Sunday, January 30, 2011

The First Test Run...

By Frank

The first super long run, and one to be done at night at the place where running is made even tougher, Putrajaya. The main priority is the run past midnight while to hit 50KM is the secondary. This will be the first test to see how much improvement I've made over the past 1 month of schedule training. It should improve, else it's back to the drawing board.

Weather was good with rain before we started and drizzling along the way. But don't be fooled by it, as it didn't really make the run easier. Recently, I became one of the Vibram Five Fingers official dealer in Malaysia hence I got myself a pair of the Bikila model. I've ran 10KM in it and found absolutely problem free in them. Therefore, I decided to put them on again for this run as I decided that this will be the shoe to strengthen my legs.

Close to 8pm, I started my run with Karen, Jamie and Kelvin. Started really well and the plan was to run 5 loops around Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC) first when our legs were still fresh and besides, safety first before it gets too late. This area can be quite deserted when it gets late. Along the way, we met other runners under Irwan's event and almost greeted everyone. Well, I was still fresh that time so I'm not "silent" yet. Hehehe...

Kelvin started to drop back at the second loop and Karen's pace started increasing. Jamie dropped back to accompany Kelvin while I gave chase for Karen as I didn't want the lady to run alone in the darkness. We did 4 loops together chatting along the way before heading back to the start area for hydration before doing the fifth. We were joined by Shine here and off goes the 3 stooges. I'm sure Karen felt her "royalness" here when she's running with her "bodyguards" (Shine and myself). Hehehe...

At 26KM, we waited for Jamie and the four of us ran together till the start of the fifth. I started to drop out and told them to go ahead without me. At 40KM, I ran over to Mohan, Winnie and Mabel for some company back to the car. By the time I arrive back, I've hit 42KM, and decided to run another 195M more around the car park to achieve the marathon distance before calling it a day. It was already 1.18am and calling it a night will be the best option for me.

I stayed around to catch up with friends and also some of them who showed up to support like Khairul, Yim and Cynthia. Had a good chat with them before we wish everyone a Happy Chinese New Year before I left at around 2.30am.

Despite the cool weather, running at Putrajaya has proven once again tough. Yes, I failed to hit the half century distance, but to run my second run in my Vibram Five Fingers Bikila hitting the marathon distance without any pain and blisters is something I'm proud of. And yes, I do see improvements. Whether is it due to the help from my friends who ran with me, I don't really care. An improvement is an improvement. The quest to strengthen my legs continue but for now, I'm just laying back to enjoy myself after having ran this. And most important, I now can indulge in Chinese New Year goodies without feeling too much guilt. Hahaha...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Silent Runner...

By Frank
Lately, the group run has seen a slight increase of runners. Some were new runners while the others are regular runners whom I have not ran with them before. This is certainly good news for running with others does make the sport more interesting.
For those who had ran with me for years, they will certainly know 1 thing about me, I don't talk nor chat while I ran. Reason is kind of obvious. I can't start a conversation due to lack of breath. I will tire easily once I start uttering words from my mouth. For those who not know of this, you may find me rude by not replying. Well, it's not that I didn't want to, it's just that I can't. Sometimes I will try, but not always. I apologies for this if you find me rude.
Some may also find me not replying back when I'm tired. I don't immediately reply back after completing a run as I'm still catching my breath. And just the past weekend, I was tired due to lack of rest. I was pretty stone and was slow in replying others and may even not notice a conversation.
However, during my runs, I will try my best possible to greet other runners by just simply waving to them. It's a running etiquette that I find easy to oblige.
So whether you are running with me or running past me, just remember that I'm simply a silent runner or pehaps one that is just simply out of breath.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I Hate Training...

By Frank
If last week's back to back was tough, then this week can be quite a killer! As mentioned, the distance slowly increases and this week on the training regime is to have a 20KM and 30KM back to back long runs.
Yesterday's run was rather comfortable. Managed 21KM without suffering too much. Weather was good too and I had good company with Loke, Michael and Daniel. It was all about building and preserving the legs for next day's run.
Then came today's 30KM run. Jamie who was not able to make it yesterday joined in with Lawrence, Azhar, Karen and Shanaz. Did not have a good sleep and was tired. Plus, the humidity level was pretty unforgiving. My plan was to run a fast 5KM before trying to maintain a 7 minute per kilometer pace. I managed to clock a very decent first 5KM but the latter was tough on my legs. It wasn't my usual comfortable pace but I had to give it a try. The reason is simple, I need to find a pace that can last me a century distance. As I ran and ran, my legs started to stiffen. It got tougher and tougher as I ran and towards the end, I decided to cut short my distance and just ended up with 28.5KM. No shame in the missing 1.5KM but at least I have an idea on how the pace feels like.
I found my 84KM pace last year, but with additional 16KM, things will have to change. Trial and error and troubleshooting will have to be done. We won't know if one thing will work until we try. But to try it out in running is certainly not easy. We have to endure through the pain and soreness to analyse the result and this is something I didn't like which had to be done.
I like to run, but to train for an event that I wanted something out of it, I absolutely hate it. I just can't wait till race day. But I know that without training, there can be no achievement. There isn't any free lunch in this world. So please do not take this entry's title too seriously. I just did not know on what to put for a title. Hehehe... For now, my legs feels wobbly and I can't wait to lay on bed tonight and just doze off. Sadly, I have to wait for it as I'm stuck in office right now.
Having wrap up week 4, back to back long runs will be on hold for now as a test run on a greater than marathon distance awaits next week. I do not want to think much about it now, but certainly wants to get it over with as soon as possible as the following week will be the Lunar New Year break. Give me my run, and I shall be able to indulge in festive goodies without feeling too much guilt! :D

Monday, January 17, 2011

Run Safe, Run Smart...

By Frank

Sundown 100KM and the Twilight Ultra Challenge is coming. The first local marathon will start in the month of April. No doubt everyone wants to train for it. And for those who are running the ultra distance, they are certainly doing their super long runs. To beat the sun, they have to start running early. And here comes the story...

Yesterday's 30KM run and also the potluck although were held successfully, it was overshadowed by the concern of safety for runners. At 5.30am when I started my run with Michael, Jamie and Lawrence around bird park, we spotted Terence and a few others pushing a motorbike up the slope just behind bird park. We stopped shortly to check and to our horror, we found out that Naido was pretty badly bashed up. He was there with his shirt soaked in blood. Apparently, he was followed by this orange Proton Gen-2 before the latter decided to pull over in front of him. Then 2 person came out from the car to question Naidoo on the reason he was following them. Nonsense! Naidoo was on his way to Bukit Aman carpark for his morning run. And for this, the two buggers decided to bash him up leaving him with a broken nose. Was fortunate Terence and some others were there to shortly to help him to file a police report and to send him for treatment.

So is running on Malaysian safe? I wish to say it is, but I'm afraid it's not. Let's all face it and while we let the police or any other safety personnel's do their job, let's all run using our heads. Running at the wee hours especially before 4am is not a good idea but if you have to, always run in a group, the more the merrier! And for the ladies, do have some guys with you.

And be alert of your surroundings. Run against traffic, always pay attention to any incoming traffic and be prepare to take excessive maneuvers. Better still, run on the pavement. It may not be comfortable to run on, but safety is always the top priority. Even when I have been practising this for years, I too myself have been unlucky. Lynn, Luc, Jamie, Kelvin and recently Christine and Cynthia have all nearly fell prey together with me during our morning runs.

Not going to grumble anymore about running safe and smart. It's actually pretty simple to implement and all it takes is just common sense. And also, do read Jamie's take on this and also a very important note for runners who listens to music while running. I want to write about it, but am too lazy at the moment. Perhaps the next time. Before ending this, here's wishing a speedy recovery for Naidoo.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Distance Increases...

By Frank

Since Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2010, I have not run any distances 30KM and above. MR25 Cross Country Ultra Marathon 2010 was an exception cause I was all out for fun then. This morning, as my road to century's regime deepens, it had to be done.

I'm into my second week of my back to back long runs. Distance starts to increase especially on the second day's run. This morning, I did my very first 30KM of the year. I saved my legs yesterday by just running 15KM as I know it will be tough this morning. And tough it certainly was. In fact, I was worried as I was having my breakfast earlier.

Pacesetters Athletic Club Malaysia was supporting LSD runs by stationing 2 water stations along the Bukit Aman - Sri Hartamas route. Therefore, it's a chance not to be miss as running with support and lots of other runners will make thing easier. And the scene this morning was like if there was a race being organised!

Probably yesterday's entry on being a "sweeper" came at a wrong time. As I needed this 30KM badly, I didn't manage to "sweep" my friend. However, I did mention this to my friend as I felt that it will be safe as there were so many other runners around. No hard feelings but I will inform if I plan to go faster.

For a brief moment, I felt I had my Macau Marathon 2009's legs back. I had the strength and speed and was running flawlessly. Then came the first water station. I grab the cup without realising it's ice cold orange squash. It was too cold that my tummy cramp up instantly. That really was a bummer as I slowly lost sight on Jamie and Michael. I stood with water for the rest of the distance.

Arriving back at the car park, there was another 5KM to be covered. I told Jamie that I'm tempted to call it a day but knew that it must be done. It's going to be a warm down run around the bird park but Jamie hammered it. I tried to give chase but he was too fast. I told myself to let him be as I just concentrate on my run. At the end, I'm just purely satisfied that I had it in the bag. Soreness, twitching and sleepy but it didn't stop me from hanging out with other fellow runners as there was a potluck going on.

Caught up with friends, refueled and found out that I was running late. Rush back home, cleaned up, further refueled and headed straight to office. I do not want to think too much now on what the following week beckons. For now, I just want to enjoy myself for having successfully run 30KM. A pat on my back for myself, that's if I can reach it. Hehehe...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Hey, Wait For Me...

By Frank

You run and run, enjoying the sights and the every breath you take and suddenly you ask yourself "Where is everyone?". "Where am I?". I'm sure most of us were newbies once and that includes me. It's certainly not easy to run in unexplored territory and not to mention doing it alone. And here comes the job of the "sweeper".

My first visit to the infamous Bukit Aman - Sri Hartamas route was back in year 2007. I was supposed to run 30KM but ended up running only 10KM and then getting lost. The rest had left on their own pace leaving myself and Rashid, both newbies that time scratching our heads on how to get back to Bukit Aman. It took us near to 2 hours to find ourselves back and since then, my view on running long distance has change, at least with newbies around.

Yes, I don't deny I have my own favourite comfortable pace to run with. However, if I were to run with newbies or those who had not run that particular route before, I will try my best to guide them, if not to take on the duty as the "sweeper". The "sweeper" in my own words is to guide the slowest runner safely back to where we started. I had taken this role many times and just recently again as I had the chance to run with new friends. It isn't easy to run a pace that I'm not comfortable with, but the satisfaction gained from guiding friends is priceless. A simple thank you and gesture of appreciation is gained sometimes, but inside me, something else, something satisfactory and priceless is what that is worth for.

I believe if the running community is to be succeeded by new bloods, "veterans" and "seniors" must set a good example for others to follow. We can't just whack the pace and let the newbies behind leaving them running like headless chickens. Just like children succeeding their parents, it will be these runners ruling the road one fine day.

I've received a few comments from newbies and slower runners saying that they can't run with me due to my pace. Try me and you will know! I won't elaborate further as a few friends who had ran with me will know. It's no fun running alone wondering how far ahead the others are especially when you are the back of the pack. Safety itself is compromise even with the guys so it doesn't take too much out of someone to try run in a group or perhaps to wait for the others. If all else fails, let's just hope someone will take on the role of a "sweeper". Run safe! ;)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

K-Swiss K-Ruuz

By Frank

Another K-Swiss shoe review! And this time, it's the shoe that took Mirinda Carfrae to the women's 2010 Ironman World Champion title, the K-Swiss K-Ruuz.

Mirinda Carfrae feeling awesome in the K-Swiss K-Ruuz...

Lateral view of the K-Swiss K-Ruuz...

Medial view of the K-Swiss K-Ruuz...

The K-Swiss K-Ruuz isn't a new model for K-Swiss. In fact, has been released back in the second quarter of year 2010. This review just came as I only just had my chance to give it a go. The K-Ruuz is probably the "fastest" shoe in K-Swiss line up, period. Super light weight weighting at about 184g for a men size US9, it falls under the racing flat category. Measuring a mere 9.5mm at the lowest point, it is totally flat on the outsole but yet a very mild medial post on the rear of heel area. Honestly speaking, I don't really like the inclusion of a medial post on that area, but in the case of this shoe, I didn't really care for it at all. The reason, this shoe is so minimalist in design and low profile, that mid or forefoot strike is made so much easier. Hardly will my feet land on their heel, except when maybe when I go tired.

View of the medial stability post...

The Flow Cool System is again implemented into this shoe with the features on the toe box and the heel cupling. Not forgetting the 10 drainage ports on the shoe's outsole. Similar size to the Blade-Light series and not as huge as the K-Onas, it still does the trick in getting water out of the way.

Most of the outsole is built on K-EVAs except for a small part on the heel strike area where K-Swiss's proprietary blown rubber Aosta II is used. This shoe is made fast, but it's also very fast in wear and tear. Being a low profile pure racing flat, this isn't surprising. I have ran 50KM using them and the signs are clear. Probably another 3 marathon distance races and I shall be able to call it a day from its racing duties.

AOSTA II blown rubber for durability...

Some questioned the shoes ability to hold up the marathon distance due to the extremely low profile that is even thinner than my previous thinnest shoe, the ASICS DS-Racer VII. Initial reviews by magazines states that it's most suited for a 10KM race, with max being the half marathon distance. However, I personally think the K-Ruuz will be able to go the distance. Mirinda Carfrae and Andreas Raelert did it, and I personally did it at the recent Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2010. Cushioning is provided with K-Swiss proprietary cushioning foam called the SuperFoam embedded on the midsole. And with it, I did not feel any discomfort, in fact I felt great running in them. Due to the low profile nature, it was very responsive.

The K-Swiss K-Ruuz (blue) is even lower profile than the ASICS DS-Racer VII (red/white)...

The SuperFoam cushioning system...

Yes, the mesh and overlays are thin enough providing great ventilation. It also makes them extremely flexible too. But I personally don't recommend to wear them sockless due to the molded seams on the shoe's medial where the 5 stripes are. The molding of the 5 stripes is perhaps for the arch stability control where the shoes wrap around the wearer's arch. This is after all a pure racer, therefore expect the shoe to be tight fitting.

The thin mesh and overlays, and a view of the molding of the stripes area...

The collar isn't well padded due to weight concerns. It's actually pretty rough hence "no show" socks might cause chaffing on the Achilles region. I've worn "mini-crew" socks which are generally well padded and has no issue on irritation from the collar. However, this may be subjective among runners. As for the tongue, it's very thin but I find no irritation from it either. It too stayed in place throughout my entire marathon distance, probably due to the longer design.

The K-Swiss K-Ruuz is my current favourite racing flat, period. Low profile enables mid to fore foot strike hence great to avoid pressure travelling to the knee and spine, highly flexible and super ventilated. As for the wear and tear durability issue of the outsole, guess just have to live with it as I believe that all minimalists low profile shoe faces the same issue.

The K-Swiss K-Ruuz is available at Runnerz Circle with a recommended selling price of RM369.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Back To Back...

By Frank

Successfully completed my first back to back long run for the year 2011 and also for my road to century distance. It wasn't easy considering it has been a while since I included this in my regime. Memories of end year 2008's back to back came rushing back, with the soreness included. Only Jamie from the original group was part of my training partner and I certainly miss the great times with some of the old gang. But fear not, new friends are always nice to have and in just this 2 days, I've made a few and also to run with those I have yet to run with.

We started yesterday's long run from our regular spot at Bukit Aman carpark. Only had 2 hours of sleep as I mysteriously woke up at midnight when the run only starts at 5am! Sigh... Organised by Jamie, we were joined by Cynthia, Bernard, Michael and Azhar. Instead of running to Sri Hartamas, we did 4 loops around bird park before heading out to double hills. Close to 21KM but I did near to 17KM only with Cynthia as she had some tummy issue. I took the role of sweeping the run from behind as someone had to perform this duty especially running with the new blood. Yes, the pace is slow, but I have no regrets. In fact, I felt honoured and satisfied to have played the role.

This morning, a revisit to the Newton route. Besides Jamie, all are new faces. Christine, Vince, Rao and few others. All I have never had run with before. Myself, Jamie and Christine did about 20KM. Pace was generally faster than yesterday but still pretty tough for me. Probably because of lack of sleep (only had 3 hours), but most probably due to the conditioning of the legs. Felt twitching on my left knee. Hmmm...

But a 17KM then 20KM back to back is a great start for me. Distance will be increase but it will be a gradual one. I don't see a point in running really long but not gaining any positive improvements. Patience I should.

Overall, I enjoyed a lot on my return to back to back long runs. Will be more to come, but today I learnt that to fully make use of it, sleep is really important. And it's something which I didn't have the privilege to enjoy on my first back to back long run due to work commitments. *YAWN*

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Making Up Loss Ground...

By Frank

Last year, I've slacked. Results do not lie. I suffered in most of my runs due to lack of training. I myself am the one to blame. This year, I hope to regain the momentum on what I have been trying to build on. To run effectively and then to score. I want my Macau Marathon 2009 legs, motivation and guts back.

Time is something we are given to manage. A day may be just 24 hours, some say short, while others long. However, if manage properly, each and every seconds can be put to good use. I'm seeking to implement that theory for this year's training.

I still want my ticket to The North Face 100 solo category. And I'm using again this year's Sundown Ultra Marathon to try to gain entry to it. It won't be an easy task, but it's worth trying for. Training has started and though I can skip most of the basic stuff, I went back to square one. Step by step, structure by structure, I'm intend to rebuild what I built during the second half of year 2009 and perhaps even to surpass it, I hope.

The journey will be a long and rough one. But I'm glad I have the friends to join me. One of them will be the person whom I have look up to and followed even before I even started running, my running team partner for last year's The North Face 100KM Duo category, Jamie. This year started with the both of us running a steady long run on new year's day. And come this weekend will be the start of our back to back runs. He has set his eyes on his 16th marathon and while mine is an ultra distance, I'm glad we are training together. Never know we might even partner together again at this year's The North Face 100 should my quest for the solo fail. I hope as we run, more and more will join us in our adventure. Training should be fun, so whoever is reading this, do join us.

Last year is history and I shall look forward. Do not want to give myself any excuses for not even trying or coming close to what I am going for. Results at the end will speak for me, and results isn't everything about timing. For now, let me regain what I lost the last 365 days.