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.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Ironman Langkawi Malaysia - Race Report

In memory of Kew Chee Wai - SuperKew
Ironman is not just a race, is not something you brag about... is a journey

To some Ironman race is a walk in the park, but for me is a race that define all odds racing against what I was capable of 10 to 12 months ago. Before going into the drama of the race, I'm taking a moment to reflect the past 10 months and would like to say a few words of gratitude to #GCAM running team which I have been running with since 4 years ago, you guys helped shape the runner/athlete I am today.
I look forward to every weekend run with you guys, the jokes we shared together, the many overseas running trip I had with you guys and not to mentioned the nickname Ah Onz given by you guys. For that, I thank each and everyone of you, Jamie, Nick, Yan Leng, Piew, Richi, Foo, Frank, Zijill, Jeanie, Leong, Selin, Poh Lai, Kew, Julia, Zane and many more (you know who you are) for the support, the many  advises given, the vote of confidence in every race I go to, races that we raced together and the family liked friendship built

Back in May 2016, I found this wonderful running family by the name of Mou Man Tai running group #moumantai or #MMT, they welcomed me like they have known me for years. They showered me with their No Problem spirit and "abuse" me on every Tuesday night. Coach Sue and Jessen (thanks for the potato race day fueling receipe)  would spring a jaw dropping surprise every session, then the many fast legs in the group pushing me to the limit and the "fans" and friendship gained. You guys are awesome in every way.

Back to the drama bits. It was 24rd Dec 2015, the idea of racing in such a prestigious event was rooted into my 2016 goal with the passing of a dear friend whom we deeply missed. He (SuperKew) introduced and supported me into the multi-sports world, brought me to duathlon and triathlon races, but to his colorful life, there was only one race left that he dreamed of completing, but God needed him by his side and it was the Ironman race that he left un-check in his bucket list before going. He asked for me to fulfill the dream for him, so I made a promise to him on that faithful day that I will go racing with him in my heart

Kyoto Marathon PB
10 months of training averaging 9 - 11 hours a week (which is not enough really) was not easy. Without a plan to follow, the amount of work and family commitments that I had, things may not necessary work out as expected. I will have to take what comes along and trained on how little time that I can squeeze out from the busy week months after months. Along the way. I signed up for races from half marathon, marathon, century ride, 70.3 and Olympic Distance triathlon races to keep things going. Although most races are set to give me a taste of what lies ahead before the big races and mostly it when well, but the 70.3 decider race in August before committing to the November race received a big blow similar to the legendary Mohd Ali delivering a knock out punch to my confidence level. Not letting a bad race knock me out and I sign-up it anyway hours later and continue participated in some smaller races to build things back.

Half Marathon Sub 2 PB

First bike ride over 100km.. literally on my knees
First Century Ride

Gold Coast Marathon PB
Relay Champ

First Trail Podium.. Champ

Challenge Iskandar Puteri 70.3.. I sucked big time

PD Olympic Distance PB
Sunset Triathlon with my Brownie brother

All or nothing


Fast forward to Oct, I was exhausted, body beaten up, muscles were tight, recovery was slow and have lost pounds. However, I am leaner and fitter than ever (if you have to ask, yes the tummy is still there) going into tapering week, charting out a good nutrition plan. Plan and re-plan on the would be strategy for each of the 3 discipline, logistic and tried out everything I could possibly do. Then it was time to fly in to Langkawi island where the center stage would unfold.

Thursday - Time to fly in
I had to rescheduled to an earlier flight not knowing earlier that I need to complete athlete check in (race pack collection) by Thursday 6pm while my original flight would only touch down at 2pm. It was too rush to my liking hence took a switch for the first flight in instead and reached the race venue early in the morning. Picked up my rental car and roamed around a little to look for my hotel (which was beautiful) and took an early lunch before heading to the race expo for athlete check in. The race pack collection was smooth, after all this is not a race that see tens of thousands participants like a marathon, nevertheless kudos to the official and volunteers on site. Expo was not as big or happening as I was expecting, but big enough to burn a small hole into my bank account purchasing a few official merchandise including the athlete name printed tee which one would brag about.

Then it was time for me to travel to the hotel check in in the afternoon. I was very pleased with the accommodation which sees a stories kampung house sit and surrounded by padi fields. I for one, has never had such experience before. With a hectic racing week, I wasted no time and immediately setup the bike within 10 minutes and I was proud with the little I time took setting it up which was proven a flopping job (I'll leave the story for the later part). Not letting go any opportunity of taking vain shots, I immediately took the bike down and took some pics along the padi fields.
Press Conference

Hotel by the padi field

Time to unpack and setup the bike

3:30pm I drove to pick up Fan, Kok Mun and Rakesh to racee the 90km 2 loops bike route. The bike leg to many will be the toughest part of the Langkawi Ironman race with many gradual and steep climb which could break a triathlete and call it a day. True to the badge of one for the toughest Ironman race, the bike route did scare me a little and at times the cars would down shift going up the hills... not a good sign as I'm weak on the bike. We then cut a little short on our recee mission rushing back to the Expo to collect Rakesh's bike from the race mechanic and the welcome dinner. The dinner hosted Triathletes from 60 over countries, some has completed 20 over, 30 over and one completed 45 Ironman races... that was mind boggling, don't they need to work? Highlight of the dinner was the induction of Uncle Chan into the Ironman Hall of Fame who has contributed countless to the multi-sports community over 20+ years. Congratulations Uncle Chan!!!

Welcome Dinner
Friday - one busy day
Waking up early was not foreign to me, did some stretching and a good breakfast before going into the busy day. By 8:30 am, I was at the Danna Langkawi Resort where the swim race start and Transition 1 would be. There were already many triathlete at the location and without wondering much around I head out for the 800m practice swim hoping to acclimatize the swim in the open water. Nope nothing has changed, the slight fear and panic were still haunting me on an open water swim, nevertheless I have come this far and I'm not backing out now. Took me 20mins to complete the practice swim, no drama apart from the slight fear. I quickly went back to the car and took out my bike for a 20km test ride on the bike race route. Although I have racee the route the day before, but this time, it was the legs that received the direct feedback from the many climbs from the short 10km out and back. It further stamped its reputation of a tough race to come and this time I was better prepare mentally, sticking to the strategy for a rough race.

Practice swim 800m done
Blue Bike Bag

10am Transition 1 (T1) tour. It was pretty straight forward... from the swim out, run to collect the Blue Bike Bag and discard swim gear and change into bike gear within the male changing area before run out to bike rack collecting your trusty partner for the 180km bike. Sounds easy? Trust me on a race day, unless you are an experience athlete, with the adrenaline rush things can go wrong. Things like forget to pack your nutrition, where is my drink bottle and the worst where is my bike??? It all happened to me before and I know too well things like this will add on to the pressure on race day and the last thing you want is to let all these little negative incidences gets into your mind. After the tour, is time to check in the bike.. Drama #1, I forgot my bike sticker. Now you see what I mean? I can only bang my head against the wall for such carelessness. Fortunately, it was still early of the day and I have until 3pm to check in my bike, so I went off immediately back to the hotel, took a quick shower and make sure the bike sticker is on the bike this time hmmprhh. Recheck and recheck all the gears in the Blue Bike Bag, damn stressful. Took a quick bite and back to the race expo for a qucik bike check on brakes, chain, cables by the race mechanic before head back out to Transition 1 again to complete the bike and bag check in, collecting race timing chip, released the tyre pressure, talked to the bike a little before farewell to Ah P (my bike's name)... I was praying and praying for not having anything that I forget to pack for T1

Blue Bike Bag Rack

Bike Rack

Red Run Bag
Then it was time to head to Transition 2 (T2), same venue as the race expo where I would complete the bike leg (finger crossed) and transition into running the full marathon. Upon reaching, I took out all the items in the Red Run Bag going through it again making sure everything I need was there.

Happy with the pack list, I walked to the T2 bag hanger, hang up the red bag and visually marked down some pointer on where my bag would be so to not make a blunder on race proper. Now is all set and done, it is what it is, whats' left right now is completing the race incident free. That's nothing much I can do now, but to eat clean and rest well for the rest of the day

Bag Rack
The Run out at T2

My number 1 supporter, my number 1 fan.. my dear wife arrived on time at the airport. I'm so happy to see her after a stressful morning, she was equally happy to see me. We went to Chenang town to have lunch and shop around for some snacks. She was absolutely trilled to see the price tag of the many imported beers lol, we walked by a section of Champagne and feeling determine I told her that we would come back to buy a bottle of Moet to celebrate when I crossed the line tomorrow night. We left the place shortly and went back to the hotel for some rest. Apart from the squeaking sound on the wooden floorboard of the hotel, otherwise she was happy with the place that we would spend a few nights.
Traveling in Style.. so happy to see her
After some rest, we head out again to have an early dinner with Fan and family before call it a night. Re-check the gears and nutrition in the Black Street Bag, Bike Special Need and Run Special Need bag (yes lots of bag for one race) and is time to catch some sleep after a long day. What do you know.. I can't sleep. The nervousness starts kicking in like you would when you met the girl of your dream and butterflies are everywhere... oh boy this is not good and for the remaining of the night I would only catch maybe 3 to 4 hours of disturbed sleep.

Raceday - Drama unfolds
Giddyup.. rise and shine.. NOT. This is it all or nothing!!!
Catching the 1st bus out to the start line at 5am with 3 big bags and a bike pump, not a glamour sight for a triathlete, but that's what it is. Reaching the race site after 30 mins of bus ride, athletes are waiting for the T1 to open at 5:45am. Everyone rushed to their bike once the TI opens, I whipped out my bike pump and start putting back the air pressure into the pair of rubber, then the power drinks bottle snugly into the bottle holder and lastly salts, gels and bars. I would then placed the remaining of the 3 bags into the respective transport for the bags to be transported to the designated pick up point for refueling during the race. T1 closed, receiving a few well wishes from my wife and I found myself walking to the beach waiting for the race start.

3.8km Swim
Seas are calm but the tension was high, by now nervous is an understatement, convincing myself that panic during the swim would be absolutely normal. Elites were flagged off on time and next the age grouper. It starts to drizzle and a look up the sky emotionally, shed a tear remembering why I'm here racing and I asked Kew to race with me.
Thanks Fan for the many tips

We were flagged of in wave of 4 and I don't give a damn really if I'm at the front or at the back, today the aim was to finish and finishing time is irrelevant really. I hate swimming in cold, fortunately the water temperature was just nice and warm. Had a good start to the swim and soon I found myself gliding smoothly with good strong strokes after strokes. For the first time ever, I did not feel any fear or panic, heartbeat was absolutely fantastic and well under control.. yippy. Saying that, swim start has always  been tricky with many swimmers swimming close and kicking each other. I tried my best to stay out of trouble and didn't want my goggles to be kicked off. I soon found a clear line to swim through far away from the crowd doing my own thing. Sighting was easy compared to other races, helped by the flags put along the bouy line that can be easily spotted when you breath on your right.
1st loop swim done
400m later we make a right turn for a long 700m stretch, breathing continue to be easy and sighing was good without going off course. Incident free and a smooth swim brought me to the next turn bouy for the home 800m stretch and soon completing the first loop of 1.9km swim. Athlete would then need to come out off the water, a short 50m run on the sandy beach and start my second swim loop. The run break after the first swim loop was a good thing breaking the 3.8km swim into a more manageable 1.9km which helps mentally thinking that is not such a long swim.

Second loop started slightly easier as I have all warmed up and swimmers are not swimming close to each other fighting for space. Continue to do my own thing and soon I found myself counting my stroke to have a gauge on how far I have swam on the second loop and how for before home. Second loop final straight to home was slightly tricky as the sun has rise with right breathing having the vision directly to the sun blinding me with my clear screen googles and I had to close my eyes for every right breathing I took. Nevertheless I have never found myself happier seeing the swim gantry appearing bigger and bigger on every stroke. 3.8km swim done and I shout out "wohoo" running passed the emcee as I knew I just had a big swim, definitely the best swim among all my races. Running to the shower area, I saw my wife right at the barricade snapping away with the GoPro. Took my time at the shower area and was hoping they provide shampoos too haha.

Running into T1, I remembered where my Bike Blue Bag was and had no problem looking for it. In the changing area, I took a few deep breath before discarding the swim cap and goggles into the bag and change into my bike gears. Few gulp of waters later, I was running out from the changing area with my helmet secured and sunnies on. This time I have no problem finding my bike, run out with the bike and off to a flying mount in style.

180km Bike
Suns are up and things are pretty warm. The plan was to go easy for the first 40km, getting into the rhythm was key and don't push no matter how good I felt. Since I have racee the route and cycle 10km into the race route, I have a mental picture of exactly what to come. The hill climb starts as early as 6km into the bike route, not attacking early and peddling steadily up the rolling hills. Some are steeper than others and that would also mean big downhill after the top of the hill. On the down, a slight paddle powered the bike over 50km/hr. Cycling for the first time not knowing of any uneven bumps or potholes at that speed especially on sweeping downhill corners proves dangerous. I held on to the bar tightly telling myself to stay alert and stay on the bike. Going through the uphill tunnel steadily brought me to the first U-turn point and back to the tunnel but this time a sweeping down hill. I was gaining speed fast before going into the tunnel and gained even more going though the tunnel with a left hand sweep out.

The near crash. Photo by Jack Ah Beh
Drama #2, a rider slowed down to almost a stand still right in the middle of the fast sweeping corner trying to grab something from his own support team I assumed. What an idiot putting himself and other fellow riders in danger, I had to pull the rear brake lever in the middle of the corner and nearly crashed into him, sliding out a little and adrenaline went to the max. I shouted my lungs out at him, he then realized he had put riders in danger and quickly moved to the side and that was a really close which could put both of us out of the race. The rolling continues back the same way and soon I'm back to main road at around 25km mark. There on, the route was smooth and flat-ish and my average speed was brought up closeing to 30km/hr. The scenery was beautiful along this part of the race, although I don't have much time to look around to enjoy it, but it was good enough to take some pain away from the race.

With fellow participants around, all I did was to trust them and go with the speed that everyone is doing around me. After some gels and a bar, soon we reached Kuah Town at 50-55km into the race, the 3 big climbs are just around the corner. Problem with the 1st climb was there is a L-bend rigth corner breaking up your momentum from the straight going into the climb. I don't know about the pros, coming out from the right harder, I'm going less than 18km/hr into the steep left sweeping climb that looks like a wall. Cycling being my weakest among the 3 disciplines, it was absolutely a nightmare, but fortunately I'm racing with a road bike which is a lighter package making the climb a little easier sacrificing aero gain. The second climb however was easier with the downhill momentum, again is a fast sweeping left down hill (come to think of it there's a lot of left sweeping corner in Langkawi) hitting 60km/h and for the brave you could go up to 70km/h travelling at least 2/3 of the second climb and just need to paddle a little more to go over the top. The third climb difficulty level was between the 1st and the 2nd, carrying speed into the climb is the way to quickly finish up the 3 brothers. In short, the first being the hardest as you don't have speed going into the climb and also the longest, the second would be the easiest among the 3 but still require abit of effort for the last 25% of the climb and the third was steep require effort for about 60% of the climb.

Single leg cycle managing cramp
I'm glad the climb was over for the first loop and had a pretty good idea of what to come for the second loop. Drama #3, not long after the climb, at around 65km I realized something was wrong with the way I peddle, the legs wasn't extending properly and feels weird. Take a quick peep on the bike to check on things, OMG to my horror, my seat post was dropping from my lousy 10 mins bike setup earlier!!! To make things worse, I did not bring my tool kit for the race, I was contemplating whether to bring along before the race but since I have never need it before during training, I decided to take the risk, it didn't pay off. Look for tools that's what was all written in my mind at that point of time, but who would stop for me? I kept going as best I could to stay in the race, but I know I will be forced to DNF if I don't fix it. After some distance, because of the not extending the legs while power down the crank, cramp from the inner tight starts to be an apparent problem and at times I would need to un-cleet one legs and peddle only with the other. Is horrible to think of it!! Then from a far a saw a participant by the road side changing his flat front and immediately I stopped and asked if I could borrow his tools to fix my seat post.. thank you rider. My seat height maker was no way to been seen as the paint was scrapped off from the slow drop and I could only do a rough measurement a adjust it up around my waist line. After a few clicking sound from tighten the bolt, I stopped and feared cracking the carbon and quickly say thanks and moved on. Phew.. that wasn't so bad but saying that damage was already taken to my leg muscles
80+ into the race.. not again!!! it dropped again, I look up at the sky and asked... "Apa lagi lu mau?" (what do you want more from me?) lol. The legs damage from awkward cycling position has caused quite abit of damage to my leg muscles and cramp starts creeping up from time to time. Fearing of not able to control the bike with both leg cramp-up, I was forced to stop for the second time. Tough luck. Bike mechanic came around and I quickly asked for tools, " bang, I takde tools la" (brother I don't have tools) What kind of bike mech doesn't have tools???? Arghhh!! but I only have myself to blame for doing a shabby setup job and not bring tools to race :( . I asked if the other Bike Mech carry tools and begged for him to call for one while I continued with my painful ride. Cut the drama short, a second Bike Mech caught up with me with the tools and this time I made doubly sure it is tighten and the seat post is secure properly. Nevertheless, cramp was the byproduct of the incidences and I had to stop another time to manage it and give it a stretch.

100km, special need stop. I felt relieved that I could finally take a proper stop at the special need station to refuel and give the legs a needed recovery break. Took maybe only a third of the food from my lunch box, change the drinking bottle and repacked some of my fueling and quickly move on as I know I have lost too much time from the earlier incidences and stops. Cramp did not subside, but cleverly me asked for 2 ziplock bags fill with ice from the medic at one of the aid station and stuff it in my suite freezing the tights up and move on. With the cramp, I was at one point worried if I could finish the ride and if I do, would I be able to run a marathon? Days are long and the sun was blazing down with no mercy, second loop of the 90km loop would prove to be a hard ride. Same rolling up and down 25km and a flat-ish for another 30 clicks brought me back to the Kuah Town's 3 brothers, this time I came down and push the bike up... yes I walked and pushed with no shame haha. While I'm at it, I even took some photos with friends and ask "where's my beer?". When the going gets tough, you have got to lighten up man.. you don't lose a nickle, cheer up and race on!

By now my target of finishing the bike under 7 hrs slowly diminished and I told myself I would settle for 23km/h average. I wasn't tired, there is no back pain or butt pain just the cramps has eaten into me too much and I could only cycle at a consistent damage limitation pace without any sudden power push and hill dancing. But the spirit were still high and I'm not complaining as it could have been worse if I was forced to DNF with the mechanical problem. 160km into the race... jeng jeng jeng Drama #4. Rain, this time I did not ask "what more do you want" but instead I said "Thank you". Someone up there didn't have a sense of humor and though I was serious about the Thank you and decided to being a rainstorm. Blardy hell, soaking wet with no brakes was a horror to cycle above 30km/h and to top it; strong cross wind brought tree and coconut branches flying down in front of you. I need to constantly second guess what will fly across me and will I have enough bite on the wheel to stop avoiding any disaster, Bike are going sideways from time to time from the blow, but I wasn't dampen by the new challenge, I charged on, taking risks, cycling cross certain part of the road with streams of flowing rain water perfecting the recipe for aqua-planning. Dangerous to say the least, but fortunately the challenge only lasted 20km for me as I finally see myself reaching T2, Crossing "rivers" before dismounting from the bike with bike catcher waiting for you. Yes bike catcher, I feel like a pro and said to the catcher "Damn happy to see you"
Lunch at 100km. Finished the whole eggs and 1/3 of the rice
Run the the Red Run Bag racks, picked up my bag into the changing area and phew I was glad to survived the bike with so many incidences. Not the time I was hoping for, but I'll take it with full pride. Unload all the bike gears, put on my running shoes, race bib and fueling belt, off I go without wasting too much time this time round.. I just want to finish.

42.2 Run
It was still pouring outside and my run would start under the rainstorm. No doubt it helps to cool the body temperature down which is crucial for the run, but on the flip side my shoes are soaking wet and risk blistering. I have planned my race to the point of finishing the bike, and once I'm off the bike I knew with 4 years of running experience under my belt, I am done, I'm home free and I would cross the finishing line. Probably because of the upbeat feeling, I started my run very strong with the first 2km running at a 5:30min/km pace and 5:50min/km for the subsequent 2km. Legs were feeling great, no body ache and I wasn't tired to begin with. But I know this is a trap and I would struggle beyond words if I continue to go at that pace. So I slowed down really slow and saw me finished my 10km with a 7:20+ min/km on an average with a run walk strategy.

1st Loop
The marathon format was a 2 and a half loop of 17.5 km, and would pass by the finishing area twice before the third time dashing cross the finishing chute and you would wonder when is your turn every time you run past the area. First time when I run passed the area, there were a lot of supporters which was a complete opposite from the bike leg and  I was happy to hear a familiar sound calling me out by the barricade, it was my wife. I was ecstatic to see her after the long hours of racing. I stopped briefly and tell her I would finish and she gave me a dose of  support in return. Soon, I'm completing my first loop running through the air-conditioned expo which is freaking cold. I stopped here to pick up my Run Special Need bag and change to a pair dry socks and some refuel. As it was cold, I didn't want to stop to long and quickly moved on after a with sip of water and head out for my second loop.

Sun starts to set and days are slowly turning dark on the second loop. Feet started to get heavier and I slowed down even more and taking longer walk breaks at every aid station. Saying that, I wasn't counting the distance and honestly after the 180km bike I really don't give a damn on the 42.2km and it really didn't feel like it. Probably I was numb beyond sanity haha. I would just chugged along and not concern on the finishing time anymore. I have came this far for my first Ironman race, it really doesn't matter, finishing itself is worth shouting for.

So I moved on as I should, saying hi to people and taking food and gels as I should. Passing the finishing area for the second time didn't see my wife at the same spot, probably she went for her dinner and drinking a few beers laughing at me suffering lol. Then again it wasn't all bad, I had made new friends on the bike and again on the run. Henry(6th time Ironman finisher..hats off with respect) and I would crossed path a few times on the bike and we ran together chit chatting to keep each other going after on a long day.

In the Expo Freezer
Soon I was running crossed the 30km mark and then at 32km point, I bonked out. With 10km between me and the emcee announcing "Choon Yuen from Malaysia, you are an Ironman! you are great, you are so good looking blah blah blah" I bonked out!! I don't feel like eating and would only take small sip of water along the way. Tired but not out, I walked like a zombie like those from the Busan Train. I dragged my feet for 4km without a single step beyond snail pace going back to the expo freezer completing my second run loop. I did not stop this time as it was really really cold and quickly get myself out of the area.

6km remaining. A lot went through my mind for the last 6km and found myself running again. I was very emotional and tears filled my eyes and would rolled down my cheek not because of the pain or the would be achievement, but from remembering why I'm here doing this crazy race. I remembered the race we race together, I remembered how you would charged up the hill, I remembered you would tease "Common you are not even trying", I remembered your come back race, I remembered you smile when you see the gang pay a visit to you, I remembered how proud and happy you were telling your family about the video Zijill made for you, I remembered the last moment when you were on the sick bed, I remembered the Christmas Eve of 2015, and I remembered the last mile you made us sprint with the gang together sending you off  for one last time..

Reaching the finishing area for the third time, more people were cheering, the claps were loud knowing at this hour everyone reaching the site would be running down for the last time and becoming an Ironman. Atmosphere was electrifying with neon lights, loud music and I could hear the emcee announcing finishers' name as they crossed the line. I took a moment to look around for my wife and there she was, jumping and waving to me and the bummer in me forgot to give a hug and kiss to my wife for her unconditioned support and love. I'm not gonna try describing how I feel running the last 100m on the black rain soaked carpet with red M-Dot logo printed on it, crossing the finishing line, as Zijill has warned me "don't try you, please don't even try, you will just spoil it and make it sounds like any other normal race which it isn't"... Kew this is for you!!

Photo Credit Tey Eng Tiong

A big smile to my wife, but forgot to give her a hug

"Kew this is for you"
"Choon Yuen from Malaysia, you are IRONMAN!!"

That's a warp!! Anything is possible as the tag line goes. Race was very well organized, truly a world class event with plenty of aid stations and drinks to go with the hot weather here. The volunteers were awesome, and I took every opportunity to thank them at every aid stations I stopped or rode passed. Race course was challenging, the heat and rain storm makes finishing the race even sweeter.  The million dollar question of would I race an Ironamn race again.. answer is no... but ask me again next year hah

To my dear wife, thanks for the support and patient you have for me. Wouldn't have done this wihtout you. Special thanks to Saucony Malaysia for providing a new pair of Ride 9 with Everun technology to smoothen the 42.2km run
Thank you
Photo Credit to respective photographers.. thanks for the memorable shots

Don't half -ass anything, Whatever you do, always use your full ass

I am IronOnz


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