on the same day.
[photo by Ezam Idola Izudin]

Right away, I was in the early 5:00-minute pace and settling well until I had to stop for a 'big break' at the second waterstation. By that time, I reckoned I was quite in the front pack, maybe in the top 30s overall. There were bunch of UPNM runners who ran not far in front of me who set quite a comfortable pace for me to follow and their jolliness kept me awake during the sleepy hours. The route was quite boring as it took us along the long stretch of Cyberjaya, making a rounds here and there then crossing the highway into the other side of Cyberjaya, before we got to the road in front of Limkokwing area before we had to deal with the dreaded uphill stretch of Shaftsbury Square (the same as in CFF HM).

From there, we made our moves towards Putrajaya via the motorcycle lane and arrived around the area of PICC, running towards Putrajaya Challenge Park but made a u-turn before we arrived at the Precinct 5 cemetery area as we made our moves back to another round of sightseeing in dark around Cyberjaya area. I started to get really bored with the route halfway into the race as we moved back into the highway en route to Cyberjaya. It was like BSN Putrajaya Night Marathon all over again - BORING! Took a lengthy stop at KM24 to stretch my legs a bit and refill my water bottle. And it was all downhill (talking about my pace) after that. By then, I already knew how much I could slow down or walk but still finish under 4 hours, so I was taking it easily by mixing up the run-walk approach. 

We got into Cyberjaya and it was the CFF HM route all over again. And it was still ran in dark, the same way we did during the CFF HM. I guess the organizer never learned or didn't take it seriously. Or maybe the panel of 'experienced' runners overlooked this matter. Along the route, even while in Putrajaya, the distance markers were visible but they were not placed at the right positions. After a while, the distance markers were placed about 2km ahead of the distance showed on my watch. Poor some of my friends who weren't using GPS watch, they got tricked by the distance markers. My mind almost got tricked too as at first, the mind wanted me to slow down anticipating that the race would finish 2km earlier but my suspicion that there will be 'adjustments' to the distance markers closer to the finish line was correct. The last 2km of the race was the longest 2km in any race, it was 4km in actual.

Then, there was poor marshaling at the junction, especially the one near KM35 where half marathoners turned right while the full marathoners have to go straight up. There was no signage instead of the volunteers shouting "Half turns right, Full straight". I was lucky because at the time I reached the junction, I could hear the instruction properly but many had missed it and joined half marathoners turning right and got DQed in the end. I think this mistake was a rookie mistake, and should be avoided at all costs, especially when the organizer had sought after the advice from the panel of 'experienced' runners. And don't blame the runners for 'not studying the route' like one organizer of an ultra running event in Putrajaya did - blaming it on the runners.

At the end, in 3 hours and 54 minutes (Men's Open 14th place), I arrived back at the start line which was also the finish line. Happy I was to finish my 29th marathon, another sub 4-hour marathon but as soon as I got passed the finish arch, I had to stand in a very long queue, made up by mainly the fun run or half marathon finishers. I told myself that I didn't deserve to be in this long queue of half marathoners and fun runners after laboring myself to finish the full marathon. No one volunteer was seen around the area to pass water or medal or finisher t-shirt to the full marathon finishers and as I walked towards the tent area, then only I noticed that the long queue was actually for fried meehoon and some other refreshments. Luckily I didn't stand in the queue which I thought for the medal and finisher t-shirt collection. The finisher medal and t-shirt was at the next stand and again they were in boxes laying around on the floor/road (no proper tables). Such a shame! 

Oh the finishers also had to look for bottle of mineral water that were placed in boxes laying around the tent and at the roadside where the queue was. No isotonic or anything else. And talking about the finisher t-shirt, I just don't get it why they were done in the same color (orange) as the event t-shirt? To make the matter worse, some of the finishers received event t-shirt instead of finisher t-shirt. Wouldn't it be something that can be easily avoided if the two t-shirts are in different colors? And it was a facepalm moment when I heard a friend who finished the 12km category in 6th place but didn't receive her medal as they ran out of stock! So, how many medal did they actually prepared, five??? And if you look carefully at the lanyard of the medal, Cyberjaya was spelled "CYCBERJAYA" *sigh*. Above all, the marathon was under distance by some 500m to 700m, depending on which GPS watch you refer to. 

The only thing that the organizer did right was to invite Pretty Ugly to perform although I only stayed around for a couple of songs before leaving the area.
[photo by Ezam Idola Izudin]

There were so many rookie mistakes at the event, which I can say acceptable for an inaugural event. But, the fact that they had been engaging a panel of 'experienced' runners for advice, those rookie mistakes are simply unacceptable. I'm not sure whether the organizer didn't listen carefully to those 'experienced' runners' advice or the organizer had been poorly-advised by them. For me, nothing great or to shout about this event, it was just another organizer attempting to organize another running event in Malaysia. The only thing that I cherished was that it was a perfect 6 of sub 4-hour marathon finish for me this year. 

For my race details at Garmin Connect, click here.
For result of the Full Marathon Men's Open category, click here.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

The North Face Hong Kong Race Report : Roy Yeow

"Did-Not-Finish" or DNF happens in races. You may be a good runner, have many races finish under your name, all it takes is one turn of event and your race changes. We have seen it many times, experienced it ourselves - but it takes a lot of courage to call it a day and learn from it. Team athlete Roy Yeow went through this in the TNF Hong Kong race, and this is his story. 
The TNF Hong Kong Race Report, sort of.
Being away from trail running for most of the 2nd half of 2014 to focus on Ironman Langkawi, makes me look forward to this race. With elevation of over 6000 meters, and a cutoff of 27 hrs, it is one of the toughest race in Hong Kong. Having done Vibram HK 100 and TransLantau 100 this year, the thought completing another 100KM in HK is encouraging. However, having heard of the horror story from 2013 where it was pouring cats and dogs, I was cautious of this race and was checking out the weather forecast daily weeks prior to this race.
Bib collection with David Wong from Singapore. 
This will not be the regular race report, as this is probably not a report as I DNF this race. Here's how it goes:

Opting to stay in the city instead of the hostel at the starting point, I arrived at the starting point with plenty of time to spare. With the cold weather, it was a challenge to keep warm. Starting close to the front helps to clear some traffic as the road narrows into single file trail about 800 meters into the race.
However, immediately I can sense that this race will not be my race as the feeling of tiredness 1KM into the race is not normal. The game plan at this point suddenly changed and troubleshooting of what is the condition of the body was working over time. As I continue on, the clumsiness of my steps up the first hill was obvious. With limbs that are not as balanced as regular runners, the immediate step at this point of time is to focus and ensure I get to the next checkpoint in one piece.

Even though I still managed to move at the planned pace, the clumsiness and tiredness lingered on. The troubleshooting so far came to a very simple conclusion - I am not ready and capable to complete this 100KM race. Unlike many runners that runs to fan their ego to the world, the simple acceptance of own condition allows for a simple decision, I will dropped off the race. Knowing there are more torturing hills, the thought of putting myself in danger going through the tougher hills in front is not a wise idea. After all, what is a race when there are more important things in life (and I am not even referring to Facebook updates btw).
With Dr. Wong along the route. Photo courtesy of Dr. Wong Fook Seong and Tan Kim Lai

There are still one issue though. I have left my walking pole at checkpoint 4 which is still a overwhelming 30KM away. Having went through the possibility on the plate, I decided to just walk to that point. The rest of the journey was not without any actions but to spare all from the details, I managed to reach checkpoint 4 with about 2 hrs to spare to cut off.

Met fellow Malaysian there and as he has lost his walking pole at that checkpoint, I offered mine to allow him to move on. What a joy when you stepped back and knows you enabled others to achieve their goal. This is far more meaningful things in life rather than idolising oneself to the world.
Beuatiful landscape
As more Malaysian passed by, I wish them the best and waited for another friend that I know is struggling behind. Again, stepping back and helped others when they are in trouble is as joyful as completing own race. Since this race has an unique feature of allowing 100KM runners to downgrade to 50KM at this point, it was an option for me to get back to the finishing line and get my stuffs. Having said that, a DNF is a DNF, even though I completed the 50KM within the cutoff time and was given an official time and medal. I came to this race with an intention to run 100KM, so anything less than completing a 100KM is a DNF. Yup, not happy to DNF obviously but learning to accept it as it is will allows us to run without the stress and just enjoy the day - race or training.

What I've learnt from this DNF.
This blog entry is all about how to be positive when things are not going the way you want it to be. Looking at the positive in life when other things are not going smoothly. Failure to complete a race does not makes us a failure, failure to accept things as it is is a failure. Challenges like this is what makes running and life interesting. This race has shown many sides of humans - ugly and beautiful included - but guess positivity only comes when you look at the bright  and the good side. 

Thursday, 18 December 2014

First date with Skechers GOmeb Speed 3 : Deo Azrul

This is my personal review, and it is from someone who's not fond of minimalist or 0mm drop shoes and who always believe that my previous plantar fasciistis was due to the minimalist shoes that I used from other brand than Skechers during the early days of my running life. Since the days I was plagued with plantar fasciitis, I have been running in shoes with more cushion. My impression on these 0mm drop shoes is always about speed, short distance, racer, podium winner, of which none of the phrases fits me really well. I have always been on the opposite of those phrases. 

Anyway, I got trusted enough by Skechers Malaysia to let me test and review GOmeb Speed 3 before the shoes arrived on Malaysia's shore. After having careful thought about the shoes, especially worrying if I might suffer from the plantar fasciitis problem again, I told myself that I shall try this shoes for my short weekday runs (at the max of 10km) while adding on a little speed. In addition, although it is the speed, fit-for-racing, fly-like-a-bird, and ideal-for-short-distance shoes, the 4mm-drop-but-feels-like-0mm gives me some relieve that I will still get some level of cushioning from the shoes. But before I took the shoes to the street, let me present to you the unboxing part, literally, as the shoes didn't come in box as it was shipped directly from the factory, I was informed. 

The embossed 'Speed 3' word in contrast color.
The GOmeb Speed 3 was first made available to the public at the NYC Marathon in early November although it was first seen worn by Meb Keflezighi en route to winning the Boston Marathon 2014. Aesthetically and technologically, there are few differences and improvements from the previous version of GOmeb Speed. Although I didn't own any of the GOmeb series shoes (and obviously never worn one), I can see stark difference in terms of the construction of the upper as well as the outsole. 
They look a lot different! Speed 3 (above) vs Speed 2 (below)
[photo taken from Sam's Running, People, Places and Things
The upper design is more attractive with nice, contrasting color and design than its elder brother. The printed mesh fabric and synthetic is also thinner and nearly weightless to make the shoes lighter (I guess) and definitely speedier (I reckon). It also promotes breathability and allows quick drying (of sweat and water). If you put up the shoes against the light or the sun, you can see that the upper fabric is transparent, confirming how thin it is. The Skechers' famous S logo is bolder and bigger than in previous version while the word "Speed 3" on the tongue was also reinforced by embossing and rubberized it to make it stand out more. Above all the improvements to the upper, I love two things the most - 1) The 'Chevron'-like design of the midsole (that reminds me of the logo of TMNet, company that I worked before), which gives a fresh breathe and live to the shoes, and 2) the reinforced eyelets, especially the top 2 which spotted contrast color stitching around the eyelets. 
I love the slick and macho look of the shoes; the 'Chevron' design at the midsole makes it looks very speedy!
The reinforced eyelids - making putting on the shoelace something interesting and easier now!
Other significant improvements to GOmeb Speed 3 is the outsole. First is the re-positioning of the circular GOimpulse sensors, which is claimed to give a more responsive running experience. Although the number of the sturdier rubber (colored) sensors remain the same as in GOmed Speed 2, the number of smaller and softer sensors have been reduced significantly and replaced by triangular shape of sensors. The design of the circular sensors have been reinforced which I think should give better traction as well longer life to the outsoles. Another major difference that Skechers promote with the shoes is the black plate in the midfoot, which is the stability plate that is constructed using Dupont Delrin™ material Stability Plate, that is smaller than before, which they said to provide a supportive and secure run with less weights.
They improvement on the outsole. Speed 3 (right) vs Speed 2 (left)
[photo taken from Sam's Running, People, Places and Things
One of the few things that were briefed to me about the shoes was the flexibility where you can twist and bend the shoes, unlike the normally stiff racer shoes. It is proven true when I took the shoes out for my short runs when it feels very responsive to the flex of my feet especially during take-offs. And the cushioning (you're not aware that it even exists in the shoes) makes the shoes really comfortable yet speedy due to its lightweight profile. And when I always feel a certain level of pain after wearing 'thin sole' or 'stiff' shoes (either sports or casual shoes), I don't feel any pain with GOmeb Speed 3. It is very comfortable, especially while running on a rubber track (around KLCC Jogging track) for some speedwork. I couldn't testify for its comfort in a longer runs on tarmac as the longest run longer I've ever done on tarmac was 8km. The other thing that I noticed about this shoe is the roomier toe box for my feet, contrast to other racer shoes.

What I told my friends about GOmeb Speed 3 is that the shoes certainly gives some speed to me due to its lightweight and the ample cushioning for comfortable landing as well as well as the responsiveness for effective takeoff. 

The shoes will be available in Malaysian market in January 2015, and shall be a good choice for those aiming to break the old PBs especially in shorter races ;)

Note: This pair of Skechers GOmeb Speed 3 is sponsored by Skechers Malaysia via collaboration with Team 2ndSkin Asia athletes program. The review above is of my own experience and is not influenced in any ways by Skechers Malaysia or Team 2ndSkin Asia.