Sunday, 24 January 2016

Twincity Marathon 2016 - Team Athlete Chan Jun Shen Race Report

Team2ndskin Athlete Chan Jun Shen completed the Twincity Marathon category Men Open 21km with a top 10 finishing despite the extra mileage 3km he went off course. Checkout his race report and learn some running tips in it. 


Early this year I've signed up for a few important races varying from 10km, 21km and adventure races. Every registration is a gamble, not knowing if I will be able to make it or not. First month of 2016, I had to skip one of the 10km race due to call of duty. Words to describe my Navy life - It's complicated. So Twincity Marathon dropped on a long weekend, I was on duty Friday and Saturday I drove back to pick up race kit, then get some good sleep. I did not bother so much about my race pace, I try to keep my expectations low to avoid pre race jitters. I slept really well. 

Race starts at 0400H for the full and 0530H for the half. By the time I got there, the Full Marathoners were running already. Since all participants park by the roadside, I joined the Parking Offender's Bandwagon. Took 3 bananas, Energy Gels and set up my Garmin Forerunner 225. It's really awesome to have heart rate data without the chest strap, thanks to the built in optical heart rate. I set the slowest pace to be 5.00mins/km. Skechers GoSpeed3 and 2ndskin vaporskin race vest was my choice of gear. I notice that I wear the same gear very single race=p

After some Zumba dance and Fire performance, 0530H sharp we started. I kicked off the first quarter of the race in sub 4.00mins/km, a tad too fast for my level. 21km is one of my favourite distance, it needs some mental toughness and tactics with speed to win unlike the purely sprinting 10km. 

First 5km
3.48 / 4.18 / 4.13 / 4.14 / 4.26 

Ronnie and a green vest Malay guy formed a pack with me. We ran around 4.00 - 4.30 mins/km pace. I try not to sync my cadence with them because I am the shortest among them, so if my rhythm is same as theirs, it is likely that I will be heel striking due to over extension of my leading foot. Breathing wise, I has to skip one inhale to make an odd rhythm so 1 inhale and 2 exhales. Everything felt great. We did not slow down at all the hills, hitting slowest pace 4.30mins/km, nothing less. 

6km - 10km
4,13 / 4.28 / 4.20 / 4.22 / 4.31
The hills came one after another, I am still under control with good posture and cadence. Ronnie's arm swing was really wide that he needed a lot of space.=p We pace each other so I try to stay one step ahead of him so that both of us maintain a comfortable space. Having someone around my speed to pace with is really lucky. Undeniably, he made me push myself harder. I saw Ironman Amran within sighting distance, but I am not gonna reel him back. Long way to go, I don't wanna bonk chasing him.

Maintained a very steady pace all the way. (Blue Graph)

11km - 15km
4.23 / 4.26 / 4.30 / 4.29 / 4.28
The hills starting to eat me up a bit, I felt a little tired already. Grab whatever I could at the aid station. Most of the time are plain water mixed with isotonics. Being a triathlete, I was trained to snatch cups and sponges at aid stations without slowing down. I could even squeeze in a gel while running, I feel that this is a strong advantage in this race. Getting a few meters gap at every aid station, the gap slowly grew larger leaving me and Ronnie only. The route were so dark at the 2nd half section of the race, the markers could hardly be seen! At some marker with volunteers standing, I was approaching 100m, no signal given. 50m closer, no signal given. By the time I got closer, I had to shout to them to ask for direction. Too many junctions in the dark, Ronnie and I just ran based on instinct. We were in no man's land. Behind us nobody, in front also nobody. 

16km - 21km
4.21 / 4.33 / 4.40 / 4.32 / 4.48 / 4.14  
This race is extremely humid. Well, what humidity does to our body? It slows down the evaporation of sweat which is a vital cooling effect in running. What to do about it? I always cool my body at every aid station. If the body can't cool down, the heart rate shoots up. Cooling the body with cold sponge or ice water is something that Ironman does in racing, nothing new. And of course choice of race gear material assists in the cooling effect. For running races, I wear 2ndskin. There are many choices in the market, pick what works for u. My watch beeped an alert to mark 21km, I did not hear any noise from the race site. I doubt that I am near the finishing arch. Anyway, just keep running and dig as deep as I could.

The extra penis looking loop that I went after kilometer 14. Check my Garmin Connect data on the left, and the actual race course on the right.

22km - 24km
 4.44 / 4.53 / 4.33 
I still didn't see any signs nor hear any loud noise. Ronnie was right behind. I was exhausted, palm felt cold and my hamstring is pulling. Both of us just ran along the road following the other runners, didn't bother to ask if it is the correct way also. It's surely over distance already. Kilometer 24, I saw the finishing arch, took my last corner and sprint my lungs out! I was given a "No8 Potential Winner" tag. After checking with other runners, some ran 21km. That means I did extra 3km. From Ranking No3 dropped to No8 because of the extra 3km we ran. I wasn't that disappointed actually because I knew that I did well. That's the most important thing. My stride length for this race is 1.29m! I couldn't be happier, this shows how important a correct stretching is!

Ronnie called me up to join his protest. Why not? So I tailed him with a few misled runners, complained to the organizers. We got smiles and short chat from them, I knew nothing can be corrected. The race is over. I'd expect a "sorry" from them at least. Not long later, saw Deo came back. Another sub4 full marathon for him, and also top 10. The official pacer Yim and Yew Khuay came back with total distance 39km, under distance. Must be missing one junction. Many others faced the same problem. I see the potential of this race, the venue is good and the course is challenging. Hopefully the organizer improve and illuminate all markers to prevent recurrence of the same issue. RM70 I paid for Half Marathon, Full Marathon RM80. Next year I am gonna do the full. 

Fire show before prize giving.

Men Open No8 after the extra 3km. Not too bad lah.

Photo courtesy Deo. 

Plenty of food trucks and food at the finishing line. 

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Skechers GoRun Ultra Road review


The mighty cushioned shoe from Skechers Performance (Malaysia) has just gotten better in the form of GoRun Ultra Road (GRUR). An iteration of the proven GoRun Ultra, which is very much a shoe made for the trail and occasional road; I called it hybrid and indeed it has served me very well until today (my 3rd pair of GRU now).

The cat approved it too

Those of you that has been using GRU would know that this shoe range (the Ultra) is bulky by Skechers' standard. However, despite the outlook, it's light and super flexible. Those of you using them would also know that the sole doesn't hold up too well "on the road".

Throughout the 3-years I've been on Skechers, I have also learnt that while the wear could look excessive, it doesn't effect the performance of the shoe (grip and cushioning). My 3rd Pair of GRU has clocked no less than 400km and still clocking in the mileage. The new GRUR now come with a completely new outsole said to help it last the road pounding.

The Fitting
Now to the usual way of me doing a shoe review. First off is the fitting of the shoe. GRUR carry on the fitment of the GRU. Wide toebox and i took US11 as my feet seemed to had grown over the past two years (hopefully not because I gained weight and the feet spreading out more to hold my weight). I have intention to use this shoe without socks (as usual) and the liner that comes with it should provide sufficient space if I choose to use socks. Over the years I've collected different liner from different Skechers shoes as well.

Same wide toe box between GRUR (left) and GRU (right)

The GRUR is a 4mm drop shoe. Stack height of 30mm on the heel (tall!) and 26mm on the front. Removing the liner doesn't make the show decreases in drop. In comparison, one of the more famous cushioned shoe has a stack height of 33mm-29mm (Heel-Front) and still has a 4mm drop. (if you guessed Hoka One One, you are a shoe-aware person).

Similar persona between GRUR and GRU when it comes to Cushioning. 

Being a bulk of a shoe meant the GRUR too will be heavier than it's other cousins. Coming in at 10.4oz (295grams) for US9, my US11 clocked in at close to 330grams (approx 11.5oz). As heavy as it may appear, the cushioning and the ride more than make up for it.

330grams approx

If you are a heavier person (I would say more than 85kg), you will find this shoe very forgivingly light with the cushioning. (Shoe-aware runner - do you know which make and model comes in at approx 390grams to suit heavier runners? It's named "The Beast" by Brooks).

Does the weight bother my average weight (73kg)? Hardly. In fact, for the bulk (read:size) and weight, the shoe felt snappy and and doesn't seems to give you the sinking feeling. On some occasions, the cushioning gives the perception that it feel sloppy...but you aren't once you realised you are still running at your normal training pace. Deceiving.

Rocker-like stance. Midsole dominates to encourage mid-foot and forefoot landing

Completely New Outsole

The newly designed sole of the GRUR is made up of Resalyte material. The midsole material is plush and provides a nice soft landing . The Outsole layer is a much firmer and resilient material. The design of the outsole works around the existing GOrun series and is much firmer (when I compare to the GoRun4 and GoBionic2, but not as firm when compared to GoMeb). The more resilient GOimpulse sensors were placed strategically around the outsole for added durability. Testing it, the Pods provide good traction and feel as well.
Significantly different outsole from layout to material. GRUR (right) promises better resilient to wear and tear when compared to GRU

The GRUR is a complete revamp of the original GOrun Ultra. The upper of the Skechers GOrun Ultra Road is designed with the Skechers Performance FITKNIT® technology providing a breathable and comfortable fit. It is completely knitted upper without any overlays and seams, save for the bonded logo on the side. It's completely runnable sock-less, which is what I usually do.
Drainage hole

Apart from the different material upper, there are two drain holes noticeable on both the sides. I supposed it is to help with draining of water should you get your feet into puddle of water or if you happen to take a shower at the water station. My thoughts on this is that it may help dispersing water out of the shoe. However, it will also encourage water from going in... so you may want to avoid running into puddles of water if you don't like your shoe (or socks) wet.

The drainage hole looked crude from this photo due to the glue that was used to stick the mesh.

Completely New Upper

The GRUR comes with FITKNIT® upper. You may had read about it in my review of GRR Bolt where I even ran a water-holding (or lack off, which was a good proof that the knit doesn't hold water) experiment.
Significant differences in density of FitKnit upper lend superb breathability

Interestingly, the GRUR has two knit "density" as opposed to GRR Bolt. The knit was a lot more "closer" in the support area to provide structure and it is "spaced out" in areas where breath-ability is required like top and side. The dual-knitted density itself lend the GRUR a very distinctive look.
So breathable that even the liner has holes to promote water drainage while allowing hot air to be pushed out
The tongue was thick and is not sewn down. There was initial worry it may bunch up but that was an unproven concern after using it for a few runs. Maybe there is opportunity to reduce the thickness of the tongue to shave off some grams and lend even better (as if not airy enough) breath-ability?

Safety wise, the GRUR comes with reflective marking on the front and back of the shoe, and on the tongue where it allow shoelaces to tread through. Sufficient enough, but I would encourage you to run with lights front and back if you are the nite-runner or early morning type. Better be safe than sorry.

The GRUR is a familiar stranger. Familiar in the sense of the plush cushioning and a stranger with the new material and two different approach to the FITKNIT®. In many ways the cushioning is expected and despite the size and bulk, doesn't hamper your movement or how fast you can run. If you are looking for a pair of cushioned shoe, this may be one of your three choices that I know in the market. By the way, if you have experience with the GRU being flexible...

Roll it all up

The GRUR doesn't dissapoint either... convincing enough despite the new material upper and sole!

Cushioned and flexible

Note: This pair of Skechers GoRun Ultra Road is sponsored by Skechers Malaysia via collaboration with 2ndSkin Asia Athletes program. Thank you Skechers Malaysia and 2ndSkin! This pair is launched this week (today!). Retailing at RM499 for men and RM469 for women (Semenanjung). RM10-20 more for East Malaysia.
Opinion in this write up is my own and not influenced by Skechers Malaysia or 2ndSkin program.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Skechers GoRun Ultra R review

The Skechers GoRun Ultra R is the newer version in the Ultra variants. The design focuses on road running, it has a lot of features reflecting the previous variant Ultra2. The key differences mainly lies on the upper fitknit material and also the improvised outsole which looks more durable. I use Ultras mainly for my LSD and my recovery runs, for speed works and intervals I run in Skechers GoMeb 3 or Skechers GoRun 4. I have about 300km with the Skechers GoRun Ultra2, the outsole has shown significant wear especially around the forefoot area. Most likely I will retire them in a few months' time. Thanks to the collaboration between Skechers Malaysia and Team2ndSkin, I was given a pair of Skechers GoRun Ultra R for my training. 

Unboxing the Skechers GoRun Ultra R, extra laces given. The male version has a few colour choices and I opted for this green and blue one because I do not have this colour in my Skechers shoes collection. My first short run was done inside Suria KLCC like I always do before deciding which shoes to pick. First impression, this is a heavily cushioned shoes! 

Before writing this review, I ran 33km in total under all kind of Malaysian weather. Here are my findings =)

The upper is more structured due to the strategically knitted upper, the knit gets denser for areas require more support. The GoRun Ultra2 has a stretchier upper and also feels more roomy with the spandex like material, doesn't mean the GoRun Ultra R is not roomy. The GoRun Ultra R is just fine for me because my feet is not that wide. The spacious toebox allows me to spread my toes freely while enjoying the breathability of the knitting, perfect for long and hot run. I did my run in socks because the knit is a bit too rough for me to run sockless.

Closer view of the upper. Denser knit for areas that demand for more support. 

The midfoot area is also as breathable as the forefoot upper with the big S glued to the surface. M Strike rockered bottom ease the transition between foot strike and toe off. 

The kind of breathability that second to barefoot. Picture taken in the morning, sun light went through the knit. For weather like Malaysia, this feature is perfect to keep the feet cool and dry. Sweaty feet is the cause of 50 cent sized blisters. 

Fat tongue, similar to GoRun Ultra 2. If the tongue was made thinner with softer material, surely can shave off some weight. At the end of my run, the tongue did not bunch up to the side. No issues. 

Heel cup cushion is generous, love the snug fit. The reflectives are awesome features for night/morning run. While standing still, the heel area feels "empty" under the outsole and I feel the rockered sensation. It's time to get going and stop standing still!

Instead of exposing the EVA material, the newly structured rubber pods are placed at higher wear areas for better durability. 26 pods in total for abusive runs! Being a forefoot runner, the outsole is softer at the forefoot than midfoot because the orange pods are harder than the green ones. I have confidence that this shoes will last longer than the Ultra 2. 

What makes the Skechers GoRun Ultra R so maximally cushioned is because of the dual density Resalyte material. The outsole has a heel drop of 4mm due to the 30mm heel and 26mm forefoot outsole. The blue material is softer and the green is more bouncy. Although it looks almost the same as its variants, I find the responsiveness is much better than the Ultra 2. At the end of my run, I noticed that my Ground Contact Time is slightly higher in this big bouncy cushion shoes compared to the other performance range Skechers shoes.

Another contributing factor to the marshmallow cushion is the cushioned sock liner! The holes on it helps to flush out drenching water quickly. The removable sockliner gives runners more option to run with or without it for the desired cushion. 

Here is the most interesting part of this shoes, the holes at the side of outsole. The soaking water will escape from this super smart drainage system. How could the water be channeled out? Let's check it out. 

Hidden water tunnel like the Smart Tunnel under the sockliner =p To confirm the hypothesis, I did another test.

I let the tap run for a minute and captured this photo. Water flushed out through the smart tunnel. The heel cup and the tongue was slightly wet, the rest of the knit area did not retain water at all. 

Overall, I love the GoRun Ultra R for the cushion and breathability. It feels big and heavily cushioned, just like most of the cushion shoes in the market. To get this amount of cushion, it has to compensate on the speed and weight. Cushion shoes are just too sluggish for speed, but I need the cushion for my joints! Every shoes are designed with different purpose. The design looks catchy and I love the moderate responsiveness, it'll be my top choice of gear in weekend LSD. If I were to race any distance below a full marathon, I will definitely go for something more responsive and light such as the GoMeb Speed 3 or GoRun 4. In my opinion, GoRun Ultra R is meant for less technical courses because it was built with neutral cushioning resulting in lesser lateral stability. 

Get a pair of Skechers GoRun Ultra R if you think it is the right choice of gear for you. It is available in Skechers outlet retailing at RM 499 for Men and RM 469 for Women models. Sign up for the membership card upon any purchase more than RM350 to get more discounts in future.