Saturday, March 24, 2012

Slicing Through 715KM...

By Frank

After slightly more than a year and running distance at about 715KM, my first pair of K-Swiss Blade-Light Run has finally settled into retirement after this morning's 21KM run. When it was first released in late year 2010, it was a revolutionary performance running shoe that some will find it odd looking. But don't judge it by its look as upon putting it on, one will know of its benefits. Read about it in my review here.

The K-Swiss Blade-Light Run which I received last February 2011 courtesy of K-Swiss and Outdoor Venture Pte Ltd has been my high mileage work horse since then, accompanying me for one marathon, one 50KM ultra marathon and numerous running distance for my long runs as I trained for Sundown Ultra Marathon last year. Going through thick and thin, mud and rain, sweat and soreness, I guess it's about time it gave way. The EVA is starting to "harden" and the comfort level is definitely dropping with the air pockets in the EVA slowly vanishing into thin air.

715KM and 0KM outsole...

Comparison of the forefoot outsole area between old and new...

When I first received the shoe, I didn't had much confident that it will hold up judging on how the outsole looks like. It actually looks fragile with the lack of carbon rubber but with 715KM worth of running distance proven on the road, it certainly is a proven performance model that weight just at about 252 grams for a men size US9.0. And judging from the current state of the outsole, I must say that it actually held up pretty well. Looking at it closely, the tread designs are basically still there and although some of the "blades" are showing signs of shredding off, honestly speaking, it isn't really that bad considering what it has gone through. And evidence of me striking mid to forefoot is there if you pay attention to the amount of carbon rubber that is still present on the outsole at the heel area.

The predecessor meets the successor...

My very first pair of K-Swiss Blade-Light Run deserve a retirement break now and I will use it for my day to day walking shoe. A newer colour of the same make has just been sent to me courtesy of K-Swiss and Outdoor Venture Pte Ltd for my Comrades Marathon 2012 training and I'm sure it will continue off the legacy of the first pair. Let's hope it will slice through the 715KM!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tickets To South Africa...

By Frank

Finally, after a long planning with Chee Kong, I have finally purchased my return flight tickets for my trip to South Africa. On a 11 days trip (excluding the many hours I'm going to stay up in the sky), I will be leaving on 29 May 2012 on board Singapore Airlines from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore for a 3.5 hours transit there. Any friends want to meet up? *hint hint I was suppose to fly direct on Malaysia Airline but out of a sudden, the flights were all cancelled off. Then it was Air Emirates, but then, I had a shock when I learnt about the fare. It was just too much for me to bear. As this is my first time on board Singapore Airlines, I do hope it will be a pleasant one unlike my recent scare on board AirAsia. On the positive side, is that Changi Airport has lots of variety there and I think I can make good use of my time there before going into a long slumber on the resuming flight to Johannesburg.

With the Comrades Marathon 2012 being held on 3 June 2012, this will give me enough time to settle down there. And after the race, I will have enough time for some sight seeing over at Cape Town meeting up hopefully with Phil there, and maybe even for 1 more shorter race. From Cape Town on 10 June 2012, I will then board a late morning return flight back to Singapore for an hours transit before back home to Kuala Lumpur.

Overall, I'm just happy to finally settle off both my accommodation which I will be staying with Chee Kong and my transportation issues. It's always the headache part when planning for a trip to a far away place. Was lucky that Chee Kong helped a lot with it. However, I still do not know much about the whole itinerary of the trip there as there are still some unconfirmed things that Chee Kong will need to iron out. Till then, it's 75 days to race day. GULPS!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

K-Swiss Blade-Foot Run...

By Frank

K-Swiss has finally entered the "barefoot" shoes segment! Their first attempt at it, the zero drop K-Swiss Blade-Foot Run. Following the tradition of the very successful Blade innovation, expect some radical changes to the shoe design and how we run in them. And after thrashing it out at the recent Twilight Ultra Challenge 2012, I felt more confidence in giving it a review of my own.

The K-Swiss Blade-Foot Run...

Back to basics, the zero drop of the Blade-Foot Run refers to the difference in heel to toe drop. A traditional shoe will have at least 8mm to 13mm differences and with this pair, your feet will feel flattish in them. No support and minimal cushioning, the shoe's primary duty is to protect the feet from the harsh environment like the rough tarmac and pebbles.

Lateral side of the K-Swiss Blade-Foot Run...

Medial side of the K-Swiss Blade-Foot Run...

The outsole is still based on the Blades. However, some changes were made to place the Blades in a different way to simulate a more barefoot feel and this gave even better traction than before. It felt much firmer now hence providing a more efficient and responsive propulsion with every toe-off. High wear and tear area were reinforced with Aosta II rubber compound for extra durability and I must say that the wear rate is rather impressive! The shoe's flexibility itself isn't as flexible as some other minimalist shoes out in the market. However, it was acceptable and to my surprise, it even does have a "springy" feel to it, where the shoe will flex its way back to its original form. And notice the original form of the shoe's toe box. It's curved upwards very obviously and this has really proven to help a lot with forefoot landing.

I've no problems with the fitting of the shoe. The shoe wrap up nicely on my arch, providing enough protection on my Achilles region and the toe box was wide enough to have my toes splayed. A clever design on the toe box, the area where the metatarsal meets the tarsal has been widen resulting in a more natural fit. Even the laces were asymmetrically designed to take the shape of the contour of our feet's upper.

Asymmetrically placed laces moves with your feet...

Noticed the stretched out area at the sides...

Some of K-Swiss key features were retained in the Blade-Foot Run. The ever popular Flow Cool System to ensure fresh air entering the shoe to keep the feet cool and to dry off any moisture that may have accumulated in it. Stay tied laces, where no more worrying of laces coming undone. And finally, the pulley on the tongue and heel tab to allow fast entry and fitting of the shoe.

However, as much as I like the Blade-Foot Run, I would have prefer if Ion-Mask is implemented to allow a water repellent upper. It has become a technology I adore so much that I'm really missing it in this model. Next will be the drainage system on the outsole of the shoe. I was very surprised that it has been excluded even though the midsole is perforated. It has been a key feature in K-Swiss performance model and I can't understand the reason for its "demise". Perhaps an upgrade in the next future model.

All in all, I'm very happy overall with the new K-Swiss Blade-Foot Run and am confident enough to take it as my race shoe of choice for my upcoming Comrades Marathon 2012.

The K-Swiss Blade-Foot Run is now available at Running Lab, Tropicana City Mall Malaysia and Running Lab Singapore retailing respectively at a recommended selling price of RM399.00 and SGD159.00.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Twilight Ultra Challenge 2012...

Event: Twilight Ultra Challenge 2012
Venue: East Coast Park, Singapore
Date: 11 March 2012
Time: 12.00am
Distance: 10KM loops (maximum distance in 16 hours)
Shoe: K-Swiss Blade-Foot Run
By Frank

Looks like I'm not cut for commando style running events. Again, I struggled at Twilight Ultra Challenge (TUC), resulting from sleepiness and indigestion. Though offered a place to stay by Ian and TS, I have to decline as I will need to maximise my time at KL due to work commitments.

Waking up at 10.30am on Saturday, many things happened. I had to travel a bit to see to one of it and it was one that I did not regret doing for it was a painful teary moment.

Early dinner before leaving for the airport. Nice shirts I must say. *grin*...

Then in mid noon, I loitered with Chee Kong and Mei Ee at an eatery outlet before proceeding to the Low Cost Carrier Terminal to await for my flight to Changi via Air Asia. The flight got delayed 20 minutes, so it wasn't too bad. But 5 minutes after taking off, 3 rows in front of me, a passenger heard something which sounded like wind gushing in. Everyone panicked and moved away. At that moment, I thought that was it. The cabin was leaking and the plane is going to drop from the sky and number 1 for TUC 2012 is a no show due to plane crash. But then, the problem was found. Some sort of insect was in the cabin making some sort of noise that sounded like wind gushes. OK, I will be reaching my destination after all. Phew...

Upon arrival and getting lost a bit in Changi Terminal 1, I finally met up with Chee Kong at Terminal 3. We quickly settled down for our dinner at Pastamania which turned out to be turning point for my run later. And while dining, I felt sleepiness and I know the chances of hitting 89KM will be tough. We changed into our race gear, flagged down a cab and off we went to East Coast Park.

Arrival at the race site was a big HOOHA for me! Ben announced the arrival of his number 1 runner (number 1 on bib only) and even the volunteers were eager to see who I was while giving out my race pack. Some volunteers even came over to greet me knowing what I'm doing for cancer research at the upcoming Comrades Marathon 2012. I was in a way famous and I hope its for a good reason. *Thick skin here a bit*

As it was Adam 1ArmRunner's birthday, there was a lucky draw session before run's flag off too. I was lucky enough to get a prize and when Ben announced it so loudly that I was bib number 1, I guess the whole race site kept their eyes on me. Remember to give me a paper basket to cover my head the next time.

First individual and last entry for TUC 2012 The bib number tells the order...

After meeting some old and making new friends like Ford, Kai Wei, Asree and some others, we were flagged off at midnight. I settled down mid pack with Chee Kong, Roy and Paul nicely. Pace was rather consistent at 6:30 minutes per kilometer and my new K-Swiss Blade-Foot Run zero drop minimalist shoe worked brilliantly.

However it was at 15KM, that I felt sleepiness taking over and I had trouble with my gut. I felt bloated and I knew it was from my pasta dinner due to my burping. I told Chee Kong to go ahead without me and he literary found an extra gear and went for it. By the next 5KM or so, he already made his way into the top 10 runners and is the fastest Malaysian runner at that point. I'm sure many of you who only heard of him but never seen him in action is amazed by this friend of mine.

Nice shady route to run (photo courtesy of Chee Kong)...

I continue on till 35KM with a time of 05:14 hours before deciding to take a nap. And it was instant black out for me even by sitting on the plastic chair for 2 hours. Upon waking up, although it cleared my senses a little, the legs just refused to carry on. I let out a big burp and that helped with my gut too. I took down a banana hoping that gastric will not be my next problem. I pushed very slowly till about 41KM when I caught Chee Kong and David at McDonald's having their breakfast! Joined them for a while before resuming. Not much running and instead it was just walking side by side with Chee Kong while chatting about our next ultra adventure. And when by the time when we got back to the race site where I hit 45KM and him 60KM, we decided to call it a day after clocking 09:23:40.

The conqueror's medal...

Calmed down before heading to clean ourselves up. Chee Kong decided to check himself into a nearby hotel to rest up before his flight back to South Africa at 2am later. Myself, I hung out at the race site witnessing other runners running through the pain barrier till about 3pm before heading off to Changi Terminal 1 with Malcalm. We parted ways at later as I was to meet up with Carey and Karen at Terminal 3 for dinner before heading home. I arrived late at the Budget Terminal and got a sounding from the officer there. I ran for my life to catch my plane and I think that busted my left upper feet a little. It's swollen now! DARN!

Overall, though I did not manage to run the 89KM distance, I still enjoyed my time at TUC 2012. The great hospitality and race management given by Ben and his Running Guild management team is something which runners don't often get in events. And I'm still glad I get to run, try out my race gear and to meet old friends and to make new friends. Till next year's TUC and I don't think I will be doing commando style again. It's just way to taxing!

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Re-Entering The Twilight Zone...

By Frank

How time flies and it has been a year since Ben organised his first ever Twilight Ultra Challenge back in March 2011. This Sunday, 11 March 2012, the second edition beckons and instead of starting in the evening, it starts at midnight and ends at 4pm! It's going to be one hell of a run.

Last year, to my surprised I was given bib number 1. This year round, I'm returning as number 1 again. Muahahaha... Time to defend my position, from the back that is. Hehehe...

Number 1 is back...

I've made a lot of friends at last year's edition and I hope to do so again this time round. Although not many Malaysian friends will be joining this time, Chee Kong's last minute participation is certainly a very welcome addition. Besides, Ben did mentioned that he might be running along too, to cheer for runners as we run. Except for he always like to disturb me. He mentioned he will prepare a whip to "motivate" me this time round. *grin*

Last year's edition was a nightmare for myself, Jamie and Jeff. Travelling into Singapore commando style as in fly, arrive, race and leave back home, it left me lifeless. I only managed a very slow 50KM last year.

This year round, with the event starting at midnight, it will be a friendlier affair for those travelling commando. Leaving on Saturday evening and will then depart on Sunday night, I do hope I will get enough rest to hope to run a 89KM. Yes, I do plan to simulate the Comrades Marathon distance to see how fast can I cover the distance and hopefully I can do it in within 12 hours.. With as much of my Comrades Marathon race gear I've received thus far, it's time to put them to the test. I'm a runner on a mission but if all else fails, so be it as I know it will be a tiring affair. I won't be trying hard, instead I will go the smart way.

* An update from this morning of a friend's passing. She has been battling lung cancer for years. Am dedicating my this year's Twilight Ultra Challenge to this friend. May you rest in peace.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

K-Swiss Blade-Light Recover...

By Frank

Received this very handsome K-Swiss Blade-Light Recover back in December 2011 and has been using as my regular walking, pre and post run shoe since then as it was super duper comfy!

The K-Swiss Blade-Light Recover...

Lateral side of the K-Swiss Blade-Light Recover...

Medial side of the K-Swiss Blade-Light Recover...

Not an entirely new model, in fact it came out in the United States back in October 2010, it was one of the first triplets of the Blade family by K-Swiss. The first 2, the K-Swiss Blade-Light Run and Blade-Light Race brings forward their technology into the Blade-Light Recover where anatomically designed blades are positioned at strategic areas of the outsole to help cushion and propel every foot strike. The difference will be the exclusion of the Aosta II rubber compound which give the running models extra durability. But after all, the Blade-Light Recover isn't a running shoe and don't ever try running fast on it. It's slippery!

Anatomically position blades...

Pre and especially post run has never been so comfortable with the recovery foam footbed which replaces the traditional sockliner. Not sure of the material made of, but I suspect it might be memory foam or some spongy cushy material. Together with their space aged SuperFoam EVA foam midsole, every time I strike the ground, it was just a soft cushy landing.

Recovery foambed together with SuperFoam (red area on the inside of the shoe)...

A very smart feature of the Blade-Light Recover is the collapsible heel which transform the shoe into a slip-on sandal. Sore legs after a tough run, it will be really troublesome and sometime painful to slip into a "covered up" shoe. With the collapsible heel, just simply step on it, and the whole thing will just collapse and allowing our feet to enter the shoes easily.

Collapsible heel for easy entry...

The K-Swiss Blade-Light Recover also provides compression with a compression band built over the midfoot area using articulated compression therapy. The band simply wraps up the mid foot area and this is one feature that I didn't enjoy much off. As I followed my regular shoe size, I felt tightness on my metatarsal area especially when I'm not in motion. Once I start walking around, it felt much better. Out of curiosity, I tried half a size bigger and that quickly resolved my problem.

The articulated compression therapy band...

Also, I will also prefer Flow Cool System to be included in the shoe to allow better ventilation. Though the shoe can be worn sockless, I soon found my feet to be feeling sticky due to perspiration. Without any anti-bacteria agent in the shoe, ventilation is something important which I wish will be implemented in future updates.

If only Flow Cool System was implemented, there will be holes on the toe-box...

This is will be my walking shoe that I will be bringing to South Africa during my date with the Comrades Marathon 2012 for my legs will be battered during my stay there. No other recovery footwear, not even the reptilian branded shoe is better than this. Love our feet and legs, and it will reward you.

So pamper your feet and wear the K-Swiss Blade-Light Recovery for health and perhaps even for fashion statement. Just be sure to try your regular shoe size with a half size bigger version to make sure the compression isn't too much. Retailing at RM349.00, it is now available in Running Lab Malaysia, Tropicana City Mall.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

The Official TURCR Shirts...

By Frank

It's finally here! The official The Ultimate Race for Cancer Research 2012 (TURCR) official shirt has arrived. Designed and made proudly by my good friends at 2ndskin (THANKS fellas), the sales of the shirts will be all for a good cause as 100% of the profit will be benefit Cancer Research Initiative Foundation (CARIF).

Made of micro-fiber mesh material and priced at RM60.00 each, here's where you can purchase the shirts and do your part for cancer research:

1) Running Lab Malaysia - G29, Ground Floor, Tropicana City Mall (contact person: Frank @ +6012 395 9598)

2) CARIF - 2nd Floor, Outpatient Centre, Sime Darby Medical Centre (contact person: Katrina @ +603 5639 1966)

Below are the size measurement.

Half chest length / Shirt length (inches)
XXS - 17" / 25"
XS - 18" / 26"
S - 19" / 27"
M - 20" / 28"
L - 21" / 29"
XL - 22" / 30"
XXL - 23" / 31"