Monday, July 27, 2015

Race Report: Seremban Half Marathon 2015

After 2 years of working with my full marathon timing, I finally signed up a half marathon. I was looking forward to fulfill my sub-2 half marathon target which missed for many years. My PB for HM was 2:03’35” in GM Klang Run For It 2013. There are actually too many half marathons available nowadays, but I picked Seremban HM mainly due to it is a familiar route and small town event.

This is my 4th times running in this HM (3x official racing, 1x bandit run on own support). Most of the issue (pro & cons) remained unchanged, so I won’t elaborate here. Seremban town area had not much changes compare to my first visit 15 years ago. But if you going with the HM route, you can see the urban area was moving really fast. The numbers of cars were growing too. Lucky the people still, roughly follow the small town style. Traffic will usually slowing down when they approaching, and will wait patiently when stopped by traffic police while waiting for runners passing the busy junctions.

On the other hand, I think runners really need to improve our running etiquette. Most of the time I observed runners took up the middle of a lane without any reason. Some cross the road without considering his / her owned safety. If you are familiar with this HM, you will know that the traffic controls for most sessions on the route actually none exist. With the narrow kumpung style 1 lane trunk road, you really need to run at the road side and be careful with the traffic.

Back to my race report, the game plan was simple, run at 5.4min/km pace until finish line. Knew the route is under-distance by about 1km, this will give me a nice 150 HM PB. The race flag off on time, lots of people sped out from the start. I need to hold back to maintain at my target pace, from the starting line until we left the town center. At the long inclines up to AEON Big and McD at Forest Height, I started to overtake others. This basically continued for the rest of the race. I kept overtaking others, few on the flat, and many more on the 13/14km stiff incline where we finally turning back heading to town center. Pace maintained at 5.2-5.5min/km thru out the race. To certain extend, the consistence pace is a bit boring, but it paid off nicely towards the end. The pace was held back until 18th km, then after the final incline where we merged with the school boys and girls. I dropped the hammer and sped to the max, clocking 4:30min/km like how I did in my speed intervals. I finished as 58th, with 1:47’20”, a nice PB for my HM.
SHM 2015 Finisher Medal 
Need to work on my posing while running in front of the camera man. TQ Tey.

Turbo mode ON! TQ Allan.
This year the Royal Selangor pewters only for the top 10 position (or 20?) so I only got a cheaper version of limited medal. The field were extremely competitive and crowded too (650 participants in HM compared to 320 participants in 2014). The organizer should really start to address the traffic control issue if they wanted to grow the numbers. The finishing area support too was obviously overloaded by the growing numbers of participants. Overall, if you are looking for a short break from the usual KL / Selangor race, this is the best nearby alternative. Muar and Bidor are too far for a touch-and-go race.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

9000KM of training mileage

Today I registered my 9005th kilometers ran into my running log. 5 years of running bring me lots of changes and I am glad that I am still keep going. Now I am using it as a transportation option to work. Daily commuting of 15km thru and fro and I planned to do this 3 to 4 times weekly. This removed some pressure to wake up 4am to login the required training mileage, but on the other hand add in pressure to restart the running momentum before the body fully recovered in the evening. So far, I completed this in past 4 weeks, logging in a decent 60+ km per week. The body seem like going to adapt to the new training approach, but I also observed some over-trained syndrome started to surface. Need to take extra caution to have more rest and stretching to avoid injury.

On the other hand, SCKLM / KSB issue caused me signed up to River Jungle Marathon in September. Now I had 4 full marathons in 3 months. If adding in the half marathon I signed up, I will be racing 4 FM plus 2 HM in the next 94 days. Seem like I am going to have a great time enjoying the rush in adrenaline in all these races, provided if I don’t injure myself. For sure, I won’t survive it I go all out in all 6 races. Some prioritization required here but I am obviously not really good in holding back. Let see how I survived these :) 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Gear Review: Merrell Bare Access 3 & Newton Distance 3

This is both old models. As I always do, I get it when the model almost obsoleted. The Bare Access 3 (BA3) was at 20% discount, not typical stock clearance price, but MYR240 for running shoes is very reasonable now. For Newton Distance 3 (ND3), I got it at around MYR350 (which is stock clearance price for Newton which usually start from MYR500++).

As the VFF built quality deteriorated, I am looking for some shoes to replace them. It’s a hard decision because I was running in Komodo Sport for the past 4 years, or 80% of my running career if you want to exaggerate a bit. I had a pair of Bare Access 1, which I had some problem to run in it when I first got it. But recently I think as my core and running gaits improved, I have no problem running in BA1. I even complete a 20km trail run and a 68km road ultra with it. This is the main reason I go back to Merrell, now BA3. For ND3, I really based on the comment from other running friends and also the discount. I don’t do the usual lengthy open box review. I will just descript shortly my experience in both.

For BA3, the fit is slightly narrow with hard insoles and nice durable Vibram outsoles. After my fair share of running, my feet actually expanded into size 9 (I usually wear US8, or Europe 41, before I start running). I found it a bit narrow in both toe box and the arch area, but not until the type of fitting that will create hot spots and blisters. So far the longest distance in 1 run is 19km. And I had completed few speed intervals with it at around 4:30min/km pace. My opinion, you can basically take it as racing flat shoes, with very durable outsoles. The shoes have great response on the speed and a solid built. I can clock lots of mileage in it without worry to get another replacement really soon. It should last for about 1500km, and I plan to ramp it up for marathon in Kuching and SCKLM.
For ND3, the fit is great with soft insoles and the special 5 lugs outsoles. The toes box is only typical D width, but the upper top used the soft material that doesn’t squeeze your toes together. The sizing is a bit weird and I took a US size 10. The 5 lugs outsoles needed some time to getting used to it, and I really enjoyed the running in it. My last running shoes with soft insoles was 4 years ago, you can imagine my feet have some great time running in pampering mood. The insoles absorbing part of the impact hence the response over the speed were poorer compared to BA3. But mind you when I said poorer response doesn’t means ND3 is a slow shoes. The popping from this shoe really worked wonder, and you are speeding without knowing it. Only problem is the 5 lugs system didn’t lasted very long if racing and toes off. This makes ND3 good racing shoes but durability really off. I only clocked around 100km in this pair of shoes, but some part on the EVA plastic on the lugs showing bad wear and tear. The ND3 only have the EVA plastic on the lugs section, the rest of the outsoles are constructed with the soft material which usually used in midsole, and these parts wear off even faster. Don’t think it will last until 500km, and probably the EVA lugs will finish before SCKLM. May be my running gaits and the speeding put lots of pressure to those lugs, but I can’t help cause it’s really difficult to slow down in ND3.
When I first started in these 2 pairs of shoes, BA3 is only for short distance and ND3 for longer distance. Now it slowly changed to BA3 for all distance plus speed works, and ND3 for easy run only. It may be more to my personal taste and preferences. I only have limited experiences on running shoes. When I ran more in shoes then I may have a more objective taste, or may be that never will be the case. Anyhow, running is very personal. Your take, your preference, your experience all played an importance role in how you perceived certain issue. Like my barefoot running journey.

If you follow my running journey, I seem to moving away from barefoot running? Nope, I still belief in barefoot running, but I corrected or adjusted my take on why I run barefoot. Barefoot running to me is more like a drill or a tool to correct my running gaits. Do I need to barefoot run in a whole marathon? I actually prefer not to do it. One may argue that if I can’t barefoot for a race, my PB is not my body really tuned to do, and one day the body will be overly stressed and injury is inevitable. I won’t argue that may be the case, actually if you run long enough without a balanced training intake involved cardio, core, muscles, skeleton/bone strength, and recovery (you can analogue this example with your diet), injury is really inevitable. Barefoot give some stimulus in both physically (the soles, the muscle and the sensitivity of our body response to the running) and emotionally (the feeling, if you ran barefoot before). Your current running capability is a summation of the above. The injury rate will skyrocket only if you pushed too far from it. My body had enough restriction to limit my speed, and I listen to them (do I?). Hence I just don’t need another limit switch to tell me to slow down.

Meanwhile, I will continue to have fun with my running shoes and looking forward the half marathon 3 weeks later.