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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Skechers GOwalk

I jokingly wrote in my previous ENR race review about wanting to try the GOwalk walking shoe series by Skechers and was surprise when I got a text message a few days later from them asking me and the wife to pick up a pair of shoes from the outlet of our choice.

That was really a very nice gesture from them. So before I even proceed further with this mini initial review of the GOwalk, the wife and me would like to say thank you very much Skechers Malaysia for the pair of GOwalk you offered to us.

Now back to my review of the shoe. We picked up the shoe from the Sunway Pyramid outlet and I put it to the walking test by wearing it to work the very next day. The shoe is even lighter than the GOrun which is not surprising seeing as how you don't need all that much cushioning for casual day to day walking.

I picked up the navy blue, with the only other men's color scheme being light grey. The women's version had a much wider color range of six. The wife picked up the black scheme which I would have too, if only they had in for the men's version. Something to look into for the future perhaps, Skechers?

Ignore the perpetually cam whoring little dog in the background ...
It felt strange putting on at first cos my daily work shoes or rather something I call the 'mud boots' are way heavier than the GOwalk. It felt like I was going to work barefooted ... LOL! But I soon got used to the 'barefoot' feeling and was impressed by how comfortable it was. It has more or less the same outsole as the GOrun minus 8 GOimpulse sensors with only one in the middle of the shoe.

That prominent bump in the GOrun was not found in the GOwalk which was a relief cos while the bump does help in the running shoe version, it would probably have given a negative effect for walking.

Overall, the shoe looks very simple in design, to be honest, a little too simple. One of my blogging friends, a nutty girl at that simply calls it the 'ah pek' shoes ... LOL! Well, it does look like one of those shoe you'd see in a kung-fu flick. But it did draw quite a bit of stares from my office mates and clients who thought they looked cool.

While it looks pretty simple, it does serve its purpose as a walking shoe is aptly named too. I found walking it to be very comfortable. I'm a guy who's line of work has me on my feet quite a bit and it felt like I really was walking around barefoot all day. Besides it was way cooler compared to my regular work shoes.

Overall, I'd say it's a good shoe to use for walking and maybe even as a recovery shoe after a run, which I shall be trying out this weekend after my long run. For more info on the shoe, just drop by your nearest Skechers outlet.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Energizer Night Race 2012 Race Review

Now Josie Huang should take a leaf from this race about how to organize a PROPER running event! Energizer has completely redeemed itself from the ghost of last year's event with this very well and professionally organized race. I'm not going to say much about the organization, if you were there you'd know how smoothly it went, from the orderly parking, to the proper positioning of the carnival area, efficient distribution of the headlights, good baggage handling, beautifully staggered starts to the incredibly fast and efficient goodie bag and medal collection.

The race had more than enough water stations and marshals along the route coupled with clapping and enthusiastic cheer leading teams to motivate the runners which all helped in making this so far one of the best races I've been to. I'm a perennial complainer, yet I have not a single complaint to make about this race. Good job Energizer and Twenty First Century Sports for an enjoyable race outing!

My slightly bald medal model :D
Now back to the race proper. The wife and me got there pretty early cos we were worried about parking which was needless cos parking was a breeze with a host of volunteers directing everyone to parking slots. Walked up to the carnival area which I thought was a much better location than last year. That kept everyone, non-runners especially, from littering the start line taking pictures on the track.

The start was staggered with all the runners being kept apart according to categories with barricades. The start was exactly on time with the 42km runners being flagged off first followed by the 15.5km runners and finally the 5.5km runners.

The route on the track was the reverse of last year but I knew what to expect on the track and paced myself properly. Most people underestimate the inclines of the track and true enough, I saw quite a few people already walking after the first 2km on the track. Ran the track section of the route pretty much effortlessly.

The water stations were more than enough and stationed at exactly every 2km which made it easy for me to plan my hydration and fueling needs. Skipped all but two of the water stations and that only to wash down my energy gel and moisten my dry throat. The volunteers at the water station deserves a pat on the back for their efficient management of these stations.

After the initial round around the main track, we headed out to the outer service roads. I more or less knew what to expect cos I was 'warned' about the inclines littered around the outer service road. Though some of them were short but killer inclines, I actually relished attacking each and every one of them. I was having such a blast running the race that every time I saw an incline, no matter how steep it was, I stepped up my pace and ran the darn things with gusto!

Call me crazy but I enjoyed the inclines. I guess my hill work training do pay dividends here :D The route was a little dark but it was a night race after all and they did give out headlights for this exact purpose so I can't really complain about illumination. I just piggy backed of the others headlights on the dark stretches.

One thing you can be assured of when Twenty First Century Sports organizes a race is the many 'motivational' volunteers that they'd have. I like the idea of the cheering volunteers who really did help with boosting your morale along the route. Every time I passed one of these 'cheer squads', my pace automatically stepped up. Nithi (race director), maybe next time you could get them to wear more skimpier clothing ... Hahaha!

After negotiating the outer service route for close to one and half laps, we headed back into the circuit for the final lap. I knew I had about 3 plus to 4km to go and I decided that it was just the right time to up pace pace for the homeward stretch. Cruised into the finish with a time of 1:26:50, which was pretty decent considering the challenging terrain and route.

Adam, the one arm runner giving a motivational talk ...
From there, we were ushered to the goodie bag and medal collection which went without a hitch in under 45 seconds (including the walk from the finish line). Once again, the volunteers here were fast and efficient with the goodie bag distribution. Waited at the finish line for the wife and caught up with Kah Yen, YS (whom I'm finally meeting for the first time) and Jason.

A little off track here for a bit. Runners are a friendly lot. While I was waiting for the wife, a few of them whom I didn't know came up to me and chatted with me. That's what I like about this sport, the camaraderie among runners is simply something to smile about. With that said, it was nice meeting you Praveen, Simon and also that one guy I failed to get his name. Now if only the rest of this country can live in peace and harmony like runners, this country would be a great place to live in.

A little on the GOrun here. What? You thought I wouldn't mention the GOrun? LOL! The shoe worked out beautifully for the race. I had it on for the Brooks Half last month but couldn't really gauge its capabilities cos of the injury I suffered during that run but this time, I was running injury and pain free and in race conditions, the shoe was simply awesome. I hardly felt it on my feet and though it was a hot night, the ventilation was simply excellent. I hardly felt any heat at all during the run.

The lightness was an integral part in helping me challenge the hills. The traction of the shoe was impressive, keeping me well dug in to trudge up the steep inclines and firmly rooted on the way down without the fear of taking a tumble. Again, I stress the recovery of the shoe is excellent. Any other time, I'd be having sore calves from all those hills I had to tackle but right now as I sit here typing this post, my legs are hardly aching that I can probably go out there and run another 15k easily! It really is going to be hard putting on any other shoe these days.

One not so good thing about the shoe is normally felt after a long run. You can't really walk in them for too long. It can be quite uncomfortable and painful which was a good thing I brought along a recovery shoe. The wife didn't and had to walk barefoot back to the car (which was a long way off) after the race. I supposed that's why it's called a GOrun and not a GOwalk :D By the way, Skechers do actually have a GOwalk shoe, maybe I should ask Skechers to let me give it a try ... LOL!

With that said and done, congrats goes out to my lovely wife for trudging along the 15.5m route and completing this very challenging race. It's always nice waiting at the finish for her and seeing her run across the line with satisfaction on her face is simply priceless.

Before I go, I'd like to wish a big thank you to all the volunteers for making this run a beautiful one for us runners, without you guys working tirelessly to see us through, we probably would have suffered. So this run goes out to you guys and gals too! Good job people. I'm already looking forward to next year.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

200KM GORun Review

I can't believe it has already been close to one and half months since I've been running with the Skechers GOrun and I've already chalked up more than 200 plus kilometers in the shoe. I know it's not really a considerable distance compared to some of the other hardcore runners out there but considering the kind of hours I'm keeping with my work, I'm pretty happy that I can even get in that much mileage.

Work has been pretty much hampering my running schedule and I do try my best to squeeze in whatever running time I can which literally translates to night runs cos by the time I'm home, there just isn't any daylight left to run. But I really don't have much complains about my late hours seeing as how the current batch of clientele I'm handling are sports and running related.

The past two weeks has seen me running around (pun intended) sorting out refurbishment arrangements for Wilson's (the tennis brand) store displays and also only last week saw me finishing up all the printing and supply of the Energizer Night Race bibs and runners guide pamphlets for the race next Saturday. These are the kind of clients that I enjoy working for :D

Anyways, after more than 200KM of running with the GOrun's, I must say that I'm positively, truly, absolutely liking the shoe. My running form has improved tremendously since I've put on the shoe 45 days ago. Please bear in mind this is no suck up to Skechers Malaysia posting but my own experience and take on the shoe.

Everyone of us is different when it comes to running shoes. Some can use a particular shoe with hardly any issues and some just can't. Some will swear by a certain shoe brand and some will curse. Some will say a shoe doesn't really affect the way you run and some will disagree. But whatever you opinions are, running shoes are very personal, in my opinion anyway.

I was totally skeptical about Skechers as a brand, especially in terms of running but am glad that I let the wife convince me to try GOrun. I haven't looked back since. I'm not going to go into details about the specifications of the shoe, you can always read my post about it here and here or even Jamie's initial take on the shoe but what I'm going to talk about today is how the shoe has performed and the benefits I've reaped from it.

Like I said earlier, I've so far covered 200 plus kilometers in it. Most of them have been for training runs of various distances and speeds with one half marathon race thrown in and I have yet to find a single major fault with the shoe. Granted, there are one or two things that I would like improved with the shoe which I'm hoping to see in the coming updated version of the GOrun but otherwise it has been an excellent shoe, at least for me.

My runs these days have been virtually pain free, with a post run recovery rate that is excellent to say the least. The legs recovery almost instantly and I'm ready to run again within the hour. All the injuries that I had, especially that nagging and oftentimes painful thigh pain that has been plaguing me for my runs has completely gone. The aches that develop in my ankles midway through a long run are now a thing of the past.

I'm running better, my gait and posture have improved, granted I still drag my feet when I'm exhausted but otherwise my runs are more efficient with hardly any wasted energy. I don't have to put out as much effort as I have in my runs as before and feel much more refreshed after my runs than ever before.

At first I thought it was just a psychological thing, but over time, I discovered it has to do with the shoe. If you've run in the shoe, you'll know that it's virtually impossible to heel strike. You're constantly mid-footing and in turn, you're running with much less effort and less energy wastage, as far as I'm concerned anyway.

I've alternated the shoe with my other training shoes to compare the difference, namely the Green Silence, Pure Connects and the Launch and they all made a considerable difference to my runs. The verdict, Green Silence - still one of my favourites but was a little stiffer to run in. The Connects - a pretty narrow shoe that had my feet squashed but still a fast shoe to run in. The Launch - damn, that shoe just turned out to be impossible to run in after prolonged exposure to running with the GOrun.

One thing in common with all those shoes are that my recovery post run was so much slower. The calves hurt way longer but the Launch was the most surprising of the lot. They're actually light weight trainers but when I ran in them, they felt like a brick! I guess the extreme lightness of the GOrun had something to do with it. I'm so used to the weightless, almost barefoot feel of the shoe, that anything with a lot more cushioning and heavier feels harder to run in.

But as light and soft as the shoe may be, it's actually also pretty durable. I've trashed the shoe in all my runs, I've been very rough with it and it has come through just fine. The outsole is so durable that it's hardly scuffed or worn out, even after 200 plus mileage to it. The GOimpulse sensors are still in pretty darned good condition as the picture below can attest to.

The sensors look as new as the day I first ran in them which speaks volumes for the outsole. They really are so much softer than my other shoes that at times, you can actually feel the pebbles and stones while running. Unfortunately, that's also a point that peeves me about the shoe. Those round pods tend to attract small stones which get stuck in between them and they sometimes have me stopping to dislodge a larger pebble or two! I understand from Skechers that the coming upgraded model has addressed that issue.

With that said and done, I can safely say that this is my shoe of choice for the upcoming SCKLM where I'll be running to complete my first ever full marathon. I know the shoe is definitely good for a half marathon and judging by the way it's been working out for me, I'm taking a chance that it's just as good for a full marathon too. Like I keep saying, Meb can't be wrong, can he?

But once again, a word of advice, which I'm sure Jamie would agree, is to go easy on the shoe if you're planning to get one. Strengthen those legs, go slow with some easy runs for a few weeks before really taking full advantage of the shoe. Like I said in one of my earlier posts, the shoe isn't for everyone. Some of you may just like it and some of you may just hate it. As for me, I'm a convert and a firm believer that Skechers is heading in the right direction, running wise, that is.

The only problems I have these days is giving my other six pairs of running shoes some fair running time seeing as how I'm always picking the GOrun for my training sessions!