Mouth Watering Rubber
The Precision 6
Link to some eye opening articles on endurance sports:
The October issue of Runner's World sees a return to relevancy. Having been a reader since the '80s, though I rarely buy them since the late nineties to present day, I saw their articles gradually lose direction. They used to be very focused on training - case in point Owen Andersen's articles - and ground breaking research news as well as providing accurate shoe reviews. I particularly relished their in depth reporting of the major athletics events including the World Champs, Boston and New York marathons and of course the Olympics. Many of the race reports were unbelievably thrilling read. Indeed my own race reports were mainly inspired by the editors' writings.
Over the years, perhaps due to changing of the times, the mag has given in to the pressure of advertisements. George Sheehan had passed on, Owen Andersen left for their competitor Running Times and I miss the hilarious Finish Line writings by contributors. There are loads and loads of ads now, many of which are not even related to the sport. I felt that many articles were also recycled material. Granted, the former is a necessity given the need to cater to new readers but for a long time reader like me, my interest dwindled.
So it was with surprise and delight that the current October issue sees a return to form. Nearly all of the articles are what I need at this juncture of my training - high mileage survival, dealing with back pain, a digression by Amby Burfoot on the oft spoken issue on hyponatremia and eating plans. The bonus feature is on Deena Kastor. Aron Ralston who famously severed his right arm with a knife (caught under a boulder while on a mountaineering trip) is featured in the "I'm a Runner" section.
2 more days to the weekend.
It's not often you get to know 2 new running friends in a day. 2 laps into my evening run, I found myself running at about the same pace as a Kwai Low. I broke the ice by asking about his shoe - a splendid looking Gel Cumulus 7. It looks even better than in the magazines. Art is a marathoner from Houston and has been here for a week plus. We chatted for awhile before I decided to drop off the pace as we were going sub-7 each lap which was way too fast for me given my program. There weren't many regulars at the park today with only Ronnie, Justin (who made an rare appearance) and Li Sar who was walking in preps of this Sunday's Malay Mail Big Walk. I guess the rest were still sore from the recent Sunday's race. There were however plenty of "sights" if you catch my drift.
The Gel Cumulus 7 which Art bought for USD75
Can't Afford Them Nikes
The 2005 Pegasus was my shoe of choice but at RM340, I found myself priced out. My secondary choice was the 2004 model which was a very well received version, soft and cushy albeit a little tadpole like in the looks department but the RM202 offer was no longer available.
How Now Brown Cow?
My choices then were narrowed down to a handful of NB models but I was apprehensive of their durability in the heel strike area. The new models seem to be poor in that area despite the Ndurance carbon rubber material used. Mizunos on the other hand are workhorses in nature. You can literally run them to the ground but they're just overpriced.
An Obscure Brand?
While not a household name for running shoes - their expertise being in tennis - Fila has been producing excellent racers and performance trainers for some years. At the elite end, many top Kenyans are in their stable while locally this brand is well received by the triathletes. Azwar himself loves the K4 Racer.
I found myself in a Fila shop for the 4th time recently in Penang and was glad that their sale was still on. I had trouble finding my size for the Flow K4 performance trainer in KL. The Isetan salesgirl told me several weeks back that this model is currently being phased out (probably for the arrival of the K6) and the popular size 9 and my usual 9.5 are no longer available. But they're available plenty here in Penang. Although the running websites tend to feature the grey/black version, I chose the red/white one as they don't look as dull. 1st try of 9.5 is too small, which show that the Fila fit and last was snugger. Size 10 was perfect.
The extensive use of mesh is just great and the removable sockliners are also vented. The shoe is slip lasted with 2 large vents in the middle of the last to allow the warm air to escape. Also a moisture draining feature I think especially useful for triathletes who may choose this model as their footwear of choice.
One Cool Shoe
The Flow technology apparently focuses on keeping the feet dry and cool by channeling air into the midsole through strategically positioned vents and air channels in the midsole. Upon closer scrutiny, I saw where these vents are. Beside the ones in the last, there are 4 small holes on the lower medial and lateral sides of the shoe. You can see them clearly in the middle photo of the 2nd column. The toeboxes are vented further with 4 holes placed vertically.
Large reflective strips are placed at the front as well as the heel counter area. Nice.
For a 10.5oz shoe, this model certainly pack plenty of support features. The decoupled heel works together with the small medial post to slow down the rate of pronation. This is useful support feature in the later stages of a long run/race. Meanwhile a transparent midfoot shank provides rigidity much like asics' Trusstic System and NB's Stability Web.
As mentioned earlier, the 9 was just too snug for me but the 10 was perfect. They're snug around the midfoot and you can even feel the arch support (some may not like this) but offers plenty of breathing space on the forefoot with a nice toebox, essential to accomodate the swelling of the feet in the course of a distance race.
The feel of the shoe was really really smooth - smoother than the Pegs and Maverick. The fluid heel to toe transition just has to be experienced. The ride is responsive and I felt that the 3Action rear cushioning is even better than the Precision. The 3Action material is supposed to provide a blend of stability, cushioning and responsiveness. The forefoot outsole is made of dimpled blown rubber with plenty of flex grooves for flexibility while the heel wear areas are made of EverGrind, a proprietary rubber and metal flake compound that's supposedly 10% lighter, cushier, flexible yet more durable. I hope it's as lasting as Mizuno's X10 material.
The medial posting was hardly noticeable, being very small but I think towards the later part of the race, the support will be felt more substantially. The smooth and responsive ride was there too. Whether or not this shoe will be in my Singapore Marathon packing list remains to be seen. I'll need to test them out over a series of longer and slower runs. I find that I perform as well in responsive shoes these days so I'm optimistic that this pair, bought at RM203 after a 40% discount, will be suitable for me.
I'll be wearing the K4 for the Putrajaya Half next week, so I'll be acquainted more with it pretty soon!
I've no previous experience of the EverGrind (metal flakes added to the extended wear carbon rubber ensuring that the heel strike area will last 80% longer than traditional outsoles) material but Fila was confident enough to issue a 7 month guarantee on it's Fila Open tennis shoe which uses this outsole.
If the Flow K4 sets your pulse racing, check out the Flow 6 aka "Fuyo!". I shall be posting some shots of my Flow K4 soon. I'm very excited with the shoe - certainly an excellent half marathon pair, but whether it suits me over 26 miles (and change) remains to be seen.