Sunday, June 23, 2013

Product Testing: Kathmandu Advection Gloves (The Verdict)

Whatcha think the verdict would be? :)

I should have expected - if I took some time to think about it, & if I wasn't so taken away with the discovery of these gloves - that the 'breathable' mesh would naturally mean that heat won't really get retained and your hands doesn't stay warm... pity!

So yea - that's my only gripe I suppose. It didn't fit the bill & I had it returned... back to the hunt of the perfect running gloves.

Having said that, I guess I'm after something along the lines of - lightweight, wind-proof, water-repellant, breathable but not too breathable, retains heat. Any recommendations anyone?

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Product Testing: Kathmandu Advection Gloves (First Impressions)

Oh boy oh boy oh boy...

My eyes grew bigger as I read the product description when I first stumbled across it last week - I mean, if you're like me, whose exposed hands are victims of cold winds when I run - to the extent they become a distraction because of the utter discomfort, you will understand. Not as critical as having blisters on the foot perhaps, but a very close 2nd.

In my collection of gloves to combat these winter winds are a pair of $2 cotton fingerless gloves, a slightly bigger $2.99 cotton fingerless gloves, and a kinda-ok-but-a-bit-loose-fitting RM30 Snow Travel Polartec gloves (meant more for snow).. in other words the wardrobe was just screaming for a proper winter running gloves.. I knew I def needed one, for example today's run up the Dandenong hills my poor hands were frozen - I had to run back to the car just to put on the Snow Travel Polartec gloves before continuing.. good thing I brought them.

FACT is - I'm not too sure these are the perfect running gloves but they have ticked every basic box so far:

- Wind-proof
- Water-repellant
- Good comfy fit
- Dexterity

And offers more!

- Touch function on finger tip
- Breathable palm mesh
- Silicone grip palm print
- Key compartment (this feature suggest they ARE meant for outdoor running!)

So yea - I was kinda excited when I tried it on - staring at the 50% discount sticker I knew the deal was sealed!! Not exactly cheap retailing at $79.98 (orginal RRP) - so I really have high expectations for these gloves - will have to choose a windy wet morning to put it through some decent testing.. must remind myself to whip out the mobile phone to update the test verdict with the gloves still on :)

Anyway here are some first impression pics:

The touch function finger tip WORKS! 
If you're into pockets - here's a nifty one for the key.. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Macedon Ranges 30k 2013 - The Wet & Wild.. (& freaking cold!)

Today - the Monday after this run - must be one of the worst Mondays ever.. sore legs, tired & having absolutely zero mood to do work because clearly the heart is still out there in the trails.. :)

I just have to remind myself I have had a fab trail run weekend & if anything the sore legs ARE the reminder! and this blog entry too of course.. a chance to relive it mentally. Having said that the event felt like it went by & ended all too soon - it must've been the weather I suppose, there was hardly any fanfare as runners came back, embraced their supporters, ate sausages & lingered for a bit before leaving, the rain & cold didn't seem to be easing one bit even as we approached high noon..

Which makes this entry all the more important I suppose - I had so many thoughts as I went through the trails  - but before I dive into that I should mention a highlight to Macedon was I finally met with Gary! I stumbled upon Gary's blog many months ago when I was researching the local trail events.. fact is not many trail runners keep blogs with sufficient details etc on local events & Gary happen to enjoy documenting them as he does - which is great for newbies to the scene like me. And with him having migrated from S'pore couple of years back it's also great to meet someone with a similar journey :)

Read about Gary's super runs on his blog! -

The Run

Weather - first thing to note is of course Accuweather lied - it was suppose to be cloudy with Sun 9am onwards but of course as I pulled into Macedon National Park it was just foggy & rainy. As the car climbed higher it was windy & misty & it was just pure misery. I was going 'oh boy' every 5 seconds, just relieved that I did bring the Kathmandu jacket & my NB shoes (quick drainage) as option to the Salomon. I would've been thoroughly drenched if I had only the UniQlo jacket (per pic above).

730am Macedon. Wasn't exactly inviting to be honest.. 
As I stepped out of the car I followed a lady (Beck) whom I thought was heading towards the starting line - she stopped after a while & asked me whether I knew the way to the starting line! :D In the mist it's hard to tell really.. anyway we turned back & followed a few other runners who seem to know where they were going. Me & Beck exchanged our laments on the weather.. (it would be the topic of the day with many other runners!).

Everyone was generally freezing as we lined up for registration & bib collection, the wind was gusty at times but with hardcore trail runners in the mix I had a suspicion everyone was secretly looking forward to the challenge despite shivering in their tights during race briefing :)

As the group approached the starting line, we were actually accompanied by a trumpet playing a memorial war tune - something like this ... No idea where it was coming from but I really loved it, with the misty surroundings & solemn quietness the tune really captured the atmosphere & I told Gary it's like we were marching onto a battlefield!

Here's a great shot by Dandyrunner of the 50k folks setting off.. (Guy in yellow: hey wait I'm still adjusting me straps!! (pic courtesy of dandyrunner)
So off we went.. my target was simple - 1:10 for 10k, 1:20 for next 10k, and 1:30 for the final 10k (having looked at the elevation map) - decided to stay light since aid stations were aplenty - but first time running Macedon & first time trying out new nutrition tabs & electrolytes I really had no idea what was installed for me physically. Was just gonna do my best & have fun regardless - always a good plan not to take races too seriously I suppose!

Elevation for the day.. 

First 5k was gentle trail descend & a steep climb up & down Camel's Hump at 5k point.. generally just checking myself on pace & made sure I didn't push too early. I remember seeing the front runners descending Camel's Hump as I was approaching it - always inspiring to see these guys in action.

50k podium finisher galloping down camel's hump.. (pic courtesy of fstop5)
(pic courtesy of fstop5)

7k - I remember this crazy tough mud hill climb - it must've exhausted many runners. My shoes had very little grip & I had to bash through mini bushes on the side in order to make some progress. A slip on this hill would send us sliding back down (dangerously too) so it was important to have good traction for every step.. and generally we had to take care on every muddy descend.

Out of the muddy hill of 7k..(pic courtesy of Aaron Pyne)

10k - I was on target with few mins buffer, 1:06 - the body had long warmed up & I was loving the rain. It was invigorating. The scenery was mystical & I remember thinking was my mood actually caused by reading Bear Grylls's autobio the night before? heh.. I was reading through chapters on Bear's SAS selection where he dug deep marching through the bogs of Brecon Beacons in lashing rain etc. Descriptions were all too similar (but significantly less extreme I'm sure).


13k- several undulating steeps as we approached 13k mark & entering pine trails - I was happy I was relatively sure-footed on the descends - the NB's traction was wearing thin but was still good enough to take on the pine trail conditions.. I went as fast as the shoes could bring me & was happy I caught up with a few runners by then.

huffin & puffin in the pine trails..! (pic courtesy of dandyrunner)

15k - I can't remember clearly but around 15k must've been the start of the ascend up Mount Towrong - the trail was beautiful (check out 1:20 onwards from this video taken by a fellow runner - )

Descending Mount Towrong was very technical & slippery rocks abound - I had to constantly remind myself not to be over-confident... if any accidents were to happen (touchwood) it'd be here. I tucked the waterbottle once again into my jacket (which reminds me I should've wore my Salomon belt instead) to free up my hands to have max balance & in case I were to slip... it was vital to keep my steps short & nimble.. managed to catch up with few more runners at this point (happy!) - finally at the end of the descend from Mt Towrong was the 19k aid station... I knew the final 10k was mainly uphill all the way so spent bit more time refilling bottle, glugged down water & wolfed downed cakes before setting off again..

Time check... 1:21 for 11-20k.. still on target!


20k onwards & towards Zig Zag track it was just mud slopes all the way. The new nutrition I was taking clearly helped (unless the cakes at the aid station had special stuff in them!) - because at some point I decided to stop walking up the mud-hill & just run slowly instead - & it turned out to be easier! strange sounding I know. But it felt great that I was able to call upon my reserves to tackle this mud-hill & my reserves responded... I spent some time with a fellow runner who said "pretty crazy huh?" I replied "thats why we signed up I guess, I'm loving it" :) the 2nd wind was here..

23k - so I capitalised on this 2nd wind & overtook few more runners (secretly very pleased now), I was finally on the trail back to the starting line.. chomped a few more cakes at the aid station with a fellow runner & as I set off I turned & said to him I've got cake stuck in my throat! Takes skill to eat on the run too! The legs were slowly feeling pinched now & I knew I had to take care not to push on too fast.. or the cramps would come. I glugged more electrolyte drink & reminded myself to ration it. I will need them for the final few km..

24k - Garmin beeped.. low batt. "Not again" I thought to myself - just like Rollercoaster it beeped on the 40k mark - it must've been working extra hard detecting satellites with such thick mist the entire run...I told Garmin to "hang in there buddy - I know you can make it" ... I then wondered whether its strange that I'm talking to my watch!

Final 5k - what a slog. I was pushing hard at this point. Kept two runners in front of me in sight & popped in whatever I have left nutrition wise & kept glancing at the watch.. how long is this gonna take? 40mins? 50mins? I knew I could stay under 4hours if I don't stop & stay with the runners. But with every few steps they seem to be going faster & faster. They finally went too fast for me at around the 28k mark..

I bumped into Brett at the final 1.2k junction (I think it was him) & he directed me accordingly. It was more uphill. I swung the arms & pumped the fists to keep going & it was here I felt the calves starting to cramp....... ooooo.. must take it easy. If the calves cramped it would've been game over all too soon.. but don't stop. keep pushing I told myself.

30k - as I slowly jogged out of the woods & into the car-park clearing & back into a short stretch of wood - the end was so near I could smell it (the sausages!) & finally towards the arch - the calves were now pulsating & ready to cramp any moment.. I kept them stretched as I ran towards the finishing & 3:49 mins later.. I was finally done. 1:22 for the final 10k... very happy I have executed to plan.

Drank water, drank coffee, couldn't feel my fingers as I tried to undo my jacket. I was miserable yet happy :D Congratulated the few other runners that came before & after me.. we were soaked to the bone, rain lashing on our faces & we were all smiles. It's the special moment all trail runners share.. and in those moments lives the reason why we do what we do :)

I had to stretch my calves repeatedly & I couldn't really linger too long... the body was starting to freeze now that I've stopped moving, but as I hobbled to the car to get changed I still had a big beam on the face. I knew this feeling was rarity..

It wasn't so much the run result I think - but the fact that I had a strong run feeling good throughout, thanks to both the nutrition & the abysmal weather which invigorated me - thinking about it now I simply enjoyed every moment of the run! :)

Short clip of the conditions towards the end.. 

Anyway - a great race by Trails+ highly recommended if you're looking for a good trail challenge. Definitely revisiting Macedon with the wife in the future too.. :) onwards to the next run!

yay wasn't heel striking! :D (pic courtesy of fstop5)
Thanks for reading folks!