Monday, 31 March 2014

Penang Internation Triathlon and Duathlon - Roy Yeow

Team Athlete Roy participated in the Penang Internation Triathlon and Duathlon last weekend. Here's his take about the race and the experience.

Doing an olympic distance triathlon a week after coming back from one of the toughest 100KM trail race in Hong Kong that took me more than 30 hours to complete, is insane. But since I needed the triathlon experience badly, I decided to just go ahead with the race, the least to experience the swimming leg and call it off.
Ever since coming back from Hong Kong, the plan is to recover from the ultra with minimal training and maximum food loading. I thought I added 2KG at least to my weight, something you would not think is possible after a 100KM race. 

Anyway, moving on to the race day morning, around 5:15AM, we decided to cycle about 5KM to the race start. That was probably a good move as it was a good warm up. Once arrived, look for my transition spot and start laying all my stuff as neatly as possible. When we strolled down to the beach side, to my horror, the wave was nasty that morning. It was nothing like the sea of 2013 in the Penang Tri official video. Deep down, I was feeling great and yet worried. Great that I will get to try out the roughest sea swim soon, and worried how I would fare with my not so great swimming technique.
With CM Lim
In no time, the Duathlons race was flagged off and we moved back to the beach side awaiting the start. Decided to jump into the sea to get the feel of the waves. By the time I got back onto the beach, YB Lim was already at the beach wishing the participants all the best. Managed to get our photo taken with him, maybe a good luck souvenir for us? Met my schoolmates that I have not met for years, brought back memories of us making the round the island trip on our motorbikes.

Back to the race, once the race started, we just proceeded to jump into the sea and never look back. Months of swimming training would now shows if I have done it right or wasted all my effort. Started swimming as calmly as possible while trying to avoid the crowds. One good feeling this round is I keep bumping onto the swimmer in front, instead of being bumped. This could only means that I am faster this time around. Ignoring the waves, I keep focusing on my strokes to try to move as fast forward as possible. By the time I completed the first lap, it was 13:42, that's fast for me. Later on, I noticed a photo of me on fb just behind my idol Bryan Lee. Ahem, I can swim almost as fast as him!!!! The second lap was tougher as I was stuck in a jam towards the first bouy. Too many swimmers were trying to take the shortest path through and causing human jam there. Feeling much more confidence this round, flexed a bit of muscles to force my way through the queue and continue to swim on. Completed the swim leg in 27:22. Well, based on the timing, that's a 16 minutes improvement from my last triathlon, I have to thanks my swimming coaches for this improvement that has gave me confidence to jump into the sea anytime.
Flying Mount
T1 was as normal as possible, the only thing I wish I can do the flying mount to save time from running with clip shoe on. As my bike was at the far end, I have the priviledge to run the most with my clip shoe on, something that you do not really wish to do that much. I make sure I took a pack of Hammer Gel to keep me strong for the hills. Putting on the Spyder helmet, I realised I forget to put on my Spyder sunglass 1km in. Climbs after climbs we have to face as we cycled our way up to the dam and then continue on to Balik Pulau. I tried to pace with a season triathlete Wong as I haven't been cycling that much and worry that I would cramped. I was glad that my quads were not giving me sign to slow down as I gradually make my way up the hills. Once we hit the town area, traffic was a bit congested as no road closure around the villages. Grabbing water from the support station and cooling myself down, I awaited another gruelling climb back to the dam.
This is when Andrew of Velocipede Works overtook me effortlessly going up the hill. Looking at him going up put me in awe. I was like struggling to keep going and there he goes, like an elevator up the hill. Continue on up the hills slowly, I was able to slowly pass many of the slower duathletes. Once reaching the top of hill, it was smooth to just steer down the slopes now. However, the roads are winding and as the traffic are building ups with runners and cyclists on both side, safety is my priority. While going down towards Teluk Bahang from the dam, I spotted my team mate, Chan Jun Shen, on his way back to the finishing to complete his duathlon race. He managed to podium with 3rd placing in the Men's Open. Back in Teluk Bahang, again traffic was bad as road closure is not possible there. We cyclist had to stop and dismount as lorries and cars were blocking the road. I decided to carry my bike up the side walk and just walk pass the jam to move forward. Completed the bike leg is 1:30:21, not great timing but nothing more than I can expect of considering the lack of cycling time.
Going into the running leg, I thought I would want to take it slowly to ensure my ITB and ankles are ok. With the Skechers GoBionic, I did not feel any disturbance to any parts and decided to keep going as fast as I could. Down another Hammer Gel to give me the last push, I am ready to run in the hot sun. At the climbs toward the dam, I decided to save my leg by walking a bit and suddenly, my running idol from Penang, Francis overtook me and just flew off. Once reaching the top decided to try to maintain my pace again and upon the uturn, try to speed up trying to hit a sub 3 hours race. It was not meant to be as I completed the run in 57:02, missing the sub 3 by 2 minutes.

Glad that the Ultra + Triathlon back to back is over and I managed to place 55 out of the 245 finisher in Men's Open with the timing of 3:02:11. It was one triathlon that is fun and great. Swim was rough, Bike was challenging, Run was hot. Recommended race to get the feel of triathlon! Thanks to the sponsors - 2ndskins, Hammers, Skechers, Spyder and Get Active. I do believe my ability to perform in this race a week after an ultra is due to the strengthening and conditioning from Get Active. Now, is time to focus on the biggie in April.
Powered by Hammer

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Skechers Performance Running Shoes – What Runners Say

Team 2ndskin have been proudly supported by Skechers Malaysia since Dec 2012. Along the way, the team have shared our reviews and experiences running in the vast range of Skechers Performance Series of running shoes, and we have time and time again shared these write-ups on our team blog as well as answering queries about the shoes on our personal social media network.

In the course of sharing our thoughts on Skechers shoes, there are many runners who were harder to convince, mainly due to the fact that the traditional mindset was that Skechers is (was) a lifestyle shoe brand. How good could their running shoes be? These guys have been running in “big brand names” like Asics and Adidas and New Balance, so when Team 2ndskin came around and started promoting Skechers running shoes, many were skeptical. Is Team 2ndskin just promoting Skechers because they are sponsored runners? How good are the shoes, really?

Well, as Team Principal, I will go on record to say that even before Team 2ndskin collaborated with Skechers Malaysia (in Dec 2012), I was already a convert. My first pair of Skechers GoRun was purchased in March 2012 (with my hard earned cash, at full price!) after googling reviews and being convinced on paper that this shoe deserves a try. For that matter, I have run through many different brands of shoes, from the likes of Puma, New Balance, Brooks, Nike, K-Swiss, Newton and even Zoot and Inov-8.
My first pair of Skechers GoRun in March 2012
I was seriously impressed with the shoes so much so that in October 2012, I bought a 2nd pair of GoRun in green colour. I wore the GoRuns for all my races (since April 2012) and they were also my choice of footwear for my “A” Race in 2012, the Malakoff Powerman Asian Duathlon in Putrajaya.
Definitely my racing shoe of choice
So, to lay some of the skeptical thoughts to rest, I have conducted a poll amongst NON-sponsored runners who purchased Skechers running shoes for training and races and got them to answer 3 simple questions. Note that these runners are in no way affiliated with Skechers and have honestly answered the questions posed to them. The 3 questions are:
1.       How long have you been running in Skechers running shoes?
2.       What are the Skechers shoe model(s) you own?
3.       In 5 words, can you describe your personal experience or feeling of running in Skechers running shoes?

And the feedback we got…..
1.       For a year now. I have GoRunRide and GoBionicRide. 5 words: Lightweight, comfortable, flexible, fast, stylish. – Boon Keat, Penang.
2.       3 weeks. GoRun2. Smooth, fast for tempo run. – Saiful Azam, Ultramarathoner.
3.       9 months. GoRun. Light in weight and soft. – Yun Lian.
4.       3 months already. GoBionic, GoRunUltra and NiteOwl. Feels awesome when I wear. – Razukun7
5.       1 year. GoRun2 and GoBionicTrail. Awesome! Will get another pair! – Choy Lin, Klang.
6.       7 months plus. GoRun2. Light, comfortable, but few choices. – Boon Loke.
7.       Since Oct 2013. GoBionicTrail and GoRunUltra. Sockless, affordable, customizable minimalist shoe. (GRU is a bit bouncy though and makes me a bit unbalanced in the trail) – Cynthia, Ironman.
8.       8 months. GoRun2 and GoSpeed. Comfortable, lightweight, affordable, striking-colour, wear out quickly. – FunRunner.
9.       Since Jan 2014. GoBionicTrail. Awesome, surprisingly comfy, shoe-gasmic! – Anonymous, PJ.
10.   1 year. GoRunRide. Absolutely worth my every cent. – Ahmad Zamani, Bangi.
11.   Since July 2012. GoRun, GoRunRide and GoBionic. My PB and Podium shoe! J - Zheng Norahs, Blogger.
12.   Almost 2 months. GoRunUltra. Comfortable but quickly worn out. – Khairul Faizi, Marathoner.
13.   Since 2013. GoRun2. Great for short distance. – June YL.

All of the runners we polled were positive in their feedback about running in Skechers Performance Series of shoes and some told us that they were looking to purchase new pairs and would be seeking our advise in the future for newer models. There were one or two comments that the Resalyte outsole wore off quite quickly and that was something that I experienced initially too. My first feedback to Skechers Malaysia was when I first ran in the GoRun2 and within 100km mileage; I noticed the wear out rate at the sole was pretty fast. However, I decided to continue with the shoes and after that I realized the rate of wear became lesser and lesser and now that particular pair of GoRun2 has logged >500km and the rate of wear is quite standard to other running shoes. So yes, it does look like it wears out quite fast initially, but with the mileage, it does go the full distance and “lifecycle”.

If you are undecided, do take the plunge and try out a pair today. If you’re unsure of which model would suit your running style, do take the time to talk to us and we will offer appropriate advise with regards to your current shoes, your running mileage, your preferences and the types of runs you participate in. Drop us an email anytime or just hook up with us on social media.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Hammer Anti-Fatigue Caps – A Revelation

In the modern market, vast production of supplements has caused consumers to be confused and the attractive labelling aims to attract customers. Being part of Team2ndskin’s partner, Hammer Nutrition Malaysia, via Globalaerotech first gave me a bag of diverse products as a tester. The packing is humble looking, not much graphics and eye catchy design, I wonder if it’ll catch anybody’s attention if it gets on the shelf. I had the Perpetuem, Perpetuem Solid, Endurolytes, Endurolytes Fizz, Recoverite, Gels, and so on. Perpetuem and Endurolytes Fizz are the ones that I normally consume during training and race. Perpetuem works so well for me that it kills my major hunger problem in long course racing and fuels me with consistent energy, I have sworn by it ever since it solves my dilemma. Endurolytes Fizz comes in tablet form, it starts fizzing as it gets contact to water. A tube of Endurolytes Fizz has 13 tablets in it, equals to 13 x 600ml bottles worth of electrolytes. The magic in Hammer Nutrition gets me going for so many races throughout 2013, bringing me sporting endurance that I need to remain competitive in racing.      
I first heard of Anti Fatigue Caps about 3 weeks ago when I dropped by Eugene’s house to collect my Hammer supplements. I took a bottle from Eugene, and immediately the next day tested it at Genting Sempah. I rode with Irene on that day, kept staring at my Garmin 910xt to monitor my speed. I know that with my lack of training, the soreness in my quads will strike before I could climb the hill for the second loop. Guess what, I was riding at 20km/h going up Genting Sempah, 7km/h faster than normal! 35% performance improved! Second loop was slightly slower, 18km/h. But still, much faster than my average speed. Although I was tired, my quads were not sore at all! One of the biggest limitations that stops athlete from going faster and going longer has been solved.
Anti-fatigue caps contain potassium magnesium asparte, L-citrulline, ornithine alpha-ketoglutarate and a host of other components. Cut short the lengthy scientific explanations and put it in layman’s term, it buffers lactic acid. Not only the caps are gluten free and vegan friendly, it also increases glycogen availability for energy production. The excessive ammonia built up from protein metabolism during prolonged intensive workouts interferes with glycogen production, interrupts body’s energy output. With Anti-fatigue caps, I am able to stay stronger in multiple hours endurance racing. I will take 2 caps one hour prior to racing and continue with one cap per hour during the workout as prescribed on the label. Each individual is different however, and you should try and test to determine the effective dosage for yourself. Eugene mentions that he uses 2 caps before the race and 2 caps every hour for optimal effectiveness. It served him well during his recent Gunung Nuang Ultra Run.
Next I went cycling with my teammate Jason, he told me this, “Whatever you’re gonna take today, I’m gonna have it too!” So I packed up my “fast food” into a recycle bag, with Gels, Endurolytes Fizz and Anti-fatigue caps in it for Jason. As we climbed up Genting Peras, Jason told me, “Normally I feel sore at this point, but today I feel okay. Let’s see if it really works.” The ride went on to the peak, he said, “Bloody hell, no wonder all this whil,e you guys are so fast! Ask Eugene to get me one bottle!”

A couple of days ago, my Marine Engineering Officer had a friendly match prior to Navy Mini Olympics. I gave him two caps and he lasted the whole match inside the field, double his normal performance! Hammer nutrition never fails to impress me. By writing this article to share with the readers of our team blog, I hope I can level the racing advantage because by taking Hammer Anti-fatigue caps, it gives me tremendous advantage in racing. One thing for sure, these caps will be in my checklist for Langkawi International Ironman 2014!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Kenyir Triathlon Race Report 2014 : Jun Shen

Moving into adult life and a more challenging career as a serving Navy Officer, Jun Shen has brought "Fighting Fit" to another level. Challenges of not having regular hours and duty bound to protect the soverignity of the country, his training works around his limitations. This multiple Ironman Triathlon finishers do not let these stand in his way; not when he has set his eyes on this year's Ironman Malaysia to take place in less than 6-months time.

We salute you. Congrats on a good race in Kenyir.
Kenyir Triathlon Race Report 2014

Maintaining fitness as a student cadet when I was pursuing my degree in Defence University was much easier than now. My schedule is cramped with lots of workload, basically I work from 8am to 5pm, and continue with my work after dinner till lights off. Too bad the Navy don’t pay me overtime. Ship has become my home. I eat, sleep, work and live on board. To keep myself on track for my Ironman dreams, I have to sign up for races to keep me reminded. Like it or not, it is the race pressure that pushes me to pump in more mileage in my training despite my hectic routine. So, I signed up for Kenyir Triathlon.
Me.Myself. And Boat House.
I travelled together with my Navy team to Kenyir, it was a long journey from Lumut to Kenyir, I was lucky to have a bus driver to drive me there. We were welcomed with cooling weather and awesome scenery as we checked in our boat house. The boat house was a cheap deal for us, after bargaining with the boat man, I got a room for 3 at RM100. Phone coverage was excellent in the boat, toilets are clean and the best part was we had astro to watch.
Once a Navy, always a Navy.
After we settled down and set up our bikes, I found out that my rear derailleur misaligned. My cheapskate fixie tyre was also in a very horrible condition. Shit happens every day, but in a different shape. =p  No big deal, I’m gonna get it settled. Basic bike servicing knowledge is important for triathletes, if you don’t wanna save others also you have to at least be able to save yourself. At Lake Kenyir, no bike shop nearby to rescue you. I got my rear derailleur tuned by twisting the H and L screws then some minor adjustment on my brake caliper, changed my racing tyre and lubed my chain before parking my bike at the veranda. After race briefing, I dozed off very quickly.
Among the many uses of a cloth hanger
Race morning I had a piece of bread and a Hammer Perpetuem solid. Race start was delayed for quite some time due to heavy rain, race organizer was concern on safety issue. The rain cloud was thick and dark, we’ve been getting rain every single hour since we arrived Kenyir, no thunder storm though. So I went to transition area to release my tyre pressure. I pumped in 110psi, I dropped it to 90psi, hoping to get a better traction in a wet race. Suprisingly, none of the pre race jitters bothers me this time. Partly because I’m not gonna win anyway, I just come here to do my best and test my limits. I started my swim with kicking people before people kick me, got kicked like no less than 10 times on my face till once side of my goggles sucked into my eye socket. Karma is a bitch. =p 3 months of no swimming, my strokes were flimsy and powerless like a pregnant turtle carrying hundred eggs. I was never a good swimmer anyway. Normally I’d score 29 mins for the swim, but this time around I came out of the water 42 mins, dare not even look back if anybody was behind me.

Mentally ready for the bike course, ever ready for a massive sufferfest. Behind me there was no body, I rode hard for 15km pulling an uncle who kept yelling “come on young man!”, he was like a cow boy yelling “yeeha!” and I was his horse. In this situation, either I ride hard to catch group in front or wait for the peloton from behind to catch me. Tucking myself in and riding on my new aero position, I felt really really smooth. My new bike position is actually inspired by Levi Leipheimer, both extensions are tilted 15 degrees upwards with an aero bottle in between to channel the airflow down instead of smacking my chest. I kept hammering the pedal at an average effort, saving some power for the killer climb at the final 4km. Without realising, I had a train of riders behind me. We worked together in a team time trial formation, managed to catch 3 big groups. Drafting in rainy weather is super dangerous. Firstly I don’t trust the rider in front of me because they were swaying left and right, secondly I don’t wanna damage my bike when crashing in a big bunch, thirdly I’m not good in drafting. Riding at the outer lane gives me lesser slipstream, but more safety and more training for Ironman. I felt that Hammer Anti-Fatigue Caps worked really well for me, my quads were never sore as if I could delay the lactic acid building up. Strongly recommended for athletes aiming for PB without increasing training mileage. Hahaha. I took a last sip of Hammer Endurolytes Fizz before dismounting, light tasting electrolytes that fuelled me all the way. No fly dismount like what I’d normally do due to the steep final climb before entering transition. Safety comes first, style comes second.

Skechers Go Speed awaiting me in my transition basket. I just love the responsiveness of GoSpeed. Once the running form is good, I believe stiffness of outer sole is the key to faster running. Cushion dampens the back kicking, slowing down by miliseconds for every stride. The upper mesh of GoSpeed is very breathable, I don’t have to worry running with my feet soaked every time I shower to cool off my over heating engine. I love GoSpeed very very much! I was never overtaken by anybody on the run course. I kept reminding myself to maintain my running form and lean a little for better running economy. Chloe from GetActive gave me some strength and conditioning program for me to do, helping me to strengthen my weak core muscles. Those workouts really helped me to hold my running form in a longer period.  Average pace 4.58 mins/km, not too bad for the hilliest triathlon course in Malaysia. I finished the race of 1.6km swim, 45km bike and 11km run in 3 hours 4 mins, recorded by Garmin 910xt. Irene my 2ndskin team mate is much faster this time, I couldn’t catch her on the run at all. She was way too fast compared to Morib Triathlon when we raced together, earning herself age group champion on the podium=)
Team 2ndSkin represented

Monday, 10 March 2014

Singapore 2XU Marathon Race Report - Deo

Team athlete Deo ran his Personal Best (PB) timing for the 42km distance during the recently concluded 2XU Marathon in Singapore. He has truly did his 25th Marathon in style and will work on improving the timing even better. How did he do it? Here is his race report. Congrats Deo! Well deserving PB!

The Singapore 2XU Marathon Race Report : Deo
My 25th full marathon was done safely in the recent 2XU Compression Run in Singapore. It was also my first race in Singapore since MR25 Ultramarathon in December 2012. I dreaded to race in any Singapore marathon mainly because in whatever marathon held in the island, name it whatever you want, half of the distance will be held inside the East Coast Park (ECP). And ECP is notorious for its long, never ending stretch and the hardness of the cement surface. But there is one thing about me that I recently realized - I like to sign up for first-time races (or the inaugurals) provided that the organizer is trustworthy and experienced ones. Although 2XU Compression Run was not held for the first time, the full marathon was a new category. And hearing good feedback from previous editions, I decided to return back to Singapore to run a race there.

On board the early AirAsia flight to Singapore, there were other familiar faces, all taking part in the race. After breakfast at Changi Airport we made our ways to Changi City Point Mall, which is located just two MRT stations from Changi Airport, for the race pack collection and expo. It was held at the small foyer of the mall and got really crowded by noon with runners queuing for the race pack as well as those shopping for merchandise from Key Power International. Nevertheless, it was a hassle-free race pack collection. The rest of the day was followed by eating and hydrating and napping and eating and prepping for the race and finally early lights off around 10pm.  

With some of the Malaysian runners we bumped into at the race pack collection and expo site
[photo by Leena See]
Woke up at 1.45am and headed out from hostel an hour later. Walked for some 2km to the start point with some one hour to spare before the start of the race. It was a peaceful morning, not crowded like in SCMS. Short queues for porta-loos as well as for the bag drops. Bumped into some Malaysian runners. Made ourselves into the race pen some 15 minutes before the race. The morning weather was really nice, not the usual very humid Singapore weather. And I can feel wind blowing at times making it a near perfect condition to run. 

As I said earlier, the weather was nearly in perfect condition to race (for tropical climate like in Malaysia and Singapore). From a glance at other runners' bibs and a look at the crowd lining up in front and behind me, I sensed that there were not more than 3,000 full marathoners that morning so I guessed there won't be any bottleneck anywhere along the route (there were actually 3,420 total finishers for full marathon). The start point of the race was on Republic Avenue, parallel to Nicoll Highway and next to Geylang River (I think). The view at that 4am was quite stunning as we could see the sight of the lighted-up Singapore Flyer at the other side of the river.  
The race route, includes the dreaded 21km inside ECP
The route for the race would take runners from the start line at Republic Avenue, then continued on Crawford Street, Kallang Road, Sims Way before running on Nicoll Highway. There was a u-turn somewhere on Nicoll Highway (KM5.5) followed by Mountbatten Road, Stadium Boulevard, crossed the Geyland River, along Geylang Park Connector before entering ECP at KM17. I can tell you that the route was interesting to run on, helped by the nice weather. I also witnessed that the organizer paid a detailed attention to safety, for example they laid out plank of wood panels to cover uneven surface along the Geylang Park Connector. There were also some dark sections but were all lighted up with fluorescent reflector markers and many marshals were stationed at these dark areas to ensure runners do run on the correct path. 

In terms of gears used, I am being lucky to be under 2ndSkin Athletes Program whereby almost everything that I put on were sponsored. For this race, from top to toe, I wore TeamSpyder Tank shades (although it remained on my head throughout the race), 2ndSkinAsia's team t-shirt in Vaporskin technology, Kraftfit men's long compression bottom, Garmin 910XT watch, Skechers GOrun Ultra shoes, and self-provided Nathan's waist pouch and Wrightsock's socks.
Morning before the race - lacing up my Skechers GOrun Ultra
Apart from the gears, 2ndSkin athletes were also sponsored by Hammer for our endurance fuels and supplements. For this race, I consumed 3 packs of gels at KM8, KM16 and KM32. I skipped KM24 as I had to take Perpetuem Solids and Anti Fatigue Cap at the same time, and skipped taking the gel at KM40 because I was too lazy. For hydration and electrolyte, I took Fizz which I put one tablet into a 500ml water that I carried along the race. I had one or two sips every three kilometers and that 500ml lasted until KM27 where I had to refill my bottle. Initially, I brought another Fizz tablet but dropped it somewhere in ECP. So, I had to resort with Pocari Sweat drinks provided by the race organizer. I also took three tablets of Perpetuem Solids, taken one each at every hour. And for the first time, I used Anti-Fatigue Caps, taken twice, one cap each at the 2nd hour and 3rd hour. Other than these, I didn't take anything else, not even any breakfast prior to the race.

As usual, I always have sets of target, i.e. to run under four hours, to do better than my previous race, or to run with a PR timing. What it means is that I will re-evaluate my target finishing time as the race progresses especially how I fared in the first 10km or in the first half of the race. I am lucky to have the capability to calculate my pace and expected finishing time in my head while running so I would be able to dictate my body on how fast my pace should be to meet the targeted timing or how long of break I could enjoy but still able to meet my target, and so on. 
The start of the marathon race. I was there behind the guy in red
I was lining up quite at the front of the pack, maybe in the front 15%. The race was flagged off at 4am sharp. I started slow due to the slow-moving crowd but it was not too slow. I was running at 5:11-minute pace, good enough for a 1km warm up. And as the crowd started to dispersed, I saw myself doing sub 5-minute pace from KM2 up to KM17 with some slacks in KM12, 13 and 14 where my pace gone up to more than 5 minutes. I was surprised to know that I could maintain that pace for such a long period, longer than I had ever done in any other marathons I did before. In fact, I could never maintain this pace in my training. And my 10km split, 48 minutes 36 seconds, was just 18 seconds slower than my 10km race PR. The 10km split was the fastest 10km split in all my marathons. With the pace I was moving, I was ecstatic to know that I may be able to do a PR that day. I continued to push myself but all started to go wrong (literally) as I entered the ECP.
The dreaded face as I moved closer to the entrance of ECP
The start of ECP section was around KM17. Looking at the KM17 marker, I knew that I will arrive at the same spot again when it was about KM37 (20km inside ECP). My heart sank a little knowing that I would be inside ECP for a long, long, time. The only motivation I had that time was that if I finished off the ECP section as fast as possible, I would only need to run another 4km towards the finish line. So, motivated or not, I continued running. It was quiet inside the park and the day started to get more humid as it was getting brighter. I could not help to sustain sub 5-minute pace but tried to move as quickly as possible. The boringness running inside the park, the surface of road/path (whatever you called it) were not helping in any way. I tried my best to maintain sub 5:15-minute pace and luckily for me, my pace in the first 17km was good enough to cover my slower pace in ECP. In fact, my average pace stayed under 5-minute all the way up to KM26. My 20km split was 1hr 33mins and 57secs, still fastest compared to my previous marathons, and I covered 25km of the route in 2 hours.

I was so relieved when I arrived at the u-turn point at the opposite end of ECP (KM25.5) and I could now see more runners on the other side of the road on the opposite direction of the park. It lifted my spirit a little knowing that my suffering (of running inside ECP) is nearing the end but theirs just about to begin. Nevertheless, I could not run any faster like in the first 17km but I was happy enough to be able to maintain sub 5:30-minute pace by that time. With the pace I was doing, I knew sub 4-hour timing is well within grasp but to do a PR would be quite challenging. I stopped for the first time at KM27 to refill my water bottle as well as to take a loo. And as a result, my average pace has gone up to above 5-minute. There onwards, I stopped for a couple more walk breaks in ECP (KM32 and KM35) as I was so tired and just felt like walking for a while. Before I decided to walk again at KM37, I reached the exit gate of the ECP and my spirit soared that I kept running.
Happy after surviving the ECP. I told my friends that the two thumbs up are for the well-organized race and another one for my PR
Not long after I exited ECP, with some 4km to go towards the finishing line, I joined a crowded half marathoners, those slower ones. I had to zig zag, weaving through them who at most times, crowded the whole lane, walking and forming human barricade to the extent that I had to push them aside just to get through. It continued until the finish line but somehow I found that this kept me motivated to run all the way as I wanted to show these walkers of the half marathon that a full marathoner can still run after been out on the road for 38km. There were few occasions when I told some of them "C'mon, keep running! It's almost over" but they just didn't care. The expression on their faces were telling something like "you want to run, you run lah..." There was also a time while running up an elevated bridge before coming down to the F1 paddock when I was about to overtake a half marathon couple who were walking and holding hands, I said to the couple, "hold hands and run lah..." only to be responded with giggles from them *sigh*. 

I told myself that there is no point of motivating them so, let's just continue pursuing my goal. I knew that if I keep running and the race would not go over distance, I would finish the race with a PR timing. The last three kilometers were not fast but was good enough to bring me home with a PR of 3 hours 40 minutes and 11 seconds (official nett time), two minutes faster than my previous PR set in Auckland in November last year. Average pace was 5:14-minute per km. And the timing puts me in 46th position out of 2,884 male marathoners. Although I missed the 3:3x mark by just 11 seconds, I am still very satisfied with the way I ran this marathon - knowing what I am capable of.
It's always nice to run a marathon PR and everytime it feels different!
If you ask me how I managed to improve my timing again, I have no idea. But I strongly believe that I have been on the right track since joining Team 2ndSkin - with my nutritions, my strengthening and conditioning program by GetAactive, the cross-training I did where I just picked up cycling although I am nowhere near being a fast rider, as well as being around those strong, determined and dedicated 2ndSkin team mates; these have complemented my willpower and determination in doing better each time I run a marathon. And for this race, ladyluck was on my side as the weather was really nice to complement the almost flat route. 

In terms of the overall organization of the event, personally, I think that the event has been well-managed from the safety aspect (as I mentioned earlier), the support (volunteers and marshaling), race information was easily available from the website, half of the route was nice while the other half was in ECP (you know what this means), water stations were located 2km apart - this is aplenty! and the isotonic were served cold even for back runners, the start/finish venue were reasonable for that size of crowd, finisher medal was nice, event vest and finisher t-shirt were ok. My overall rating for the event would be GOOD!

And that wrapped up the story of my 25th marathon.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Skechers GoRunRide3 Unboxing : TriStupe

When TriStupe was given the GoRunUltra, he collected a yet to be launched Skechers GoRunRide3. According to him after using the shoe for a few runs, his feedback to the team was "not what I expected of the RunRide series, this shoe is different". What is the different you ask? Here is his unboxing to uncover it all.

Fresh from the 40-footer container, so to say. The GoRunRide3 were given to me when I collected the GoRunUltra after Chinese New Year. This is a refresh from the GoRunRide2 (in the form of Nite Owl) that was reviewed by me previously. If you want to know what the GoRunRide2 (GRR2) looked like, hop over to this link here : GRR2 Unboxing and Review. Unlike the GRR2, the GRR3 is not "glow in the dark". That said, the GRR3 is a totally different permutation when compared to the GRR2 in many aspects. Here is the unboxing.
Skechers GoRunRide3 
In recent months, Skechers has released shoes using better material that are better than the previous instalment. Improvement based on feedback from world known running blogger such as Pete Larson and US top marathon runner Meb Keflezghi. No less than that, regionally in South East Asia, some of us lucky enough to receive shoes seeding (sponsorship, review or local athletes) has provided feedback to help Skechers to improve on. As some of you may know, I've noted that GRR2 were (back then) the most plush among all the Skechers I've reviewed. The theme carries over with GRR3 as it is intended to be a cushioned trainer. 
Notice the newer material - unique 3D printed side details
First Feel
The sizing/fitting session at Skechers HQ allowed me the first feel of the shoe with socks. I took the US10 sizing, which is the same as some of the other Skechers I have. The toe box is wide, so no issues with tight front that requires a size up. When I tried the shoe for size, The thicker insole was not inserted into the shoe, giving me the 4mm feel. I then insert the insole just to confirm that the US10 will be a-ok for me as well. Seems the sizing is pretty good as the disparity with and without insole felt the same at least for me. Confirmation with Skechers is that the shoe with or without the insole is a 4mm drop shoe.
Custom fit  = without insole or with insole
The shoe comes with removable or customisable insole similar to the GoRun3 and GoRunRide2. Without the insole, it is a 4mm drop shoe. With the insole, it transform into an 8mm drop shoe. This "customisable" ride seems to be the theme for the Go-series with GoRunUltra having the same (identical) insole.
Smooth inner, allowing for sockless run or 4mm drop
Aesthetically, with the insole removed, Skechers has given the footbed the same treatment as GR3 and GRR2 with satin smooth feel. From experience (all 300km of it in the other two shoes), there is no hot spot or issues with the feet running on the inner surface of the shoe.
Cushioned and Structured
The "plushness" from this shoe comes mainly from the thicker add-on (insole). After running in the 8mm drop shoes, there is very little differences to the feel when compared to a 4mm drop shoe. So, it doesn't really bother me much. 

Sleeker profile compared to GRR2. Less bulky looking as well
One thing that I immediately noticed was how much the GRR3 looked like the GR3 - the sleeker cousin. The GRR2 was a bit on the bulky side due to the thicker cushioning but the refresh of materials has the GRR3 looking sleeker. 4-way mesh on the top with synthetic mesh on the side pretty much built the shoe on the upper portion. The use of synthetic overlay similar to GoRunUltra snug fit and structure to the shoe.
Non-stretch nylon on the toe box and the lacing down to the side, providing snug fit and support once you pull the laces.

Maintaining What Works
The pods at the sole were same as the GoRun series with a bit of additional changes to the tip of the toe that now looked like an additional crash-pad. Not entirely sure how this will aid in propulsion as it appear more of a design decision from Skechers to me.
That right. GoImpulse Pod
Like the other Go-series or Skechers Performance shoes, the M-strike comes as standard. The bump however, felt the same as GRR2 aka reduced (on paper) by 2mm. Perhaps it is also myself being used to the bump that function like the rocker-type of shoe (think see-saw).
Closer look at the front of the sole
The tongue of the GRR3 wasn't sewn down like the GRU, but it comes with a notch for you to lace through to hold the tongue up when you want to wear them. Not an issue for road-specific shoes as the chances of sand/grit getting into the shoe from the tongue will be minimal or at best, not going to happen unless you run offroad, or purposely run in a gravel road and kick up pebbles, literally.
Tongue not sewn down

The tongue is thicker than usual, which sort of remind me of the GoRunUltra. Doesn't bother me much but it has been a while since I come across a non-padded tongue similar to GoBionic and GoBionicRide. Perhaps the feedback from the other users is for thicker tongue?
Sexy curves
The heel portion is upturned and this minimises or help lessen the chances of heel striking on normal run. Again, I wish to reiterate that the M-Strike feature will encourage you to mid-foot strike, but won't change you from a heel-striking runner to a mid/forefoot lander. You will have to unlearn your running style and learn the best way to land - then the shoe WILL work in your favour. Having said that, my whole unlearning process was with the Skechers shoes with mid-foot strike, and I've successfully managed to run in a more efficient manner, thanks to Skechers.
I would like to see how other brands do this.
Talk about turning shoes to pretzels. Enough said.
Lightweight Despite the Bulk
Skechers rated the shoe to be 8.4oz for Men size 9, or about 238grams. My trusty scale scored a 230grams for US10. Perhaps it's time to get a digital scale and minimise these reading error eh?
about 230grams!
Anyhow, even at 240grams, the shoe is considered light for a cushioned trainer. Bearing in mind the additional material that goes into the Resalyte sole and the thicker tongue. 
Summing It Up
The GRR3 comes with:
Resalyte sole that is actually memory foam
GoImpulse pod that help distribute landing pressure and react to provide bounce and response
M-Strike for that midfoot strike encouragement
Ag-ion treatment for odor control (not that I have smelly feet)
Lightweight 8.4oz for Men US9. Much lesser for women definitely

And with extras:
Customisable sole 
Newer materials that help to keep the weight down, while offering more cushioning and structure
Swanky 3D print on the side, you see some pattern under the 4-way mesh
- Streamlined cutting and "takes away the bulk"
Support for lateral movement  via synthetic like overlay on the side and more protection for the toes with the same synthetic overlay as protection

Note: This pair of Skechers GoRunRide3 is sponsored by Skechers Malaysia via collaboration with 2ndSkin Asia Athletes program. Thank you Skechers Malaysia and 2ndSkin! This pair is not launched yet. No pricing available at point of writing, but should be the same RM399 for men as indicative pricing. 

Opinion in this write up is my own and not influenced by Skechers Malaysia or 2ndSkin program.

Monday, 3 March 2014

How To Improve In Swimming - Irene Chong

Team athlete Irene is an accomplished swimmer having represented Malaysia in synchronized swimming in her earlier years. Here, she tells us how to improve in your swim by incorporating drills into your training. Read on and if you are unsure, drop us a question and we'll get Irene to put your doubts to rest...

My favorite sport in triathlon is swimming. Swimming is the one of the non-impact activity sports, which makes it good as a form of cross-training or recovery workout.  Swimming is harder to pick up compared to cycling and running. To improve swimming, technique is very important. I highly recommend that beginners stick to drills as much as possible early on. My suggestion of the drills:

1) Catch up
Push off the wall in a streamline and start your catch as you normally would. Leave the opposite hand fully extended, even during the recovery. Allow the recovering arm to “catch up” to the extended arm, touching hands before you begin the catch with the arm that was extended. Now, leave the opposite hand fully extended, even during the recovery. Allow the recovering arm to “catch up” to the extended arm, touching hands before you begin the catch with the arm that was extended.
Catching up. Learn more here

Catch up allows the athlete to work on the timing of their breath, a good rotation, and a steady kick. It isolates each arm but allows newer athletes to balance their stroke with less difficulty than they’d have with the opposite arm glued to their side. Catch Up Drill can help correct a short hand entry by forcing the athlete to extend their recovering arm further in an effort to touch their opposite hand.

2) Fingertip Drag Drill
This drill is swimming normal Freestyle while dragging your fingertips along the surface of the water on the recovery. Focus on a high elbow recovery, which ensures proper hand and elbow position at your hand entry. You should also check your body position during this drill, focusing on good side-to-side rotation.
Image from Youtube Video Here
An alternate version of this drill involves dragging the entire hand, wrist-deep, through the water. This helps build strength and speed of the arm recovery motion.

3) Closed Fist Swim
This is my favorite drill since it really helps develop a long, efficient stroke. By forming a tight fist around your thumb on the pull, you take your hand out of the equation and force your forearm to pick up the slack. If you've done the drill correctly, when you switch back to regular swimming, you should feel a noticeably more powerful pull. This helps increase the surface area of your arm that's pushing you forward through the water.

Drills can be very boring, so you can add some "toys" during the drill training, eg: paddle, fins, snorkel..... Enjoy the drill and stay tuned for the subsequent swimming improvement article to improve on the kick and also on pulling.