Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Product Review and Race Tested - Saucony Peregrine 6

Making the great better!!

About a year ago, I had a rare opportunity to test on the Saucony Peregrine 5 (P5) and I concluded the review with Saucony had a winning product and giving other brand a run for the money. Can they make the successful model even better in the form of Saucony Peregrine 6 (P6)? Read on!!

When Saucony Malaysia launched the EVERUN technology at the local running store, P6 was part of the range of shoes that was introduced  during the event. Given the experience that I had with P5, I quickly put on the P6 and did a test run on the treadmill. Are you kidding? Trail shoe on treadmill? Nothing wrong with that after all the tagline says #Runanywhere and all I did was to make sure Saucony meant what it says LOL. First impression was superb, immediately I can feel the improvement of the P6 over predecessor. I did not wait long to put my money down for a pair

Top Peregrine 5 and Bottom Peregrine 6
Fearing that the purchased was an impulsive buy, I was eager to take the P6 out for a spin and so I did for a couple of Saturdays at the local forest reserve with a mix of tarmac and trail? Now why tarmac you may ask. P5 comes to live over the trail terrain but can't say the same on the road as with other trail shoes, it was a tad too hard on the road. Improvement on the tarmac ride handling would be really great to make P6 a better shoe

At 9.8 oz for US size 9, The P6 wasn't exactly light on paper, but in actual fact it is not heavy either considering the cushion that you enjoyed similar to the predecessor. The generous toe box just got more generous from the P6 which my wide feet loves to bits. Aesthetically, the wider toe box can immediately be noticed from the top view without slipping my feet in. The outsole sees a complete revamp with a more aggressive lugs layout from the P5. PWRTRAC is the rubber of choice by the company in Kuztown, Pennsylvania in their latest Peregrine over the XT-900 rubber, combining with the nylon rock plate, the new outsole gives gripper unrelenting traction at the protecting your feet from sharp rocks or debris.

Notice the wider forefoot on the P6 (left) compare to the P5 (right) resulted in wider forefoot area

The aggressive lugs on PWRTRAC rubber
25mm - 21mm heel to toe sees a higher stack height over P5 but maintaining the 4mm drop. Although I can't confirmed this (don't quote me), but I suspect this is due to the inclusion of the EVERUN heel insert over the lightweight EVA midsole cushioning for a smoother transition. Whatever it is behind the philosophy of the raise, I don't really care coz I love the ride as it sees an overall improvement. P6 is now bouncier and softer compare to P5 but it did not compromise any of the stability on the ride department carried over which is a winner to me. On the tarmac which I briefly mentioned above, it is now a lot closer to its road running siblings which is really great!! Now you can run the train terrain with lots of grip and yet gives you similar ride of a road running shoes on the tarmac. Is like the analogy of a SUV with a road car handling, for a lack of better word, it does feels that way.

The coordinates around the collar area indicated the home of Saucony

On the upper, my feet sits comfortably and fit snugly. Flexfilm overlays over mesh helps hold and wrap my feet in place without having any sliding around no matter how hard I tried. A gusseted tongue helps keep the debris and a RunDry heel collar completes the upper without any surprise. However the rubber toe cap now being replaced by some sort of synthetic leather, I'm not sure it will be as effective as the predecessor design in keeping pain away from unwanted kick on the rocks or roots. Not a deal breaker, but is worth a mention in the review.

Notice the rubber toe cap (Right) on P5 has been replaced by the synthetic leather (left) on the P6

Race tested!! Now I didn't put up a race report for the small event that I raced the P6 as I thought it would be a good idea to put the two together for a combine post (yes I'm lazy). My wife signed me up for a 8KM trail race (more like a 5km trail and 3km road) which is great given that I always wanted to race a shoe that give no compromise to both the road and trail terrain.

Race was held on my usual training ground which gave me some advantage knowing the race route well, saying that it is still a hard course if one decide to go all out. The race stared under light rain and I knew the trail will be slippery. The competitive side of me couple with the P6 which I have full confidence of doing a great job, I was pushing to the limit the moment the air horn was blown. First 1KM was done on tarmac, with the P6 giving the ride close to road running shoes, I was able to churn out 5min pace comfortably. The forefoot section of the P6 is responsive at the same time soft enough to take away the road pounding feel from the feet. It doesn't gives as much feedback/road feel like a racing flat, but it was better than expected providing a stable platform stride to stride.

Next it was trail, lots of midfoot and heel striking for grip as opposed to the forefoot road for the first KM. I was immediately greeted with a steep incline for several hundred meters with 3 other competitor. It was a hard climb that sees me almost come to a walk, but running in the leading pack helped push me and tagged along the lead pack as this was as close a chance I could get to put myself on the podium. There was very little between the four of us, but the bite from the shoes PWRTRAC outsole gave me the little advantage on the slippery terrain due to the rain. Beyond 3KM mark, the fastest runner among the lead pack has broke away some distance ahead, and  I was able to slowly power away and put in a healthy lead over the other 2 runners from the pack.

Soon I was all alone huffing and puffing in a very unfamiliar situation. I have never ran in the lead in any race beyond a 200m race distance, I have no idea what to do nor do I know what to expect. Should I keep pushing and risk bonking later or slow down slightly to control the race. With no experience, I just did both to be on the safe side or risk throwing the race way. My legs felt really great as the P6 held my feet snugly, good cushioning and I was able to speed up on demand with no problem. The ride was smooth with plenty of grip coming from the shoe

1.5KM from finishing line was again on the tarmac. The road condition is a lot more slippery at this stage of the race as it had rained for some time now. Out from the trail immediately I was able to push again on a mid/forefoot run  over the remaining rolling hills section. It was cooling with fresh breezy air to fuel the run and for the first time the thought of stepping up on the podium was real. I kept looking back to see how big of a lead I have built and how much I could afford to slow down. Honestly, I was almost running out of breath with a KM to go and I just had to run smart for the remaining distance.
Podium moment
Big relief to see the finishing gantry beyond striking distance. One last glance to the back to make sure there were no surprises and I sprint lightly crossing the finishing line. I was handed over with the age group champion card and I was totally surprised as I'm very sure there is a runner in front of me. Later I found, the other runner had ran the wrong way and did not pick up the mandatory ribbon for the finishing and on top of that my 45mins finishing time was good enough to crowd me the overall champion for the race. It was so surreal,  me being the champ haha. It was a good race event (for obvious reason), I was on form and of course a pair great shoe in this slippery condition helps.

All said, P6 saw a number of improvements over the P5. From a wider toe box, a complete revamp of the outsole with the grippier PWRTRAC rubber and the inclusion of the EVERUN insert on the heel section sums up the major improvements. In my opinion, P6 is a complete redesigned product providing an overall smoother and more stable ride for both trail and tarmac terrain. I still stand by the good things that I have said on the P5, but the boys at Kuztown had beat themselves with the latest edition of the Peregrine trail shoes. They make the great better.

Go get yourself a pair or slip it on at any Saucony authorized outlets. The P6 is retailed at RM429.00.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Product Review - Salming Speed 3

A fast package with elements to be a great shoe

Salming?? What brand is that? That's my first reaction when I first heard about the brand name some time back but who am I to blame for being ignorance except for myself. Salming is a sports brand from Sweden and was founded in 2001 originates from the legendary Swedish ice-hockey player name Borje Salming. Ice-hockey? no way!!! Well, although the founder is a legendary ice-hockey player, but the product carry today has nothing to do with ice-hockey but rather focused on Squash and Running products. The brand is not yet established or known by many in this market, but there do have a good range of products with the tag line of "No-Nonsense" and it is an established brand in parts of Europe and even in the United States.

I received this pair of Salming Speed 3 (SS3) as part of the winner of a photo contest with any Salming product. Was jumping with joy when I found out I was the lucky winner to receive a pair of their running shoes. I didn't had the chance to run much with the SS3 earlier as I was preparing for my Gold Coast Airport Marathon 2016 and most of the time training using the race shoes. However whenever I find opportunity I would snug in some mileage with SS3 mainly on shorter distance run. Now that I have clocked in considerable amount of mileage both short and long runs, about time I put down my opinion on the speedster

I have no prior experience to any of Salming's shoe but on the onset the shoe looks to be fast and have a low stack height (visually). Oh well, it was made to be a fast race shoe with a 5mm (16mm/21mm) heel-to-toe drop and comes in bright orange eye-catching colorway, even a cow can see me from afar. When I first put it on, immediately it felt comfortable with a solid platform to begin with, the light package weighing only 7.6 ounce on a US size 9 confirming it has all the right elements to be a good race shoes.

The ride is smooth in general on both the short and long runs. With the low stack height, I was first worried that the shoe to be on the stiffer side and my legs will definitely stage a protest if I ran in it too much. Surprisingly it is well cushioned, not too much but just the right balance to take the pounding away from the feet and yet retain the responsive elements on road running.

There is no surprise on the upper, the top outer layer uses a harder material that feels like a plasticky/nylon mesh overlaying mid layer helps stablized lateral movent while the inner softer layer mesh add a sock like compfort all connecting to the tougue. I have no knowledge on the design philosophy on the SS3 upper but the end results gave the shoe upper a pretty solid fit holding on to the feet and at the same time the softer inner layer provide the flexible soft touch. Mostly very well executed with the design, but the plastic layer on the toe area does not really suit my taste and could well be shaving more ounces if the plastic layer is taken away or replace with a thinner layer of mesh. Just a personal choice, not a deal breaker and nothing wrong with the upper

Notice the plastic layer at the toe area? Didn't really like it
The sole however is unique. let 's start with the midsole, it is molded using injected EVA form call RunLite. It blends the right amount of soft cushion without taking away the firm and responsive feel of a racing shoes. It gives the runner the all important fast and road feel but at the same time forgiving on the legs on a longer outing.  On the outsole, it feels soft but the company put the harder LiteRubber at all the right places making it more durable at the common wear and tear area just like what other brands would do.  What caught my eye on the outsole was the word 62/7 somewhere at the midfoot section, now I have done a bit of googling for the unique feature here and Salming has come out with a pretty interesting philosophy here. The bottom 62% of the shoe (midfoot to heel) offers a stability platform while beyond the midfoot belly line which was angled at 7(forefoot) adding flexibility aiming to provide runners a much better toe off and turnaround which works pretty well for me.

TGS 62/7
All said, the SS3 is a promising race shoe and living up to the tag line of "No Nonsense". I have done variety of distances ranging from 5km to little over half marathon distance over the course of a few months. The ride is good to my taste and the feel was consistent across short or on a longer outing. The light weight package is a great partner for Speedwork and Fartleks, depending on runners I would not hesitate to race the shoe up to a half. SS3 is not a world beater but their famous ride performance is at par if not better than other established brand seen here in Malaysia. Only negative that I have to say about is the harder outer layer of the upper that comes with too much plasticky material especially on the toe area. I say you go get yourself  a pair and you'll understand what I'm saying. The shoe is retail at RM 390 but unfortunately you would not be able to find it on any retail store. To find out more about the shoe, you can visit or drop them an email on

Salming Malaysia had brought in a good range of products. The apparel line is pretty interesting too, I had tried on their Salming Run Race Singlet, not the lightest race top out there but the slim fit cutting does add pluses to the look department, but if you prefer to the looser end just up size it from your normal sizing.

The Ultralite Jacket that I have,... love to bits. Is super light made out of 100% polyester. It is capable of blocking light wind and light water repellent with a hidden pocket at the side seam. More importantly it looks really good and a no names mentioned tried stealing it from me LOL

The Ultralite Jacket that I wore in GCAM16

The contest winning shot!!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Gold Coast Airport Marathon 2016 - Race Report

Set to race with a stretch goal, finished with a strong race!

Since my first Gold Coast marathon in 2014 (my first marathon race ever), I've never missed an edition of the race and this year marked my 3rd consecutive year running the race, personal best the previous 2 races and looking to continue the run. I have always loved running in Gold Coast so much so Nick, I and may be Jamie too felt at home whenever we set our foot for the race.  3:59 was the goal time this time round, but seeing how I strayed in the month of May a conscious decision sacrificing key training for a bigger race later of the year, a long niggling PF issue flaring up (drama here), and without a 30km training run, it is really a stretch goal for anyone who understand how much training one needs to put in for a marathon.

Flew in unusually late this year compare to the previous 2 years. Nick, Yan Leng and I flew in on Saturday morning, from the airport Yan Leng and I traveled directly to the race expo while Nick picked up his rented car ferrying our luggage (thanks man) for his apartment check in. Similar to the year before, the expo was packed with runners and visitors alike, most of the booth setup were selling running related gears with informational booth about races elsewhere. I've got a very good deal for 2 Nathan bottles out of the expo and leaving the venue a happy man.

With the shake down run set to start at 4:30pm, we headed back to Surfer's Paradise for our respective check in, grabbed the much liked bacon pizza at Domino's for lunch. After freshen up back at the accommodation, met up Yan Leng at the agreed meet up point and we walked to the shake down run venue. With the tiring flight and no rest time in between, I didn't run much rather it was really to catch up with the rest of the group for a fun run/walk, fooling around and taking lots of picture. We then head for an early dinner around Surfer's Paradise, grab some essentials from Woolworth and is time to head back to the hotel and get the race gear prep.

Raceday. Jamie, Yan Leng, Selin and I met up at the tram station and head to race precinct together. Upon arriving, we decided to grab a hot coffee nearby to warm ourselves up in the cold and chilly morning, there the rest of the group join us and head to the agreed meet up point for some pre-race group photos, toilet break and warm up. With a blink of an eye, it is already 7am and is time to walked to the race corral getting ready for the race proper. Yan Leng and I had agreed to push each other to a sub4 race seeing that we are on a similar pace, I even worked out on different scenarios on what pace to keep and at which stage of the race to slow or catch. Hence we toed along with the 4hr pacer together with Nick and check ourselves in for the final time before race start.

Race started on time, slowly and steadily we started out with decent pace to warm things up. With the cool weather it was rather easy to go faster than you need to, so I kept checking on my trusty Suunto and warned Yan Leng that we were going too fast and needed to save for the later stage of the race. We were chatting along and the heart rate was kept at a easy stage. At 5km point, we keep a look out for "Coach" Nessa as Nick told us earlier that she will be there taking free photos for us lol. Things are pretty much warmed up by then and we chugged along just as I have planned for keeping a nice and comfortable pace. However, at times I need to put a rope on the wild stallion in Yan Leng to slow her down ever slightly and kept telling her to keep a distance from the gun time 4hr pacer otherwise we will destroy our race later.

Along the run,  I kept feeding her with information on how we were doing so far and where we are right now as a form of keeping the conversation going, taking away the running from the mind. We also have a lady runner in very tight outfit cutting in front of us, her butt so tight I joked with Yan Leng that I wanted to give her a smack haha. Giving high fives to the kids, cheerleaders team and the locals who came out to support was my only way to show my gratitude for their support and needless to say it is also my favorite thing to do in the race. Nevertheless, our focus was to keep the pace right and give a shout out to the elites who were running so fast the opposite direction. At the 15km u-turn, we were running under 5:30 avg pace and things were slightly better than plan, I was cautious with the avg pace that we were doing up to that point, but knowing that my pace will drop at the later stage of the race, so I decided to give it a go keeping the pace

Running form and breathing was at a very rhythmic way for the lack of better word, I then spotted Nick on the opposite side and he was fully focus on his race coming back from a back to back injury. He was running a very good race given the lack of training time and I give a shout out to him " Go Meb Go!!!" a ritual that I have kept for every year upon seeing him in the race. Heading back towards 21km mark was crucial now as it marks the half way point and a logical check on the race overall that I'm doing so far. Stride by stride, Yan Leng and I were on a matching pace, we picked our stops strategically to refuel our small bottle and drink from it passing every water station to keep hydrated at the same time shaving seconds from every stop which could prove crucial later. Out plan worked out really well so far and were still fresh heading towards the half way mark.

Crossing the 21km mark was to me an important milestone, and recording a personal best of 1:56 was a bonus which also means we have built up a healthy 4 mins buffer without pushing. Things are really looking great for the both of us and sub 4 goal was within sight and a step closer. There on I could see Q1 (the tallest building in Gold Coast), and I told myself to just keep doing what I've done right so far and we'll reached to 25km mark in no time.

1175 and 5858 put me to shame
However, things started to took a bad turn down south at around 23km mark, I told Yan Leng my stomach started playing tricks on me and I may need to take a toilet break. I wasn't sure I really needed to go and only knew of the toilet at the 25km mark where we will run pass  at the Surfer's Paradise. To manage the situation, I started to slow my pace a little without telling her so to not hold her back as she was running really well at that stage of the race, at the same time I made sure she was also in sight for me to keep chasing. 3km passed, I have decided to take the break and hit straight to the toilet. No luck all occupied, waited out a little bit and moved on looking out for another hopefully a vacant one as I would lose too much time waiting/queuing. I kept looking at my watch working out on how much time I can afford and turns out I really need to finish it up real quick.

Is hammer time, I've lost all the 4 mins buffer, put in the pace say hi again to "Coach" Nessa heading towards 27- 28km. On that faithful day,  I must have done something really wrong, either that or Lady Luck must have really hated me on that day..... SSSStrikkke 2. Dammit, I had to go again aggrrhhhhh.. this time not knowing where the portables are I just have to keep going until the row of portable potty was in sight at 29km mark...rushed in, hit it and out losing more time. It was heartbreaking for me, I was down but not out. Keeping the spirit high I needed to work out the maths to see if I still have a chance. Crossing the 30km mark saw me 4 + mins over the target time, which mean I have lost a total 9 mins from the 2 excursions. To make up that deficit within 12km with a set of used legs, it would take me something very special with a sting of fast pace to catch up. I tried on the 31km it didn't happen, 32km it did not happen again. Crossing the 35km mark losing more time, at that moment, I knew it was a losing battle for me, heartbreaking moment.

Hammer time going into 27k

Nevertheless, I wasn't going to let that spoil a strong finish and so I marched on. The 4hr pacer finally crossed path with me from the opposite direction, I was keeping a look out for Yan Leng giving her the much support needed, but I didn't spot her for some distance. Then,  I spotted her about 700-800m after the 4hr pacer and I knew it will be very close for her, gave her a shout out encouraging her to push on. I was all pumped up at that point and my legs came back alive setting some fast kilometers after kilometers catching up with Digger (4:15 pacer), exchanging a few words with him before setting myself for another series of fast KMs.

At the bridge heading to 38km, spotted Nick and with both our goal time is already thrown out of the window due to our own set of setbacks. We spend a minute or so exchanging our woes with him having to deal with cramps and I dealing with the toilet break. Saying that, we never forget to give a word of encouragement to each other before setting off to deal with the remaining distance. Again, I felt right at home and was able to churned out under 6 mins pace going into the final stretch of the run. McDonalds' was a very welcoming landmark which signified the finishing line is just a little over a km away.

Heading towards 38k still in good running form

I ran close to the barricade for the whole kilometer wanted to feel and hear all the cheers and shout out from the supporters, I even tapped on a board that says "Tap here to power up" held out by the locals. The experience running down that main straight was exhilarating to say the least, I have gave my best on that day and for the first time I wasn't sprinting to the finishing line not because I wasn't able to, but I wanted to enjoy the moment and say a few thanks to the seas of supporters. Crossing the finishing line short from the goal time, a little disappointed but held my head high knowing I had finished a strong race.

Similar to the past 2 edition of the GCAM that I have ran in, the race has always been able to deliver the trill that I was looking for. Year on year, with the race route so familiar to me I would still have the jitter and nervousness toeing at the start line. The race was truly living up to its expectation of an IAAF Gold Label Road Race. A well organized race, the sea of supporters from young to the old and the musician playing those badass tune was what makes the event amazing.  Although it was me that robbed myself the opportunity of achieving my goal time, but it was really beyond me. As much as I would like to put up a special come back and make it more dramatic, it was not meant to be. I would not go into the "what could have been if..." mode, I have gave it all my best and it was still a strong race. Would I have come back for GCAM17? I would love to, but first I would need to negotiate and get my visa approves by the home minister first.

Saying that, I owe my gratitude to my wife for her unconditional support towards my hours away from home putting in mileages day in day out. Also my gratitude to the Malaysia training team led by Jamie and Nick who brough me up to this point and not forgetting some hard session with the #MMT group. Congratulations to the army of 250 over Malaysian that made it to the race this year..hope everyone enjoyed the race as well as the hospitality as much as I do. I have come to know many new friends and for those that I may not have remember your name, please accept my apology.

We had many good races together

With Yuki who finished 2nd

Not forgetting #FTT

Here's to GCAM17

Photos courtesy by Jamie, Nick and Nessa

Sunday, June 26, 2016

GCAM16 - See Ya Real Soon!!

My first blog post was about Gold Coast Airport Marathon 2015 and here I am now, a year later preparing to race in Gold Coast 2016

This would be my 5th marathon proper (excluding a run under influence race lol.. don't ask), lots has changed since I took my first step. Over the 3+ years of running I've been improving and scored a personal best (PB) for the past 4 races, not bad huh? Deep down in me I wish for the streak to continue for a 5th PB in a row, but it would be no easy task this time.

Few #nonamesmentioned (you know who you are) had been telling me with my current fitness level drastically improved, it wouldn't be a problem to continue with another PB. I hope they are right... Well things aren't always straight forward... the fact is I have not been very focus on a marathon training. I strayed away from running for a bit into cycling since Kyoto Marathon (Race Report) and raced in 5 separate events between March and May missing a few key long weekend runs. You may think the crossed training in cycling would help my running.. maybe... but truth is there is no short cut in running unless you are talented which I'm not, missing key runs means PB slipping away bit by bit.

On top of that (drama), both my calves kind of froze up in the early June simulation run planned for 32km but had to cut short to 21km, giving a big blow in the confidence department. Since then, the whole month of June hasn't been very kind to me, and as if finishing a marathon is not challenging enough, it decided to flared up my left plantar fasciitis considerably, forcing me to switch two gears down on my training and I'm still nursing my left leg. That said, I'm not complaining or banging my fist on the table as I know, I will still be toeing the start line in a week time with my head held high and will not be forced to downgrade my race to 21km or a DNS.

With days left before raceday, I am doubtful my left leg will be 100% fit. Running a race without my body 100% with me would be like hanging on to a battered machine, one can only hope everything will held up nicely  during the race and give myself a best shot with whatever may come. Experience counts I hoped and I have not forgotten the electrifying atmosphere of GCAM for the past 2 years. The support and cheers from the locals and kids in their pajamas giving me countless high fives will definitely be my source of motivation and power me to the finishing line.

Ready or not, I am looking forward and will once again enjoy the race which brought me ample sweet memories. Wish me luck!! Remember to cheer for Ah Onz!!

Gold Coast Airport Marathon 2016, I'll see ya in 6 days time mate!!