Sunday, May 7, 2017

Product Review - Nike Zoom Streak LT3

A pure speedster... FAST!!

I would normally ran a considerably amount of distance with the shoes before I put my opinion on the shoes, but for obvious reason this is an exception. I just can't run this for my usual workout session unless is on the track, but I did it once on a 5km time trial training.

Just in case you are not familiar with the shoes, this is Nike's racing flat, its born to race, it is meant to win races. I know I know the hype these days is on the Nike Zoom Vaporfly Elite wore by Eliud Kipchoge in the attempt of #breaking2, and I talking Zoom Streak LT3? But let's face it what are the chances of you or in this case me get to run in the Vaporfly? See my point yet? So this Streak LT3 is still very relevant to an average Joe like me

Honestly, I don't have any experience with racing flats, my racing pace is pretty average and most often than not I really don't need a racing flats, but this beast changed my view. With a 4mm drop from a stack height of 22mm heel and 18mm forefoot, weighing-in just a mere 5.3 oz for half a pair of the US size 9, this is as light as you can get without sacrificing durability. The upper is constructed using a layer of soft engineered mesh, however the upper layer is a lot thinner than any of Nike's shoes range like the Flyknit shaving off fats. The upper has no visible frame structure except for the heel counter which is slightly padded with an angle towards the heel/archilles . I suspect this is designed as such to help locked down your feel along with the mid foot area through the laces. Material used for the upper is slightly stretchy with large cutout pores at the forefoot area for breathability. I have not experience any stitch or material rubbing even with the angled heel counter, the upper is very comfortable. The shoe is narrow, if you are buying through online (which you probably would if you are from this part of the world) I suggest to up-size to half a size. I'm a US 9- 9.5 with wide forefoot and my pair is a US size 10 just a reference

As to most of the racing flats, the insole is non-removable, so be sure to wash it diligently after your sweaty workout before it turns stinky. Midsole tech, a layer of full-length midsole foam with the Zoom Air tech placed at the heel section provides responsive ride. As for the outsole, sticky hard rubber are placed mainly at high wear rate area around the forefoot and the heel area for durability and extra traction. The forefoot area has a visible curve up from the ball to the toe area promoting forefoot stride and a feeling of forward propulsion with an aggressive cutout from the midfoot area towards the narrow heel.

LT3 has a firm and responsive ride with a lot of ground feedback that really works on your calves, so be sure to work on your calves before you run hard in the LT3. I kid you not as my workout routine are mainly on trainers, I would usually run on the Adidas Adios Boost for a couple of sessions to slowly works towards LT3 for races. It comes alive when you run hard and fast, the toe off is effortless and obvious stride by stride. I wore it for a 5km time trial training session and 2 short races and I aced it every time except for a 10km hilly run which my lungs couldn't keep up lol.

What I like about the shoes... is fast, it is light, it looks really good aesthetically and it makes my 2 no names mentioned friends jealous as they could not run the LT3 being an ambassador with a competitor sports brand. Can't comment much on the price point as I gotten my pair from Japan while I was traveling there for slightly under RM300, but it was a steal to me

What I don't like about the shoes...crap I can't run this on my regular training sessions..but in honestly this is a racing shoes and is not meant to run as your day in day out work horse. So if you are looking for a pair of do-it-all shoes.. this is not. Is for racing and speed work session

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Seoul International Marathon 2017 - Race Report

A bitter sweet race, but still managed to pull a big personal best

I have always race with a very clear objective that is a beat my previous best. This race was no exception, but this time is also to finish up the goal which I failed to achieve in 2016. Training was a struggle coming out from a Nov big race, I was tired and the annual family holiday in Dec kept me out from training most of the time. Nevertheless, I set out to a proper training regime in January 2017 with a little less than 10 weeks before race day in March.

Training proper for a marathon race has always a pain, balancing between various workout plan, work, recovery, family time and the many risks of injury are just part of the struggle I'm facing week in week out. Discipline and commitment were key seeing through the weeks. Fortunately, I not alone doing this with Nick  sticking to a crazy advance plan and Yan Leng who is taking a walk in the park plan, taking things really easy. I'll not bored you further with my training philosophy and jump straight to Seoul, the land of K-POP

Fast forward to March, things looks pretty promising although I am not 100% sure I'll make the target but things are going the right direction. Flew in to Seoul on a Wednesday morning with my wife and immediately we were welcomed with a -2 degree Celsius weather, we were expecting the cold especially the morning and evening hours but temperature gradually climbed to 7 or 8 during the day and we were dressed to comfort for the weather. After about 70 mins of airport bus ride to city center, we were greeted by our Airbnb property owner Jeremy. His hospitality immediately made us felt at home with the many facilities and conveniences that comes with the unit. After a short rest, we head out to look for food before meeting up with Nick later in the day for a BBQ and Soju dinner. Seoul is a vibrant city rich in history and at the same time with modern arts and architecture not to mention the K-Pop culture. Places like Gwanghuamun in Insadong and the modern art in Dongdaemun are obvious contrast of the old and mordern. Often times the contrasts were just separated by the many palaces' wall that we have visited.

Nick and I had our shakedown run in the morning hours to test out gears and doing the tourist thing during the day for the next few days before receiving Yan Leng and Jeanie on Friday. Wife was complaining the shakedown on the first day was more for the vain pot in us to take vain shorts, while second shake down was a more proper one morning. Saturday was a no run day and heading to race pack collection in the morning hours and relax and rest as much as possible for the all important race on the next day. The open air expo was located outside of the stadium where the race would finish. Expo was really small for a Gold Label standard road race, apart from the main sponsors like Adidas and Pocari Sweat, there were nothing much to do nor see unlike the ones in Gold Coast or Japan which was packed with sports related booths and foods stalls. There were no English speaking staffs, most of the time we would need to guess what's going on, similarly the staffs were trying to guess what we were trying to say. They were a name printing service by Adidas and a finishing band booth which will have your race distance and finishing time engraved. Mind you I find out all these based on the Korean words and queued up to find out later that the band will only be ready on 8th April and I need to collect it in Korean, no mailing service..ppprfff!!!  I was also expecting at least a K-Pop group dancing and singing away but instead their appearance was only on paper standee in the form of Instagram frame :). Jokes aside, there was really nothing at the expo with only Adidas being the major player with very little merchandise up for grab. We then continue with little sight seeing, an early dinner and call it a day as we go separate ways getting ourselves prepare for race day.

Going into the race with confidence
The sleep the night before wasn't sound due to nervousness and woke up earlier than planned even though the race starts at 8:20am. I was expecting a cooling weather for the race, however the morning hours were still chilling, so I dressed up warmly, wished my wife a good race for her second 10 km race and walked a few hundred meters meeting up with Yan Leng heading to the race site where we would catch Nick at the baggage area. As we reached the race site, it was already packed with participants with speakers everywhere blasting out from the emcee, we have no clue what he was announcing and not a single word of English for the foreign participants. Nevertheless after checking in our baggage, we started our warm up routine to loosen up the muscle and would hide behind a tent that shield us from the wind chill. As none of us understand what the emcee were announcing, we assumed the Elites category started on time followed by runners in A, B and C corals. Without any clue, we would just follow the crowd moving forward and there we were the race starts.

Two brave ones with shorts
First 10km
Race start at Gwanghwamun Plaza
The race was expected to be crowded and fast as the cut off time was set at 5 hours, everyone was rushing passed the starting line like a swam of bees . Fortunately the route was wide enough for all runners to maneuver around,  not much of a problem there seeing me, YL and Nick started off and picking up our pace nicely. Within 300m, I lost sight of Nick as he was maneuvering around the crowd while me and YL stayed together chasing our goal. The first 20km will see us race through the city of Seoul, with many u-turn points before heading out. I was keen to repeat the pace in Gold Coast 2016 but not the drama that I had, hence I kept  the pace in check and would keep YL informed on our pace as we go along. First water station at 5km, we sped passed as we were each holding a small softflask with a minimal stop strategy, I mean not that we have a choice as the water station were spread apart every 5km... yup you heard me 5km apart water station was pushing the limit of a Gold Label Standard minimum guideline I was told. Instead they put sponge station in between the 5km water station...Why would you need a water sponge racing in cold weather? I have no clue and I'm not fast enough to generate heat to the extend that the cold weather was not cooling enough to cool me down. We grabbed a quick sip at 10km water station and our pace and race time were spot on with GCAM16 building a nice buffer which would be crucial for later part of our race. There were not much scenery for the first 10km apart from  Namdaemun (south gate).

Heading towards 20km
Thanks Nessa for the beautiful pic
With the quick sip at 10km, the temperature started to climb making it very nice to run. At this point of time we were running along Cheonggyecheon stream and we would first spot the Elites heading the opposite direction across the river after making one of the many u-turns within the 1st half of the race.Shortly after that around 12km, we were at the end of the stream and make our u-turn heading the opposite direction. Our pace was very consistent keeping it around 5:20min/km, heart rate was rhythmic without any sign of struggle with no drama. At around 14km we spotted Nessa, gave her a shout out and in returned she took this beautiful and only picture of me in Seoul racing hahaha. Then it hit me that Nick may be running behind us as I was expecting him to be much faster ahead of us, I got a bit worried and told YL that we may be going too fast and would pay dearly in the later part of the race. We slowed down very slightly but would still naturally spin at 5:20min/km. Took a another quick sip at 15km and finally head out to another part of the concrete jungle. At one of the right turn into a long straight, there were a group of RPM trainer on their spinner, giving cheers and support to runners. Again I have no idea what they were shouting out, but it was still a welcome sight and a much needed support going into the the half way mark of the race.

Halfway mark - 21km
Water station at 20km point, similarly we slowed down for a quick sip but this time slightly longer as we both need to refill the softflask to last the second half of the race. Legs were pretty fresh, no sign of fatigue and we raced on side by side toward 21km mark building up a very healthy buffer. I told YL we need to keep this pace for another 9km reaching 30km than we would have the luxury to slow down to 6min/km pace.

10Km start for my wife. This was her second running race and she nailed it under 60 mins !! I have no idea how she do it but she never failed to amaze me
Let me take a reality check here. Halfway point, apart from Namdaemun, Cheonggeycheon stream and Dongdaemum Design Plaza, there wasn't much to see within the city. So if you are looking for a great scenic route, this is not your race. Local support along the race route was rare or close to none. Local runners (I assumed) were spiting without giving a damn if runners are on their spitting path. Hey you may say I'm here to race, which I am. but those scenic route and local support is what makes a good race great!!

Breaking point 30km
Race starts at 30km so they say. We were on form, race pace was superb to say the least still averaging at a pace that would carry us both to our goal. We did not slowdown and approach the 25km water station the same way we did on the earlier ones. Dash passed with a quick sip and race on. At this point, the legs were still spinning great and keeping informed on our pace and how we were doing, I was quick to suggest that we should take a longer break at 30km water station to give ourselves a mental break in preparation for the "Race Start". As much as I would like to remember how I felt and what I see in this phase of the race, I was and I could only focus on the run from 26-30km. This was a crucial phase not by Marathon definition, but it was crucial for me as this was where my race had gone south for my past 5 Marathon races. I was putting full attention on how my body react especially on the legs as I kept charging at a below goal pace. Keeping my salt and gel intake to the plan, I finally got it right to 30km, I crossed the the 30km mark and a longer walk break at the water station. 2 water, a pocari sweat and a cup of water down on my head... oh boy the chill woke me up albeit starting to feel fatigue. Quads were little numb from the 30km spin but no pain. Mentally I was ready to take on the remaining 12km

Race to 40km  
Beyond the 30km, race route was not as straight forward compare to the first half. There were many rolling climb, some hidden. You don't really see it except for those obvious bridge climb but the increase heart rate and heavier breathing are tell tail sign that my pace was slipping away. As I have build quite a buffer, I could afford to slow down slightly keeping any leg cramp at bay. Drama starts at 35km, I felt a twitch on my left calf........... I slowed down again and it didn't go away. My first walk took place at 36km while YL charge on. Average pace was dropping, but it was within threshold crossing the bridge towards 38km. The inevitable cramp finally hit me on the right calf, I limped to a walk at the same time made sure I don't go beyond 6min/km pace for too long. I can see a little more crowd from here onward, some are the local support handing out food, drinks and spray, but mostly the 10km runners are now merging into the same run route. Watch distance (40km) are now 1km off on the course marker (39km) and I started to worried.

Jeanie who was racing in the 10km category running along with the 3+hour pacer. Sight of congestion. Jeanie ran a superb race coming out from a marathon 2 weeks before 

42.195KM (43.18KM on watch)
Traffic is getting heavier while I was fighting my own battle. I see couples held hands walking on the race path, parents held their children forming a human wall and some out with their camera/phone for a wefie/selfie. They all looked so happy and I happy for them too, but on the contrary I was equally frustrated and angry with the organizer on their failure merging the marathon runner and 10km fun runner on the same path at the same time obstructing the 42km runner were chasing goals. Although the route are still somewhat wide, but I had to start maneuvering around for a clear run path while managing the frequent twitch on the left and right calves. It really doesn't help when you are forced to make sudden direction change on a pair of wasted legs. 4l KM (race marker) but watch says 42km, the Jamsil Sports Complex were clearly in sight but my pace was getting slower, the clock was ticking. I did not enjoy this part for the race, the threat of not hitting my goal time was real. I had to walk again with about a kilometer to go and slightly over 6 mins left from my goal.
Stadium on the left and the funnel into the finishing
Couple holding hands while a triathlete maneuver around to the left 
Funneling into the sports complex was the worst part of the race, the whole 8 lanes of the track were hogged, 10km runners (no offence) were taking wefies, some even walking towards the opposite direction, some crossing from left to right. I had a minute left to sprint  maneuver through less than 300m, I was shouting my lungs out hoping for a clear path and the shocking sight towards the finishing gantry.... both marathon and 10km runners queuing to cross the finishing line. Shock to the max!!! Nevertheless, with such a big drama, it was still a big PB for me, 14 mins off from my previous best and I'm taking it with pride. Congratulation to YL for her sub4 finishing, superb run from her and Nick for a race well done coming back from multi injuries hampering his previous 2 races.

Job well done for all
I'm busted while Yan Leng looks relax and happy with her sub 4 finishing

For a IAAF Gold Label road race, this is definitely a disappointing race on the organizer part. There were many complains on the community board regarding the finishing and the secretariat even admitted there were too many runners at the finishing line and the timing system could not cope with the volume screwing up the timing transmission!!! Race ranking was off too I reckoned from some of the complains, finishing tee was a confuse, 2 Garmin and a Sunnto recorded 43k+.... I could go on and on and it would only make me a sour grape. You don't have to take my words for it, just look at the finishing photo photos which Jeanie managed to snap after finishing her race. Would I race Seoul again? The answer in an obvious no if the organizer cannot sort themselves out and IAAF ought to look into the 2017 race edition to reevaluate if they meet the standard with such a blunder. Saying that, Seoul is still a great city but if you are here to race for PB, my advise to you is make sure you run fast enough to avoid the 10km crowd. No offence to the 10km, is all the organizer fault... big time!!!

Click to enlarge the photo. Notice the queue to cross the finishing line 

Pic shows all runners from 10km and 42Km congested after the finishing gantry

Same story, different angle

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Powerman Malaysia 2017 - Race Report

1st race of 2017, 6th placing in age group 😁. Don't ask which age group, a 6th placing is a 6th placing regardless of age group 😄

This wasn't a planned race and what ever happened during the race is really what I could expected for. I was supposed to travel to attend a wedding on the raceday and therefore knew I'm gonna skip this edition of the Powerman Malaysia 2017 when it was open for registrations. Friends from local and outstation has been asking me to join them in the race and all I could was to explain how much I would love to but wasn't meant to be.

But wait, fast forwarding to 2 weeks before race day, my traveling plan had to be called off and told myself "let's see if the registration is still open", to my surprised it is still open and without hesitation I signed up for the short race which involves 5km - 30km - 5km in a run-bike-run format.

There is still a problem. with the race out of mind, naturally I did not spend anytime on bike training and rode a mere 3 times since Ironman Langkawi in Nov 2016 going into the race. Fortunately, I have a marathon race coming up and was keeping my fitness checked all the time, so no problem there for lacing up a racing flat going all out. However, as the race day was exactly 2 weeks from the marathon race, I have decided to approach the race as a speed workout session rather than a race. That way pressure monkey is off my back and I just need to do my own thing without the thought of setting any time....well I was secretly hoping for a sub-2 hours finishing :)

Race pack collection arrangement was very similar to last year, and the queue was horrendous. The organizer in my opinion could just post the indemnity form and authorization letter online for participants to fill up prior traveling for race pack. Lots of time wasted just to wait to fill up forms and queue which was as long as the Germilang Bridge.. hope they can improve next year. My partner in crime Richi "Toyota" San was racing the Classic Race (10km-60km-10km) for the company and let me tell you that feller, he is the main man there with camera crew and photographers following him around just to make him a Toyota celebrity. They must have thought who the H#ll is this feller trying to grab some limelight from their main man. Truth is I wasn't, I wasn't even thinking about racing @!$!$*. The Toyota camp just came out to greet him "boss boss" as he walked into the camp and even politely asked him to setup his bike at a specific location so that they could shoot video of him in the process. Damn I knew he is a big shot with the company but never imagined he's that "big", that goes to say how humble he is as a friend and as an athlete off work. With the bike racked and some catch up with Juliet, Sue and Jessen, I left the place feeling relax.. told you I wasn't racing, is training day

Raceday, woke up early and met up with Richi at McDonald's for a quick bite. The restaurant is full of participants as they were all in the cycling kit or trisuit ready to race, while we took our time to chill out as we do have plenty of time to spare. We then travel to race site, still early and it was still dark. took out our gears from the car and we head separately to our transition to set up the bike and lay down all our gears. One grievance here, no basket for participants and that meant participants gears are all over the place which can be hazardous during the 2 transitions. I organized my gears nicely and kept things minimal on the floor avoiding any potential mishap. After final check and some liquid, as I left the transition area after failing to locate my school mates, the elites athletes and the classic category's participants are all already lined up at the starting line. As I walked down the the starting pen, I managed to locate Khar Hon and Kar Boon all geared up for the start. A quick catch up and wishing them best of luck , I walked to the nearby field to start my warm up and some stretch. Both the categories started on time, after a quick toilet break, I lined up the starting line with Irene. Not long after the elite group completed the 1st 5km loop run and boy there were really fast.

Looking at the watch, there is still 12 mins before race start (7:30am) for the short category and I continued to watch the elites raced as they pass by the startling line to start their 2nd loop of 5km run."Honk" the air horn suddenly horned and the short category participants started racing and I was like "what happened?", the watch says 7:20. I was left panic and started running at the same time fiddling my watch to start recording my workout. The start was fast and furious for everyone as expected with everyone going all out. My pace was pretty good and could keep up with the regular fast legs although they are constantly around 50-60m ahead of me, but I always have them in sight. Saying that, I was concerned of any side stitch and luckily it never hit me. I kept my pace only slow down slightly at the 2nd aid station for a quick sip and race on. Soon the watch beeped at 4km and I was running faster than my best 5km time trial and I was absolutely trilled and comfortable with the pace. Final right hander and I was running down the final straight heading into transition 1 for my bike.

Transition 1 was executed flawlessly, a quick sip, gloves on, Oakley on, helmet buckled and running shoes off. Running down the transition area with the bike was not straight forward, as it was narrow and the relay category's runners were all there in the transition area flooding under a tent. I had to shout out to the runners to give way, some quickly make way but some really don't care and continued blocking the way.. thanks guys you guys were really helpful!!! Once I'm out from the transition area, I ran beyond the mounting line before jumping on to the bike and start pedaling away for a flying mount.. phew, luckily I didn't fumble and fall flat as I haven't been practicing that for some time. I was immediately up to speed reaching 34-35km/hr easily and I wasn't having any trouble with brick. After a few twist and turn, we were all racing on the Putrajaya highway which was smooth with rolling hills. I had cycled the route before during the previous edition of the race, so I was fully aware of what to expect, when to push and where the climbs were. After a few climbs, the race brought us to the u-turn point which mean there is only one final climb with the rest of the route a more manageable rolling hills. I lost some time here as I was always weak on the climb and to top it off no training at all with my avg speed dropped to 33km after the climb. Saying that, I was still very happy with the bike pace albeit knowing I could go a little faster had I train for the race, but no complains really. Took a gel here, pushed on through the rolling hills... "breep breeep" the race Marshall whistled to a group of participants who were drafting each other and signaled to them that they will be time penalty put on them and I was lucky that I wasn't closed enough to consider drafting escaping the penalty. To make things a little more challenging, it started to rain, not heavy but not a drizzle either. I've raced in such condition before and experience tells me that I need to be wary with my braking point racing on carbon wheels and so I started to worked on the brake a little early and all ends well racing into Transition 2.

Unfortunately as it was raining dismounting from the bike meant that the socks will be all wet as there were puddles of water everywhere leading into the transition area. I ran in fast with the bike keeping an eye on the landmark where my racking spot were, and luckily my Nike Steak LT3 is in a very bright and colorful colorway, I almost spotted my racing flat immediately and knew exactly where to rack my bike. A quick sip, helmet off, gloves off and racing shoes on, I quickly ran out from the transition area for my final 5km run.

The last run wasn't as fast as the first, but I have no problem putting in a comfortable pace. Breathing was rhythmic, legs were spinning fine with good cadence count although I could feel some fatigue, but again no brick issue. Similar to my first run, I sped past the 1st aid station and slow down for the 2nd aid station for some water and ice cold sponge to cool myself down a degree or two. There weren't many runners around but instead a lot of bikes just came back heading to transition 2. I wasn't sure how I was doing against the sub-2 hours target, then again I wasn't really too concern if I finish beyond 2 hours, so I slow down once again at the 3rd aid station, but this time I walked the whole aid station, grabbing some drinks and say thanks to the volunteer there, they made the race possible.

Through the last turn a slight incline before heading to the finishing straight, I find myself picking up my legs again and run the remaining 400m. I wasn't pushing on the pace for one I wanted to enjoy the finishing, two I wasn't having racing in mind and just cruising through the final meters on the blue carpet crossing the finishing chute. Jessen and Sue as expected had finished their race respectively and later learnt that they were finishing 1st and 3rd respectively in their category. So a big congratulations to both of them for a job well done, it was by no mean an easy feat from them. As for me, I am just happy to complete the speed workout in less than 2 hours time, shaving off 47 mins from my previous best in the short distance race, but to be fair I was on a mountain bike then haha. Dr. Lee my other school mate finishing his first duathlon race and had a really great catch up.

We still missed you Kew

I managed to catch Richi "Toyota" San in action running his last loop, and he was invincible on that day. His run was superb recording negative split from his 1st run after biking for 60km finishing his race shaving off 20+ minutes from last year "relay". .   Big congratulations to him also. As usual all my and Richi's multi-sports achievements are dedicated to our mentor brother Kew.

Fan, Nick, Irene, Stephanie, Bak Lam and Bak Fai all recorded a good finishing time in their respective category. All in all is a great day for everyone, I'll be sure to come back next year but this time with racing in mind lol...

photo credit to : AKU Wong, Rany Tan, Julia Lim, Richi, Toyota Crew, Cycling Malaysia. Chin Peng, Sorry if I have missed out your name and thanks for the excellent shots

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Product Review - Saucony Ride 9

Responsive pair of trainer

This has always been my go to shoe for Ironman Langkawi as I needed a pair of cushions shoes that can give me the support to ease the legs for a 42km run after a grueling 180km bike ride. However the launch of the Suacony Ride 9 was rather late in the end 3rd quarter or early 4th quarter due to some technical issue, I was left with no choice to go with brand other shoes. I didn't quite like the high arch of the other brand and felt pretty worried how to carry on in the race with a pair of tired legs running on a pair which I don't quite feel at home...

Exactly 2 weeks before race, I was helping out in the Saucony Run Clinic, Saucony Malaysia learnt that I was heading for Ironman, through Frank they were kind enough to arrange for a pair of new kicks at my choice as a gesture to support me for the Ironman quest. I was very exicited for their support and needless to say, I choose the all new Ride 9 with Everun a cushion trainer as my partner to get the job done. Why? Let's find out

Going through the specs of the shoes, nothing really shout out. With a stack height of 27mm (heel) - 19mm (forefoot) with 8mm drop and a weight of 9.2 oz for  US size 9, it really doesn't fit into the description racing shoes. In a way, the Ride 9 share a few similarity with its Kinvara7 sibling, Mesh upper with flexfilm overlay for better fit and its also sit on the neutral spectrum of shoes. However the secret lies on the smooth yet responsive ride of the shoes.

With 2 weeks to raceday, I was anxious and can't wait another day to collect the pair of shoes. I quickly made the arrangement with Saucony Malaysia and collect the pair in the nearest store where I work. It is not ideal going into a race with a shoe model that you have never run with before, especially with such major race which you really couldn't effort to screw up. After picking up the shoes, the same evening I went for a training run and desperately wanted to put in as many miles as I possible can in the shoes and that makes it slightly challenging as I was already in my tapering week.

On my first run, the shoes felt pretty light and it really doesn't feel like a 9.2 oz. The ride was smooth just like the Kinvara 7, the tri-flex outsole offers good flexibility on the toeing off. Every steps were stable and ground contact was firm which is a major plus point to me considering that I'll be running a full marathon with a very used legs.

The cushion, this is the tricky part as this is really on your personal preferences and the type of race/training that you be doing. Plush? Nope.. the cushioning feel in the Ride 9 is firm and there is nothing plush about the shoes.  Some like the cushion plush as it gives a pillow feel to your feet, but it also creates roll from your heel/midfoot landing to toeing off, this may not be ideal if your legs are already tired and still need to continue. On the contrary, if you run the firm cushion of Ride 9 for a long distance training or on a tired legs it helps hold your feet together with minimum roll, which helps to safe the legs to last the distance.

These is my 3rd shoes model that comes with Everun energy return tech, and similar to its sibling in the form of Kinvara7 and Peregrine6, the Ride 9 is equally responsive. Putting the shoes under sub 5 min pace requires only minimum effort when my lungs decided to keep up. I remembered putting on the shoes during the Ironman race after 180km of bike, immediately I was on pace and in fact I was running faster then I should for the first 10km of the race and had to held myself back as I know very well I won't be able to hold that pace for too long. But hey, it helps shaves vital minutes from my finishing time, so I absolutely loved it!

To sum it up, this is my go to shoes for high mileage training. It is responsive, it allows me to put in the pace when I feels naughty on the pace discipline. It also has a firm cushioning that helps protect the brutal feet pounding on the hard tarmac over a longer distance run. While it is not the lightest shoes to be raced in, it is certainly up to the job if you choose to race the Ride 9 like I did for my Ironman race. The shoe fit true to size, with the upper wrapped nicely on my feet, and my sole on the generous cushions, I've just simply earned many brownie points from my legs and they just don't argue with me when I put on the shoes.

Once again, thank you Saucony Malaysia for supporting my quest to Ironman Malaysia. The Suacony Ride 9 can be found in RSH stores nationwide and Running Lab Malaysia retailing at RM429.

Product Review - Nike Zoom Streak LT3

A pure speedster... FAST!! I would normally ran a considerably amount of distance with the shoes before I put my opinion on the shoes, but...