Sunday, March 1, 2015

Gunung Nuang Ultra, My First DNS Of The Year

The Gunung Nuang Ultra (GNU) will mark my first DNS for the year. I signed up for this event, which would have been my second time, early last year, at a time when I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do. I was also under the impression (and hope) that I'd have some familiar faces to keep me company but they were much more wiser and stayed away from signing up.

With my focus being completely on marathons and the Gold Coast in particular, I was in two minds about taking part. I'm not one to shy away from things but I had to put some serious thought into this. The GNU unfortunately starts right at the beginning of my marathon training programme. Sure, there's still lots of time, what with GC being nearly 3 months away but I'm not willing to take the risk of anything happening.


I'm not young, mind you. I'm 48 this year and it's a struggle keeping myself injury free. As easy as the continuous 5km loop of Nuang may seem, it's far from that. It's tough, real tough and the chances of someone like me picking up a long term nagging injury is very high. That would definitely put paid to my GCAM dreams. I'm not blessed with the abilities to do something like this every weekend. I know the limits and capabilities my body and legs can withstand.

Having run GNU2014 last year covering the minimum 50km, I was aiming to go further this year but after some serious thought, I realized I'd get more benefits out of a 12k tempo session than having to slog up and down a mountain. My recovery alone (and yes, I would need a few days or even a week to recover) would impact my marathon training plans quite a bit. That is if I come out of it injury free.

I really, really did want to give Nuang a shot. Bets were even being placed by some enterprising folks on whether I would do it or not. I'm sorry that most of you lost and one lucky fellow is going to be really well fed with food and drinks ... hahaha! To my running buddies from the GC Alumni, thanks for your faith and confidence in me, this decision didn't come easy and was only reached at the 11th hour.


Do I regret pulling out? No, not one bit. I know where my priorities are and it's not with ultra marathoning at the moment. My passion lies purely in running marathons. Here's something Jamie emailed me a few days back from an article on Runner's World that is totally spot on:-

'The marathon itself takes years and years of training to perform your best. You’re not racing off the last six months of preparation. You’re racing on the foundation that was built over many years of training. It’s the cumulative effect that allows one to continue to perform stronger for longer.'

I have a dream and goal I'd like to achieve for the marathon. I'm not capable of reaching that goal just yet but I know that with proper planning and direction, I WILL achieve that goal. I just have to be patient and keep my priorities grounded. It doesn't come overnight.

So, with that decision made, I wish those taking on Nuang today all the best and race safely. I'll be rooting for you guys in spirit. And to you Nuang, once I'm done chasing my marathon dreams, I'll come back and take you on, that's a promise!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Under Armour SpeedForm® RC Vent: Quick Take

The past three years have seen me running in almost nothing but Skechers Performance shoes. No, I'm not sponsored by them or anything of that sort. I'm not elite enough to go down that path but I do get the opportunity to test and review their newer models for them.

So far, Skechers Performance shoes have all been really good for me. They simply work and I've achieved numerous PR's and reached various milestones in them. I'm not saying that just cos I get free shoes to try out. I do actually go out and buy new ones once the review pairs wear out, that's how much I like their shoes. They're still one of my favourite brands out there.


But being a shoe addict, I've also always got my eye out on what other brands produce out there. In the past 3 years, I've dabbled a little with Reebok that proved traditional running shoes weren't for me, tried out the Adidas Boston Boost, though it received rave and good reviews from other shoe addicts out there, it just didn't work for me. And recently, I went out and bought myself a pair of SpeedForm® RC Vent from Under Armour.

There are some shoes, that you look at and know that they're just not for you and then there are some that just looking at them makes you want to simply beg, borrow or steal to get a pair. The UA SpeedForm® RC Vent was one of them. The moment I laid my eyes on them in an article I read on Runblogger's blog, I simply had to get one. It helped that they came in my favourite colorway of lime green though officially its colorway is labelled as High-Vis Yellow.


I haven't felt this way about a shoe since I first laid my eyes on the original Skechers GOrun. The SpeedForm RC Vent had that same effect on me. Pricey as hell but I simply had to get it. The wife knew better than to dissuade me from purchasing it cos she knows once I set my mind on wanting to buy something, I will not stop till I get it. It was a decision I absolutely don't regret one bit. The only painful part is the huge hole it burnt in my wallet.

The UA SpeedForm® RC Vent from the originators of performance apparel is a running shoe that is created to fit your feet like a ... urrmmm ... bra, so to speak. The result is an anatomically designed shoe that wraps your feet in seamless, fitted comfort, providing as much flexibility as possible with a very fast feel to it. Built for lightweight performance, the UA SpeedForm® RC Vent falls in the racing shoe category.


And I for one simply love racing shoes. Though not a racing flat, with a stack height of 22mm heel and 19mm forefoot, giving it a 6mm heel to toe drop, the low profile construction still offers a stable feel and excellent ground contact during runs. The shoe boasts of the introduction of the ArmourVent™ technology, originally used for apparels providing lightweight, durable breathability with quick drying properties, though I haven't tried them out in the wet yet. The breathability on the other hand is excellent.

Speaking of lightweight, they weigh in at an incredible 6 oz for the men's size 9, a whole 0.9 oz lighter in comparison to my other favourite racer, the Skechers GOmeb Speed 3. A moulded seamless heel cup with silicon grips keeps the heel nicely locked in place. I really like this feature. The smooth, ultrasonic welded seams with Bemis tape provides adequate support and comfort.


The moulded 4D foam sockliner simply conforms to your feet so fluidly that you would be forgiven for thinking you were slipping on a pair of socks and  it considerably reduces slippage during your runs. It gripped and kept my feet in place nicely. Another feature which I simply loved.

The SpeedForm® RC Vent comes with a lace-up front that offers a comfortable and adjustable fit with a non gusseted tongue which did a good job of keeping out debris. In fact, the entire construction of the shoe kept out debris so well that I didn't feel a single debris in the shoe and my neighbourhood can be littered with tiny pebbles that oftentimes find its way into my shoes. It can be irritating having to stop mid run just to remove debris from your shoes.


The midsole is constructed of something UA calls Micro G® foam. It does a good job of absorbing the landings and rebounding the impact into an efficient forward momentum for faster takeoffs. It has great responsiveness without being too overly firm. The TPU curve in the midfoot added extra support and stability to the shoe. I found the ride of the SpeedForm® RC Vent very similar to that of the GOmeb Speed 3. Even the cut and shape of it is somewhat similar to the GOmeb.


The blown rubber on the outsole seems durable, responsive and flexible enough to go the distance and the anatomically constructed outsole also consists of UA's Light Speed Grip strategically placed for optimum, ultra-lightweight traction. The outsole looks solid enough to provide traction in wet conditions but up to the time of this post I haven't had the chance to take it out for a wet run seeing as how we're in the midst of some searing weather over here. Will update this aspect of the shoe when I get the chance to run in the rain.


Being in the racing shoe category, the SpeedForm® RC Vent fits like a racing flat. I wear a UK 8 and found it to be nice and snug but if you're on the cusp between two sizes, I'd say opt for a slightly larger size when trying them out.

I've done a couple of runs in them and have no issue at all. I find them a great option for days when I'm in the need for some speed or tempo workouts. The Under Armour SpeedForm® RC Vent is a cushioned and responsive 6mm drop shoe, yet still provides the responsiveness you'd expect from a racing flat. Simply perfect for a runner looking for a feather light ride.


The UA SpeedForm® RC Vent now alternates between the Skechers GOmeb Speed 3 for days when I need the speed. I'm keen to see how they perform for a marathon distance but I guess they'll work just fine seeing as how Nick Arciniaga ran the New York marathon in them last year.

The Under Armour SpeedForm® RC Vent is priced at RM539.00, which I paid full price for and is available locally. Of course purchasing a minimum amount of RM200 (or was it RM300?) entitles you to automatic membership of 10% but please do note that the membership is only active after 7 days, hence the full price for my shoe. It currently comes in the colorway of only High-Vis yellow.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Skechers GOrun Ultra 2: Initial Review

The original Skechers GOrun Ultra was the 'heavyweight' among all the GOrun Series. It was specifically designed to give the maximum cushioning between all the GOrun series. A shoe that works well for those extremely long runs where you need just that much more cushioning or even for your recovery runs.


I wasn't really expecting to see the Skechers GOrun Ultra 2 (GRU2) in Malaysia so soon, especially so when I just read about it online just a day or two before getting a pair from Skechers Malaysia to review. Now, don't get me wrong, the Ultra model isn't my most favourite of the series, I love the GR4 best, but I was still excited about the chance to put it to the test.


After all, I ran my first 'ultra' so to speak in the original GRU for the TITI 50K way back in February 2014 and it served real well. It was nicely cushioned and spared my feet all that much less agony. So, I was a little excited to see what the new update to the GRU2 would entail.

The new updated GOrun Ultra 2 is as cushy as ever with tons of cushioning. Not much has really changed with the GRU2 save for a new upper that still looks pretty identical to the original GRU with just some slight cosmetic changes.


The new look upper has been changed to be a lot more inline with the current GOseries, a huge S-Logo adorns the sides with a similar looking synthetic mesh fabric upper and synthetic overlays that now starts from the midfoot and goes around the back of the heel to the instep for added stability coupled with a 4 way stretch mesh for added comfort. A soft lining along the insides for a supposedly sock free run though I can 't confirm that cos I never run sockless.

The midsole and outsole remains the exact duplicate of the original GRU with no change whatsoever to it. The same enhanced Resalyte cushioning with its unique combination of the softer Resalyte™ midsole and the more rigid and tougher Resagrip outsole is still present for support and cushioning. The evenly distributed triangular shaped lugs provide a smooth, cushioned and natural feel while running. They aggressively provide good traction and superior control on most terrains, be it road, gravel or trail.


The weight though has gone up slightly making this a slightly heavier version than its predecessor. The original GRU weighed in at 8.7 oz for a men's size 9 while the GRU2 weighs in at 9.3 oz for the same size. I'm guessing the overlays has something to do with the increase in weight though it's still pretty lightweight for a 'bulky' looking shoe.

The GRU2 comes with a removeable insole that you can remove to give it a much lower drop. I normally remove all my insoles for all my Skechers GOseries shoes but I had to keep them on with the GRU2 cos removing them made the shoe really loose and my feet were sliding too much in them. Even thicker socks didn't help. An additional pair of shoelaces were also provided.


I really wouldn't call the GRU2 an update per se, more of a facelift is what I would categorize it as. Aside from its newer look, it handles exactly the same as its older brother. But it's still no doubt a great choice of shoe for one who needs all that much more cushioning and support under them compared to the usual Skechers fare. A good shoe for those really, really long hours out on the roads.


If you liked the original GRU than you'll no doubt like the Skechers GOrun Ultra 2 as well. The GRU2 is also a great alternative, price wise compared to the other brands of the same class out there. While it's not my most favourite of the series, it serves me just nice as a recovery shoe on days after a race or a particularly tough and long training run.


I've already run a couple of times in them so far with each session clocking in at 10km. I really didn't have the time or chance to take them out longer just yet. I've the GOrun 4 for my tempo's, the GOrun Ride for my easy runs, the GOmeb Speed 3 for my interval and speed sessions and the GOrun Ultra 2 fits in nicely as my recovery or really long run shoe.

The Skechers GOrun Ultra 2 is available in stores locally with a price of RM419 for the men's and RM399 for the women's version. If you're looking for a reasonably priced maximum cushioned shoe, then look no further than the Skechers GOrun Ultra 2.


The pair of Skechers GOrun Ultra 2 above was kindly provided by Skechers Malaysia for wear testing. This review is of my own personal experience with the shoe and is in no way influenced by Skechers Malaysia whatsoever.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A New Chapter

With the new year slowly settling in, it's time to start hitting the drawing board and making up a new training programme. With my main race for the year, the Gold Coast Airport Marathon, all paid and accounted for, all that needs to be done now is train for it.

While it's still slightly over 6 months away but some kind of training plan needs to be started now to slowly ease into things. That's where the problem lies though. I don't have a proper training plan, at least not one that makes a semblance of sense. 

The 'training' currently has been get up, lace my shoes and just run. No method to it. There are days when I do easy runs, days when I feel like pushing myself, days when I question my sanity or even days when I just feel like going to the nearby shop, have a nice roti bawang and just screw the run.

It's really been hard to get back to a proper training phase. I had a decent time goal planned for GCAM this year but with the recent unexpected results in Chiangmai, I need to revise those time goals a little and in doing so, a proper training plan matters a lot. 

I'm trying to recreate my training, which was really non-existent, for Chiangmai and tweak it for GCAM. I must have done something right with that plan so in theory, if I keep doing what I did then, that should be enough, right? In theory anyway. 

The only positives are that I have encouragement from the wife who believes in my limited abilities and a group of equally running mad friends that I can count on to help better my goals and push me out of my comfort zone at times.

Where do I go from here?
I don't intend to sign up for many races this year safe for a few key ones that will aid in my marathon preps. I'm still identifying those races. My only spur of the moment race which I'm regretting signing for is the Nuang Ultra Challenge in March, something that I will just have to do with the least possible whining. Serves me right for signing up!

But there is a HUGE possibility I will DNS the event, what with the recent cementing, yes cementing of the trail path leading up. Whose bright idea it was to come up with that hare brained scheme needs a hard knock on the head!

Training will take precedence over all else though. Once I finalize what I'm going to need to do to achieve the time goals I've set for myself, things will shift into a higher gear. At my age though, I've just got to train smart and avoid injuries at all cost. This old body and legs take all that much longer to heal these days.

Emphasis will specifically be placed on honing the speed and building up the endurance but above all else, I'll need to keep the training consistent. With life and work to also be content with, that might be a stretch.

That said, I'll be looking forward to my morning runs that will alternate daily between solo runs and runs with the wife and also the longer weekend group runs with the gang. Here's to a good running year ahead!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Limited Access to Padang Merbuk for MPIB Run 2015

I've always considered the Multi-Purpose Insurance Run (MPIB) as the first race of the year even though it had to be postponed from the 4th of January to the 11th January 2015 with regards to the KL Car Free day. The postponement was a little perplexing though since the actual race location and route hardly goes anywhere near the closed KL car free zones.

Anyways, in conjunction with the race this weekend, certain roads will have limited access to accommodate the event. Please refer the the press release below for more info. To those running the MPIB run this weekend, all the best and have loads of fun. As for me, I'll be giving something back to the running community as a volunteer for the event.

Please also do note that there will be a final collection for Project Good Deeds of your pre-loved sports shoes and tees that will be donated to the Orang Asli community, so dig up your closet and donate generously.


Limited Access to the Padang Merbuk for MPIB Run 2015

Kuala Lumpur, 7 January 2015 – Multi-Purpose Insurans Bhd (“MPIB”) wishes to inform of the limited access to the roads leading to the Padang Merbuk on 11  January 2015 on account of the general insurer’s annual community Run. The roads leading to the venue such as Jalan Parlimen will be less accessible to vehicles from 6.50 a.m. to 9.30 a.m. to ensure a safer and smoother Race for the participants.

Participants will be running within the coned zone and following the directions of traffic police who are entrusted with the road traffic management. Route marshals are also on duty to assist the traffic police on that day and they are available at every junction and turning of the route. Project Leader Ms. Jayne Liew stresses, “We strive to ensure as safe a Race as we can so that the only thing runners need to concentrate on is running.”

For further information, please contact: 
Multi-Purpose Insurans Berhad Jayne Liew, Marketing & Corporate Communications
+6018 201 8818 | +603 2034 9859 | jayne_liew@mpib.com.my 

MPIB Run technical information / assistance please contact: 
Wan Yew Leong, Runners Malaysia 
+6019 35609031 | wanyewleong@gmail.com

For more information on the MPIB Run 2015, please refer to: http://www.mpibrun.com.my/ and http://www.facebook.com/MPIBRun.


About Multi-Purpose Insurans Bhd 
Multi-Purpose Insurans Bhd, a Malaysian general insurance company (“MPIB”), is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Multi-Purpose Capital Holdings Bhd, which in turn is a wholly-owned subsidiary of MPHB Capital Berhad (“MPHB Capital”), a public listed company. MPHB Capital was incorporated in 2012 and listed on the Bursa Malaysia Securities Berhad on 28 June 2013. MPIB obtained its licence from Bank Negara Malaysia under the Insurance Act 1996 and provides innovative general insurance products and services customized to individuals and corporate customers. MPIB has a network of 12 branches strategically located in major towns in East and West Malaysia.

About MPIB Run

Back for the 4 January 2015. This annual community run will once again take place at the Padang Merbuk, Jalan Parlimen.

MPIB is proud to position itself as the pioneer general insurer in organising a community based public run in Malaysia in 2012. The inaugural event successfully gathered 3,750 runners, and for the 2nd and 3rd years in 2013 and 2014 respectively, 5,000 runners participated – an increase of 33% from 2012 inaugural run. MPIB hopes this is reflective of a growing community adopting a healthy lifestyle and, hence, the event is themed “Healthy Lifestyle – Work Life Balance”, aiming to suit the community from all walks of life.

During the weeks leading up to the Run, MPIB has scheduled 8 “My First Run Clinic” sessions for new and interested runners taking baby steps in the world of running. The sessions also include health and fitness related talks to furnish runners with fitness knowledge and to prepare them for the Run on Sunday, 11 January 2015.

MPIB Run 2015 is made possible through the support of sponsors and partners New Balance, Revive Isotonic, Running Malaysia, Pacific Regency Hotel Group and Gleneagles Kuala Lumpur; as well as Affin Hwang Capital, BP Healthcare Group, Mamee, Magnum, Nestlé Fitnesse, Nestlé Milo, Pilatique, Pinang Medical Supplies, KT Tape, Leong Adjustment Sdn. Bhd., Safeguards G4S, Simply Juice, Massimo and Penyelarasan Angkasa Sdn Bhd.