Monday, June 30, 2008

Running Since Young...

By Lionel Lee

I was a 10 year old schoolboy in Singapore when I told my dad there was a school fitness test and one of the requirements was to run 1.6km within a certain time. And he replied: “You should probably train for it”. I guess I should, and I did, probably overdid it. My enthusiasm for running did not start off right away though. My competitive years were in secondary school. Now, it is pretty much recreation, and I don’t really follow a structured training schedule. I just take care of myself, get enough sleep, eat right, and just have fun running (but making sure I still run enough).

I grew up in West Coast, Singapore (It’s the name of a neighbourhood, not a description of the location) near Clementi. With the decision to put in some “training” for the “fitness test”, I did my first run at Clementi stadium. It was a 1.6km run, just 4 rounds of the track, no warm-up, and I did it in 9min 35 sec. I continued doing 1.6km runs from time to time from February to July. On test day, the run was on the school field with school shoes, and we ran as one whole class. Towards the final 400m, I was still second behind my classmate, and I pia-ed the last 300m to finish first, in a time of 7min 27sec. The guy I overtook on the last lap came in 12 seconds later. That was way back in 1997. After that, I stopped running and continued playing football and basketball. However, that all changed when I entered secondary school in 2000.

My secondary school’s annual cross-country race was in February and somehow, that really got me motivated to start running again, and this time, running very seriously. This annual school race was a 4.4km distance at MacRitchie reservoir with pretty steep slopes. I did weekly runs at Pandan reservoir, and the training was sufficient for me to win the Secondary 1 (Form 1) race in 20 min 9 sec. With that, I was called up to the school team for the National Schools’ Cross Country race (U-15 category and over the same route) the following month. I never turned back since.

In 2002, my school closed down the track team though I could still represent the school. That was tough to take. Anyway, I trained with my sprinter schoolmate (he is still training now) for a while before both of us joined SWIFT Athletes Association.

During those competitive years, I clocked PBs of 2:14 for 800m, 4:44 for 1500m, and 10:41 for 3000m. The 1500m PB was my best achievement as it was a 7th placing during the Singapore National Schools’ Track & Field Championships 2001 (U-15). However, over-enthusiasm led to too much self-inflicted stress. That showed in early 2003 when I was even too stressed to jog. I picked myself after that and before migrating to Malaysia, I did 36min 4sec for the 9.1km event during the 2003 Singapore marathon. I thought I could continue with that momentum when I migrated to Malaysia. But turns out, I had to look after my future and decided to call it quits from competitive running.

After that, I just did 20-30min jogs and mixing them with other sports. When I graduated and got more settled with working life, I decided to train for the KLIM 2008 from December 2007. Actually, all I did was to cover long distances at a comfortable pace depending on my mood and topping them up with basic strength exercises. A week before the race, I did 35km from USJ18 to 1Utama and back. Probably not the thing to do a week before a marathon.

Then, it was 31 March 2008, 4.30am at Dataran Merdeka where the gun went off. It took me 30 seconds to reach the starting line and I began my tour of KL on foot. I wasn’t aiming for a particular timing. But in any case, given my condition, I predicted a 4.20. The race was just absolutely exciting and I loved every second of it. I was pretty much on negative split pace throughout and finished in 4hr 2min 27 sec (Including 30sec of urinating at the 2km mark).

I took a break after the marathon and went back to my usual 30min jogs. As I had been running alone for my time in Malaysia, I felt I needed to run with company to continue enjoying running. As such, I decided to join the guys from Runnerz Circle and Pacemakers running group in their runs. That was just two weeks ago as of writing this entry.

My next race will be the Adidas King of the Road (KOTR) on August 10. I also plan to participate in the Singapore marathon this December and hopefully a few more races after the KOTR like the PJ Half and the Subang Jaya 10k if they are organized this year (but still no word on these races yet =S).

So am I back into competitive running? Well, actually not. I just want to have fun running, and having fun, I am =D. Presently, I run, play football and basketball around my home during weekdays, and meet up with the pacemakers on weekends at Lake Gardens. I don’t have a blog, but you can reach me by email at CHEERS!!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Olympic Day Run 2008...

Event: Olympic Day Run 2008
Venue: Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur
Date: 29 June 2008
Time: 7.30am
Distance: 7KM (7.31KM by Nike+ Sportsband)
Shoe: Nike Air Zoom Vomero+ 3
By Frank

Got a little worried about my tummy before this run. As my digestive system was acting up for the past week, I felt bloated and seriously uncomfortable. And it was yesterday that my system decided to start purging. Just before the run started, I actually had to visit the toilet 3 times. It felt better but still, I was keeping my fingers (and toes) cross. Nevertheless, I was treating this run more like a training and fun run for me. I have no expectations of being rewarded a medal as there was only 30 of them. It won' be easy but should I get it, then it will be bonus.

The sky was gloomy at 7am. Rain clouds can be seen. I was praying that it won't rain during the course of the run as it won't help with my present condition. Met up with Andy, Keat Seong, Loke and Haza while waiting for the run to start. At 7.30am, nothing happened although all runners are ready to go. Almost 10 minutes later, Ronald McDonald showed up. This run organised by McDonalds can't do without him I guess. But this guy is short and plump, probably due to lack of exercise and also consuming too much burgers and fries. Haha... And so with his arrival, the run was finally started at around 7.40am.

As usual, my start was horrible. I was blocked all around by slower runners although I started around the fifth row from the front. I only managed to clear myself as I approach Bank Negara. Nothing much happened and I was glad my tummy was holding up. However at Kenny Hills I was hit by side stitch, although still bearable. I ran with it hoping that it will go away, but it was stubborn to stay on. So I had no choice but to bear with it as I ran. Luckily, it wasn't as bad as compared to the one I had at the Olympic Torch Relay Fun Run 2008 and I still managed to overtake quite a number of runners, in the meantime not being overtaken. Yes, not even a single runner overtook me throughout the entire run! WOOT!

The pain finally went away as I entered Jalan Mahameru and it was here that I started my final push. At this point, there weren't many runners from my category ahead of me. Most of them were from the younger category. Upon approaching Dataran Merdeka, I managed to overtake 2 runners from my category. Dashing to the finish line, I was glad I made it back safely without any tummy discomfort. And so, I crossed the finish line at 00:35:11. Not sure what was my position, but I knew that I miss the medal again by just a few position, probably by just 2 minutes or even lesser. Nevertheless, it was a good run for me and I certainly enjoyed the Ribena served at the carnival area. I gulped down at least 4 cups!

Almost there...

From L-R: Andy, Frank and Jonathan...

A very simple finisher's certificate...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Nike Air Zoom Vomero+ 3...

By Frank

I had the privilege on trying out the new Nike Air Zoom Vomero+ 3 recently and I must say that I was really impressed with the shoe. I hadn’t had much opportunity on trying out Nike shoes and this experience was really worth it, all made possible by Nike Malaysia and Mr. Wong Li-Zren.

Nike Air Zoom Vomero+ 3...

For the introduction, the Vomero+ 3 is neutral cushioned shoe. And for a trainer, it certainly was light weighting at only 326 grams. Not forgetting too that it is also a Nike+ enabled shoe.

The Vomero+ 3 I received came in white, black and reddish orange colour with some shades of grey and not forgetting those reflective metallic silver although Nike’s website reveals another 2 colour option. It looks really plush but personally, I always feel that a running shoe would be best if it comes with majority lighter colours or those that repels heat. Darker colours tend to attract heat especially with the hot humid weather of Malaysia. But thanks to the great ventilation, the shoe was great and comfortable to have both my feet in it. Not much of a sweaty feet experience even with those traditional cotton socks. My guess for the great ventilation lies with the very breathable mesh as I did not notice any or much holes on the shoe like some how other shoes have on them.

A look on the breathable mesh. Notice the amount of reflective metallic silver...

The most significant highlight is, the shoe was very soft. It’s the softest shoes I’ve worn since the day I started running. From the built of the shoe to the cushioning, everything was so soft. The built of the shoe from the vamp to the overlays and the tongue was so soft that my feet felt like that it was resting in a piece of very soft well cushion pillow! And the material being this soft provided the shoe with excellent flexibility. Oh and yes, it’s seamlessly built so no stitching which led to a really comfortable shoe. The collar was made of memory foam and it hug my ankle nicely. No trouble at all even when I do a sharp turn. And since I mention the shoe’s tongue, I think its worth to talk about it. It’s a one piece construction and it doesn’t move around at all compared to traditional tongues. Well designed here as I had always mentioned about the irritation I suffered from moving shoe tongues.

The shoe’s width was just nice for me. It doesn’t look like a 2E width to me, but somehow, both my feet just fit snugly in the Vomero+ 3. The toebox was generously designed and my toes had the freedom to move in them.

The footbridge with the Nike+ logo...

A quick look on the outsole quickly reveals that Nike did an impressive job here by adding support to the metatarsals especially to the cuboid. With it, the force which is generated during the locking of the midfoot during the propulsion phase which without the support may lead to plantar fasciitis or even iliotibal band syndrome.

Key notes:
Nike+ enabled.
Great ventilation.
Comfortable to wear.
Impressive metatarsal support.

Besides the slightly darker shade of the shoe, the other or only negative aspect I found from the shoe is the cushioning. I simply like the softness of the shoe, but it was the softness of the outsole that let me down. The outsole cushioning was built on top of Nike’s Cushlon technology for the midsole and the Zoom Air for the heel and forefoot. It was all right for runs distanced at 10KM or even further at 15KM but at 20KM, my calves began to hurt. With every heel strike, my calves are called into action especially when now I am implementing plyometrics to my runs. However with the Vomero+ 3, my calves had to work extra hard as the softness of the outsoles meant a slower response time as my heels felt that it was like “sinking” with every strike. This probably was due to the thick but yet soft outsole which compress on impact. The transition from heel strike to toe off isn’t as smooth as I would like it to be, but on harder surfaces like concrete, it felt better.

Cushlon on the midsole...

The heel cushioned by Zoom Air. Notice the Zoom word...

Key notes:
Cushioning on the soft side.

Comfort: 8.5/10
Cushioning: 7.5/10
Design: 8/10
Flexibility: 8/10
Weight: 8/10
Overall: 8/10

To finish off my first ever Nike shoe review, I have only one word to describe the Vomero+ 3, “Excellent”. Obviously from my perspective, I will definitely like it better should the outsole is made just a little bit harder, but that doesn’t mean it is not suitable for me at all as I still found it a very comfortable shoe during my “pain-free” runs. Finally, my thanks to Nike Malaysia and Mr. Wong Li-Zren for the opportunity to test out this great pair of shoes.

The Nike Air Zoom Vomero+ 3 is now already available retailing at RM479.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Injinji Tetratsok...

By Frank
Injinji pronounced as “In-gin-ji” is an African term which describes "when a drumming circle reaches a climax, the peak in the performance, when all of the participants are at one with the rhythm, when everyone hits a stride and there is unison among all".

So, what is this all about? Basically, Injinji are makers of Tetratsok, a quality technical sock for running, cycling, walking, casual and much more. Their trademark, toe socks. Unlike conventional tube socks, Injinji Tetratsok comes with 5 separate “toe pockets” which allows each toe to be separated from the others thus preventing chafing. And with high quality materials like COOLMAX, Nylon and Lycra used to construct the socks, it’s no wonder that Injinji Tetratsok offers superior comfort and performance to athletes all around.

Injinji Tetratsok Performance Mini-Crew as seen above...

Off the shelves...

OK… Enough of all the intro. Here’s a short review. I have been running a lot lately. I have been hammering myself with races after races each week. Even without races, I will myself in a long run. Although I’m able to take it, my poor feet succumbed to blisters. Without enough time to heal, I find myself back in the running scene again. Therefore, I told myself that I needed to do something about it. And thus, just a couple of weeks ago while I was down at Singapore participating in the Sundown Marathon 2008, I dropped by at The Running Lab at Novena Square to buy myself a pair of Injinji Tetratsok Performance Mini-Crew. It costs me SGD23 and although being expensive, it was a worthy investment for my poor feet.

The first time I slip the socks on, it felt weird. It takes a little while to get use to slipping each toe into each individual “toe pockets”, especially when it’s new. After wearing and washing it a couple of times, it should be fine. The socks actually take time to “mold” itself to the feet, just like those memory foam technologies. And when it does, the sock will be ready to show its full potential. First feeling wearing a technical sock is that it sure felt light and cooling. The COOLMAX fabric certainly lives up to its name being able to wick moisture as I ran in the socks. No more soggy feeling and its dryness all the way. As for the toes, no more chafing! Even though if the toes rub against each others, the “toe pockets” which holds each toe in it will “shield” it thus preventing chafing. And not only that, Injinji states that this will help promote healthy circulation as there won’t be any restriction to the feet’s movement.

How it looks like when it's slipped on (those are not my feet though)...

Although I just wore them a couple of times, I’m already loving my Injinji. It’s goodbye to traditional cotton tube socks and trust me that you will love the socks despite the price. Imagine the time you have to spend to endure in the pain of blisters and buying the plasters and medication to ease the pain which is time consuming. Prevention is always better than cure. And Injinji Tetratsok is the answer to it.

For further enquiries on Injinji, please do not hesitate to contact Runnerz Circle at +603-6142 6787 / +6012-395 9598 or at

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Survivor's Story...

By Frank
I have been running for more than a year now. From my first step to my first 10KM leading all the way to 42KM and getting my first medal, and recently suffering my first cramp at Sundown Marathon, it has been a wonderful experience. A journey not only to suffer through the pain but yet one that will push me to a stage where I have yet to be at. And being a lonely individual, running has exposed me to a network of friends. Some were fast, some like me, some slower and yet some arrogant! But no matter, this allows me to see and understand the world even more.

However, there has been one thing that many didn’t know about me. My past. My running story. How it all began? What led me to running and who are the ones behind my success? Not many people know that I’m a cancer survivor and being one isn’t easy. Yes, you read that right. I'm a cancer survivor. To keep it within my heart is not a simple task when others are looking at me from a different point of view without knowing. I didn't want to share my past with people I know as I fear that I will be treated differently. And in running, I do not want to be trained differently. Although I know I'm different, I just want to be myself. But as each day pass, I guess it’s time to share what I have gone through.

Back in March 2008, I’ve started writing an article about my running story to be published on Footloose, the Pacesetters quarterly newsletter to share with fellow runners. It has yet to be published yet though as I wrote this entry. But on one morning while having my long run alongside Jamie Pang from Runners Malaysia, he asked me for that article to be published on his website. And so I agreed and after editing it being slightly more detail than the first version, Jamie helped me published it a couple of weeks ago. And here’s my write-up.

"Running has always been my main aerobic exercise to stay healthy. Since my kiddy days, I always follow my dad on weekends to the park for a light jog. It was until the age of 12 when I was diagnose with cancer that put a stop to it. I was diagnosed with a type of sarcoma cancer on my left wrist which affects the muscles and other soft tissues of the affected area. I needed an operation on my left wrist to remove the tumuor followed by treatment. I underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy for almost 3 years, and I couldn’t involve myself in any physical activities such as running. I bloated up like a balloon and my weight almost hit 80KG.
.As per request, here's a comparison of me from the year 1996 (left) and today (right). Don't laugh ya...

At age 15, when all treatment had cease and my condition got better, I decided to get myself back into shape. I started running again but not very often as I picked up mountain biking. My parents weren’t supportive and kept telling me to quit, but I didn’t. It wasn’t easy when I first started due to my weight, but eventually through persistent, I managed to overcome many obstacles including bringing down my weight. And 2 years down the road, I was finally crown champion in one of the races I participated in. I retired there as I have achieved my goal and this sport had caused me a fair amount of injuries which still affects me till today, although not as serious as before.

It was in year 2006 when I decided to take up running after reading much of it in various running blogs. However, as I was still struggling with knee problems, I decided to give myself a year before competing in my first race which was the KL International Marathon 2007. Again, my parents weren’t supportive but I decided to go on. In fact till today, they aren’t supporting me. But luckily, I have found tremendous support from a special friend of mine. I joined the gym and started training and also in the meantime, doing some rehab exercises for my knee. I even studied the human body anatomy by going through books and also the Internet to give myself a clearer understanding on my own body. And besides going through all the scientific stuffs, I also followed
Ronnie (PM1) and also Jamie (carboman) blogs as I found them to be informative.

One year passed, and I eventually made my debut at KLIM07. Call me crazy for taking up a full marathon at my first race. I managed to complete the race in 05:50:10. Although I suffered during the race and couldn’t walk for a day later, I felt extremely good and proud of myself. And thus, it all started here when I decided to pick up my momentum on running and a few days later, I dropped by at Pacesetters office and signed up as a member and eventually met many new friends. I ran in races around the Klang Valley and as time passes, I found out that it couldn’t satisfy my hunger for more. I began looking at other states and eventually signed up for the Penang Bridge Half Marathon 2007. But it still wasn’t enough, and I finally went oversea at the Singapore Marathon 2007. My second full marathon and I got better.

It’s 2008 now and it has been a year plus since I started running. After following Ronnie and Jamie’s blog for almost 2 years, I finally decided to introduce myself to them back in January 2008. And I did not regret it at all as I met up with lots of running people through them and also eventually trained with them. I express my gratitude to them as not only they allowed me to train with them although I’m a slower runner, they also motivated me and treated me just like part of their “running family”. At this time of writing, I just completed my third marathon at the KL International Marathon 2008 a month ago, clocking a sub-5 hours time! I have set myself a target of 4 full marathons this year and am now training for my second being the Sundown Marathon at Singapore.

With my cancer history and fair amount of injuries I suffered through mountain biking, I never thought that I could defy the odds with my running achievements today. But as running has brought my life back, I’m glad I made the decision 2 years back to take it up. To me, I’m not a competitive runner. I do not regard the other runners to be my opponents as I know the only one thing or person that can stop me, is myself. So here’s to share my motto to everyone. “It’s not the question on how we fall, but it’s how we pick ourselves up again”.

I do hope my story will be able to inspire people out there to take up not only running but also to do the things that they have long waited to do as life is just too short to give it a miss. My above published article on Runner's Malaysia can be seen here. And many thanks to Jamie for helping me publish it.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

4th Pacemakers Anniversary Run 2008...

Event: 4th Pacemakers Anniversary Run 2008
Venue: Metropolitan Park, Kepong, Kuala Lumpur
Date: 7 June 2008
Time: 7.30am
Distance: 3.3KM per loop X 4 runners (3.35KM by Polar RS800G3 GPS sensor)
Shoe: Nike Air Zoom Vomero+ 3
By Frank

A great running event not only consisting of a race, but also a friendship bonding event. That's how I describe the 4th Pacemakers Anniversary Run 2008 (PAR4) which was successfully held on 7 June 2008 at Metropolitan Park, Kepong.

The "X-Mens" of Runnerz Circle...

A relay race covering a distance of 3.3KM per runner which includes 4 runners in each team, it's my first ever team event. My team consists of Ija, Rashid, Andy and myself and our team name is none other than Runnerz Circle, represented by the alphabet X on our bibs. We all came into this event with no pressure at all. Although I know that our team will most likely come in the last pack, or maybe even the last team to complete the relay, I just told my fellow friends to go out and just try their best. No regrets! And being my first relay race, it's also my first time leading a team! Imagine the pressure especially when I'm running the last! A captain's run...

And so, the relay started sharp at 7.30am after a short briefing by Kelvin. Due to safety concerns, the ladies started the relay first which was flagged off my Rohaizad and being led by Yaziz on the motorbike. Ija had the priviliege of starting for our team. I told her no pressure at all. Just do her best and enjoy the run. She started slow as what I have adviced her on, as the first 1.3KM or so consists of up and downhills. And while she ran her part, I did my warming up with the rest and eventually caught up with some other runners from other teams too. At less than 14 minutes, the first runner was back. As I await anxiously for Ija's return, I decided to cheer her on by running with her at the last few hundred meters leading to the transition point. When I saw her, I knew she was really tired. Her hands was already on her waist. But I did not pressure her any. In fact, besides me giving her the motivation, I really have to thank Choi and Daniel from team Vet Vet for cheering for her too. This is what I call a bonding run! As Ija makes her way, Rashid was already waiting for the baton to be passed to him. At 00:20:56 , the baton was passed successfully and off Rashid goes!

Rashid receiving the baton from Ija...

I have faith with Rashid's runs so I did not have to worry a lot. As I had a short chat with Ija who was still catching her breath, I asked Andy to perform his warmup as he will be the next. And so after 00:16:56, Rashid is back. Great run from him! Andy took off, and I waited patiently for my turn. Did all my necessary warmups and stretches before joining in with some of the fourth runners like Anil, Hong, Raymond and Stanley. All 4 of them left before me but luckily Ben, Yee Hua and Chui Miew who had already completed their run earlier was there with me. We were anxiously waiting for Andy's return as we know he has a very funny finishing. We named it "Speedy Gonzalez"! He returned at a time of 00:18:41 and although the baton transition did not go very smoothly, luckily it did not drop.

Off goes Frank after receiving the baton from Andy...

And so, it was my turn to run. As mentioned earlier, it's a captain's run and so I dropped the hammer down and went for it. I knew the start was a mixture of up and downhills but I didn't care. I attacked each hill and quickly enough, I was on the flat already. I began to close in with one runner upon entering the lake area and soon managed to overtake him. As I made my way, I saw yet another runner. It was Chanthiran from team Slowmovers. I decided to take him on and when I saw him slowing down, I took the opportunity to overtake him with 1KM to go. As I did the overtaking, he cheered me on and so did I. With no runners visible ahead of me, I pushed myself all the way to the end clocking 00:14:44, totaling up to 01:11:17 for our team finishing the relay as team 22 out of 28. We did not get last after all! Overall, I'm satisfied with my performance but most importantly, I think the rest of my runners did just as great! Congratulations to them for a strong performance and I do hope they had just as much fun (and suffering) just like I did.

Runnerz in action (Clockwise from top left: Ija, Rashid, Frank and Andy)...

Team Runnerz Circle with their medals presented by Ronnie (in blue)...

As I was part of the volunteer committee and also a sponsor to this event, I had the honour of presenting the medals to some of the teams. But the moment that actually touched me was the presentation of a sponsor's trophy to me. It was my first trophy and I'm very grateful to Ronnie for presenting it to me. It was priceless. Thank you my friend. And also not forgeting William Lee from our group for his time as a volunteer too.

Frank receiving the sponsor's trophy from Ronnie...

Front of the finisher's medal...

Rear of the finisher's medal...

Sponsor's trophy...

The event came to a close at close to 10am with a group photo and everyone after a great morning workout, went home with a smile on their faces. Till PAR5 next year...

Group photo shows the large turnout...

Overall results (For full results, hit the link here)
Team Runnerz Circle (Team 22 out of 28)
X1) 00:20:56 > 00:20:56 - Ija
X2) 00:16:56 > 00:37:52 - Rashid
X3) 00:18:41 > 00:56:33 - Andy
X4) 00:14:44 > 01:11:17 - Frank

We did it! (Volunteers and sponsors of PAR4)...

Friday, June 06, 2008

Day 30: adidas Response Control 7 Review...

By Frank

It’s been 30 days since I first received the adidas Response Control 7 and yes, it’s time for a full review! Since the first day I’ve got it till now, the shoe has seen much action. From my tempo runs to races ranging from 5KM till 15KM, the shoe has proven its worth.

The adidas Response Control 7...

The adidas Response Control 7 is an entry level motion control training shoe. No fancy or high-tech technology built into it but yet it got straight to the point, to protect the feet as we run. The built of the shoe was good as it didn’t feel like slipping into a cheap shoe. The shoe was handsomely designed too and mine came in white with shades of red and metallic silver.

Upon receiving the shoe, my first impression was that this shoe is roomy! The roomy toebox was good enough for me to allow my toes to move around just right. Therefore, no overlapping of toes which may lead to blisters. The shoe is also built on a width of 2E which suits people with wide feet. But not only that, the wider width meant a larger midsole which provided added support which worked together with a small plastic plate under the heel area. It provided me with a much needed stability support by slowing down my pronation rate working together with the pro-moderator technology embedded on it. I’m a mild pronator by the way. And although the FORMOTION is of a very basic design without the inner mechanism, it works just fine assisting on the heel strike. It seems everything was built with a link to each other. Neat! And although geoFiT was omitted, I felt the collar to be pretty comfortable. The padding wasn’t too thick or thin and it hug my ankle at just the way I like it to be.

Key notes:
2E width.
Roomy toebox.
Anti slip laces.
Good pronation control.

FORMOTION logo marks the presence of the technology...
Even without geoFiT, the collar was comfortable...

As mentioned earlier in my entry on Day 19, I found the rear sole to be a bit on the thick side which irritated me as I ran further. Stiffness was all right but somehow the thickness of it meant my heels were rubbing on the heel counter more. I personally prefer soles that are thinner like those on the Supernova series. Next, the breathability of the shoe was poor. Both my feet were sweaty after each runs and in one case of a 10KM race, it led me to a blistered toe. The mesh was thick and no holes were built on the soles like the adidas adistar Cushion 6. And from a comfortable shoe to wear after slipping on, it soon became a soggy affair.

Key notes:
Thick heel area.
Breathability is very poor.
A bit high on the price tag.

The thick mesh and no ventilation holes on the soles...

Overall, the adidas Response Control 7 is a pretty neat shoe. A 10KM run will be nice, but a 15KM run will be pushing it to the max especially on race pace. The retail price of RM349 might be a bit on the expensive side considering this is an entry level trainer designed and built for those on a tight budget.

Comfort: 7.5/10
Cushioning: 8/10
Design: 8.5/10
Flexibility: 6.5/10
Weight: 7.5/10
Overall: 7.6

For more information and pictures, do read some of my day to day feedback I had on the adidas Response Control 7 as I train with it for the last 30 days. Day 1, Day 3 and Day 19.

Ready for action...

And thus with this report, comes a close to my second shoe seeding program with adidas Malaysia. Thanks you adidas Malaysia and Krishnan for the opportunity given.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Sundown Marathon 2008...

Event: Sundown Marathon 2008
Venue: Changi Village, Singapore
Date: 31 May 2008
Time: 11.59pm
Distance: 42.195KM (43.10KM by Choi's Garmin Forerunner 205)
Shoe: adidas adizero Tempo
By Frank

Warning: Long report ahead...

Darkness, blisters, dryness and cramps are just a few words I can use to describe about the Sundown Marathon 2008. It was sure not easy to run a marathon at night and here is how my first went...

Our ride down to Singapore, First Coach...

Nice and clean interior. Notice the LCD screen...

The adventure started on Friday, 30 May 2008 when myself together with Cheang, Choi, Jamie, Lim PT, Shine and Guna travelled together on the First Coach bus to Singapore. We were joined by Tey ET and Uncle Sonny who was travelling on the same bus too. After a light breakfast together, we boarded the bus at Bangsar and at sharp 9.30am, we were off! Nothing much happened in the bus as we were all either resting or attracted to the individual LCD TV attached to the seat. It was packed with a variety of movies and musics which kept us entertained till we reach Singapore. At about slightly more than 6 hours, we arrived at our destination, Novena Square. We parted ways with Jamie here as he made his way to Justin's residence. The rest of us decided to check into the hotel first which was Fragrance Hotel located at Selegie Road, Little India. It was a short trip by the MRT and upon checking in, we continued on to Athlete's Circle located in the business district to collect our race kit. The race kit collection was a smooth process but however, the organisers lost Choi's bib and had to replace it with an extra one without his name printed on it. Sigh... I was a little disappointed with the race kit though. Besides my bib which was numbered 6563 and my name printed on it with an attached RFID sensor behind it, it was filled by a variety of brochures from the sponsors. The race vest which was the adidas adizero vest looks pretty nice on the website but upon seeing the real thing, I felt a bit disappointed. But upon putting it on, I took back some of my words as being a racer vest, it sure was light. Without anything to do after dinner, me, Choi, Guna and Shine decided to call it a day and went back to the hotel for some rest. I got a little worried about Shine as migraine struck him and he will be doing the 84KM ultra marathon the next night. I as a migraine sufferer understand how he felt.

After collecting our race kit at Athlete's Circle...

My adizero vest and personalised bib...

Day 2. Race day. Woke up pretty early at 7.30am and had a hearty american breakfast. As it was still early and the rest was still sleeping, me and Choi went back to the room to rest while Lim PT went for some exploring. At 10.15am, when everybody is awake, we all except Shine went back to Athlete's Circle as Choi wanted to change his vest which was too small for him. We dropped by at People's Park at Chinatown later as Cheang wanted to do some chocolate shopping. I was tempted to get some for myself too as the chocolates was imported and it's dark chocolate, my favourite. But as I wanted to save some money, I purchased nothing. We had an early lunch before returning to the hotel for an afternoon nap. I woke up at 4pm to find that it was raining cats and dogs and we got a little worried as our worst fears came true. From here, I started loading in all the necessary carbohydrates. First was coffee to help me stay awake for the night, then some biscuits. Shine dropped by before he left for the race venue at 5.30pm. I'm glad he managed to shake off his migraine and together with Choi, we wished him the very best for his race as it won't be easy. It takes a lot of courage and mental strength to run 84KM. And luckily for him, the rain had stopped just in time. At about 6.30pm, we all went for our dinner. I had 2 bowls of rice plus 2 roti pratas with a bit of steamed chicken. It was a good load of carbohydrate and it filled me up. At 9.30pm, we all geared up and left for the race venue at Changi Village. The journey took about 45 minutes by the MRT and upon arrival, we were greeted by the marshals that directed us to the shuttle bus. The bus journey took us another 15 minutes or so. At the race venue, the sea of runners jam packed the whole area. We made our way in and eventually met up with Jamie and Justine. Bumped into Anil and Kit too. After depositing our baggage, we did our warmup and stretches, and not forgetting having our group picture taken too. At about 11.45pm, we proceeded to the starting zone. As Justin wished us, me together with Cheang, Choi and Jamie checked into the 4:30-5:00 time zone. In there, we waited patiently.

Ready to take on 42KM in the night...

11.59pm. Race time. "Bang" off goes the gun, and I started my fourth marathon, my second for the year 2008 as I gave the thumbs up and best wishes to Cheang, Choi and Jamie. The adventure started at the first route named String Of Lights which covered half the distance. The start was pretty slow as it was very narrow. I was around 200M from the start gantry, which accumulate to around 3 minutes till I got there. It was a very slow jog around a kilometer or so and it was great to bring up the heart rate. Choi and Cheang was stucked behind the sea of runners but Jamie managed to find his way through. I tried to stick with him as much as I can but after 1.5KM, I found that my pace was too slow. I decided to start maneuvering myself through the slower runners although the route was still pretty narrow. It was here I left my 3 friends behind. My first strategy of pacing them was gone. It's all up to myself now. I know I was still off pace as I hit the the 3KM mark or so, and therefore decided to up my pace a little more as I wanted to complete the first 10KM which was a long the long flat and straight roads of the Changi Coast in an hour. During my run here, I managed to witness a few airplanes taking off. As a Qantas plane took off, I felt the urge to take off too. Haha... But I guess it's not wise to do so as it was still a long way ahead. And so, just as I hope, I managed to complete the first 10KM in around an hour.

As I passed the 10KM distance marker, I slipped on a pavement nearby as there was a cement chip missing from it. Probably cracked off. Luckily, I didn't damage anything and kept running and eventually bumped into Keat Seong. Managed to have a short chat before I left him and entered the East Coast Park. The park was packed with weekenders who camped around the seaside for a get together and also barbeque sessions. I can smell the chicken wings and it sure smells great! Some of them even stood at the side and cheered us on. Shortly later, as much as I feared, blisters formed on my left fourth toe. It was painful but I kept running with it moving all my left toes as I ran. It did not slow me down as the Putrajaya Simulation Night Run experience has helped me prepare for the bilisters as Tony had adviced me on it. And along the seaside and with no wind at all, it soon became very dry. Salt crystal began to formed on my forehead, arms and especially my shin. At the 14KM mark, I took my first PowerBar Gel. And with it, I managed to dump the water bottle that I was carrying with me since the start. The water bottle had helped me not to stop at the water station as it was packed with thirsty runners along the first 20KM. Around 500M before the u-turn at the 20KM mark, I bumped into Anil and Raymond who was making their way back. They were fast indeed. Greeted them and off I went running patiently till I saw the u-turn. *Beep* off goes my RFID sensor and I managed to clocked around 2 hours. Everything was still perfect here from my energy, my legs and my postures. And the best part was, the pain on my left fourth toe from the blister is gone. As I made my way back, I bumped into Choi and Jamie who was making their way to the u-turn. Choi was still looking good but Jamie began to hunch a little already. I cheered both of them by giving them the thumbs up and also saying "Pia" which meant "Go for it", something like that. And so after hitting the 22KM mark, I exited the East Coast Park and into the housing area where the running space got wider with fewer runners.

From here on, the route's name was Heartland Twist and it was a bit boring. Shortly into this route, a pedestrian bridge came into sight. Totally unexpected but luckily it wasn't the steps type. At about 24KM, Kit caught up with me. Apparently, he told me that I overtook him just before the u-turn which I didn't notice. He started to slow down as he was not well the week before. I respect him for taking up the challenge despite his condition as I know how it felt like. I told him to think about Ben, Shine and Tey ET who was at that time running their lives out at the 84KM ultra marathon. Our situation was nothing compared to them and that movivated the both of us. We managed to pace for a while before I left him and soon was greeted by the second pedestrian bridge. Later I found myself in a park and I tripped over a raised concrete slab. Luckily nothing happened and soon, the PowerBar Gel station came into sight and I grabbed one. I was little disappointed that they were just stationed next to the water station. Not wanting to waste my time to tear the gel and then to grab a cup of water, I continued on with the gel in my hand. I slowed my pace from here onwards as I wanted to do a recovery run before performing my negative splits from the 30KM mark later. To my suprise, another pedestrian bridge appeared. This time, I had to climb the stair. The agony! I just went ahead ignoring the pain, wanting to get it over as soon as I can. I took one step at a time but at a fast pace.

In a while more, I entered the Bedok Reservoir area and it was the start of the Waterfront Trail route. Just like the previous Heartland Twist, this area is just as boring. The first water station here was in darkness and so I ignore it. And it was in this part of the race, that it was sandy. Although it was softer than those on the tarmac and concrete surface earlier, it was slippery and a bit muddy. I just want to get over it and so it did at the 29KM mark. There was a water station here and it was brightly lighted and I took my second PowerBar Gel here, the one I carried along since the 25KM mark. After I felt the gel took effect on me, it was game time. I gave myself a battlecry and I started my negative splits and up my pace at each kilometer covered. I started using my calf muscles more this time as it help me propel myself to the front more (principles of plyometrics). It all went well, till I hit the the fourth and final pedestrian bridge around the 36KM mark where I slowed down. My legs began to lock up and I was very dry despite drinking quite a lot. I know my strategy is hanging by a thread now and I risked not having to complete the race within my targetted time.

At the point my legs were giving way, I was already in the fourth and final area of the race route named Homerun. And everytime I had the opportunity to regain a steady pace, I always lose my momentum at the traffic light area as I had to tackle the pavements there. At around the 38KM mark, some drunkards was along the route to cheer the runners on. One of them actually cheered me on saying "Come on , BIG GUY!", when I was so skinny. Hehe... I high fived one of them to boost my morale and carried on. Later in front, I took a left turn and nearly lost my balance. My legs was really wobbly at this point and just after a while, my left hamstring cramped up! The pain struck me out of a sudden and I started limping but still running. Not wanting to stop and stretch risking a waste of time, I carried on hoping I will shake it off which I did. A marshall was in front to direct me and she told me to get my spirit up, something which I really need a this point especially when it was a steep climb. I replied to her saying that why must there be a climb now and she laughed. With no choice, I climbed it and was rewarded by the final water station. And so with the final 2KM to go, I decided to empty my tank only to be spoilt by one hump which was hidden in darkness by a tree's shadow! I trip over it and struggled to balance myself to avoid falling down. And although I didn't fall down, it lead to my left hamstring cramping up again, even more severe than the the previous one. I was in pain despite still running and my face tells it all at that time. The marshal who was there saw what happened and started to warn the runners behind me of the potential danger. From here on, I ran and ran with pain hoping to hear the music playing at the finish line but I just couldn't hear it. Either it was too soft or there was none! The final marker which was 400M was misinterpreted. It was still at least 600M ahead based on my experience. And the route to the finish line was very curvy. I had to crossed a small narrow bridge before I could see it. And with the finish line in sight at last and people cheering, I raised both my hands up, looked up at the sky and crossed the finish line clocking 04:30:15, a new personal best for me.

My moment of truth...

I proceeded forward to the rest area and was given a bottle of water, a can of 100Plus and a banana to help replenish what I had lost during the course of the race. And soon, I was rewarded by my hard earned finisher's medal and t-shirt. I found myself a spot to rest and met up with another runner. As we both chatted, I stretched myself while waiting for the others to return. And so in a little while time, one by one returned safely from Yee Hua, Choi, Jamie, Kit and Raymond. I was glad that they made it. Everyone was just so tired that we actually rested for quite a while before proceeding to collect our baggage. And it was here that I learnt from Choi that the distance was actually 43.10KM as recorded by his Garmin Forerunner 205 GPS sensor! Hmmm... Probably the organisers did not measure the pedestrian bridge.

My hard earned 4th marathon finisher's medal...

Rear of the finisher's medal (that's Singapore Changi Airport for those who don't know)...

Red hot finisher's t-shirt (L-Front, R-Rear)...

After changing into dry clothes, together with Choi, we waited for the rest to return at a tent just next to the finish line. We witness many runners making their way back and one of them caught my attention. Just before the finish line, he grab a giant banner from a friend waiting at the side. And with the help of his running friend, both of them took out the banner and ran all the way to the finish line. The banner read "Will you marry me?", a proposal to his girlfriend! A very sweet moment. Guna joined us shortly later after he completed his race 2 hours off his target due to cramps. He was disappointed. At around 6:15am, it began to rain and it became heavier and heavier. But luckily, there wasn't any thunder nor lightning. Managed to witness Haza finishing the race under the rain. She is certainly one tough lady, having to finish this race despite having a tummy upset. Soon later, Cheang and Lim PT too completed their race soaked by the rain water under 7 hours. When the rain stopped, a rainbow can be seen up in the sky. A beautiful sight indeed. Therefore for those who completed their run during this time, they not only experience sundown but also sunup, raindown and also rainbow marathon. A truly unique experience! And so with this, we left the race venue after taking some pictures together.

From sundown to sunup, we did it...

Proud to survive my toughest marathon to date...

It was a long and tiring journey back to the hotel. We were all so tired and sleepy. Upon cleaning ourselves up and having a light breakfast at the hotel, we all took a nap while still waiting for Shine to come back. At 12.15pm, after learning of Shine's victorious return, we all checked out from the hotel. We parted ways with Shine as he was staying another day at Singapore, and we proceeded on to have our lunch nearby before leaving for Novena Square, where we will board the bus to return to Malaysia. Had a short walk in Velocity, and bumped into Ben and Yee Hua. And at 4.30pm, the journey home started and most of us spent the time sleeping in the bus. 6 hours later, we found ourselves back at Bangsar safely. Bid each other farewell and our Sundown Marathon 2008 trip came to an end.

Thumbs up for our trip...

Overall about my performance at Sundown Marathon 2008, I was happy with it despite being my physically toughest marathon to date. I never had any cramps before during a marathon and this being my first, it hurt a lot. The rest of the guys found the route extremely difficult but I just ran along not thinking too much of it. I told myself to go for it no matter what is thrown to me and that includes the pedestrian bridges. Choi mentioned that the concrete surface on most of the route was unfriendly to the legs and it hurt his heels. I do not know if that contributed to my cramp though as my legs were fine. And running a night marathon is not easy. I'm glad I came prepared, and the core training really helped a lot as it helped my body stay upright during the course of the race. Prior to the race, lots of rest is needed to stay awake and alert. And finally, the simulation run organised by Tony at Putrajaya certainly helped.

As for how the marathon was organised out, it could have been better. The only cheerleaders from the organisers were the road marshals and not many of them cheered. The other cheerleaders were from the public especially at the East Coast Park. And not forgetting that the marshals were the medic which left me thinking how knowledgeable were they in first aid. There was no Saint John nor Red Crescent seen. And as for the water station, it was kind of short handed especially during the first half of the race. Most of the cups were empty and volunteers were scrambling around to get the cups filled. But anyhow, it was their first time organising this race, and I think it's acceptable. Perhaps they will be better in their next event.

Respect the distance...

As a conclusion, I enjoyed the trip very much together with the guys. Although not much sight seeing were done, I was glad with how it turned out. Lots of rest was needed to survive the night marathon. I was happy with my timing as it was my new personal record but at the same time disappointed too as I did not meet my target of a sub 04:30:00, missing it by 15 seconds. I know the route was over-distance, so technically I met my target. But at the end of the day, I know that timing is what I achieved and it will be "stored" in my head forever. A little note here. My salute to Ben, Shine and Tey ET for having successfully completed their 84KM ultra marathon. It sure wasn't easy epecially when they have to run the 42KM loops twice! And being over distance, they actually did 86.2KM! So there you have it, my fourth marathon of my running career and also my first night marathon. Till my fifth marathon...