April 2012 saw the release of the first performance oriented shoes from Skechers, the GOrun (my quick take here). It was a shoe that caught many by surprise including me. It was a decent shoe but the midfoot bump meant that while running in them was a fine, walking in the shoes was an uncomfortable experience. The GOrun 2 saw a reduced bump, addition of a few solid rubber plugs to improve durability and some tweaks to the upper (review here). What didn’t change was the end product – it was still a fast shoe.
More than a year later since the original GR was introduced, I now have the Skechers GOrun 3 (GR3) in my hands, well on my feet actually, and I can say that this represents the best update yet for the series. The GR3 appears to be a more substantial update, from the upper to the stack height. If you’d like to know what the GR’s heritage is all about, head on to my reviews of the earlier versions because this post will just quickly cover the differences to the GR2 and the ride.
The sockliners come separately packaged with the shoes and I suspect this will be Skechers’ approach with some of their core releases going forward. This allows the wearer to customize their ride between a 4mm or something that’s closer to zero drop. In my few runs in the GR3, the sockliners stayed in the shoes as I prefer the middle-ground approach. With the sockliners in, the ride felt more like a 6mm than a 4mm but official word from Skechers is that they’re 4mm.
The upper has been improved and on the topside of the front section, there’s a 3-layer sandwiched-mesh construction. GR2 already improved on the breathability and suffice to say that I’ve no issues whatsoever with the GR3′s even with the additional layer. There’s also more mesh used on the side panels than before which is a great thing. The heel section continues the minimalist approach with a barely-there heel counter, while the tongue is reminiscent of the GObionic’s. As expected, there’s not a stiff portion to be found anywhere on the shoe.
I do sometimes wish the heel section of the outsole to be reinforced with solid rubber plugs. This is not a call for drastic changes, just add the rubber plugs to the 4 “sensors” across the 2nd last row would suffice. This should take care of the heel striking and scraping when late stage fatigue sets in along with form deterioration.
The GR3 remains a lightweight performer (6.5oz without the sockliner, 7.1oz with) and more than ever for the GR series, I like the ride and fit of the GR3 a lot. Its forefoot is wider than the GR2 and runs true to size. The thicker stack height results in improved responsive cushioning. Those looking for a marathon race day shoe should seriously check out the GR3.
The photo above shows the thicker stack height of the GR3 but it’s by no means a slouch. This one ranks higher than the Nite Owl (which I wore for the Putrajaya Night Marathon) and I can’t wait to really put in big miles in them when marathon training starts in January. The GR3 will be available on these shores pretty soon and will retail for RM399 and RM369 for the men’s and women’s models respectively.
Disclaimer: The GR3 is a review pair kindly provided by Skechers Malaysia. Opinions stated are my own and may change once I log over 100K in them.
Celebrating 75 years of Hashing
Malaysia will play host to over 1500 international and local hashers in Kuala Lumpur, 6 – 8 December, 2013
Kuala Lumpur, Tuesday 26th November, 2013:- The Royal Selangor Club (RSC) Hash Section (HHH) is organising the Hash Diamond Jubilee Run to commemorate 75 years of Hashing. The event, which is expected to welcome close to 1,500 hashers from all over the world, will be held from Friday, 6th December to Sunday 8th December 2013. The three-day event will kick start from the very site where Hash Run No. 1 was set in December 1938 – thus allowing Malaysian hashers to indulge in nostalgia and take pride in this international sport, which has its beginnings in Kuala Lumpur.
The term “Hash House Harriers” (HHH) was derived firstly, from the name “Hash House”. Hash was the “fun” name for its then unimaginative food given to the Selangor Club Chambers, a social centre for the British Civil servants and business men who lived in Malaya in the early years between the two world wars. Located in close proximity to the current RSC, it served as the first run site. Runners chasing the paper trail laid by a Hare were called Harriers.
75 years on, there are more than 2200 chapters in 185 countries throughout the 7 continents of the world namely Asia, Europe, North America, South America, Africa, Australia and Antarctica. Hashing is arguably the world’s largest and most popular Sport for All Movement and is recognized as such by the International Olympic Committee.
The RSC HHH is pleased to announce that the Hash Diamond Jubilee Run is supported by Malaysia Major Events (MME), a division of Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB), an agency under Malaysia’s Ministry of Tourism and Culture. International and local Hashers will also be able to sample “Malaysian Hospitality” at its best and enjoy complimentary tour packages in conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year 2014.Mr. Tony Nagamaiah, General Manager of Malaysia Major Events (MME) said, “Sporting events has become an integral part of Malaysia’s event calendar, with a lasting impact for the country’s health, social and economic values. The Hash Diamond Jubilee Run not only gives the international attendees an experience of Malaysia’s unique culture and traditions, but also highlights the many attractions along the run’s trail. Athletes and runners from different countries come to Malaysia to show their pride of nation, which makes the Hash Diamond Jubilee Run an interesting appeal for embracing sportsmanship and bringing nations together.”
RSC President, Mr Bryan Perera said, “The Royal Selangor Club is proud to present to you the Hash Diamond Jubilee Run. For a club steeped in sporting tradition, hosting this commemorative Run is another feather in our cap. In essence, this is a homecoming event for all hashers.”
He thanked Malaysia Major Events for their endorsement and support of the event. “It is fantastic that you have included the Hash Diamond Jubilee Run in your calendar of events. The event is certainly in line with the promotional campaigns for Visit Malaysia Year 2014. On our part, we will certainly encourage the foreign hashers/ visitors to take the opportunity to stay on after the event and explore the many attractions Malaysia has to offer.”
The Hash Diamond Jubilee Run is a three-day event; with runs held at various sites around the Klang Valley. Each Run culminates in social events, which is synonymous with the spirit of Hashing. The event kicks-off with a Red Dress Charity Run on Friday, December 6, followed by a “Street Party” to welcome all hashers. On the 7th and 8th, various run activities will be held at RSC’s Sports Annexe in Bukit Kiara and Taman Rimba Templar, followed by the Grand Party. For the first time, the RSC Hash is organizing an extra long 25km cross country fun run termed the “Hash Ball Breaker Run” which is a real test of strength and endurance.
Organising a prestigious event, as large as this is not possible without the support of sponsors, such as the Olympic Council of Malaysia and the Malaysian Hash Council for their support and sponsors, Genting Highlands, Guinness Anchor Berhad and Tanjong Golden Village for their sponsorship.
- End –
About Malaysia Major Events
Malaysia Major Events is a division of Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB), an agency under Malaysia’s Ministry of Tourism and Culture. Created under the Prime Minister’s Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), Malaysia Major Events facilitates significant events that help contribute to Malaysia’s economic growth. It focuses on identifying and supporting major event bids for sports, arts, lifestyle and entertainment events. It also assists home grown and home hosted events as well as other cluster events that strengthen Malaysia’s global appeal as an international avenue for major events. As a conduit between public and private sector, it’s a one-stop centre which facilitates and liaises with diverse event stakeholders to ensure seamless processes and successful events.
For more information, please visit http://www.mymajorevents.com.my
About Royal Selangor Club
The Royal Selangor Club was founded in 1884. The Club was granted a royal charter by DYMM Sultan Selangor in 1984 and thereafter known as Kelab DiRaja Selangor (Royal Selangor Club). The Club has since expanded to the prime residential district of Bukit Kiara with the opening of the Royal Selangor Club’s Kiara Sports Annexe in 1998. RSC has been very objective in providing members with sporting and social facilities that encourage interaction and socialising in a friendly, harmonious and relaxing atmosphere. Currently, the Club has more than 6,500 members.
For more information, please visit RSC’s website: www.rscweb.my
About RSC Hash Section
Set up in September 1991, the Hash Section which has over 400 members and runs very Friday. The Hash Section has successfully organized major international Hash events such as the World Inter-Hash and Pan Asia Hash in Kuala Lumpur in 1998 and 2003 respectively.
For more information, please visit the Hash section’s website: www.rschhh.my
Issued by: Royal Selangor Club Hash Section
For further information, please contact Rajinder “Speedy Raj” Agnihotri at + 6012 233 1708 or email@example.com
I received an email from fellow runner and music artiste, Montee, who wanted to share with us the kick@ss tune he put together. I guarantee it’ll slide nicely into that playlist you’re rocking as you hammer your hill repeats or track intervals. You can stream the track or download it from the link at the bottom of this post. Don’t forget to check Montee aka Big Koast’s other tracks out in Soundcloud.
I’ll let Montee take on from here:
My name’s Montee I go by the artist name of Big Koast. I’m a health conscious and a fitness dedicated music artist. I push to not only promote good music but also positivity throughout my music. I’ve checked out My Passions, My Life and see you’re dedicated to running and providing race reports and reviews on running shoes. I’ve seen a bunch of running blogs lately and your layout first off is one of the easiest to navigate to. It’s organized. Then on top of that the content is great. Running a blog and also being a dedicated runner while also having a professional career is not easy and takes a lot of dedication and hard work. To me, Running and pushing in life towards your goals, is almost synonymous. I was able to put that idea into a song. I didn’t intend to make a song about running and just cater it to runners. It just happened organically.
It was an idea I’ve always had whenever I’m running on the street or on a treadmill (I’m in Denver so in the snow it’s not always easy getting out). But whenever I’m running and want to take a break I’ve always felt like that mental training of keeping myself going when it’s the hardest can help me in my professional life to accomplish goals. Now that I’ve completed this song many people have told me this song could really help push runners, athletes or even anybody pushing towards their goals. That’s why I wanted to share it with you. Since you have a dedicated user base this may help them as well. The song is called Running and it deals with an athlete who wants to become a runner but is doubted by those closest around. It’s an inspirational song that can be used for many runners to help push and go on a little longer. I understand how many emails you might get with a site like yours. So If there’s not a possibility in getting a post even if you give it a listen and if it helps push you harder while your running that’ll be great! That’s what it’s all about. I appreciate your time.
Have a great day!
The song can also be streamed and downloaded at Soundcloud at this link: https://soundcloud.com/bigkoastmusic/big-koast-running
It would be great to hear from you Jamie. Keep Running!
When Razif mooted the idea for Trans Nuang back in September, he mentioned that, “Wimps are not allowed, join at your own risk“. I immediately excluded myself as the plan really was a little nutty, especially for one who have yet to even step once into the trails of Nuang. It also helped that I had another race going, so it was not going to be a possibility.
A month on, the call was made again, this time a little more surrepticously via a group chat. Only a few were privy of the plan so as to keep the party small and nimble – much like a Spec Ops unit . With the big race looming, I knew that this was something I had to do. Training had been decent and even if I’d been nursing a minor cold post-PNM Marathon, through enforced rest, I’d recovered completely. The PNM Marathon gave further evidence that nowadays I need to focus as much on rest as on training. I’ve found that if I take another day’s rest in lieu of a planned run, my critical weekend workouts would be of much better quality. But I digress.
The plan was to start from Pangsun, Camp Lolo, Camp Pacat, Nuang Summit before descending towards Janda Baik and coming back the same way yielding close to 3,000m elevation gain over a marathon distance. There would be 5 river crossings along the way. Weather has been wet with the year-end monsoon season in full swing. The trails would not be dry for sure but we’d soon be discovering that “wet” would be something of an understatement. As a newbie, I adopted a more-is-safer approach to packing for the day, including a multifunction knife, bandage, antiseptic, 3 liters of water, jacket, sweets, Hammer Perpetuem chews, 2 mini boxes of raisins, 10 Hammer Anti-Fatigue capsules, Hammer Fizz, poles, spare batts and 2 headlamps. My S-Lab Hydro 12 weighed a ton but it would provide good training. I loaded 3 shoes into the car – the Wildhorse, Fuji Attack 2 and Energy Boost should the team decide to opt for road instead of the trails. Partners in the expedition would be seasoned adventure racer Puzi, Mountain Goat Zas, Jeff “In Search of Meaning of Life” Ooi, Team Leader Razif and Rookie me. Bud and Zinov opted out due to work commitments. Of the 5 of us, all had been to Nuang Summit multiple times but only Razif had gone all the way to Janda Baik (with Zinov) and back. I felt extremely insignificant in the company of these giants. I had tremendous respect for these guys and that provided some measure of confidence that perhaps I could see this through. A combination of ignorance of what’s to come and intense need to know how I’d face such length of time on feet, elevation and challenges in the trail made sure that I didn’t have any fear when we pushed off at around 7am in light drizzle.
It didn’t strike us that the resident black dog decided to disappear on us just 30 minutes into the trek was a portent of what’s to come. Perhaps it sensed that it wouldn’t be a walk in the park.
The poles helped made my ascend to the u-turn point of the Nuang Endurance Challenge relatively easy. There we discovered that the river had not only swollen but the force of the water was pretty strong. We crossed the river as carefully as possible, fully aware of the dangers of slippery rocks and twisted ankles. When we arrived at Camp Lolo, there were a number of weary-looking campers going about their chores – they probably didn’t have a good night’s sleep with the rain and thunderstorm. By then it was already obvious that the track would be a problem. Rainwater had cut deep ruts into the earth, exposing rocks and made slick the clayish and sodden soil but we soldiered on, slowly and carefully. Smalls bees were plentiful and they were buzzing around us probably attracted to our salty skin. We were lucky none of us were stung because we would discover later that medics and the fire department had to be deployed to pull out a camper badly stung by these insects. Scenes at Camp Pacat were no different – wet and gloomy. The False Summit (Pengasih) which stood at the intersection of Pahang, Selangor and Negeri Sembilan was even worse with large sections muddied and under an inch of water.
What got me was the imposing sight of several very steep rock walls we had to scale. Razif’s earlier expedition had been a few months ago and he commented that what we went over weren’t like those times. What we scrambled up were huge boulders, further exposed by erosion and often sharp, requiring poles to be stowed away (due to the limitation of the Hydro 12, Jeff ended up as the porter for my poles!) and both hands used to pull and push one’s body up. Not as dramatic as the scene from MI:3 but definitely treacherous. One slip and you’ll still end up as a corpse. In such situations, there was little you can do – indeed dangerous, if you let the mind wander – except to really focus on the moment. Hence no photos! Astonishingly we bumped into an Indian smoothly making his way down in a pair of flipflops. He flashed a wide smile and said he was managing well!
I’d been snacking on the Perpetuem and some choc bites (thanks Ray!) and sipping from the softflasks filled with electrolytes and wasn’t hungry. I’d to be very conscious of the water supply as I’d been forced to dump the 2L bladder after it sprung a leak at the start forcing my to empty part of the content to a large Gatorade bottle. All in all I started with around 1.5L of fluids, something that I wasn’t totally comfortable with. 2L would be much better for such a strenuous activity. Twice I opted for a wrong option and was forced to crawl through an undergrowth before emerging at the Nuang Summit. We couldn’t see beyond the immediate surroundings due to thick mist. Zas pointed out the directions where on a clear day, one could see KL and Genting. We took a 10-minute break for refueling before heading down the other side towards Janda Baik. Almost immediately things turned from being a trek-and-climb to adventure racing mode involving part rapelling (more boulders!) and part navigating a narrow ridgeline where one slip on either side would render me a corpse (see how “corpse” is starting to trend in this post?). On my part, doing all these involved muttering some silent prayers as well. And a very loud voice echoing inside my brain, “How the hell would I be able to come up this way?!”.
Once we were through the rocks and squirming under fallen tree trunks, it was time to pull out my fall-on-my-butt trick/routine. A total of 6 times. The descent towards Janda Baik was rendered sickeningly technical with more slick clay. The Wildhorse were beginning to live up to its namesake, refusing to be tamed. Where it excelled on gentler surfaces and on the climbs, the soft foam outsole in the heel section just couldn’t handle the slick downhill where some inevitable heel braking happens. On several of the falls both my triceps took the brunt of the force and after a while, it became a recurring bad comedy routine. I’d slide, fall and I’d laughed at myself. It was so bad that at some point, I was just 15 steps from my next fall. I’d stand still and I’d still slide down. I must’ve knocked myself silly that I forgot to use my poles. The others in their Salomons (Speedcross, Crossmax, Mantra) and Brooks Cascadia fared better with the more aggresive lugs. The 8K descent took much more time than we’d buffered and so was the hunt for food when we exited the trail to the Janda Baik village. The regular stall was closed and we’d to venture up another 1.5K before finding a Malay Restaurant. Jeff and I had heavenly triple-scoop ice cream buns along the way to the restaurant. We stocked up our stomach and water supplies before heading back. Time check was already after 3pm. I fired several text messages to my wife to tell her that I’ll need another 9 hours before we get back to the start and updated FB to let folks know that we’ve reach the u-turn point. There were brief discussions about extending the run by another 12K to the Genting Sempah McDonald’s!
We hustled along at a brisk pace, with the goal of reaching the summit by 7pm but the 45-degree climbs up on several sections on the way up were tough and reduced me to a complete stop many times as I tried to catch my breath. Puzi the sweeper and Jeff provided fantastic support and words of encouragement but while I appeared to be keeling over, my mind was very focused on being at the present and there was hardly any negative thoughts that went through it. While it took greater effort going up, I no longer slipped. Progress was slow but steady. As if the difficulty level wasn’t high enough, thunder rolled in the distant and the sound of heavy downpour gradually enveloped us. As the rain approached, we did checks to ensure the food stuff and phones were zip-locked. Jackets and headlamps came out and we soldiered on. Everything was on conservation mode from then on – from fuel, fluids and batteries (I brought spare batts and had an extra headlamp as well). The phone was switched to Flight Mode since there was no cell service. It would be a long night. At the back of my mind, I was a little concerned about scaling the boulders and ridge in the darkness and rain but kept the worrisome thoughts at the back of my mind. I had to be alert to the surroundings and returned to focusing on the present.
Darkness descended quickly and since our eyes had slowly adjusted to the dwindling light, we only turned our headlamps on closer to 7pm. Yet we were still 200m in terms of elevation below the peak. Surprisingly the nearer I approached the peak, the quicker my pace became driven probably by the desire to finish the job. Traversing the ridge was expectedly a hair-raising moment. The wind, rain and cold made the going very very dangerous. The darkness probably helped then because I couldn’t see the ravine on both sides. Plenty of silent prayers were muttered. No matter how long we’d take, just get out safe and sound with nothing broken. 5 minutes later we were back at the peak, and trying the darnest to stay warm. The wind was strong and we had to get off the unprotected summit fast.
Between the summit and the car park were endless stretches of steep and slick descent, exposed roots waiting to catch your ankles and deep ruts to break them. Not to mention the river crossings which could potentially be hazardous. One awesome thing about the group was no one complained nor whined which would surely had made things even worse. I was behind point-man extraordinaire Zas, and we’d wait up for the rest who weren’t that far behind. My butt-hitting-the-deck routine continued all the way down. My repertoire expanded to include falling on my left and right side (arms were sore from breaking the multiple falls) and there was once when I fell so hard, I had the wind knocked out of me for a few seconds. Once I grabbed at an imaginary tree for support only to fall right through – caffeine deprived you see.
Bumping into a group of 15 girls very slowly and quietly making their way down, guided by the redoutable ranger, provided a brief diversion. Not far ahead was a father and son team. We left them to their own pace and continued on. Bruised but still in relatively good shape physically and mentally, I got through the rivers uneventfully enough. We were very lucky that the rivers were safe enough to be forded. My pace became quicker as the night progressed, driven probably by the thought of finishing what we started. Hunger for a hot meal was also a strong motivation. It also helped that the tricky sections were all cleared. After the torturous Janda Baik climb, the incline sections of the last 5K were easy peasy. Exiting the trail was more a relief than elation. And everyone seemed to have a sudden burst of energy in cleaning up to go home! I shot off several messages to those who were worried and learnt that C2 was down with high fever. But a quick drive home it wasn’t meant to be. The storm had uprooted a tree on the way out, blocking the road. A few villagers came to help clear the obstacle and 25 minutes later we were through. Finally arrived home at 2am and by the time I was showered and eaten, it was already 3am. Three and a half hours later the alarm went off signalling the start of a brand new day.
Here’s the video of our adventure compiled by Razif, some crazy parts were unrecorded due to the dangerous conditions where we had to focus on our movements. If we had a couple of GoPros! Oh, here’s the post by “Tour Leader” Razif on our expedition.
- I’d underestimated myself. I discovered that when you think you couldn’t go anymore, with a decent base you actually could.
- Full respect for the environment will get you far. Never underestimate nature. In the mountains, weather and light change very quickly.
- Focusing on the present took away the direness of the situation. Have a goal in mind but stay in the moment.
- Never underestimate team dynamics. I had complete confidence in my excellent team mates; Fantastic point-man and sweeper, and seasoned ultra racers that complemented each other.
- In a single outing, I’d been exposed to hard ascents and descents, poor trail conditions, inclement weather, hot/cold temps, river crossings, night running, rock scaling and over 16 hours of time-on-feet. Priceless.
- Having the right gear counts. I’ve never been one to stinge on gear and I thought I packed well that day. Other than the apparel I wore, I had emergency blankets, spare batts, knife, bandage, antiseptic liquid, alcohol wipes in the Salomon Hydro 12.
- I still have leftover snacks, unused multipurpose knife, at the end of the outing.
- Wrong shoe selection. The Wildhorse simply couldn’t handle the trail conditions. I should’ve started with the asics Fuji Attack 2 I had in the car. The Salomon Fell Raiser would’ve been a sweet one to have given the conditions.
- I went through 2nd, 3rd, 4th wind and lost count the number of times I went through the rollercoaster experience. When the going gets tough, keep going. Relentless forward progress is more than a catchphrase, it’s a necessity.
- Despite pre-start gear check, things could still go wrong. Case in point the 2L bladder which sprung a leak at the start. Only through rationing was I able to stretch the 1.5L fluid capacity (2x softflasks and a Gatorade bottle) till the end.
- The course was very tough and demanding and newbies should be accompanied by experienced trekkers. Start early. The effects of erosion meant that the Nuang you knew 6 months ago isn’t the same today.
- Poles were very helpful, both in going up and down. In my single-mindedness to get back to Pangsun, I’d totally forgotten to use them going down the slick terrain.
Fall is finally in many parts of the world and major shoe companies are releasing weather resistant and high visibility versions of their popular models. Skechers chose the GOrun Ride 2 (GRR2) and GOwalk 2 to receive the photoluminescent (PL) treatment. According to Wikipedia, PL “describes the phenomenon of light emission from any form of matter after the absorption of photons”. From this you’d have correctly guessed that to activate the glow of the GRR2, you will need to expose the shoe to any form of light source – the stronger the exposure and longer the duration the better.The GRR2 retains largely its predecessor’s smooth and light ride traits, one which I very much like. Added to the fact that I do most of my runs in low light and dark conditions, this combo is too tempting to pass up.
As can be expected the GRR 2 Nite Owl is a very close replica of the GRR 2, with the exception of the upper mesh and of course the PL treated strips. Therefore I won’t talk much about the inherent characteristics except to point you to my review of the original GRR via the link below.
When Skechers Malaysia handed the GRR 2 Nite Owl to me, it was already too late to adopt it as my race shoe for the Men’s Health/Shape Night Run (race report). I wore the GOspeed aka GOmeb instead). The next opportunity came quickly enough when I felt confident enough to take it for a 24K first run in the Back 2 Endurance event. As recommended, I prepped the shoe by sunning it for a few hours the day before. The feel of the GRR 2 Nite Owl felt very similar to the original GRR (quick take here) and the shoe adequately absorbed the hard pavements of the Lake Gardens. However, the US9 prove to be slightly small, which is truly perplexing since I wear a similar size GRR. For some reason my toes were ramming the front of the Nite Owl and there were some measure of pain and discomfort that would result in some blisters under those nails.
As if to prove that marathoners can be a little hard headed, I wore them again for the Putrajaya Night Marathon (race report) albeit with thin socks. I noticed that the glow lasted for about 4 hours after 6 hours of light exposure during the day. Pretty decent return. I’ve since logged over 100K (including long runs of 24, 42 and 30Ks) in the GRR 2 Nite Owl and other than the personal sizing issue, I’ve nothing against the shoe. Go half a size up for me, and the problem will be solved. It’s after all based on the well received GRR and having good visibility added to it is a bonus to us who run under the moonlight. The photo above only manages to capture an approximate effect of the glow. For a better idea, head on to Happiefeet’s blog where he posted several better photos.
The GOrun Ride Nite Owl will be in-stores soon and will retail for RM429 for the men’s version and RM399 for the women’s version.
Disclaimer: The GRR 2 Nite Owl is a review pair kindly provided by Skechers Malaysia. Opinions stated are my own after over 100K logged in them.
Running in Putrajaya and night marathons. “Easy” just isn’t a word that comes to mind when you take each of them separately. Combine them and you get a nasty mix only a masochist would look forward to. Nevertheless runners being suckers for such challenges, has seen the Putrajaya Night Marathon (PNM) grow in strength over the years. As expected, the number of sign-ups were great this year but the turn outs were poor only because it clashed with the adidas King Of The Road happening the very next morning. Of the 800 registered for the marathon, I believe only half – at best – turned up.
Kew, Nick, Azim and I queued up near the back of the marathon corral, yet it took us just 20 seconds to cross the start line. I’d secretly sought Nick’s buy-in to a 4:30 goal time, but only after I felt confident that I could hack it. It was, afterall, just 6 days after 61K at Back 2 Endurance and a 10K on race morning. That may not count much to some folks who go on such exploits week in week out, but it does to me. A 6:23 pace meant that there would be no dilly-dallying at the aid stations, unlike my approach during the recent KL Marathon.
The weather was simply excellent, almost beckoning us marathoners to grab this all-too-rare moment to just do it. Kew and Azim were some meters ahead of Nick and I the first 4K before Azim went off leaving Kew to drop back to the 2 of us. The cool weather was just superb after a light drizzle and proceedings were kept very relaxed and aerobic. I had in my hand a bottle of Nuun mix to stay hydrated which meant I saved some time at the aid stations. Along the way, I discovered that the best way to tackle the seemingly endless loops and climbs in Putrajaya is not to cast your gaze too far ahead. Do that and your spirits could very well be crushed like a bug on a windscreen. A good thing I had my cap on, which not only kept the drizzle out of my eyes but also to get me focused on what was just ahead of me and just enough so that I didn’t run into the traffic cones!
Meanwhile I was still tackling the climbs very easily and really took advantage of the long downs. The pace had been very consistent and I was definitely passing way more than being passed. Nick was running strongly and well and even if he needed to stop for water, he’d always catch up. So I was a little surprised to have lost him, umm, I didn’t know where as I was just too locked into my pace. Even at the 30K U-turn, I thought I had something left in the legs and tank and could still keep the pace and effort honest. I took a quick pee break just after the U-turn right after taking 3 huge bites off a humongous banana.
Things started to get reallydifficult at the 38th K but the LYN support station – complete with ice-cold Coke and beer(!) – caught me by surprise. I opted just for a cup of Coke, thank you! A big @ass climb came not long after that which reduced me to a walk. The only thing to do was to walk fast and not to lose more time. I’d stopped looking at my watch, a good thing too. Just concentrate on clearing each section and get closer to the finish. If I thought that climb was tough, I was in for another unpleasant surprise when instead of the usual right turn to the finish in front of the Palace of Justice, we had to cover the long and lonely straight to the far end (reverse Powerman) before the final approach. Most had already left to catch some shut-eye before the King Of The Road race. So it was nice to still see some familiar faces cheering the finishers.
As it turned out, #23 was an enjoyable outing. The early pacing was fantastically consistent which helped proceedings. The compliant weather aided in no small way too. I ran into issues only late into the game from 38K, knocking off at least another 4 minutes of what could’ve been. A check into my Garmin records showed my fastest block to be the 3rd quarter of the race where I covered the 10K in 58mins. The 4:23.11 finish per my watch was incidentally my best in 5 years. In fact, I’d to go back to the 2008 NYC Marathon to find a quicker time (4:03). Now, how could I be disappointed with that? Working myself back to those timing have been a long, frustrating and slow process. There hadn’t been any speedwork leading up to this and the only 2 significant areas which I’ve tweaked were a bit more mileage and a little change in mindset. It helps that I’ve been enjoying the easier form of running as well. There are huge chunks to chip away in getting back to 4:15, 4:10 and 4:03 but I’m not having any of those thoughts cloud my mind. There’s a much bigger giant to slay in the coming months.
From sniping photographers to mind-numbing looping around the unforgiving concrete surface, yesterday’s B2E seemed to have it all. Positioned as a “fun ultra” by RD Jeff, no doubt itself a paradoxical statement, 100+ runners attempted to go around the lake as many times as possible within a 12-hour window. Completing a loop would chalk up a meager 2.35KM. The route presented hardly a challenge in terms of elevation but the surface would make mincemeat of the legs.
The last I attempted a hamster mode of running was some years ago at the Twilight Ultra Challenge (race report) but while TUC started in the afternoon, B2E kicked off at 6:30am. As would be the case of an event organized by runners, there was much fun to be had before the start right to the end. Except for a few loops where we went on our own, Nick and I ended up covering our distances pretty much together. I decided to run only the first few loops in the Skechers Nite Owl (a review is forthcoming) but since they felt comfortable I stuck to them up till the 18KM mark. My 2nd toenail on my left foot was causing some problems and I knew I’d to nip any issues quickly in a race this long. I quickly detoured to the car to change into the Energy Boost, which is a size larger and the Boost was the shoe that stayed with me till the end. I also had the GOultra in the car should there be another reason to change.
The race for me pretty much started as a run-walk affair. The detour to the bike path offered a good short stretch to walk, which was a relief. No matter how slow we ran, the lower legs were taking a beating. Things became bad when I felt sharp pain around the right knee cap. It became difficult to go down the steep slopes peppering some spots along the route. Things weren’t rosy for sure and downright demoralizing to have occurred so early. I thought, “Legs, please don’t get thrashed at just 20+KM!”. There were only 2 options, quit or just keep moving forward. Chose to keep moving and after 4 very slow loops, the pain surreptitiously went away and I could resume power walking. The objectives were simple from then on, just focus on completing each loop and nothing else. When I was asked how many laps I’d done, I told them I had no idea, which was the truth. My thoughts then went to completing the marathon distance which I hit before the commencement of the route reversal at 12:30pm. By then I was already walking more than I was running. Though my pace couldn’t hold a candle to Uncle Oliver’s, I could still hound a casual jogger up an incline until he gave up!
The weather had been fantastic up till 11:30am and even with the sun bearing down on us at 2:30pm, it didn’t get dreadfully uncomfortable for me. A gentle breeze was always present to cool things down and the 2nd section of the route was very shady and cooling. Barring my legs, I thought I did pretty well in the heat. Nick and I, safe for the brief stops at the checkpoint, kept moving. The funny thing was how the mind was fooled by simple thoughts such as “I’d done 18 loops, I could do another 3!” and before I knew it I was sniffing at 50KM. From there, the motivation was to beat my former hoo-doo of 52KM and when that happened, it was to pull in another 3 loops and then another 2 loops. That went on until I decided to call time at 26 loops (61.1KM) so that I could make it back on time for a dinner with the family. Time check was 5pm or thereabouts.
I’m quite ambivalent about just hitting 61KM even though I know I’ll have less difficulty reaching this milestone on a road race than on a surface as hard as the Lake Gardens’. It was meant to be a run to discover more about myself, what worked and what didn’t. Obviously, leg strength seemed to be an area of concern but there’s time. Of course, the trails will be more lenient but still…
Then there’s the fueling and hydration bit. I was cognizant of how I was feeling, if I was over or under hydrating. When the fingers started to feel a little swollen, indicating water retention, I kept myself off the electrolytes and consumed only water. I didn’t pee the entire 10 hours and thought it was a problem with my hydration or kidneys, something I’ll need to read up on.
There was no cramps the entire 61KM, which was great. What could be better was the fueling part. By 2pm I felt some hunger creeping in and was telling those around me how I wished for Char Koay Teow and Ipoh Hor Fun. I hadn’t take in anything solid other than a banana, a slice of Nutella bread and Perpetuem tablets and completely forgotten about the raisins and peanut butter bars sitting in the car boot. By 3:30pm I was so famished and attacked some junk food while scrounging for something even more solid. Thanks to a volunteer who pointed me to the correct table, I found and wolfed down half a pack of fried rice. It tasted awesome but then again, even if you’d given me something horrendous, I’d probably think it tasted like Jalan Ipoh Bak Kut Teh. I seriously need to pay attention inculcating a fueling discipline.
Mentally, I thought I came out better than when I did TUC several years ago in that I was able to work my way past the pain. And I was surprised that nearly all photos caught me smiling. I didn’t even fish out the iPod to “zone out”.
There’s no denying the value of crowd support in a time-bound/ultra-distance event, from the volunteers to those who came to cheer the runners. There were even 2 unofficial tables set up to provide physical and mental sustenance to the runners. There were sufficient ice, water, isotonics, Coke, bananas, chocolate bars, Pringles, cup jellies, nasi lemak (didn’t dare eat this) and fried noodles (didn’t take this either). The fun atmosphere prevailed throughout the day. The mileage I clocked was meager yet each loop I completed late into the event was greeted by cheers and applause from the volunteers and supporters. I also believe B2E set the record for the highest photographer-to-runner ratio.
B2E wasn’t an easy run, the pavement being the worst culprit. In my opinion overcoming that poses a greater challenge than the number of loops and weather you’ve to face. If you’re game for it, be on the look out for next year’s edition!