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Sunday, October 30, 2011

PJ Half Marathon 2011 Race Review

The PJ Half Marathon, probably one of the oldest half marathons in this country made a comeback today and the turnout for it was pretty good. Didn't expect to have that much of participants but it made the run all the more merrier.

This event holds fond memories for me of the time when I first started my foray into the running realm more than 22 years ago. Back then, when I used to run this event it started in the Padang Timur field (Opposite AmCorp Mall) and used the entire Federal Highway into Subang and back. This was the first time I was actually running this route for the event. I ran the 10K the last time it was ever held years ago and never got to experience this route.

Not that I'm complaining too much. The darned sun made the end part of the race totally harsh and running the last, what, 6K with the sun right in your eyes is not a great feeling. The race in general was decent. The start was on time and the earlier part of the route (before the sun came out) was pretty okay. After the first incline at the start, it was relatively flat which gave me the opportunity to do some pretty fast times.

But one thing I learned today is never skip a light breakfast before your run and always, ALWAYS, carry an energy gel cos by the time I hit the 17K mark I was totally out of steam. It's a good thing Jamie caught up with me and gave me a spur to push on though he did blazingly disappear into the distance after that. Man, that guy is fast :D Well, that did the trick and I gathered whatever reserves I had in me and pushed on till the end.

Once again, I could rely on my earlier faster pace to keep me within the sub 2 hour mark even though my finish was much slower. I managed to cross the finish line in a time of 1.55.17 which was a huge improvement from the recent PNM. Not to shabby seeing as how I hardly ran the entire week save for a run on Deepavali day. The best part was, no crampings, must be the new shoe ... LOL!

My medal model a little lazy with her posing duties today :D
I was actually hoping the night before that it would rain but unfortunately it didn't and that made the race a hot one. Other than that, I thought it was a decently organized race. The water and sponge stations (which was godsent in the second half of the race) was where they were though I felt a pang of sadness when passing that poor hardened dead dog along the airport road (I have a soft spot for dogs).

The only complain I have is maybe they could have had the drink station much nearer when you crossed that finish line. It was way over the other side and lots of people didn't even know it was there. Imagine a parched throat and no water in sight. I had to walk back all the way to the car to get my stock of Gatorade.

After the race, I caught up with Jamie, Frank, Neoh and Kah Yen while waiting for the wife to come in. Congrats to her for posting a PB and beating her previous time by a huge margin. Awesome run, babe :D Congrats to all the runners out there who did an awesome job given the harsh conditions. Looking forward to next year already :D

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Depleted Allowance

I'm really positively, definitely, absolutely banned from buying anymore running shoes by the wife especially since I just went out and got myself the Brook Launch a couple of hours ago even though I very recently bought the Pure Connect hardly a month ago. The wife has threatened to throw all my shoes away if I buy another pair of running shoes, well at least until the other pairs are completely worn off.

But you can't really blame me for buying a new pair of running shoes. I initially wanted to get the Brooks Launch just after the Siemens run and when I went to the Brooks outlet in Sunway Pyramid to get it back then, they were pre-launching their Pure Series. Now, what could a guy who absolutely adores shoes that are produced by Brooks do? The shoes were there for me to hold and drool over. They only had limited pairs available and fortunately my shoe size was one of them, so I bought them and told the wife, I'll skip getting the launch.

But heck, I've had my eye on the Launch for quite a while too but was warned about getting another pair so soon. But today as fate would have it, we were at the Brooks outlet in the Curve cos she wanted to get something there for her running. And since the shoes were on display there and the color was right and the size was available and, and, and ... urrrmmm, and since I really, really, really needed it, I bought it albeit with a word of warning that my allowance for buying shoes are totally drained for the year ... hahaha!

And here I am, a proud owner of a new pair of lightweight trainers which I'm seriously contemplating using for tomorrow's PJ Half. I'm an advocate of not running in brand new shoes though I did run in a brand new untested Green Silence during the Shape Night run and thankfully came away unscathed from that experience.

Up to this point I'm still undecided on what shoes I'll be using tomorrow. So far, until the Launch came into the picture, It was a toss between the Green Silence or my Mizuno Precision 10. I haven't used either of these shoes for a 21K before and was thinking of putting one of it to the test, but now I'm not so sure. The Launch looks like a good bet to be on my feet tomorrow.

And speaking of the PJ Half, I'm a little skeptical about how I'll do in the race tomorrow. My training this week has been short of pathetic with only one 15K run done over the Deepavali holiday. Rain and especially work has been playing havoc with my schedule. I'm just going to take things easy tomorrow and not push myself too much. Thankfully the route is a pretty forgiving one and has loads of flat stretches with two or three inclines. The only worry would be the sun. Hopefully it rains tonight and the sun decides to sleep in a little.

Anyways, to all running the event, have fun and all the best :D

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sleeping Beauty

The PJ Half Marathon is just around the corner and I'm forseeing a horrible week leading to the race with a huge chance of me not getting in much training for it. One reason is cos of the daily evening rains and the other is the tight work load that awaits me this week.

And don't even ask me to wake up in the early mornings to run. The only time I do that is on race days and weekends. Other days, even an earthquake with a magnitude of 10 on the Richter scale wouldn't even budge me!

At least the coming Deepavali holidays would give me an opportunity to run in the morning. Somehow, I can actually wake up on holidays that fall during the weekday ... LOL! It's either that or I don't get in any running at all before the race. I suppose there is a good side to not being able to run before the PJ Half. The legs would have enough time to be well rested and I'd be totally fresh for the race.

But not being able to run and seeing other people running is plain cruel! There should be a law against it ... hahaha! I'm looking forward to the PJ Half though, seeing as how the route looks pretty 'easy' though somewhat boring. I'm going to go along with Neoh's idea of seeing if we both can run on the Federal highway faster than we can normally drive which judging by the usual daily crawl along that stretch is entirely doable :D

I'm just hoping the race is going to be well organized and the water stations are adequate cos the entire stretch is pretty barren and once the sun comes up, which is kinda early, the weather is going to get a little hot and the need for hydration is going to be pretty important. I drive along the race route for work daily and it's really direct sunlight without much shade. So, finishing the race fast would be a good idea too. Hope to see all the usual faces at the race this weekend :D

With that said and done and if I don't get the chance to get online, I'd like to make an early wish to all my Hindu buddies wishing them a beautiful Deepavali.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Putrajaya Night Marathon 2011 Race Review

The long wait for the Putrajaya Night Marathon has finally come and gone and I think I'm beginning to dislike night races. I'll list my reasons later.

The wife and me checked into the Pullman Putrajaya around noon. We decided that we would spend the night in Putrajaya after the race cos I was too lazy to drive home and besides, it would be good to spend some 'just the two of us' time together once in a while, though we were both too bummed out to do anything much about the 'just the two of us' time that we had ... LOL!

Aside from the initial screw up about our room reservations that had us waiting close to 45 minutes to get checked, everything else ended up fine. We both took a short nap before heading to the event location.

As usual, I wanted to get there a little early to get the best parking spot. The place was already starting to fill by the time I got there. Coincidentally, I parked next to one of my blog readers, Tony, who recognized me. It was nice to finally meet you Tony, at least now you're no longer a faceless blog reader :D And speaking of meeting fellow runners, I finally got the chance to catch up with Kah Yen too. We both headed over to wish Neoh the best of luck for his marathon and then I headed back to wait for the start of the half marathon.

The race started in time and I was fired up for it. The legs were fine and I was nicely pushing through with my planned pace targets. Managed to even do a personal best at the 5K mark with a 23.29 timing. The route was pretty challenging with loads and loads of inclines littered after the 13K mark. Decided to slow down the pace a little more since I had a ways to go. Up to that point, things were going well. At the 12K water station, I removed my 2XU calf compression guards cos they were feeling uncomfortable. In hindsight, that was really a bad decision.

Not long later, disaster struck. I started feeling twitches of muscle tightness and by the 15K mark, I was almost immobilized with a painful cramp along the right leg that had me cringing in pain and stopping for a few minutes to stretch and ease the cramp away. From that moment, I knew my race was screwed big time.

Decided to carry on, with a much reduced pace hoping the cramps would not recur but it just wasn't my day and the route at that point decided to get hilly which didn't help alleviate the pain one bit. I was hobbling along and had to stop every kilometer of so to ease the pain. At this point, I must give my utmost thanks to this runner bearing the bib number F2140 cos he came along with some much appreciated encouragement and even ran along with me to keep me from stopping. Bless your soul, sir.

At that point, the theme of the run, 'Define your inner strength' sure rang true as I had to look deep into me and find whatever inner strength that I had left to hobble all the way back to he finish line. I must say that I am happy that despite all the agonizing pain I went through for the final 6K, I still managed to squeeze in a sub-2 hour run, thanks to the faster paced times I put in at the start of the race.

Somewhere down the last 3K, I must have left that unnamed F2140 runner behind, cos while waiting for the wife to come in, I saw him again crossing the finish line and he was so happy to see me there, that he came up to me, congratulated me and even hugged me! Once again, my utmost thanks to you F2140 for the part you played in getting me through the run. Runners are really the best people in the world cos they never put you down and will always have a word or two of encouragement when they see someone in need of help or a little push.

Ok, now let me stress on why I think I'm beginning to not like night races. In all the night races I've run, which includes the dreaded Energizer Night Run, The Shape Night Run and this current race, I've always developed cramps and not done too well in the runs, timing wise. My conclusion is because I believe the body is not as well rested as in the early mornings. True, I may have to warm up a little longer for morning races but heck, I'm much fresher in the mornings than I am in the evenings. I'm going to be looking into future night runs and decide if I want to run one again or not.

With that said and done, kudos goes out to the organizers, Twenty First Century Sports for a race well organized. Good job Nithi (director of Twenty First Century Sports and a personal friend of mine) and team for a job well done, enjoy your well deserved off day tomorrow. I wish I had the liberty of taking the day off tomorrow too ... LOL!

With that out of the way, I'm eager for my next 21K, The PJ Half, which has a much tamer route compared to the PNM. It's a route I'm well familiar with as I drive through it everyday for work and will make it easy for me to plan my race strategy. I'm a technical runner and like to plan how I tackle every single kilometer, when to speed up, when to slow down, when to conserve energy, when to crawl, etc, etc, etc. Knowing this particular route is going to be a big plus for me :D

Friday, October 14, 2011

Butterflies, My Tummy & The Night Run

Slightly a day more to go before the Putrajaya Night Marathon and I'm having butterflies in my tummy. In fact I'm feeling a little apprehensive about the run. The wife keeps telling that I'm only running the half marathon and I've run half marathon's before so I shouldn't really be feeling apprehensive about anything, especially running. She say's I'll do just fine and to just go out there and enjoy myself.

I know she's right and I know I should be able to run the half without any major hitches but heck, these butterflies are hard to quell! I guess it must be the excitement of the entire thing. I've been looking forward to this event ever since the day I signed up for it and ended up being the first darned participant to sign up and had to go through an unexpected video interview at the organizers office, which was downright embarrassing ... LOL!

Anyways, like I said, I'm nervous but excited at the prospect of running tomorrow night. A training run is just a training run and there's nothing that can describe the feeling of an actual race event running alongside a host of other fellow runners. It's really a great feeling to see a mix of all kinds of people, the big, the small, the tall, the short, the hunky looking, the sexy model like, all there for one thing, which is to have fun and run. All the best to everyone participating.

I've yet to decide on what shoe I'll be wearing for the event. Right now, it's going to be a toss between my Green Silence and the Pure Connect. The Green Silence is a proven shoe for races while I've only used the Pure Connect for one race which was the KOTR two weeks ago but judging by the fact that it went through a 16.8K run with nary a problem, the chances are I'll risk it for the PNM tomorrow. But just in case, I'll bring both shoes along.

So far, I've only used the Pure Connect three times in total and it's been a pretty positive outlook for the shoe. The only thing I noticed about the shoe (for me anyway) was the achy calves after each run. I guess, the lack of cushioning and the fact that I'm doing more natural midfoot running with the shoe must play a part in the calf aches. At least I know the leg fatigue issues I had with my more cushioned but heavier Ghost 3 doesn't seem to manifest anymore, thanks to the much lighter weighted Green Silence and Pure Connect.

With that said and done, butterflies and all, I can't wait for the run tomorrow night. See you guys there and holler out if you see me cos I'm a little blind at nights ... hahaha!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Adidas KOTR 2011 Race Review

First of all, a big congratulations goes out to the organizers for a race well done. I don't think anyone would or should have a bad thing to say about the race. Kudos Adidas. For me, this was one of the better organized races that I participated in this year.

With that said and done, the race was a good one for me. Decked with my untested Brooks Pure Connect, I was all eager to put the shoe through the test. And I'm happy to say that if I had four thumbs, it would get a four thumbs up! For a start, I hardly felt the shoe. It was snug, it was light, it was airy and for a 'minimalist' rated shoe, it had just enough cushioning to support these old legs of mine. Money well spent :D

The race itself was an awesome one for me. The weather was just about excellent for a run and the route was pretty darn challenging for an expressway. What I really liked about the race was the absolutely lack of cars with crazy and impatient drivers honking their dissatisfaction for runners ruining their beloved Sunday drives.

The entire expressway was off limits to traffic and it was bliss not having to endure the usual harassment from these drivers and suffering through exhaust fumes. If you ask me, they should just close all roads completely during races like these but then we all know that's never gonna happen.

The race started right on time at 6.45am and this time I made sure I was out there in front and not have to fight my way through the starting crowd. Because of that front starting position, I managed to do the first 4-5K's at an average of 4.54 - 5.00 minute pace. But I wasn't intending to maintain that pace throughout cos I was aware of the first killer incline looming at the 6K mark and slowed the pace down. Kept to a steady pace and attacked the hills (which almost had me on the verge of crying ... hahaha) and rested on the downward stretch.

That was to be my strategy throughout the balance of the race and I was happy to come in with time of 1.26.34 and still able to walk and smile at the end of it all ... LOL! I don't know if it was the shoe or all that training I've been putting in but I didn't feel a single pain or ache throughout and even after the run. It's bliss running pain-free and I intend to keep it that way :D

My medal modelling dog (and enjoying it too)  ...
As mentioned earlier, the race was well organized. The water stations were exactly where they said it would be and the water was dispensed properly without having to wait for the volunteers to fill up the cups like what I experienced in some previous races. I don't know about the rest of you but in every water station that I came across, they were handing out the cups to the runners making it easy for us to keep on running without having to stop and breaking the rhythm.

There were more than enough distance markers to let you know how far you need to go thus being able to pace yourself better. Got bogged down a little at the 15K mark (or was that 14k?) when the 10K runners merged with the 16.8K runners and had to expend a little more energy swerving in and out to avoid them. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the race and would do it again without hesitation if they held it in the same venue next year.

Congratulations goes out to each and every runner out there who completed the run be it 10K runners or the 16.8K runners who had to endure the inclines :P It was nice seeing so many people who shares the same running passion that I do. Hope we get many more people interested in this crazy sport called running!

Ok, now I'm off to get a much needed nap :D

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Brooks Pure Connect

I couldn't wait. I had to go out and get the Brooks Pure Connect the moment I heard that it was launching today. I've been eying this shoe ever since I first got wind of it. And I'm happy to say that I'm now the proud owner of a Brooks Pure Connect, the lightest shoe in the Pure series weighing in at 7.2 ounces though I think my Green Silence (weighing in at 6.9 ounces, according to Brooks) is a little bit lighter than the Connect.

The Brooks Pure Connect
 But nevertheless, it was love at first sight. The moment I laid my eyes and hands on this piece of beauty, I was smitten. Once I put it on, the deal was sealed. It felt a little weird at first cos of the way it pushed up my arch up but after walking around a little, things settled down and everything felt natural.

The mesh like outer skin that's bound to keep the feet cool on those long hot runs ...
 I'm not going to bore you with the details and specs, lots of other running enthusiasts do a better job of reviewing a shoe than me, so I'll leave that to them. Besides, I haven't tested out these babies with a run yet and will be doing the unthinkable of running in an unbroken shoe for tomorrow's King Of the Road. I don't expect any problems, well at least I hope not and will come back with some feedback after the race.

The Podular (as Jamie put it) like outer sole ...
But based on my personal opinion, the shoes seems to be all it was touted to be. I like the overall look and feel. In fact, I practically didn't feel it around my feet and my Thorlo socks felt heavier than the shoe ... LOL! I know color really isn't a criteria in judging a running shoe, but heck, the fact that it came in that color scheme was a huge plus point for me since I'm in love with all things green. Looking forward to putting it to the test tomorrow :D