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First Impressions: Nike Zoom Elite 9

I was a non-believer. When I first started running regularly, Nike was not even in my list. Over-hyped, over-priced. Oh boy. Forgive me that I have sinned. I have to eat my own words. All my recent purchases have been Nike. Forget about the expensive Vapormaxes, where Nike claim the running shoes that have been tested most extensively, or the Airmaxes. Nobody in their right minds wear Airmaxes for running. If you see past all these faux-running shoes, Nike actually make many amazing shoes.

Among them is Nike Zoom Elite 9, one of many Nike running shoes that I am eager to get my hands on. Many say it is a hybrid of Nike Zoom Pegasus and Nike Zoom Streak 6, which I really love. It takes a long time before I get my hands on a pair of Nike Zoom Elite 9 though. It has been out for more than a year but was only available on Nike Malaysia Online Store. For an unknown reason, it is not available at any Nike store in Malaysia.

Good things come to those who wait. I waited for more than a year and recently, Nike Zoom Elite 9 is made available in limited pairs at Nike Factory Store at Mitsui, JPO, and A’Famosa Outlet. Thanks to Benny who copped a pair of US7.0 for me at 40% (39.45% to be exact) of the retail price. My pair comes from Thailand based on the shoe tag.

I have had Nike Zoom Elite 9 for a bit more than a week and have put 80.4 kilometres over 5 runs since. 80 kilometres are not long enough to come up with a full review, so these are only my initial impressions. I will write a full review once I have put at least 200 kilometres in it. One point to note though, the 5 runs that I have done in the shoes consist of two easy runs (with hill sprints sprinkled in it), one 2 miles tempo repeat, one 1 kilometre repeat, and a 20 miles long run. In short, I have thrown almost everything in the way of the shoes. I believe I already have a good idea about the shoes and probably can write a full review, but let’s wait for a little bit more so that I can include durability among other things in my full review. Be patient, guys.

Ritually, first thing I do when I get my hands on a pair of running shoes is to weigh them. My wife kitchen scale really comes handy. My US7.0 Nike Zoom Elite 9 pair comes in at 196g for the right pair, and strangely the left weighs 6g heavier. I am not sure why the right weighs more than the left but I believe it is due to manufacturing process. Raise up your hands if you can tell a difference of 6g! I thought so!

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I am going to talk a lot about the performance of the shoes, so let’s first start with the design and construction of the shoes. I believe whoever reads this blog posts has heard about Nike’s Breaking2 project. Click here if you have no idea what I am talking about. Nike use this Breaking2 project as a platform to introduce three (not you, Pegasus 34) of their latest running shoes (and also fastest?), Zoomfly, Vaporfly 4%, and Vaporfly Elite. The design of these two shoes are so radical that you will be forgiven if you think they parts of a rocket ship. (Yeah, I hear you. They look somewhat identical to Hoka). The tapered aero heels are something that we have never seen before in a running shoe. Teeettttt…. You are wrong. Cosmetically at least, Nike have played around with the tapered aero heels in Nike Zoom Elite 9.

The same design thought from Zoomfly is trinkled down to Zoom Elite 9 (or maybe the other way around?). Many complain about the stiff and tall heel counter on Zoomfly and the same can be said to Zoom Elite 9. The tall and stiff rub my achilles occasionally. It is a bit irritating but nothing major.

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That’s all I have to say about the design and construction of the shoes. Now let’s talk about performance of Nike Zoom Elite 9.

First run in this pair was a 60 minutes easy run with 5 times 20 seconds hill sprints. (Strava link below).

60′ Easy + 5 x 20s Hill Sprints

It definitely felt lighter than my Pegasus 32 and it translated to the pace I ran my usual 60 minutes easy run. I run my easy runs based on feelings without any concern about the pace but I found myself running around 15s/km faster with the same effort compared to in Pegasus 32. It is lighter and smoother. To cap my easy run off, I did 5 times 20s hill sprints and I was pleased with the performance of the shoes.

The next day, I threw down 3 times 2 miles tempo repeats in the way of the shoes. This was a truer test to the shoes because it is meant to be run fast in. (Strava link below).

3 x 3.2km Tempo Repeats

Happy to report that it performed just as expected. I managed to maintain my running form deep into the workout in the shoes. However, I was thrown off a bit by its weight. Don’t get me wrong, it is fairly lightweight. Although it only weighs 20g more than Zoom Streak 6, but Zoom Streak 6 feels a lot lighter, a lot smoother. Nothing to take away from Zoom Elite 9 though, because it still felt smooth. It is difficult to compare it to Zoom Streak 6, probably the best shoes that I have ever worn. For this kind of workout and effort, I prefer to wear Zoom Streak 6.

To gauge how it feels over a long run, I ran a 20 miles long run in them last weekend. (Strava link below)

20 miles long run

It was supposed to be a 20 miles easy but similar to my easy runs in Zoom Elite 9, I unconsciously pushed the pace a little faster than intended. However, the effort still felt easy. My legs were not beaten up until at least after 27 kilometres or so. I finished my long run just a little bit sore. The shoe is smooth and light without sacrificing protection and cushioning.

Yesterday I ran 8 times kilometre repeats at 5k-8k pace as the final test to the shoes before coming up with first impressions. (Strava link below).

8 x KM Repeats

Expectedly, my thoughts are the same as my impressions during the tempo repeats. It was capable to get the job done. I didn’t require much effort to bring it up to speed. But deep into the workout, as I was digging deep, I could feel that my strides were creeping towards the heels. It was probably only me losing a good running form. Having said that, at the end of the workout, my legs were probably not as beaten up as if I had done the workout in Zoom Streak 6.

Where does Zoom Elite 9 slot in in my current rotation?

I have Zoom Pegasus 32 for slow boring easy runs as well as long monotonous boring long runs. I do not want to push the pace faster than I suppose to during these runs as really, every time I lace my Zoom Elite 9, I feel like going fast.

I have Zoom Streak 6 and Lunaracer+ 3 for intervals and short tempo runs. I prefer something lighter and more responsive for these kinds of workouts.

Where does this leave Zoom Elite 9 then? 

I reserve Zoom Elite 9 for long tempo workouts, more than 20 minutes effort as well as long-steady runs and structured long runs, where I have to crank up the pace towards the end of a long run.

After reading how it fares during the workouts I have done above and the types of workouts I will use it for, some of you might think that it is not as good as others made it to be. Again, don’t get me wrong. I can’t help myself from comparing Zoom Elite 9 against Zoom Streak 6. For short tempo efforts and intervals, yes, Zoom Streak 6 is definitely better. But these two are two different beasts.

You can’t expect to win a rally car race, in a Ferrari.

Like I mention above, where it performs best (for me at least) is in longer tempo workouts, as well as structured long runs. It slots in between the racy Zoom Streak 6 and Zoom Pegasus. Zoom Elite 9 is supposed to be a beefed-up version of Zoom Streak 6 and trimmed-down version of Zoom Pegasus, remember?

Well, after 80 kilometres and all sorts of workouts later, my thought is it feels and behaves more like a Zoom Pegasus than Zoom Streak 6. Lighter and smoother than a Pegasus, but not as responsive aggressive and racy as Streak 6. It is still a fast shoe, but the ride is closest to Pegasus than Streak 6. Interestingly though, just yesterday after 8 times KM repeats in Elite 9, I changed to Pegasus 32 for a cool down. Surprisingly, Pegasus 32 felt closer to the ground than Elite 9. Not as soft as Pegasus but Elite 9 mutes the ground feeling a little bit more than Pegasus 32. This means that Elite 9 provides better protection than Pegasus over a long run and prolong the duration before our legs get fatigued.

Having said that, Zoom Elite 9 is definitely in contention to be my next marathon shoe. It is a competition between Zoom Elite 9 and Lunaracer+ 3. As it stands currently, I am leaning towards Lunaracer+ 3, because it is lighter and smoother. BUT. But Zoom Elite 9 definitely provides more protection compared to Lunaracer+ 3, vital during the last miles of marathon when the form gets sluggish and the legs become wobbly.

For any distance less than a marathon, I will probably look away from Zoom Elite 9. Perhaps, I will still run in Zoom Elite 9 for a half-marathon. But shorter than that, I definitely prefer something lighter, more aggressive, and feels faster like Zoom Streak 6, Lunaracer+ 3, and Zoom Streak LT 3 (which I don’t have).

There you have it. My initial thoughts on Nike Zoom Elite 9. More like a full review, I think. I’ll put more kilometres in the shoes before I can comment more about its durability, comfort, fit, and whatnots. Maybe you find few contradicting points, but in short, it’s a fast shoe, excel in steady-pace kind of workouts. With 60% off the retail price at Nike Factory Store in Malaysia, it is a no brainer.

Do yourself a favour and get yourself a pair!

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Ooops, A Speed Bump: Pahang International Marathon

Today is the big day, a culmination of 12 weeks of on and off training. This is going to be the first marathon that I will run with 80% of training plan followed. 20% is missing through illness in Week 8 and Week 9.

The flag off is at 3:00 AM. The plan is to sleep in early and squeeze at least 4 hours of sleep before waking up at 1:00 AM. That means I have to be in bed by 9 PM. I know it is a tall ask. Waking up 2 hours before the race is essential so that I can take few carbs for energy. After hitting the snooze button a couple of times, I end up waking up close to 2 AM.

I arrive at the starting line some 30 minutes before the flag off time. Although I already spend good minutes in the toilet before heading out, I know that I have to take another toilet break to avoid unnecessary pit stops during the race. The clock is ticking fast but I manage to squeeze 10 minutes of warm up.

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The announcer announces that there are about 500 people who are running the full marathon. But from my observation, the announcer’s number is way off. Maybe 200 at most. Maybe there are people who are still rushing to the starting line. That’s fine with me though. The less is better. It requires a little to no effort to tiptoe to the front of the line. I find myself standing next to a bunch of Kenyans. That’s it. Top 10 or so are already sealed. There is no surprise to see them as the organiser offers RM1600 plus voucher to the winner of full marathon. The organiser is generous enough though to split international and local marathons. I am standing next to Will and we notice that we are missing a lot of familiar faces. The probability for us to finish in a podium position suddenly rises up. My level of excitement rises up thinking of the probability but I am still sticking to my race plan.

Coming to the race, I have laid out 3 goals. The A-goal is to run 3:15, first step in achieving the ultimate goal before I turn 30. But since I am down with an illness for about a week or so, I realise that B-goal is more attainable, which is to run 3:20. Doubts still linger though, so I set another goal, C-goal, which is to break 3:30. Moments before the gun, I am still contemplating which goal I am gunning for.

Starting at the front is an unfamiliar territory to me. As predicted, the Kenyans lead the race followed by a bunch of locals. I do not want to get swallowed by the relentless pace so I hold back and watch from behind. Due to adrenaline rush, the pace feels like jogging pace when in fact I am at least 15 s/km faster than my goal pace. I know that some running in front will soon realise that they are biting off more than they can chew. True enough. Less than 2 kilometres in, many wheels fall off the wagon before me. The Kenyans are now out of sight though. There are two locals runners in front as far as I can see, one starting to leave the other one behind. I have no idea how many runners in front of the two locals. Definitely, the Kenyans and maybe one or two more locals.

It is tempting to push the pace to close down the runner in front of me. But I tell myself to be patient. I am still running about 5 s/km faster than goal pace. Despite running 5s/km faster, I am actually holding the pace consistently. The guy in front of me seems to be tiring out and slowing down and after 8 kilometres, I run past him. He sticks behind me for a good hundred metres before disappearing behind. The other guy is distancing himself at the front though.

By now, the struggle and attention shift to holding my bladder and tummy. The botched attempt before the race means that I am battling the urge to pee and poo from the gun. After passing few water stations and not seeing any portable loo at all, I stop next to a tree and relieve my bladder. Those who have experienced peeing in the midst of working out know that this is no easy feat. I stop for at least 30 seconds relieving myself. I glanced behind before continuing and fortunately I have widen a sufficient gap to not get passed. I can’t see the guy in front of me though. He has vanished.

One disaster averted, one still remains. I am still on my quest to find a portable loo to do the ‘number 2′. After 13 kilometres, I resign to the fact that there won’t be one. We run past few petrol stations and I guess the organiser expects us to do a slight detour to the petrol stations to relieve ourselves. They are not new to organising running events. They have organised Kuantan Half Marathon for the past couple of years and by now they should have matured and understood runners’ needs. I am left with a decision to make. To make a quick pit stop or try to hold it in hope that the urge will disappear? I have lost 30 precious seconds and stopping for another time which may take at least 2 minutes is not an option.

As the marathon progresses, the route becomes darker even though we are running along a major road in Kuantan. Worse, the marshalling is poor and no safety cones separate the outer lane that we are running from other lanes. It is early morning but the road is busy. Buses and lorries speed past us which comprises our safety. What more irritating is the over-enthusiastic motorists. Honkings, shoutings, yellings as they drive past us at high speed. Some tailgate us closely and pass us then make abrupt turns without indicators. I have to shout on a couple occasions to vent my annoyance and anger.

It is flat all the way from the start till this point. We are presented with the first inclination just before KM16 mark where we have to run up a ramp, across a flyover heading towards the airport. The illumination from the street lamps is a little better nearing the airport. I am closing on the front runner gradually but he is about 200m ahead. From afar, I can see that he is in a slight discomfort, occasionally holding his sides. Past the airport, the road becomes dark again but I can still catch a glimmer of the guy in front of me. We run past workshop area and my worst fear quickly comes to life. As I run past a workshop, a dog chases after me. I have to break stride and deal with it quickly. I run past few other dogs but fortunately they are all in their best manners. Barking from afar is fine with me.

The first 15 kilometres are flat, but the rest is not. Next 10 kilometres are undulating but straight. Despite losing 30 seconds from the earlier pit stop, I cross the halfway mark 1:16 earlier than planned at 1:38:44, averaging 4:41 min/km. The plan is to run the first 32 kilometres at 4:45 min/km pace and push it down to 4:40 min/km till the finish line. Of course it is easier said than done. I am absorbed by the initial pace set by others and do not hold back. One thing I am doing right though is that I run at a consistent pace, bar the first kilometre and the kilometre that I have to stop to pee, my pace ranges from 4:33-4:48 min/km with most kilometres hover around 4:38-4:42 min/km. That’s a pretty consistent pacing!

The consistent but quick pace soon proves telling. I am starting to struggle and the pace goes down to almost 5:00 min/km. Despite slowing down significantly, I am gaining on the front guy and soon catching up with him. The guy looks familiar. I know this guy but I am not sure where from. I glance at his wrist and immediately recall who he is. It’s Osman (I call him Aiman though. Sorry Man). I bump into him few times at MSN Setiawangsa track. He does not run with GPS watch. He runs with G-Shock! It’s great to run alongside with each other when we have been running by ourselves for the last 20 kilometres. I am complaining of boredom running alone but when I am reunited with others, I am slowing down, a lot. We are both struggling, clearly.

After running some time alongside each other, something funny happens. We have been quiet since our reunion and suddenly he breaks the early morning silence.

“It’s already 28 kilometres, right?”, when in fact we just cross 23 kilometres mark.

I am not sure how he does it, but I can’t run without a GPS in hand. I need GPS to tell me the distance, the time, the pace, and most importantly to upload it on Strava. Does it really happen if it is not on Strava? No GPS, no running. That’s my philosophy.

The course takes a right turn after a long straight and suddenly we are joined by a marshall on a motorcycle. The marshall rides alongside us for a good few kilometres. The lack of sight of others in front of us, and the close marshalling, make me wonder, “Are we the leading Malaysians?”. I wish! But it is not improbable.

We take another right and Osman surges past me just before the water station at KM 26. He takes his own sweet time to replenish and I don’t see him again until after the conclusion of the marathon. I am not running alone though as the marshall continues to ride alongside me for few more kilometres before leaving just before KM 30.

This is the best marathon to date since I have not stopped yet. My previous best was during SCKLM where I stopped at KM 28. I run past a water station, ask the marshall of my current position. But I get mixed answers. Soon, a car slows down and the girl driver asks me whether I am leading the race. Definitely not! At least 4 or 5 Kenyans in front me. I glance back and do not see anybody behind.

Few moments later, I stop and walk. It is not ‘The Wall’. I am tired but my legs and body are fine. No cramps either. Timing to take gels at 40 minutes interval works. I set an alarm every 40 minutes on my brother’s Garmin FR235 and the vibration function really helps. It is something that my Suunto Ambit2 does not have. My Suunto Ambit2 does not vibrate! Thanks to Jubaque too for the Hammer gels. I may have found gels that work on me. Apart from that, I carry 3 Saltstick capsules that I take every 1 hour or so.

It is not ‘The Wall’. It is a mental block, a barrier that I still fail to penetrate after 5 marathons. I actually have been contemplating to stop and walk for the past 5 kilometres I think. The only thing that keeps me going albeit slowing down is that I want to get past 28 kilometres mark before stopping. I want to get better than SCKLM. After that, it is all downhill.

I ask a lot of question to myself. Is a marathon too much for myself? Am I better in half-marathon than full marathon? One of reasons of the mental barrier is boredom. I love running. But sometimes (more like most of the time), I get bored after running more than 2.5 hours. I love running, don’t get me wrong. But perhaps, I don’t love running as much as I think I do. I believe I am better suited running half marathons. But half marathons do not get me to the Olympics, they do not get me to Boston.

I fall deep into a dark abyss and I don’t find any shining way out. Despite the walk-run routine, I still don’t see anybody behind. Eventually, I get a company at KM 34. Initially, I think it’s Osman but it is not. A guy with a bright orange cap passes me. It is unmistakably Will. He is running his second marathon out of five which he plans to run in 5 consecutive weekends. So much hoping to run the marathon in 4 hours! I follow him for few hundred metres before walking again. He tells me not to walk too long before parting. I know the drill, but it is easier said than done. I am done! I try to convince myself that I am still in the running to win cash prizes, I try to think of my family, I remind myself of a promise that I make to my wife. But they don’t work. There Will goes with my RM500 cash! Haha.

The lack of number of good runners becomes evident when there is nobody else passes me although I am in a deep rut. I am caught walking by another marshall about a mile before the finish line. He tells me that there is a runner catching up fast about 200 metres behind. I start to run again while constantly ask the marshall about the gap between myself and the runner behind. With few hundred metres left, I am informed that the gap remains at 200 metres. But to my perplexion, out of nowhere, the guy who is supposed to be 200 metres farther back is running alongside me with 100 metres to go. Fortunately, I have something (I always know a lot is still there) left in the tank and speed up and manoeuvre around the crowd (who are making their way to the start line for their 10k/5k start?) and cross the finish line in fourth local (Poor organising. No information about the placing. I only get to know that I finish fourth during the prize giving ceremony itself which occurs more than 3 hours after I cross the line).

I am grateful for the marshall who accompanies me in the last mile. Without him, I would have continued to run-walk and consequently lose my placing not only to the fifth place guy, maybe to few others. I meet my wife and daughter who have just arrived, at the finish line. My wife tells me that she is cheering for me during the last stretch of the race but I don’t hear it because I am full of adrenaline trying to cross the line before the guy behind.

I cross the line at 3:24:59 (official). No PB though as it’s only 40.85 kilometres, not a marathon. This is a fact that I suspect beforehand as I have plotted it on Strava. The plan is to continue running after crossing the finish line to make up the marathon distance so that I have ‘Best Estimated Marathon Time’ on Strava. Like I said, it does not happen if it is not on Strava. I am exhausted and scrap the plan as soon as I cross the finish line. But I can’t deny the fact that I am actually relieved to see the finish line early. Otherwise, I would have caught by few others.

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It is not the race that I had envisioned. I don’t even attain my C-Goal which is to run a sub 3:30 marathon. I would have crossed the finish line at 3:31:42 if the distance is extrapolated to the full marathon distance. It’s definitely a setback to my long-term goal which is due in 8 months. I am not beating myself up though when my wife tells me that she is proud of me. Isn’t that what really matters? But she’ll definitely be prouder of me if I can attain my long-term goal within stipulated timeline that I set myself, that I know. Back to drawing board!

Strava: Pahang Marathon

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#RoadtoPIM: Week 11

The penultimate week.

Day 71: Monday (Feb 27) – 60′ Easy

I want to run my long overdue fast finish long run this morning. But it is raining cats and dogs so I do 30′ strength instead. Tonight then! Then I contemplate for too long and my mind is telling me that my body is tired. ‘Let’s do it tomorrow morning’. I am indeed feeling tired but I should have known that I only need few minutes outside to feel better. Tonight is actually a good time to run. Cooling and windy. Few stray dogs roaming the same streets but they are all on their best behaviour. I am feeling good. I should have done the fast finish long run. But I already set in mind to run 60′ easy before heading out. I do exactly that. 60′ easy. I will run the last finish long run tomorrow morning. Let’s hope I wake up early feeling strong tomorrow. Good night.

Strava

Mileage: 11.7 km | Weight: N/A.

Day 72: Tuesday (Feb 28) – Improvised Fast Finish Long Run

I drag the fast finish long run for far too long. There is another one scheduled in the weekend too. It is still raining in the morning so I have to drag it again to the evening. Fortunately, Kyserun Krew’s session is tonight. The 10k easy portion is done with Kyserun before continuing 10k TMP and 1.1k 10k pace by myself. It hurts especially during the last 1.1k.

Strava

Mileage: 21.1 km | Weight: N/A kg.

Day 73: Wednesday (Mar 1) – Rest

Yesterday’s fast finish long run is hard to my ageing body. I take a complete day off from any physical activity today.

Mileage: 0 km | Weight: N/A.

Day 74: Thursday (Mar 2) – 5k Tempo

Last tempo session before the marathon. The plan instructs 3-5 miles tempo and guess what? I am too lazy and run 3.1 miles only. The bare minimum! The effort feels okay for at least 20 minutes though. Not where I want to be at T-10 but I am grateful to be where I am.
Stoked to bump into our national hero, DLCW at the track. Despite being heavily bandaged and still recovering from a freak injury, he is still working the hardest among other national shuttlers present. A stark reminder for you and me, mere mortals. Even the bests work their socks off.

Good luck for All England, DLCW! We all are rooting for you.

Strava

Mileage: 9.7 km | Weight: 52.8 kg.

Day 75: Friday (Mar 3) – 70′ Easy

Taking it easy today after yesterday’s tempo.

Strava

Mileage: 0 km | Weight: N/A.

Day 76: Saturday (Mar 4) – Hike Up Sg. Kanching

A well-spent Saturday with the family. 3.2km return hike up the highest waterfall at Sungai Kanching.

Mileage: 0 km | Weight: N/A.

Day 77: Sunday (Mar 5) – Fast Finish Long Run

The last big workout of this cycle. 9k Easy + 9k TMP + 1k 10k Pace. First 18k are easy to the body and lung but when the pace cranks up to 10k pace, I suffer to maintain the pace. It is a good measurement though. So I know there’s a reserve in me to go fast for at least 1k. Let’s hope I can find it at KM41 on Sunday in Kuantan.

Strava

Mileage: 19.3 km | Weight: 53.0 kg.

Review

After 3 underwhelming weeks, I am glad that the penultimate week of this training cycle is a satisfactory one. 5 days of running with another day of hiking with the family and few strength workouts throughout the week. It’s not where I would like to be at the start of this training cycle, but I am just grateful to be where I am. All the hard work is done. Now is time to maintain the endurance and execute the race as planned.

Weekly Mileage: 75.1 kilometres. Running Time: 6h 18m.

#RoadtoPIM: Week 10

A week of trials.

Day 64: Monday (Feb 20) – 12′ Tempo

The plan is to run 40′ tempo at the track. However, my body is not up for it yet as I have just recovered from my illness.

Strava

Mileage: 6.9 km | Weight: N/A.

Day 65: Tuesday (Feb 21) – 22′ Tempo

Another attempt at 40′ tempo. I feel better than yesterday but decide to cut it short. I still feel rusty. At least I manage to run the 20′ minimum. 15′ strength workout follows.

Strava

Mileage: 10.4 km | Weight: N/A kg.

Day 66: Wednesday (Feb 22) – 65′ Easy + Strides

My legs are trashed from two consecutive days of hard attempts at tempo. 65′ easy to refresh the legs but disappointment still lingers hence the 5′ strides at the end.

Strava

Mileage: 13.5 km | Weight: N/A.

Day 67: Thursday (Feb 23) – Junk Miles

Supposedly another easy day yet I am carried away and run a lot faster than easy. Pay the price after 5.7 kilometres. The illness from last week puts a bigger mental dent than I have thought.

Strava

Mileage: 7.6 km | Weight: N/A.

Day 68: Friday (Feb 24) – Strength

Not running today. But I manage to squeeze 20′ worth of strength workout.

Mileage: 0 km | Weight: N/A.

Day 69: Saturday (Feb 25) – Strength

Not running again. Two consecutive days of zero mileage. I am losing my mojo. But it is a good day bringing the family out for a little trekking at Bukit Nanas.

Mileage: 0 km | Weight: N/A.

Day 70: Sunday (Feb 26) – 10k Easy + 8′ Fast

I oversleep. Then waste a lot of time contemplating where to run. I am not in the mood to run but drive to Putrajaya anyway. The plan is to run another fast finish long run. My body is aching since I only sleep for few hours. Less than 4 hours I think. I start to run at 07:15. The weather is nice and I find my rhythm midway through my run. But mind over matters. I already tell myself to run 60′ when I am still finding my rhythm. Then the temptation to watch marathon record attempt by Wilson Kipsang in Tokyo. Run 10k easy and finish the run with 8′ fast.

Strava

Mileage: 11.5 km | Weight: N/A.

Review

Failure to complete tempo workout early in the week sets the tone for the rest of the week. I seem to lose my running mojo. When it starts to become hard, I just quit. Not a good sign when the marathon is only a few weeks away. End up with only 1 key workout for the week. Even the only key workout is cut short. In whole, this week is worse than last week. Last week I missed too many workouts due to illness. Nothing much I could do about that. I have recovered but the residual effect creeps to this week. I fail to complete many key workouts because I am lazy. A Goal? Not a chance. I need to come with B,C, D, E Goals.

Weekly Mileage: 50.0 kilometres. Running Time: 4h 19m.

#RoadtoPIM: Week 9

Big week of this training cycle.

Day 57: Monday (Feb 13) – Rest

The plan is to repeat the Fast Finish Long Run workout that I failed to complete yesterday. However, I am not feeling quite well. Skip the entire day.

Mileage: 0 km | Weight: N/A.

Day 58: Tuesday (Feb 14) – 45′ Easy

I hate running in the morning despite doing most of my runs in the morning. I used to be a night vigilante where I roamed the streets at night, but not anymore due to safety concerns as well as family commitment. Running empty is not the reason why I hate running in the morning. It is my morning ritual. No matter what I eat the night before, I have to spend some time in the toilet first thing in the morning. If I skip my daily morning toilet ritual, it will haunt me when I am out there running. This morning is an instance where I pay the price of skipping my morning ritual. I have to stop to find a toilet in the middle of my run. Fortunately there is a KTM station nearby but I have to cut my run short.

Strava

Mileage: 8.1 km | Weight: N/A kg.

Day 59: Wednesday (Feb 15) – Rest

I am not too sure what I eat wrong last night. I am awoken many times last night to visit the loo. I can’t sleep. Clearly, I wake up not feeling well-rested. I try to shake it off by taking a prolong rest but it becomes worse. Soon, I start to lose appetite and become weak. This concerns me knowing the importance of this week in term of training, as well as bringing the incomplete fast finish long run workout to this week. I already have a day off on Monday and I can’t afford another one today. But I am too weak to even get out of my bed. This is when I decide not to redo the fast finish long run from last week.

Mileage: 0 km | Weight: N/A.

Day 60: Thursday (Feb 16) – Junk Miles

I am still having diarrhea and my body is still weak. I try to rest as much as I can but not eating properly affects my energy level greatly. I know that I have to go out and do some light exercises to shake off this illness. I go out to the nearest park for a short jog/run. On my way to the park, I realise that I do not bring my socks with me. So I decide to run barefoot. I manage to squeeze 3 kilometres despite hurting my sole running on uneven tarmac. I don’t have any problem running barefoot on soft surfaces like grass but at the end of my run, I hurt both of my knees. This run does not serve any purpose in term of the marathon training apart from an attempt to shake off this illness. Therefore they are 3 junk kilometres.

Strava

Mileage: 3.1 km | Weight: N/A.

Day 61: Friday (Feb 17) – 50′ Easy

I am still feeling week due to the calories deficit but at least I am feeling better. Yesterday’s junk miles help. I have a tempo workout scheduled for this week and today is the last day to get it done so that I have a day recovery for the Sunday’s 22 milers. I reassess my condition and take a decision not to rush things off. I haven’t fully-recovered yet. The most important thing now is to get my energy level back up again before attempting hard workouts. 50′ easy today.

Strava

Mileage: 9.7 km | Weight: N/A.

Day 62: Saturday (Feb 18) – Rest

I am not only losing fitness level, I am losing motivation as well. I take today off from running.

Mileage: 0 km | Weight: N/A.

Day 63: Sunday (Feb 19) – 10 Miles

KL Car Free today. I intend to do my last big long run today which is 22 milers despite the fact that I am still feeling unwell. I wake up early and spend a long time in the toilet to prevent any unplanned toilet break during my long run. I start my run from Lake Garden but once I reach Lake Garden, I have to spend some more time at the toilet again. This is frustrating. I am feeling good for the first few kilometres. 45′ in, my tummy feels so empty. I know that I am in trouble and I don’t have enough calories to sustain my long run. I stop for 100Plus but it only quenches my thirst not my appetite. I run another loop of KL Car Free before stopping again for free 100Plus. I can’t do this. I am not in the right condition, I am not in the right mind. My energy and motivation levels are at all-time low. I call it a day after completing 10 miles. I actually walk the last few hundreds metres to complete the 10 miles.

Strava

Mileage: 17.7 km | Weight: N/A.

Review

Anything that can go wrong, goes wrong this week. It is supposed to be the biggest weak during this training cycle where I am supposed to peak in term of endurance, stamina and belief. Instead of peaking, I am physically and mentally at the lowest point of this training cycle. I only run 4 days this week and that includes a day of junk miles. In truth, I run 3 days this week with a total mileage of 38.9 kilometres and total time of 3h 23m. No cross-training or strength/core workouts either. I miss all key workouts too. Perhaps, my motivation takes as much hit as my endurance. I did not update my Instagram account at all last week and I did not take note of my daily weight. With 3 weeks left before the marathon, I believe that my A-goal is no longer attainable. I now have B and C goals. Even B Goal is probably too much. Time is running out but the only direction is forward. There is no point of lamenting the missing opportunities. It is now time to compromise. The tempo from this week will be carried forward to next week and I will have to combine my big long run with fast finish long run next week. Maybe not as long as 22 miles, but I aim for at least 20 miles. I hope I can shake this illness off completely soon so that I can get back on track soon.

Weekly Mileage: 38.9 kilometres. Running Time: 3h 23m.

#RoadtoPIM: Week 8

Hey hey hey. I think I have outdone myself this week. Last week’s update on Tuesday. How about that? Here’s what happened last week in training.

Day 50: Monday (Feb 6) – Rest

Body is getting too old and taking too long to recover. Although yesterday’s long run was not intense, my body is still aching from the duration of the long run. It is important to recover properly.

Mileage: 0 km | Weight: N/A.

Day 51: Tuesday (Feb 7) – 50′ Easy

I start Week 8 with 40′ core/strength workout in the morning and 50′ easy with Kyserun Krew. It has been awhile since I run with these bunch. Always a good time. I arrive 10′ late and push a little bit in the first 3 kilometres to catch up with the group and ease off then.

Strava

Mileage: 8.8 km | Weight: 52.4 kg.

Day 52: Wednesday (Feb 8) – 50′ Easy

It is supposed to be 50′ easy but in actuality it is a laboured 50′. I feel sluggish and still recovering from last week’s training load. Going moderate last night to catch up with the group also contributes to the fatigue. Legs and breathing feel heavy.

Mileage: 9.4 km | Weight: N/A.

Day 53: Thursday (Feb 9) – Yasso 800s

Another 10 reps of 800m (3’11, 3’14, 3’11, 3’14, 3’11, 3’10, 3’09, 3’13, 3’09, 3’12) with 3’15 recovery between reps. I’m 3s slower compared to last Yasso I did few weeks ago despite the fact that I walk more instead of jog during recovery. I should feel stronger instead of weaker. What’s going on?

Strava

Mileage: 16.0 km | Weight: 52.2 kg.

Day 54: Friday (Feb 10) – Rest

I feel extra tired this week so I skip my morning run to recuperate. Come evening, I still ain’t feeling much better. I decide to take the day off from running and run marathon-specific workout, Fast Finish Long Run tomorrow.

Mileage: 0 km | Weight: 52.6 kg.

Day 55: Saturday (Feb 11) – 40′ Easy

The plan is to run Fast Finish Long Run early morning. But my daughter woke up at 11PM last night and refused to go back to sleep. My wife and I tried to entertain her and put her back to sleep to no avail. By 1AM she was still awake. I was too tired and sleepy that I felt asleep before my daughter. Thank you Wife for persevering and finally succeeded in putting her to sleep at 2AM. I am not getting enough rest and run easy for 40′ instead.

Strava

Mileage: 7.1 km | Weight: N/A kg.

Day 56: Sunday (Feb 12) – Fast Finish Long Run (Incomplete)

I appreciate my wife for allowing me time and space to go out for hours to run. When she suddenly wants to play netball at Janda Baik even though I already have plan to run, I duly say yes to her. Instead of waking up early for fast finish long run, we wake up and drive to Janda Baik for a netball match and picnic. Later, we drive to Sungai Buloh to my uncle’s for a kenduri doa selamat. The kambing golek is worth the drive. By the time we get home, it is already 8PM. I have been awake for 14 hours and feel so tired. I am contemplating whether to run the fast finish long run or postpone it to tomorrow.  Although this week is a recovery week, the mileage is too low. After almost 1 hour of contemplation, I drive out to Desa Park City instead of Putrajaya. My tummy is not feeling well from the food that I eat at the picnic and kenduri doa selamat. I have to take a lengthy toilet break before running. It is not until 10:38PM before I start to run. It is too little too late and I am too little too tired and sleepy. The plan is to run easy for the first 10k and speed up to target marathon pace (TMP) for the next 15k before finishing it off with a mile or so at 10k pace. The first easy 10k is easy indeed, but when the speed ramps up to TMP, my tummy and rectum start to rumble synchronously. I need to go to the toilet again. I try to hold and it comes and goes. I am working hard yet I fail to hit my TMP. I am just too tired. Tiredness, drowsiness, loneliness and darkness are too much. After 7 kilometres into my TMP, I decide to call it a day. I am disappointed that I am not able to complete this marathon-specific Fast Finish Long Run workout and I will have to do it again as soon as possible.

Strava

Mileage: 16.9 km | Weight: 52.4kg.

Review

This week is supposed to be a recovery week where the mileage drops a little while keeping the intensity level the same. If Yasso is any indicator, I am 3 minutes slower/weaker despite resting more between reps (same recovery time, less jog, more stationary). It is a concern albeit a small one, but the biggest concern is my inability to complete the fast finish long run. Too many toos. Too tired, too sleepy, too many excuses. I felt like racing while trying to keep my pace at target marathon pace. Coupled with upset tummy, I quit halfway. On the bright side, I maintain running consistently, 5 days a week with a couple of strength/core sessions. I am going to run the fast finish long run next week.

Weekly Mileage: 58.4 kilometres. Running Time: 5h 3m.

#RoadtoPIM: Week 7

Day 43: Monday (Jan 30) – 50′ Easy

Recovering from yesterday’s Fast Finish Long Run.

Strava

Mileage: 9.0 km | Weight: 52.9 kg.

Day 44: Tuesday (Jan 31) – 60′ Easy

Taking it easy for two consecutive days as I am still recovering from Sunday’s Fast Finish Long Run followed by 40′ of core/strength workout.

Strava

Mileage: 10.9 km | Weight: 52.6 kg.

Day 45: Wednesday (Feb 1) – Rest

Taking a further rest from last week’s workload.

Mileage: 0 km | Weight: N/A.

Day 46: Thursday (Feb 2) – 2 x 3 miles Tempo Intervals

Plan: 2-3 x 3 miles Tempo at 4’05-4’15 min/km with 4 minutes active recovery. Completed: 2 x 3 miles at (1st rep) 4’09 min/km & (2nd rep) 4’14 min/km. 1st rep is a breeze where upper body is relaxed yet I manage to keep the pace in check. 2nd rep is a bit laboured where my upper body starts to tighten up, heavier breathing and I have to work to stay within the pace range. I am still feeling good at the end of 2nd rep but laziness starts to kick in. I decide to do strength workout instead of running the 3rd rep. Overall, I am satisfied with today’s workout and for that, I deserve a plate of rojak sotong.

Strava

Mileage: 14.9 km | Weight: 52.6 kg.

Day 47: Friday (Feb 3) – 75′ Easy

Easy day after yesterday’s tempo intervals. The hardest thing is to step outside and take the first few steps. 

Strava

Mileage: 14.1 km | Weight: 52.4 kg.

Day 48: Saturday (Feb 4) – Ride Up Bukit Tunku

Taking the day off from running and cycle instead. It is my first ride of 2017 where I get my first fall and chain drop within 5 minutes of riding. Always love the suffer cycling up Bukit Tunku.

Mileage: 0 km | Weight: N/A kg.

Day 49: Sunday (Feb 5) – 180′ Long

I vow not to do my long run around KL City Centre as GPS is not accurate. But I wake up late and Putrajaya is too far away. Pace, distance are not important. The most important thing is time on feet. I am forced to take a toilet break after 1.8 kilometres. Since I have to stop for long, I treat is as a warm up. I run 3 loops of KL Car Free Morning plus few hundred metres for a half-marathon. The pace is always flattering but I know it is inaccurate. Stop at Dataran Merdeka to down few cups of free 100Plus before continuing my run around Lake Garden and ending my long run with 2 loops of Lake Garden for a total of 3 hours.

Strava

Mileage: 34.7 km | Weight: 53.9 kg.

Review

Another big week of training. Two key workouts , tempo intervals on Thursday and long run on Sunday. I slightly regret my decision to do 2 reps of tempo intervals when I still have a lot in the tank. I manage to get 3 hours time on feet but I need to cut down on stops and walks. One more big 22 miles long run before the race and I will try to minimise stops and walks. I am also happy to squeeze in my first ride of the year albeit a short one.

Weekly Mileage: 83.8 kilometres. Running Time: 7h 14m.

#RoadtoPIM: Week 6

Days pass so quickly. I am now in the middle of the training cycle, Week 6 of 12. Am I getting better, stronger? To be frank, I do not know. All I know is I got to believe in the process.

Day 36: Monday (Jan 22) – 20 Ffffff Miles

First 20 milers in this training cycle. I stop to replenish three times. Physically, I feel good. Mentally, it is boring to run Titiwangsa loop for 3 hours. I am glad I get this off my back.

Strava

Mileage: 32.3 km | Weight: 53.2 kg.

Day 37: Tuesday (Jan 23) – Recovery

Legs are still recovering from yesterday’s 20 miles. Run, jog, walk, repeat.

Strava

Mileage: 5.3 km | Weight: N/A.

Day 38: Wednesday (Jan 24) – 5k Tempo Pace Anaerobic Effort

Today’s workout is 3-6 miles tempo. Head out to do 5 miles. Run too fast in the first two kilometres and what is supposed to be tempo quickly becomes anaerobic. So I decide to stop after 5 kilometres and continue with strides and strength.

Strava

Mileage: 10.0 km | Weight: 53.0 kg.

Day 39: Thursday (Jan 25) – Rest

I still haven’t fully recovered from Monday’s long run and yesterday’s tempo impede recovery. Thus, I decide to rest today.

Mileage: 0 km | Weight: N/A.

Day 40: Friday (Jan 26) – 1:1 Fartlek

I am back in my hometown for my sister in law solemnisation. The journey from Kuala Lumpur to Sungai Petani takes 9 hours with many stops. I get to rest for about 1 hour before heading out for this workout. I am too tired and my back is aching but I need to get this done no matter what. The uneven surface of the tarmac compounds the misery. I run by feel instead of relying heavily on pace. I do 14 reps of 1 minute hard, 1 minute easy and barely survive.

Strava

Mileage: 9.0 km | Weight: N/A.

Day 41: Saturday (Jan 27) – 60′ Easy

I manage to squeeze 60′ of easy running before attending sister in law’s solemnisation and heading back to Kuala Lumpur. Few days prior, I received three emails from Strava that I had lost all three CR at three Strava segments around Cinta Sayang Loop. I lost them to a better runner. Those three CR are within reach but my long term goal is the only thing matters at the moment, not some nobody-cares Strava glory. I will be back for these three CR.

Strava

Mileage: 11.4 km | Weight: N/A.

Day 42: Sunday (Jan 28) – Fast Finish Long Run

Big workout today. 10km easy + 10km @MRP(marathon race pace) + 1.2km @>MRP. 10km easy is made easier when running with my brother, @_tamagi. Heart rate and breathing are okay when the pace picks up to MRP but when it’s time for 1.6km @10k pace, my legs refuse to cooperate and I have to settle for a slightly faster than MRP. A slight regret that I stop 400m short but overall I am satisfied with the workout. I am also delighted to survive the workout on empty stomach. Only have half a pear and few sips of 100Plus pre workout and doesn’t take any fuel or fluid during the workout. Cadence is a concern though. Highest cadence is recorded during easy portion before dropping during MRP, and becomes worse during the last 1.2k. It is supposed to be the other way round where cadence goes up with faster pace. More drills needed.

Strava

Mileage: 22.9 km | Weight: 53.9 kg.

Review

6 days of running clocking over 8 hours of running time. This is due to the 20 mile long runs that is supposed to be done last week. I am glad that I finally get my first 20 milers done. I am also satisfied with Fast Finish Long Run workout albeit a miscalculation. The plan asks for at least a 1h 45m workout which I fulfil but with a minimum distance of 14 miles. I only run 13+ miles. I should have add another while on MRP section. It is no big deal really. I don’t seem to be able to keep my weight down. I end the week with probably my heaviest weight of the cycle. 53.9 KG! This is because I have been devouring spicy oily unhealthy food when I go back to my hometown. Pasembur, yong tau foo, mee sotong, ayam penyet, nasi kenduri, seem-harmless-but-lethal kerepek pisang, and many more. I need to stop this binge eating if I really want to do this.

Weekly Mileage: 90.8 kilometres. Running Time: 8h 1m.

2017 Wishlist

It’s already February. I’m glad to report that I have not made any shoe purchase in 2017 yet. Last time I bought a shoe was Nike Zoom Streak 6 on 29th July 2016. That was 6 months ago.

I was a firm believer of one shoe do it all. I used to run in whatever rode best until it wore out like New Balance 1400v2, Nike Zoom Streak 5, and adidas adizero adios Boost 2. Trainers, racers were just marketing gimmicks by shoe makers to persuade people to buy more shoes. But as I am running more, I start to appreciate different kinds of shoes.

I expect to run around 3,000 kilometres (300 done in January already) this year with majority of the runs are easy runs, as well as long runs, speedwork and marathon races. I ran close to 3,000 kilometres last year with a 7-shoe (5 new, 2 carried forward from 2015) rotation, so I’ll survive with the same number of shoes, or maybe 8. Below are my shoe wish list according to its intended purposes:

Easy & Long Runs

I run easy most of the time and I like shoes that offer decent cushioning but not too soft. My current go-to easy runs shoe is Nike Lunartempo 2. Some say it is not that cushioned but to me, it is spot on. A tad more cushioning than that may be too much.

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 33

peg33

This is probably longest-standing running shoe model in Nike’s armoury. It is already in its 33th iteration. This shoe is out for quite a while already. I have tested the shoes on a treadmill at The Marathon Shop and from the 1-minute test, I like how it rides. It is lightweight for a trainer, comfortable, and soft especially at the forefoot where the zoom unit is (zoom unit at heel too). It is probably a bit too soft than I am used to, but may do myself good, to minimise fatigue in the legs.

Nike Air Zoom Speed Rival 5

speed-rival-5

This has been around for quite a while too. I actually stumbled upon it when I was in Tokyo but it was foreign to me then that I did not even bat an eyelash. Nike produce this for Japan market only. But it is available on Rakuten for cheap. The 6th iteration is actually coming out soon somewhere this year. I became interested in this shoe when people say it is similar to Nike Zoom Streak 6 which I love, only a tad bit softer. I love Streak 6 so much that I find myself wearing it for easy, speedwork, long runs. So Speed Rival 5 is going to be the best substitute as a trainer if it is true that it is similar to Streak 6. I have run a marathon in Nike Zoom Streak 6 and I find it packs decent cushioning to last the distance but perhaps a bit more cushioning will do me good. Thus, this can be a marathon shoe too.

New Balance Zante v2/v3

zante v3.jpg

I have a pair Zante v1 that I have retired. It is a little bit firm for everyday’s run but I like the snappy feeling that it provides. Zante v2 has seen some minor tweaks. If it is anything like v1, I will be happy for it to be in my rotation. Its 3rd iteration is coming out this year too.

Skechers GoRun 5

skechers

Skechers? What do you associate with the brand? Running shoes? Perhaps, not. They make very comfortable casual shoes though. That’s what synonymous to the brand. But since they acquire Meb Keflezighi their reputation as a performance (running) shoe maker has been rosy. I hear good things about GoRun 4 but I am put off by its pod-like outsole. It does not look durable. But for GoRun 5, Skechers has redesigned its outsole. It looks a lot more durable now. It comes with GoKnit upper too which makes it more comfortable. If anything that I read on the internet is to be believed, this is one phenomenal shoe.

Speedwork & 10k Races

I mainly do one speedwork session per week (sometimes two) which includes tempo. I almost wear down my only shoe for speedworks, asics Hyper Speed 7. It is now time to find a replacement. Over the course of the year, I am planning to run few tune up races too, probably 10k races as well as some half marathons. If my ultimate goal is to be realised, I should be able to run sub-40 10k, so I definitely need one fine shoe to do it.

New Balance Hanzo S

hanzo.jpg

Hanzo S is a replacement to 1600 line. I have not actually run in 1600v1/v2 before but the way it feels on my feet when I put it on, the lack of weight, the racy look, I am sold. It is one fine shoe. Unfortunately, I did not see the need to add it in my rotation, then. Now, I am in need of a fast shoe for speedwork and/or 10k races. Hanzo S is an ideal shoe, I think.

Nike Zoom Streak LT3

lt3

I am still smarting from my decision not to buy Streak LT2 when it was still on sale. To add salt to the wound, it was on sale for cheap before disappearing from Malaysia’s market. I have friends who love their Streak LT3. I cannot wait for it to be available in Malaysia.

Marathon

Four marathons this year, that is the plan. There is not enough time to try a new shoe for my first marathon of the year in March so I am saving my much-loved Nike Zoom Streak 6 for it. I am going to have to retire the Streak 6 after. That leaves me with three marathons and I think I am going to need two pairs for the three.

New Balance 1400v4

1400v4

New Balance 1400v2 is the shoe that reignites my love with running. I have fond memories with it. I may have worn better shoes since, but 1400v2 remains special. It is just like first love. You cannot simply forget it. I was waiting for 1400v3 to be available in Malaysia but for unknown reasons, New Balance Malaysia did not bring it in. Good news though, 1400v4 is now available in Malaysia in two colourways. 1400v4 has gained a bit of weight compared to v2 and v3, but reports say that it has a bit more cushioning that its predecessors due to the weight gain.

Nike Air Zoom Elite 9

elite

A lot of marketing was put in when Zoom Elite 8 was launched. I had the opportunity to try it during Nike 1 mile challenge. I did not like it. It is heavy and stiff.I find it weird because Nike market it as lightweight. Then comes Zoom Elite 9. A completely different design than Zoom Elite 8. A lot of reviews say that it is lightweight and fast. It is a love child of Zoom Streak 6 and Pegasus 33, marrying the last of Streak 6 with forefoot zoom unit of Pegasus 33. It is now available on Nike Malaysia online store.

 

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