Click the image to join in for some Good Times at the Gold Coast Marathon 2020

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

The Coros Pace 2 : Initial Thoughts

I don't normally write posts on GPS running watches simply because I'm no expert on it. What I know about GPS watches I glean from the more professional reviewers like DC Rainmaker, to name a few. This post is just my very initial thoughts about the Coros Pace 2 and I won't be delving into any technical aspects of the device.

My first ever running watch back when I first started running was with a simple basic Casio G-Shock. It had a simple stop watch and you had to actually measure your route on a physical map with a thread to know how far you would be running before even heading out and then manually calculating your pace. Let's not even start about stride length, oscillation, ground contact time and all the many stats of today. The closest I got to a running centric watch was the Nike+ Sports Band and I was so excited by it.

My first foray into a real GPS running device was with a Garmin, the Forerunner 610 to be precise. I was in awe of it. Life was going to be so much easier, I thought. The amount of data I got off it was already overwhelming and it really wasn't as much as compared to the present but nevertheless, running life got that much easier. All I had to do was run and let the watch do the techie stuff for me. 

Since then, I've always stood faithful to the Garmin brand, upgrading with every new model of the Forerunner series, after all, they were the leading name in GPS sports watches. As far as I was concerned, there really wasn't any real competition to them at that time. Many PR's were obtained with the brand,  my first sub 4 marathon, my longest ultra run at 84km, my longest walk at 42km, to name a few and many disappointments were obtained too like my first marathon and ultra DNF and the brand always had a place close to my heart. 

But of late, since I moved on to the Forerunner 245, I've had one issue after another with the watch. I had to send it back to the shop on the second day as the wrist HR wasn't working and two more times since I've had it. The last straw was just a few weeks ago when it started acting up again. Maybe the 245 series just hated my guts, I don't know. I made up my mind to look into a new device. Budget was a concern for me, seeing as how the Pandemic has kinda reduced my buying power or I would have just gone for the Forerunner 945 series.

Ever since Coros launched, I've been keeping an on/off eye on the brand. Now, with the issues I was having, I started looking at it more closely and was intrigued with the Pace 2. It looked like the Forerunner 245 and had almost the same specs as the 245 series and the price was appealing. But I was still apprehensive about switching brands. I mean, as much as Coros has made some excellent progress, Garmin was still THE player in the GPS sports watch market. Besides, I was not sure if I could get used to a whole new eco system of recording my runs.

But I was really a little pissed so I decided to sell of my 245 and just go head long into getting the Coros Pace 2. The initial hunt for it was also quite stressful. At the incredible price it was going for, the device was practically out of stock almost everywhere. After a few calls here and there I located one and headed there to purchase it immediately.

There, I was finally on a new GPS sports watch brand. What new and exciting things and PR's were waiting for me? It was time to find out. The model I got was the Dark Navy colorway, though I was looking for the white one. The Pace 2 came in a pretty classy and expensive looking packaging though if they went a little less overboard with the packaging, maybe the watch could have been a little cheaper. But I wasn't complaining, it was still a pretty good package of a watch at RM899.00.

Upon taking it off the box, it was really one of the lightest GPS sports watches I had ever put on. Even my wife said it felt feather weight compared to the Forerunner 245 and she was right. It was practically weightless on my wrist. I didn't need to charge it cos it was already 88% charged and I got down to messing and configuring it immediately which wasn't really difficult at all. I didn't even need to take the manual out of the box. 

The setup and downloading of the app was straight forward and I was done in less than 10 minutes, with 2 firmware updates waiting from the get go. The Pace 2 has only two buttons on the right, a dial knob and a regular button unlike the original Pace which mirrored the Forerunner 245. I was initially skeptical and worried about the dial knob of the Pace 2 as many users and reviews online didn't really like it but to my surprise, I actually loved the dial knob so that was a good thing. It was easy to use and I could access everything just from one button so less fiddling around while running.

Being on the Garmin eco system for so long, everything was a little new to me. The watch and workout displays took some getting used to and I set them up as close to my former Garmin setup as possible to keep some familiarity. Functions and details were similar, save for a few here and there, to the 245 and I got used to it pretty fast. I couldn't wait to take it out for an actual run to compare the data with the 245 but it was already too late into the evening for a run so it would have to wait for the next day.

The Coros app was only accessible through the phone unlike the Garmin Connect which was web accessible. It was a little disappointing but I'm always on my phone so it wasn't that great a deal. Interface and functionality wise, the Garmin Connect app had it beat hands down in my opinion or I could just be so used to Garmin Connect. Don't get me wrong, the Coros app is not bad at all but it's still got a long way to catch up to Garmin.

All that aside, the app still had all the metrics nicely laid out and easy to understand and access. The main home screen shows you all the activity stats for the day somewhat like Garmin Connect. The bottom of the page lists any workouts you may have done along with its summary stats relating to training load, fitness levels, etc. Swiping right brings you to more customization pages. The app itself is very basic but got its job done. You can also setup training/interval programmes, change your watch face, etc from the app.

Now, I finally managed to get the watch ready for a run the next morning. The GPS acquisition was what surprised me. It took all of 10 seconds or so to acquire a signal and this being the first time I used it for a workout. My 245 took me way longer than that and I've had that device for a while now. So that was a plus for me. The device though, won't let you start a workout until it's acquired a signal though I guess you could just ignore the warning and force start it but I'm guessing you'll get some screwed up data at the end of the day.

Since I do my runs very early in the morning, I kinda loved the Night Mode function of the device. The Night Mode is an option to turn on the backlight constantly during your run but at a very low light setting just enough to let you see the display all through the run until sunset where it turns off automatically or you finish your run, whichever comes first. The Garmin has a similar option which is flick your wrist to turn on the light but sometimes had me flicking my wrist two or three times too many to turn on the display backlight. The Coros Pace 2 clearly has it beat in that aspect.

Now, I run a very familiar route every morning and know exactly how long and how far the route is. The Coros Pace 2 was spot on with the distances of every lap from start to finish once I compared it against the Garmin data of my previous runs. So another plus point for the Coros device. I had on a few other metrics as well such as running power, a built into the device metric and it was really the first time I was using it so I'll need a few more runs to understand it properly and see how I can use it to my advantage.

The rest of the metrics were basically the same as the 245 and also mirror my 245 specs such as cadence and stride length which were more or less the same. GTC, Oscillation, balance and a few other metrics I would only be able to get once I purchase the Coros Pod. Being a data reliant person, maybe a little too much according to my wife, I tend to like reading all the data it spews out after a run. Lastly, the battery life is simply phenomenal.

So, was it a wise choice to switch brands? While it's too soon to really say so, but I've no regrets whatsoever. My initial apprehensions about giving up on the Garmin brand was simply unfounded and I think Coros has done an excellent job since the time they've launched and having snagged Eliud Kipchoge's NN Running Team along speaks volumes for their credibility. Here's looking to new PR's in the years ahead with the Coros Brand!

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Asics Novablast Shoe Review


I'm a running shoe geek and I'm intrigued by lots of shoes out there but I'll admit Asics was never on my radar. I know that's a little unfair after all what kind of shoe geek would I be if I picked and chose my shoes but with the shoes they were churning out a few years back that has been thoroughly lacking in innovation and development, and trending towards the dull spectrum of running shoe, could you even blame me. Back then, their competitors were leaps and bounds ahead of them in terms of new technology in the running shoe industry.

Now my interest in Asics took a 360 turnaround when I had the chance to try on the Asics Novablast after one of my training runs with the GCM crew a month or so ago. When I first put on the shoe, I was instantly amazed at how soft they were. The Novablast does not feel like any Asics of the previous years. In fact if I had put on the shoe with a blindfold, I wouldn't have even guessed it was an Asics!


The Asics Novablast is a more streamline and simpler shoe as opposed to what Asics has been dishing out the previous years. Looking at the more bestselling shoes like Asics Gel Kayano or the Gel Nimbus, they were pretty technical and a lot more complex, what with different material and technologies compared to the Novablast with its rather minimalist upper construction and thick but softer midsole that isn't stuffed with tons of different materials (I'll come to that later).

Now, I'll keep this review simple and how I feel while running in it and not get into the technical aspect of the shoe much as there's countless reviews on the technical aspects of the shoe out there. Asics promotes the Novablast design as having a trampoline effect and I'd say they are not wrong. The Novablast in my opinion is a very soft, very springy and really fun shoe to run in. In fact, the moment I tried them on, I was sold. I had to get them!

Most of my close running buddies know my taste in shoes and that I'm particularly attracted to the lower stacked/minimalist shoes but here I was getting all excited about a "maximalist" and bulky looking shoes and rightly so. I instantly went out and got myself a pair and I can truly admit, it was a good decision. 


I've put in close to 180km, even going through a marathon (albeit virtual) with the Novablast and I've loved every single mile in them. Unlike almost all of the previous Ascis shoes, the Novablast contains no gel cushioning material. What it comes with is something called FlyteFoam Blast. This shoe was built around that technology if you ask me. The material is lightweight yet super soft and super bouncy (hence the trampoline reference). When you lace these babies up for the first time, you'll instantly feel the responsive nature and cushioning of the shoe from heel to toe. Even my wife who tried them on was totally impressed with them.

But a fair warning here, they do feel a little unstable when walking in them due to my opinion the relatively high stack height of 32mm of foam under your heel and 22mm under the forefoot and that's a great deal of material to have underfoot. It's like a feeling I'll topple over anytime soon but once you get to running in them, that feeling goes away instantly and you'll be bounding down the roads like a kangaroo on steroids in no time. For all the material the Novablast had underfoot, the responsiveness of the shoe was simply phenomenal. 


With a shoe that has that much of material underfoot and visually bulky looking, I was surprised at the weight of the Novablast coming in at 9.3oz for the US9. I'd have though it would be a lot heavier. It fact, it doesn't even feel 9.3oz at all but feels a lot lighter than advertised though I've not weighed it myself. 

The construction of the outsole, which is 50% more durable than the standard Asics High Abrasion Rubber see a lot of tread covering all the points of the shoe that strikes the ground and is highly durable and grippy. I've run with the Novablast in all sorts of situations and even in the pouring rain very recently. The grip held so well that I wasn't afraid of upping the pace in those wet conditions. And like I mentioned above the durability is excellent, even at 180km there's hardly any wear on the outsole rubber even in places where my shoes traditionally wear out due to my running gait. 



The mesh uppers as mentioned earlier are very minimal and is vented over the toes making the Novablast very breathable. It has a nice roomy fit, maybe a little too roomy for me as the mesh upper is very flexible and doesn't really hug your foot too closely, which is not a bad thing really, but instead keeps its shape giving you plenty of wiggle room for your toe to move freely inside. The laces are of the flat kind and the tongue is uncharacteristically thin for an Asics.

Size wise, they weren't really true to size and a tad big for me but nothing a thicker pair of socks couldn't sort out. I'm a US9 and maybe a US8.5 would have been a true to size but I would rather have a slight bigger shoe than a smaller one. I guess it all depends if you like your shoes snug or prefer a little wiggle room.


Asics has positioned the Novablast under their speed category but I personally feel it offers a lot more than speed. In my opinion the Asics Novablast is good for a wide variety of runs except maybe for your short and fast interval runs, for that I'd prefer a much lower stacked shoes with a firmer feel. Easy runs, long runs, moderate paced runs, tempos all feel a breeze in them. The FlyteFoam Blast midsole propels me effortless along with a springy and energetic feel underfoot. 

I really do like the Asics Novablast a lot and that's coming from a formerly non Asics fan. I guess the MAGA (Make Asics Great Again) prophecy has come true cos these are great shoes (in my humble opinion). They hold up to Asics claim of being responsive, and cushioned with an energetic ride. The Novablast can probably best be compared to the New Balance Fuelcell Propel - soft, very springy and fun!

The Asics Novablast is available in Asics outlet locally and is priced at RM529.00. This review is of my own personal opinion based on my usage of the shoe. Would I recommend this shoe? 100% yes I would!


Sunday, August 9, 2020

The Gold Coast Virtual Marathon 2020 - The Big Four!

Since way back in 2014, the Gold Coast Marathon has been a favourite of mine. In fact, I love the place so much that I've dubbed it my second home and I've never missed heading there every single year since then. The past two years has seen me having some difficult times over there with a DNS right before race start in 2018 and a DNF in 2019. I was really looking forward to it this year to make amends for it.

But as we all know, the year 2020 has been an official washout for practically every race worldwide and the Gold Coast Marathon was no different. Up until the announcement for the cancellation of the live event, I was holding on to some slim hopes that it might still go on but it was a no go. It must have been a hard call for the organisers themselves but I believe it was the right call to make. Kudos to them on making the call.

The Gold Coast Marathon organisers though, in the spirit of keeping the running going decided to turn it into a virtual series of races instead to keep the #goodtimes going. Now, to be honest, I'm not really a fan of virtual runs but this was an event close to my heart and besides, the Big Four bundle enabled me to run all four events, the 5km, the 10km, the Half Marathon and the biggie itself, the Marathon. These series of virtual races were entirely free so I jumped at signing up with some of the more hardcore GCM MY team members who had signed up for the Big Four as well. At least I would have company.

This was all in the name of fun and keeping the #goodtimes going. Running the 5km and 10km wasn't a huge deal. I was planning on keeping things easy and just enjoying the process. But somehow the competitive me decided to take it flat out for both the 5km and 10km as I knew my crazy team mates would be doing the same. While missing both my 5km and 10km personal bests by a mere few seconds, I was still happy that I could pull off some of the old speed. 

The half marathon was a more challenging matter for me. I've hardly been training. The morning runs I've been doing are just easy maintenance runs with a weekly mileage averaging 30km a week! But I managed to get through it in one piece and it wasn't as tough as I expected it to be. And it was down to just one more, the marathon itself.

Pic courtesy of Jamie
Pic courtesy of Jamie

Of course, with the bunch of people I run with, the expected "drama" started weeks before. I've not run a marathon in this country in years cos of the ridiculously early start time to avoid the sun and heat. So, we all agreed to a start time of 3:30am at our "home turf" Peremba. It was going to be 7 loops of 6 kilometres, already a mental challenge for me cos I simply hate loops. I seriously had no expectations for this, what with the measly mileage I've had leading up to this. My hope was just to finish it in one piece with no injuries and purge the marathon hoodoo (as Jamie nicely put it) once and for all. 

I decided to start at 1.30am as I knew the gang would be running at a faster pace than me and I wanted to complete it around the same time as everyone. When you've run with this crew for as long as we have, you know how fast each and everyone is and you adjust your start time accordingly. The start for me was pretty much at a very easy pace. I was happy if I could just sustain a 7:00 minute pace throughout as I knew there would lots of walking too.

The first 18km before the gang turned up was decent and surprisingly faster than I expected. I was feeling comfortable but was a little worried that I was going out too fast. We all know a marathon really starts much later in the game and I didn't want to fade out too soon. The gang turned up as planned and I stopped for a quick photo with them before we all headed out. It was time to focus on getting it done.

The rest of the way was nothing spectacular, I ran when I could and stopped to walk when I had to. The good thing about this 6km loop was that we'd pass our cars every 3km and could simulate a water stop to keep hydrated. I had a simple hydration plan of just water and isotonics on standby with my soon to be expiring gels which I only used up 3 sachets (2 Horleys and 1 Maurten), way less than my normal 8 sachets for a marathon.

The last 10km was a real struggle to keep going but the sight of many supportive familiar faces of the rest of the team who were slowly turning up to finish their 5km, 10km or Half Marathon distances spurred me on and so I trudge on till the end. When I finally crossed the "finish" line in a time of 5:02:21, I was ecstatic. I had finally broken that marathon jinx of two years that has been following me like the plague!

Pic courtesy of Jamie

The gang were also just about finishing with their respective excellent personal challenges and we can all agree that we were glad to get it over and done with! As for me, it was a huge sigh of relieve to walk away from this unscathed with hardly any training and just based on hope and determination.

A huge kudos to the Gold Coast Marathon organising committee for keeping the #goodtimes going with this series of virtual races. Keeping the event free and for everyone to participate in the spirit of running says a lot about the passion of the organisers. While I missed the after race sight seeing and fun this year, I still had a great time running the series of races. 

There will not be anymore virtual runs for me this year and I intend to take things easy till the year end and hope this pandemic will improve as soon as possible. We could all catch a break in this especially bad year that's called 2020. That said, hoping everyone the world over does their part in making that a reality. See you next year Gold Coast and once again, thanks for the #goodtimes.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Malaysians For The Human Race Against Covid-19 Virtual Run


With the relaxing of the Movement Control Order, I'll bet lots of you running people are heaving a huge sigh of relief, myself included. It's been one crazy time being stuck indoors and having to find ways to keep the passion for running going which resulted in seeing me running almost daily around my car porch. I actually even attempted a marathon and successfully completed it, just don't ask me how many loops I ran! Yes, I'm crazy that way.

But even with being able to run outside, races are still prohibited for the moment. If you're one of those who misses the thrill of a competition, collecting goodies such as tees, medals, etc well, then you're in luck.

Twenty First Century Sports has launched the Malaysians For The Human Race Against Covid-19 Virtual Run with a two pronged theme, that is to keep yourself healthy and ready for when we can race again and secondly for a chance to run for a nation/worldwide cause by uniting the nation to come together by supporting the governments efforts and donating to fight against Covid-19.

Signing up for this virtual run will see 10% of your registration fees going towards the efforts to fight this worldwide pandemic. The event is opened to all Malaysians and you can choose from a distance of 5km right up to 50km and you'll get a host of goodies simply for signing up and completing the event. 

Now that we're allowed to run outside albeit while still practicing social distancing, this will be your chance to help out in this fight against the pandemic and have a little fun at the same time challenging your friends and strangers virtually online. Head over to the link below for a more detailed information and pricing structure of the event.

And remember to always practice social distancing and stay safe!




Friday, April 24, 2020

SCORE Stay Home & Run 5K Challenge Powered by PRIME

The current worldwide pandemic and the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO) by the Malaysian government has made life for everyone extremely difficult and stressful. I don't really mind being cooped up at home and I understand the reasons but being stuck at home for an extended (and unknown) period of time can be stressful to ones well being especially if you're the outdoors kinda person.


I can't remember the last time I laced up and actually ran on the road. But being someone who loves running, I just have to make do with what I have. Not being able to run outside in public has not deterred me and I've put my car porch to good use running laps around it. Not very ideal but at least, I still get some mileage on a daily basis with an average 8km a day every morning which translates to 280 laps for a 25m loop around my porch. Not ideal running but heck, it's something to stay sane in these tough times.

If you're a run addict and miss lacing up and heading out doors, why not take part in the SCORE STAY HOME & RUN 5K CHALLENGE sponsored by PRIME apparels and supported by CHECKPOINT SPOT. The event invites running enthusiasts from around the world to attempt a 5km run in your own homes. 

More details on how to sign up and the goodies you can receive can be found in the press release below:

PRESS RELEASE 

Malaysian sports & fitness event specialist invites runners to run in their homes in the midst of CoViD-19 lockdowns.

KUALA LUMPUR - Different times call for different measures. In response to the CoViD-19 pandemic, the Malaysian government has implemented the Movement Control Order, effectively confining Malaysians in their homes. Elsewhere in the world, similar quarantine orders are put in place to help curb the spread of the virus.

Since taking effect on 18 March 2020, one of the resulting situations is that Malaysians are no longer allowed to jog, let alone perform any leisure activities outside their homes. To remedy that, SCORE Sports Management Sdn Bhd, a leading player in the running event industry, recently launched the SCORE Stay Home & Run 5K Challenge. Sponsored by PRIME apparels and supported by CheckPoint Spot, the event invites runners from all around the world to do a 5km run in their own homes.


Inspired by the Chinese marathoner Pan Shancu from Hanzhou who completed a 50km run running around 2 tables in his apartment, the challenge by SCORE is a lot less gruelling. Runners participate by signing up for free, completing a run of 5km or more in their homes, and submitting their sports tracker results to get an e-certificate and a 30% discount voucher for PRIME and BROOKS products.

“It’s a surprisingly fun way to do a run,” says SCORE Chief Executive Officer Patricia Tan, “but more importantly, we’re doing it responsibly playing our part in mitigating the effects of CoViD-19 on, not just runners but also, the less fortunate who are in dire need of help during this time.” Tan and her colleagues, most of whom are runners, have done their 5km, in their car porches, around their dining tables, up and down the stairs and more.


“I hope to see more Malaysians sign up for this run and post it up on their social media,” she says, “It will inspire the running community from around the world to join us in solidarity, staying fit, staying safe, and quite possibly, staying sane at a time like this.”

“We would also like to thank Tourism Selangor for the support in this campaign and standing together with all Malaysians in staying fit and healthy during these troubled times.”

Runners who wishes to participate this virtual event can register for free at https://cps4.me/SCOREStayHome and submit their sports tracker results for 5km or more, to receive an e-certificate and a 30% discount voucher for PRIME and Brooks products. Also available is an option to upgrade to a paid package of RM45 for a commemorative finisher medal and t-shirt. SCORE is donating RM5 from every paid participant to support the “Dana Untuk Nasi Malaysia” fund that feeds the poor, a critical need during the MCO.


Runners participating in the SCORE Stay Home & Run 5K Challenge Powered by PRIME are invited to share their photos and videos on social media using the hashtag #stayhomeandrun.