Sunday, September 30, 2012

Going Bionic At The PJ Half Marathon 2012

I finally put the Skechers GObionic through the half marathon test this morning at the PJ Half. While the calves feel a little sore after the race (need more conditioning of the legs), the performance of the shoe itself was awesome to say the least.

Skechers GObionic
Before I head into the review of the race, let me state my feedback on the shoe. I'm not going to elaborate on the specifications of the shoe. Jamie has done a great review on them or you could check out my initial take here. The gist would be they're very light and I really mean very light. They're soft and flexible yet solidly constructed. A very breathable upper with the same signature Resalyte midsole giving you an ultra responsive feel with just the right amount of cushioning (for a zero drop shoe that is). It's very flat (it is a zero drop shoe, after all) so there is no arch support, best of all, no hump in the arches like the GOrun :D

I've had the shoe for close to 2 weeks plus now and haven't really run in them for a distance longer than 10K. Most of the distances done were basically during training and in pretty short sessions. While they came back with good feedback, I was still itching to test them out in race conditions. The PJ Half was a great opportunity to try them out at half marathon distance. 

Throughout the entire distance, the fit of the shoe was phenomenal. It was so snug yet with enough toe spread that it wasn't at all restrictive and bothersome like some of the other shoes I've tried. I hardly felt it on my feet which made it one less thing to worry about.

The GObionic is a low ride shoe and you can feel the surface, every pebble, stone, twig and whatnot's can be felt through the soles. Like I've said before, it's as close to running barefoot short of really running barefoot. The low profile of the shoe tends to change your gait, making you run with smaller strides, which makes you land rather lightly, almost noiselessly.

One thing you cannot do with the shoe is heel strike unless of course you consciously make an effort to heel strike but why would you? There are no breathability issues with GObionic and my feet were rather cool throughout the run. I was dripping in sweat and though the shoe was soaked, it repelled the sweat pretty decently. The shoe didn't get any heavier at all.

The wife who ran the 7K event also used it and came away with the same positive feedback too. The only difference was she ran sockless and for a girl prone to blisters when running sockless, the GObionic was a joy for her. I'm a little envious cos she's able to run sockless in them and I can't  :-P The last time I ran sockless with the GObionic I came away with bad blisters on BOTH feet. Guess the mechanics of my feet just weren't built for sockless running.

Overall, the Skechers GObionic is one awesome pair of shoes. It's now my official race shoe displacing my GOrun and I'm going to put them through the full 42K test in the coming Putrajaya Night Marathon next month. We'll see how that works out. The shoe is slated to be in stores sometime around November-December.

The scruffy looking medal model ...
Now, to the race review proper. This is the second consecutive edition of the PJ Half Marathon after its initial hiatus for a couple of years. Though last years event didn't really have the best of organisation, I decided to sign up again this year, simply because it's near where I live. I told myself that if it's as screwed up again as last year I would only have myself to blame for taking part again.

So I'm not going to complain, too much anyway ... LOL! The good point about the race was that the traffic management was excellent unlike last year. Of course there were the usual honking and impatient drivers but there always is, isn't there? The race flagged off at 5.30am which was a great move cos we were back way before the sun started peeking out.

The bad points about the race were that there was no announcement of flag off. One minute you're chit-chatting with someone and the next, everyone in front of you starts running! Way to go Mr. Emcee for your great skills in announcing race start.

Just before the sudden race start ...
The water stations (except the second station) were okay except they weren't exactly where they were supposed to be which made figuring out when to take your energy gel a little dicey. Those of you who take energy gels knows what it's like to take them without available water. The second water station was a disappointment. I skipped the first and was looking forward to the second station only to arrive and find the cups and drinks not laid out! I had to pour the water for myself and also for a few other runners. The rest of the stations were properly manned, thankfully.

No proper lines after the finish to direct you to some much needed beverages. I practically had to go outside and buy drinks for the wife and me. A little chaotic at the finish line if you ask me with everyone being allowed to mingle and block the incoming runners. I don't know what the officials were doing though. Anyways, I knew what I was getting into when I signed up.

The race itself, though slightly under-distanced went pretty well for me. I had a plan to follow which was to split the race into four parts with each part to be run at an increased pace. I started the race with a slow 6:15 pace and slowly worked my way through each 'part'. It took a while but I slowly caught up with some of those who started off faster.

I had no issues with the legs, which was working admirably I must say. The lungs were chugging along just fine too. Downed two energy gels which kept me going and sponged myself at two stations. I had a relatively good race. Reached the stadium for the final stretch and ran alongside Alex Au-Yong. Wanted to finish with him but he prompted me to go ahead and not use him as an excuse to slow down ... LOL! Thanks for the push Alex and it was nice to finally meet you in person.
Entering the stadium just before catching up with Alex Au-Yong ...
I crossed the finish with a time of 1:53:33 and took off a whole 3 minutes of last year's time. I'm a very happy man. Collected my medal, met up with the wife and the Skechers team of Ivan and Adeline. Chatted for a bit and then headed to look for water and finally headed home.

Almost done ... (photo credit goes to Best of Running ...)
Overall, I had fun. Will I take part again next year? We'll just have to wait and see.

8 comments:

  1. Was telling hubby that Jamie was wearing GOBionic shoes at the MPIB My First Run clinic. ;)

    Awesome run for you, Nick!

    Congrats to you and your wife too!

    Pebbles as always, is adorable. :)

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    1. Thanks Lina. She demands a treat after her modelling duties ... LOL!

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  2. Great shoes and race report!
    Guess the 2nd water station and the finish line were a big screw up, if they were in mess when a sub-2 runner like you passing, it can only getting worst when other slower runners finishing :P

    See you in PNM!

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    1. Overall it wasn't too bad. Better than last year though. Might consider joining again next year :D

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  3. Congrats Nick sub 2 finish...the fastest cat from Subang Jaya...i better train harder ;)

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    1. Thanks Ray :D No need to train harder la cos it will take me at least a few centuries to reach your level of performance la ... LOL!

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  4. Congrats! Uish another skechers, I'll check this one out. Sounds really great ni. And u totally answer my question about running sockless heee, I tried running sockless in my New Balance, I didn't get blister on the old shoe, but the new shoe, not only it gives me blisters, it cracks my toe nails.

    Neways, congrats sub2 woohoo!

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    1. The GObionic will only be in the stores somewhere around November/December. But do go easy with the shoe cos it takes a little getting used to but otherwise I'm loving the shoe.

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