Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sepang International Circuit Night Duathlon 2015 Race Report

Have you ever signed up for a race that you were not trained for nor was it planned in your race calendar all year long? Well I just did and survived it in one piece LOL. I did not plan to participate in any more races for 2015 and certainly not a multi-sports event. With Foo and Zijill both newbie to multi-sports signing up for the returning Powerman Classic event in Mar 2016 after 2 years of absent from Malaysia, I thought it would be a good idea to get the both of them to join the inaugural night duathlon, introducing both to what a multi-sports transitioning is all about. On top of that, I was sold to the fact that the race will be carried out on a world class Formula 1 circuit... common how often do you get to ride/bike on a F1 circuit

I found out about this event just a mere 6 days before the race day, quickly I gave both of them some convincing session but unfortunately Foo could not join us promising his girl for a movie night out. With only me and Zijill signing up for the race, we met up at our agreed meeting point that evening and head to the race venue together with the skies ready to pour.

Upon arriving the Sepang International Circuit (SIC), we can hear race cars roaring around the 5.5 km circuit and little did we know there was a car race event on the same day too. Without thinking too much about it, we picked up our race pack in one for the paddock with volunteer helping us on the body marking. It was hassle free and smooth as a breeze, kudos to the organizer on that.

We then head back to our car preparing our war machine (hehe bike I mean), bike number sticker up, break checked and we are all ready to rack up our bikes at the transition area before race briefing. As if racing in a duathlon event is not challenging enough, some one up there just decided to throw in more dark clouds hovering over SIC and looks like we are in for a wet race. Shortly after racking up our bike at the transition area, it started to pour; some decided to push the bike to a covered area keeping everything dry while I decided to just bring along my helmet and let the bike play with the rain a little.

With experience in both duathlon and triathlon race before, I still find the race briefing not to be missed especially on the 2 transition flow from run to bike and from bike to run. The briefing finished on time, with a round of Q&A with 3 of the sports elite sharing their training program and what inspired them in the sports. By then the rain has stopped, a very cooling night for the race. While waiting for the youth category to start at 7:30 pm, we walked down the pit area to the start-finishing chute and along with it; a rare opportunity to watch race car engineer working on the race car inside the designated garage. It was all cool!!

Modeling for lollipop man
The youth category started at about 7:40pm, with Harry (Former Youth Ironman Champ) chasing them down giving the youth participants a 5 mins head start. As the youth race distance is half the race distance of the main race, it wasn't long the first runner completing the run leg and head out to the bike leg and boy they were really fast. While watching the race unfold, we saw some race lollipop lying around the pit wall and we starts goofing around at the pit wall taking photos with the lollipop. That said, we did observed a few mistake a number of participant made and I suspect they skipped the race briefing missing out some important information coming in for the last run leg. Soon after, we saw Harry sprinting neck to neck to the finishing line with the youth.

Youth Category before the race starts
The main race started on time at 8:30 pm with light drizzle, as we were just aiming just to finish the race, we decided to start with the mid pack. The run with a relaxing pace, however I have totally forgotten how well Zijill can run, as she starts picking up her race pace, we start picking up quite a number of participants that started in front of us running an average a 5:20 pace for the 1st leg of run. There goes my hope of having a fun run.... :(

Photo courtesy of Elaine
Finishing 1st 5km run without much problem, we head to transition 1 getting ourselves ready for the 22.5km bike around the beautiful circuit. Zijill being a new comer, I told her to take her time getting things ready, drinking enough water before heading out. With no cleats to mount, we started with the bike easy and just paddle on down the pit exit to the track. Immediately, the cool breeze was flowing through as we negotiating through a down hill turn 1 and 2 before going to a slight incline towards turn 4 with a very conservative pace. As she was struggling up the hill, I shouted out to her to change gears for the climb but she didn't want to as she was worried that the shifting will not work and the chain could fall off LOL.. don't laugh, it was possible since her bike was a 15 year old with many parts of the bike parts visibly rusted to the bone. I then decided to shift down a gear or two instead of pushing her saving the legs for the run later. The rhythm of the rain starts picking up and we have to slow ourselves down further as the track is very slippery by the time we completed the 1st loop. Nevertheless, there were riders still flying around the circuit while we are turtle-ing the remaining 3 loops. Without any incident, we were glad that we have completed the 4 loops of bike on the wet and slippery track heading for the last leg of the race with a remaining 5 km run.

Photo courtesy of Elaine
 Started the last leg of the race with a slight brick feelings to the quad, saying that as we were not pushing on the bike, it wasn't bad enough to affect the run. Running the same route for the second time, we were now familiar with the run route and start picking up the pace almost immediately. With our strong running base, again we picked up participants that overtook us on the bike for a strong finishing with an average 5:20 min pace again :)... I'm really happy with the running pace considering the running with tire legs after the run and bike we did earlier in the race. Both of us finishing the race slightly under 2 hours,but more importantly helping a friend gained a good experience before the the real thing... the Powerman Classic

Photo courtesy of  Elaine
Finishing my second duathlon race brought back good memories with a dear friend Kew who is fighting a bigger battle in the recent year. He inspired me into multi-sports and doing the exact same thing for me when I first venturing into this sports... sharing what he knows in this sports and making sure I'm doing fine on race day. Today, I feel proud doing the exact same, sharing what I know and making sure a friend is ready going into a new adventure of a lifetime. #FTT

The night race was very well organized to say the least, facilities was great, water station was strategically placed at every 2.5km run route offering water and isotonic drinks. Kudos and a big thanks to all the volunteers who stayed out under the rain shouting out their support and making sure things are fine for all of us. However, the race track was not light-up sufficiently, part of the race track was dark or at least the organizer could have inform participants to come with head lights or bike lamp for safety reason. Other than that, I had an enjoyable experience cycling around the beautiful race track. I would definitely give it another go next year.

#NoSwim #FTT

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Saucony Peregrine 5

In my short 3 years of running experience, it has always been with Nike, Adidas, Asics and Skechers which are the more popular brand in this part of the world and never had I experience running in a Saucony until this year. My first experience with the brand was the with Triumph ISOFit, a heavily cushioned shoes good for long runs and recovery runs. The other pair of course will be the Saucony Peregrine 5 (which I will use SP5 referring to the shoes for this blog post)

If you have followed my earlier quick take on the SP5, I have given it an early thumbs up and since then I have put in more mileage to reaffirm that first impression.

The shoes itself does not wight much and it is a mere 9.6oz for a men's US9.0. Mere? you may ask. Yes, SP5 is not the lightest in its league, but with the cushion that comes with the shoes, it is one of the lightest that you can get your feet on. Saying that, SP5 is far from being a bulky cushioned shoes. When I first put on the shoes, my feet was comfortable wrapped around by the upper and boy I knew immediately this is a well designed shoes but will it lived up to the reputation as a fast shoes suggested by its name of Peregrine Falcon? Jeng jeng jeng!!

The upper material used gave no surprise and continue with the trend with light weight highly breathable mesh and FlexFlim. Running though a slightly damp muddy terrain patches had my feet immediately feels that water has found its way into the shoes, no problem there as it also means the mesh is highly breathable keeping the moist away quick too. On the downside, fine sands will find its way easily into the shoes but a gaiter would solve the problem largely, no biggie. However, I found no such issue for larger debris and no hot spot with close to 3hrs on a single run. The toebox is generous which suits my wide feet; with RunDry collar and a gusseted tongue, it wraps the feet nicely with no noticeable feet sliding. The rubber toe cap, is well executed and looks durable keeping the unwanted pain away kicking on roots or rocks.

PowerGrid form and nylon rockplate forms the midsole of the shoes giving the right amount of cushion similar to its road racing siblings. While the midsole provides protection and cushioning, it does not take away the ground feel and dulled the run.  On a few occasion, I ran over edgy and sharp rocks on purpose just to test out the cushioning and protection. There may be a slight protruding feeling that you can sense on the feet, but it is not serious enough to bother me and I suspect the nylon's flexing genetic from the rockplate did the job well absorbing the impact.

SP5 comes with a 4mm drop with a stack height of 21.5mm heel and 17.5mm forefoot. The outsole is made out of XT-900 carbon rubber which was proven to be durable over Suacony range of shoes. With the chevron patterned lugs that has 4 - 5mm deep are off different direction providing traction both uphill and going downhill.

The grip comes alive when put on the trail terrain, on the ascend it really bites well. A reader recently asked if I will test it in Nuang especially on the slippery mud/clay surface and whether the grip will go away with the lugs collecting mud, unfortunately I did not find time to do it due to other commitments. Saying that, I have churned in some tests on a steep (maybe 15-20%) soft ground incline, and to answer the question I believed SP5 will suffer the same faith as any other competitor brands of shoes if the mud collected covers all the lugs/rubber. The condition I tested in did not allow me to collect enough mud/clay covering all the lugs; while the lugs collect mud and sands slightly but it doesn't affect the grip as SP5 drops the element off the sole quickly and grip was never a concern over the duration of test.  There was only one occasion where I feel a small slip toeing off on a uphill wet tarmac, other than that, the outsole is giving the grip as it should on a trail shoe.

On the descend, putting my trust on the shoes, I ran as fast as I could again just to test out the traction. It was pure fun, in fact I ran the descend hard on a different occasion on both wet and dry weather to confirm the feeling is not a one off. It did not disappoint me. The stiffness of the shoes wasn't too bad, it gives room to flex but at the same time stiff enough to hold the shoes right as it should be attacking a descend.

Women's Peregrine 4 in Red and Men's Peregrine 5 in blue
I think Saucony has come out with a shoes that can give other established brand a run of the money. Retailing at RM 429, it is considerably easier on the bank account compare to the likes of Salomon SLab range of shoes.

The shoes are kindly provided by RSH (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, sole distributor of Saucony in Malaysia for review purposes; all opinion are based on actual test without influence.

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