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Kasumigaura Marathon 2016

When \\\\\\\"blustery\\\\\\\" wasn\\\\\\\'t even the right word. Read the race report here!

31st Marathon and my 6th Consecutive GCAM. Race report here.

 

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Sleepless in Putrajaya – Toyo Tires Putrajaya 100 Miles

Returning for the 3rd year, the Putrajaya 100 (P100) has seen an increase in popularity amongst local ultra devotees. Covering the roads of the country’s administrative capital, the distances offered range from 52K right up to the 100 miles. The easy-going, non-competitive format is what draws the runners to the event, not forgetting Toyo Tires which signed up to be this year’s title sponsor!

While the format may be friendly, the route certainly isn’t. Putrajaya is notorious for its scorching heat, high humidity and in my opinion, harder surfaces. With the event run entirely on roads, participants will be well advised to not forget about incorporating strength training on top of putting in the miles.

Early bird fees run till July 31st 2016, and past year participants also enjoy a discounted rate. So if that nagging voice inside your head can’t stop calling out for a longer distance than a marathon, why not commit to this one and train up for it? Still unsure? Head on then, to the event website http://p100.teampacat.com/. There are plenty of information such as a list of mandatory gear, pre-qualification requirements and also GPX files for each of the distances which you’re able to download to your watches. The newfangled ones can even point you the right direction, I was told.

Be sure to also like the Facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/putrajaya100miles/. You may want to read up my 2014 report here where I signed up for the 52K but ended up running 56K! The 52K runners battled the heat that year but this year, they will be fighting sleepiness, as will the ones from the longer distances.

Gold Coast Airport Marathon Race Report

This year’s trip to the Gold Coast was a mixed outing for me. On one hand, I was thrilled to finally have the family along this time, and we also saw a record number of Malaysians in the race. There were also a number of firsts for me: visited a couple of theme parks, a wildlife sanctuary, drove the streets of the Gold Coast and up to Mt. Tamborine and an unforgettable cruise along the calm waters off Runaway Bay.

On the other hand, with the nagging PF impeding a more aggressive approach to training (although I did run the risk of greater issues by hitting 130K over 8 days prior to taper week), I wasn’t able to run the race I wanted to. I started the marathon with a heavily taped foot and an anti-inflammatory tablet post Saturday’s shakedown run when there was still pronounced pain. I really don’t want this to sound like an excuse for a below par performance, so this will be the only part I make reference to the PF being an impediment. The race was run and I didn’t hit the goal time and that was that. After analyzing the past 2 years’ splits and training, some things will have to change before my next marathon.

The HTT group which traveled from MY on Thursday. Photo taken at the Currumbin Life Saving Club adjacent to the scenic Elephant Rock Lookout.

Touching down at Coolangatta late Friday morning after a 5-hour sleep, I could afford a more leisurely bedding-in period, adjusting to the weather and the addictively languid, yet for some reason exciting, vibes the Gold Coast offers. This was my 6th consecutive running of GCAM and I’m ever closer to the 10-year club! There were over 250 Malaysians for GCAM16, so while there were many of us on the same flight, there were just as many independent travelers outside the tour group who were already in Australia. Lunch was at the Currumbin Life Saving Club right next to the Elephant Rock Lookout where the views were just stunning all-round. Next port-of-call was of course the Expo for the race number collection. Everyone was very disciplined and made it out of there on time for the shuttle ride to the Mantra Legends Hotel for check-in. Very smoothly managed by Holiday Tours & Travel (HTT) so far. As much as I wanted to sort out my stuff in the room, a run to stretch out the legs appeared more appropriate at that time and after rounding up a few from the training group, we headed towards Broadbeach before returning by way of the Gold Coast Highway to the hotel. Not before running into superstar Yuki Kawauchi (who would place a second behind the winner Kenneth Mugara on Sunday) jogging in a polo top! He acknowledged my  “Gambare Kawauchi-san!” shout with a big smile and a resounding “Hai!” and a big wave. Such a character! After an early dinner of bacon pizza with Jeanie and family and the training group guys, and getting some drinks from the supermarket, I was back at the hotel to call it a day.

At the expo. A number had gone into the expo hall for the bib collection and shopping!

7K run to loosen up the legs. Included some photo sessions along the way!

Saturday meant the arrival of the photogenic duo of Nick and CY. While CY needs no effort in looking good for the camera, Nick has vowed to hug everything in sight with a vengeance. As arranged, the plan was to meet at the Surfers Paradise arch for the Shakedown Run. Before that, I needed a quick apparel change back at the hotel following a fantastic lunch at The Fishhouse Restaurant. By the time I hustled there, a large group had already congregated and everyone looked set to really enjoy themselves the next day. Plenty of photo ops ensued but we were only able to cover just half the planned distance due to some road works on the way to Main Beach. No one complained though as they probably had an eye on next morning’s race. Dinner consisted of cappuccino and a super-large plate of pasta – in that order. With the race gear packed, there was one final thing to do which was to tape the right foot up before hitting the sack at 10:30pm.

Shakedown Run

I leapt up at the first sound of the 4:15am alarm and after the bathroom rituals, wolfed down 2 energy bars and half a bottle of sports drinks. By 5:20am we were at the hotel lobby ready to move out.

5:20am at the lobby of the Mantra Legends.

Race morning was expectedly cold. As I stood at the tram stop at 5:30am with the guys, I was glad to have layered up very well – a Saucony tri-top, 2 disposable race tees, a Saucony hoodie and EXO windproof jacket. I also had my Saucony beanie and gloves on, so I was warm and toasty. We got on the first tram to arrive and 20 minutes later we were at Southport joining the hordes of runners walking to the race precinct. The Halfies were just flagged off so we had to wait a little before crossing over to the main field. Security presence was strong and there was better human traffic control this time around.

At the Surfers Paradise tram stop @ 5:30am.

It wasn’t quite as windy this year and we could afford to shed our layers earlier before going through the warm up routines. Along the walk to the start corrals, I joined a number of locals in watering a tree. Considering the level I was at, I’d downgraded my original goal to finishing in any timing under 4 hours, which was still dicey given the circumstances. I positioned myself in front of the 4-hour pacers, a position I would maintain until the 38K mark (more later). GCAM is known for being a sunny race, at least all the previous 5 editions I’ve ran have been so. This year would be the same. Temps hovered around 15-17 Celcius early part of the race and peaked at 20 Celcius when I finished. Real-feel was hotter since it was cloudless.

It was approximately 10 Celcius at 6am with temps rising.

As it turned out, I ran very well hitting all the splits necessary for my original goal time (OGT) right up 26K before I started dropping 20 seconds per K. It may not sound like much but with over 16K left to run, that trend would mathematically add up to more than 5 minutes lost. In reality however, one would usually lose between 30 seconds to a full minute per km. Or more.

By 30K I was a full minute behind the OGT. By 35K the deficit had risen to 3 minutes. I was well and truly beaten way before I even hit the turnaround at Runaway Bay. The cramps on both quads and calves were so severe that I thought I’d fall. Since the little steps of the portable toilets could potentially trip me over, I decided to just pee in my shorts. Water was plentiful to wash it off anyway and I needn’t waste anymore time struggling in the toilet than I’d already lost.

I’d stopped looking at the watch for some time but the thought of my kids kept me going. I didn’t want to give up like this. Just when I started to rally myself, the gun-time 4-hour pacer and his charges passed me! Sigh…

Washed and dried!

If you’d seen me then (thank goodness for the absence of photographers along that final part of the route!), you’d agree that my running form was far less graceful than a person in crutches attempting a Swan Lake routine. In the haze of pain and self-deprecating thoughts I was lavishing on myself, a Race Motivator suddenly popped up, urging on another fellow sufferer next to me. Her words of encouragement resonated with me and kept me going.

Along with the many supporters along the course, the kids I high-fived earlier, and the record number of times my name was cheered, I credit this Motivator for getting me across the finish line in 3:57.58 (net time). An implausible yet very fortunate timing given how bad a shape my quads were in. I also think my decision to pee on the go worked in my favor as well. I would have wasted 2 more precious minutes had I ventured to the potty.

Nearly everyone in the photo PR’d, some rather spectacularly!

Once back at the agreed meeting point between the stage and the baggage tents, there was so much happy news of awesome results all round that my disappointment was completed forgotten. Nearly everyone ran their best timings in GCAM16. Jessie got her Boston Qualifier, which really wasn’t a surprise given her standout (albeit compressed) training. Plenty of sub-4 performances by many too. It was a truly wonderful moment to be there listening to their race accounts and I couldn’t be happier for them!

All these ladies PR’d: 1 missed going under 4 hours by a shade, 1 BQ’d, 1 finished under 5 hours!

With my 31st marathon done, I can strongly attest that it doesn’t get easier. You battle Father Time and his baggage – slower recovery, higher chances of injury among them – in pursuit of improving yourself. It’s time to reconsider another approach to training rather than to doggedly pursue the old ways. The marathon remains my focus because I know that I can do better.

All the 2016 medals.

 

A post breakfast group photo back home to wrap up the year’s GCAM edition.

Despite the rather poor personal showing, this year’s GCAM has been a runaway success.

    • Record overseas participation, including from Malaysia.
    • Better race day weather than last year.
    • Crowd support continues to grow.
    • Thrilling finish in the men’s marathon. Looks like Yuki Kawauchi (whose mom raced a 3:48 marathon in the same race!) will be returning yet again next year – he’s obviously hooked to the Gold Coast :D !
    • Greater number of runners in the training group (please join us for training!)- made plenty of new friends with whom I’m sure will continue to train with us. Team Malaysia truly personified the “Come For The Run, Stay For The Fun” tagline! Just check out the photos below!

  • Post-race holiday with family and friends were super enjoyable. We drove, cruised, ate plenty of seafood, trekked (a little!), got close to the local wildlife, and took in the cool and clean air of the mountains and sea.

I would also like to thank Khim, Tourism and Events Queensland and the organizing team behind GCAM for their hospitality and support to Team Malaysia. Not forgetting RSH-Saucony Malaysia and AfterShokz Malaysia for the gear. And of course, much appreciation to my family for their undying support during my marathon training – they may not understand the reasons behind the early morning runs and grouchiness of missed workouts but they’ve always pulled more than their share of chores around the house. It is only fair that I should always do my best and honor their sacrifice in every race that I do. I know the turns along the GCAM course like the back of my hand and I’ll be back to do it justice next year!

On-Location On The Gold Coast: The GCAM16 Shake Down Run

I spent much of today just chilling out and kneading the troublesome calves. Not forgetting getting some supplies from the nearby Coles and Woolies, and get some race-packing done. Lunch was at The Fishhouse located at Burleigh Heads. An excellent recommendation by Selin.

With the rest of the group arriving at the Gold Coast, what better way than to try rope in as many as possible for a group photo near the iconic Surfers Paradise followed by a short Shake Down Run along the scenic beachfront on race eve? As planned, we’re all gathered at the spot at 4:30pm and got all the fun shots done before heading off for a relaxing 1.3K towards the Main Beach direction before picking up the pace for the remaining 1.3 back to the start. We would’ve gone further a little had the path not been closed. With almost 30 of us, you can bet we made quite a scene with our presence (and noise!) but it’s all fun as you can probably tell from these photos!

We went off our separate ways to clean up, have an early dinner before getting the race gear ready (taping up the legs, in my case) for some #GoodTimes the next day. That’ll be my updates for now. The next one shall be my race report, maybe when I get back from the holidays. I’ll still post photos up to the GCAM16 – Team Malaysia Facebook page whenever I can.

Here are some of the fun photos taken that evening. If you missed running GCAM this year, you can still follow the race via Webcast. Head on here for the webcast link. And of course, there’s always next year’s race which incidentally will be the 39th edition of Australia’s first IAAF Gold Label race!

Wish us luck for the race tomorrow!

On-Location On The Gold Coast: Day 1 – Pre-Departure, Arrival, Lunch And Expo

G’day from the sunny Gold Coast, Australia! Weather’s great here, air is fresh and crisp, and you can get around in t-shirts and shorts during the day before making a grab for the warmer clothing when the sun sets. With over 250 Malaysians running GCAM this year, coordinating group photo sessions were expectedly tricky.

Just some of those flew Thursday night.

A handful of travelers were, in fact, already at various locations in Australia (Cairns, Brisbane, Melbourne) on Thursday while the majority will be arriving Friday and even Saturday.

The runners were all excited to soak in whatever the Gold Coast has to offer, from the stunning scenery, attractions to the pre-race excitement at the Expo. Here are some of the photos taken at KLIA2 (before departure), at the Coolangatta Airport (we couldn’t find Borobi, yet!), at the Currumbin Beach Vikings Surf Club for a scrumptious lunch before heading to the Expo for the race kit collection (and some shopping). Can’t wait for the family to arrive on Sunday!

If you missed running GCAM this year, you can still follow the race via Webcast. Head on here for the webcast link. And of course, there’s always next year’s race which incidentally will be the 39th edition of GCAM!

I’ll also be uploading photos to the GCAM16 – Team Malaysia Facebook page. So do add yourself there too if you’d like to follow or train with us.

Media Release – Record International Entries For 38th Annual Gold Coast Airport Marathon

Saturday 25 June

The Gold Coast Airport Marathon continues to grow as a major sports tourism event for Queensland with a record number of runners from overseas set to hit our shores next week, Minister for Tourism and Major Events Kate Jones announced today.

With a week until entries close, more than 3,250 runners from 59 overseas countries are registered for the 38thGold Coast Airport Marathon to be held on 2-3 July.

“Attracting a record number of visiting runners from overseas is a great outcome for the Gold Coast,” said Ms Jones.

“Events like the Gold Coast Airport Marathon showcase the Gold Coast to international visitors and to overseas markets.

“Since the marathon was accredited with an IAAF Road Race Gold Label in 2014, there has been even greater interest from elite and recreational runners.

“The event is expected to attract more than 7,000 international visitors to the Gold Coast, which will be a great boost for local tourism operators.”

Ms Jones highlighted the growth from emerging markets such as Greater China and South East Asia as the main reason for the record international numbers.

This year also marks the first year of the landmark agreement between leading Chinese sports media company Sina Sports and Events Management Queensland.

“China represents a huge marketing opportunity for the Gold Coast Airport Marathon moving forward,” said Ms Jones.

“We had one participant from China in 2010 and we are closing in on 300 this year. There is also record participation from Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia.

“Japan continues to provide the most number of visiting runners as it has for nearly two decades and New Zealand will also go close to a record number.

“It is a really exciting time for the event as it continues to grow in popularity as a destination marathon.”

Ms Jones said the global media exposure the Gold Coast Airport Marathon now receives has provided a significant boost to the profile of the event and to the Gold Coast.

“Television coverage of the Gold Coast Airport Marathon last year generated 1,500 hours of air time with a potential reach into 850 million households across 129 countries,” Ms Jones said.

“Adding to this is a live stream of the Gold Coast Airport Marathon available around the world and our ability to engage with a global audience on social media.

“Not only are media partnerships raising the profile of the marathon, but also of the Gold Coast as a destination for international visitors.

“We will also host more than 50 media representatives from Japan, Greater China and South East Asia this year, generating further interest.”

The Gold Coast Airport Marathon is organised by Events Management Queensland, a major event management company wholly owned by the Queensland Government as part of Tourism and Events Queensland.

Events Management Queensland Chairman Kerry Watson said he was delighted with the growing interest in the Gold Coast Airport Marathon from overseas.

“The participation numbers we attract from overseas markets is the result of long-term marketing strategies in collaboration with Tourism and Events Queensland, Gold Coast Airport, City of Gold Coast, Gold Coast Tourism and major sponsors.

“We take a long-term view with our marketing and what we do today is laying the platform for even more visitors to come and experience the Gold Coast Airport Marathon in future years.

“The Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games has created another significant focus on this destination, and we plan to ensure the Gold Coast Airport Marathon adds value to that focus on the Gold Coast for many years after.”

This year’s 38th annual Gold Coast Airport Marathon will be held on Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 July. Entries for all races on the program close on Friday 1 July.

For more information visit goldcoastmarathon.com.au

For information contact:

Stephen Lock, Media Consultant, Events Management Queensland
Phone: 07 5668 9811 Mobile: 0408 124 694 Email: stephen@goldcoastevents.com.au   

Jacob Bush, Marketing Executive, Events Management Queensland
Phone: 07 5668 9801 Mobile: 0448 188 927 Email: jacob@goldcoastevents.com.au

AfterShokz Trekz Titanium Headphone Review

In all of my reviews on earbuds and earphones, I’ve always emphasized on the importance of exercising safety when considering running outdoors to music. I’ve my personal safety protocol when it comes to running with earbuds plugged in.

Music continues to feature in many of my runs these days, more so these days having moved nearly half of my weekday sessions to 5:30am. On double days, I alternate between the outdoors and the treadmill. Without some kind of diversion, I wouldn’t be able to get through the miles without losing my sanity!

When I read about a new sports headphones to hit the Malaysian shores recently that focuses on safety, my interest was piqued. Relying on bone-conduction, the AfterShokz Trekz Titanium (ATT) lets you listen through teeny vibrations generated by patented transducers which are then conducted to the wearer’s inner ear by way of the cheekbones. As you can guess, that method leaves the ear canals uncovered, all the better to allow the wearer retain a fantastic level of situational awareness. I’ve put the gear to test and came away pretty impressed. There are some compelling pluses and some areas which can be improved, so let’s get to it.

Where are the earphones? I was listening to music when I took this shot. :D

The ATT comes in a medium-sized box and inside is where you’ll find a zippered soft carry case, a QRG (Quick Reference Guide), a pair of foam earplugs, a pair of silicone FitBand (should you require a snugger fit), a micro USB cable, and a small 2-year warranty card with online registration. The earphones itself is made of flexible titanium encased in silicone sleeve so you can confidently handle the device with confidence. The micro USB charging port is located under the rubber seal and 45-minute charge from a PC topped up the juice – charge indicator will change from red to blue. The unit probably still had a good amount of juice left hence the shorter than the published period of 90 minutes.

Micro USB port for charging.

Blue = fully charged!

The Volume Up button doubles up as the power button as well and the wearer will be greeted by a female voice prompt. The first pairing was with my iPhone which was very easily and quickly done.

Pairing was very easily done.

Bluetooth and battery level indicator are displayed on the phone.

From then on, it was a matter of getting acquainted with the unique listening experience. Unique because with the other earbuds, surrounding sounds are always blocked out, allowing for an immersive musical experience. With the AfterShokz, you get to hear everything from the sound of the photocopier, colleagues chatting and of course, your music. Audio quality (AQ) is a mixed bag. On paper, the frequency response ranges from 20Hz to 20KHz, which isn’t the most dynamic in the market. Given that the Trekz Titanium adopts an open-ear concept, the music will always lose the low-ends. If you’re looking for thumping bass, the ATT will not impress. However, the mids and highs were surprisingly open and presented with great clarity. The AQ will vary by wearer due to anatomical differences, sensitivity to frequencies and how one positions the device. You do have the option to stick the 2 foam plugs in to block off the outside noise resulting in AQ changes – bass levels are immediately boosted, ideal for casual listening when not working out.

A point worth noting is that there’s a little sensation of vibration when music is being played depending on how loud you’ve set the volume. It isn’t uncomfortable but I thought it’s something I should mention.

Sweating profusely but the ATT still held on nicely.

With the indoor listening out of the way, it was time to take the ATT outdoors. Since I dislike lugging my phone when I run, I paired the headphones to the iPod Nano 7th Gen. To pair the ATT to another device, just hold down the power button to put it back into search mode. The Bluetooth pairing was quicker than my Garmin in acquiring a sat lock, so it was a very quick affair as well.

Again, there was practically no bounce from the ATT, even when the pace picked up. I was able to detect all ambient sounds, passing traffic, approaching vehicles from behind and to even engage in a conversation. It was as if I was running to background music rather than an in-your-face experience. If anything, I found toggling the volume to be a rather fastidious affair, finding it hard to engage the correct buttons.

The ATT fits over the ear and the transducers rest just in front of your ear, on your cheekbone. Looking at the Trekz Titanium’s band, I thought that the headphones will bounce a fair bit as I run but none of that happened. Well, I’m pleased to report that I thought wrong. The fit was secure from the get-go. Changing of the tracks were easily done with the multi-function button on the left earpiece. Double-tapping it will advance to the next track while triple-tapping it will reverse the selection. Pausing requires a single tap as is taking a call (which I separately tested at home) via 2 noise-canceling mics located at the tip of both earpieces.

Techies will be interested in the spec sheet below:

 

So the AfterShokz has surprised me. Granted, one shouldn’t expect ground-shaking audiophile quality music (even though the mids and highs are pretty sweet) out of it but as workout headphones with a strong emphasis on safety, it performs as described. A few friends and I remarked that it would be nice if a 4GB flash memory for music storage can be incorporated into the left earpiece so that there’s no need to carry around another MP3 player or phone.

Pluses:

  • Excellent situational awareness.
  • Bluetooth.
  • Good fit with no bounce.
  • Very easy to connect.
  • Voice prompt.
  • IP55 sweat-resistance.
  • 6-hour battery life should accommodate most training runs.
  • Open mids and highs.
  • Reasonable pricing for a pair of Bluetooth earphones.

Can Be Improved:

  • No internal flash storage.
  • Weak low end
  • Access to volume controls needed some getting used to.

Word of caution: Regardless of the earphone design, please be always mindful of traffic and other safety threats. Always use your better judgment and never listen at extreme levels of volume.

AfterShokz Trekz Titanium is distributed by Distexpress (M) Sdn Bhd and retails for RM499. is available at TheMarathonShop outlets.

Disclosure: The product was made available for my use as an AfterShokz Ambassador.

A Prolonged Case Of The Pee-Eff

This file is made available under the Creative Commons

The last 4 months have proven to be a testing period for me, running-wise. Hardly a run went by without some level of discomfort and pain as a result of a prolonged bout of PF. I’ve not sought external consultation and treatment but I suspected that the flare-up was caused by a session in a racing flat early in the year. Per standard PF symptoms, the pain centered around the heel and arch areas of my right foot but unlike the usual cases, the pain can strike at anytime of the day, even when I was seated or in bed.

I’ve been blessed with staying injury-free for as long as I’ve been running (since the early ’90s!) by exercising caution and not hesitating in taking a couple of days off if I don’t feel right, so this was downright annoying. As a result, I’d been training sub-par, laying off nearly all speedwork and hillwork, and also limiting my time in 4mm-drop shoes. The Saucony Ride 8 became my go-to training shoes and I even ran Kasumigaura Marathon in the 8mm Breakthru. When I needed a bit of pace, I relied on the Zealot (while 4mm, it afforded a cushy ride).

Then a couple of days’ ago, the pain disappeared. It was literally a heavy day with strength training sandwiched between 2 runs. The discomfort, still present and noticeable, wasn’t as pronounced in the morning right up to the early evening. However, as I cleared each mile, I suddenly realized that there was no pain in the area. A little apprehensive, I waited a week to see if the condition stayed the same or if the pain would recur.

Now that the monitoring period has elapsed, I’m pleased to update that for the most part the pain is gone. The discomfort no longer reach the levels nor persistence I’ve experienced in the last few months to the point that I ‘m now able to engaged in faster-paced running and maintaining form and concentration without the distraction that comes with dealing with the pain.

Now that I’m nearly recovered, I thought I’d share with you what I did to get better – it’s basically EVERYTHING. I read up whatever I could from various online resources (Competitor, RW, and other physio sites), applied release techniques, trigger point massages, rolling and stretches not only at the trouble spots but also directed plenty of focus on the calf where tightness is known to exacerbate the PF. I also taped the foot up (a placebo effect or otherwise, I found it to provide some relief) prior to Kasumigaura and came away from the race unscathed, even though I spent longer time on my feet than usual on race day due to challenging weather conditions. I watched YouTube videos to get a better idea on where to target the massaging. I believe there’s no silver bullet for the PF problem but an amalgamation of the remediation steps taken. On top of what I’ve mentioned, here are more measures which I took:

  1. Reduced my time in low drop shoes, running more in the cushier Ride 8.
  2. Wore an orthortic for arch support.
  3. Avoided over-stressing the arch and heel areas by laying off/reduce hillwork and speedwork.
  4. Incorporated stretching and massaging several times a day as part of my on-going daily routine.
  5. Be patient. Some issues just need time to resolve.
  6. Incorporated lower leg strengthening regimen as the foot got better.

The recovery couldn’t have come at a better time as GCAM16 draws nearer. If you’re saddled with PF, here’s a short video by renown Gold Coast physio, Brad Beer, on how to work that area. Here’s hoping you get better soon too!

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