Monday, August 29, 2022

Asics Magic Speed 2 : Unboxing and Review

Thanks to Garmin Malaysia and Asics Malaysia, Pacers for the upcoming Garmin Run Asia Series received a pair of Asics Magic Speed 2 running shoe. What makes this a little special is that the shoe will only be launched (in US) on September 1, 2022. What makes it extra special is that by the grace of my current sponsor Brooks Malaysia, I am allowed to receive this without breaking any contract clauses. So, thank you Brooks and Asics (and of course Garmin Malaysia)!

Look Like Me. Likely Me.
Unboxing the Magic Speed 2
This is a tough one as I've never had an Asics. I've wanted to try but the price point has been high 15 years ago (those damn pretty Tri Noosa) and it remain to be high now (carbon plated shoes not withstanding). So when I was presented with a US11 Magic Speed 2 (MS2), I was excited as this was told to me by the other pacers that it is a "carbon plated" shoe. I've been very curious of these technology and seeing how everyone running are either on a pair of Nike carbon plated (and with air pods), Adidas carbon plated, even Brooks carbon plated (which I am still manifesting by the way)... this FOMO is real. 
As Real As It Gets
Initially asked for US12, but they do not have the size. I was afraid of tight toebox as my previous experience trying a pair of Asics (Tri Noosa) forces me to upsize by a full 2 size. Even my retired Adidas Supernova is a US12.5 (partly due to tight toe, and mostly due to a cheap bargain of RM150 for that pair). I know my sizing in Skechers. I know my sizing in Brooks. So, let me start by sharing that the US11 MS2 is "true to size" for my stuck-between-D-and-E-width-foot". This is the same reason why I opted for a US12 for my Hyperion Tempo as it run a bit tight on the front vs the Launch 8.
Not the lightest I have, surprisingly
To start with, the MS2 is light. But not as light as my Hyperion Tempo at 239grams (US12). That gram-grannies aside, it is still light for something that look this bulky. The stack height looked thicker than any shoes I had. Addtional foam (FFBlast+ or FlyteFoam Blast+) FFBlast is Asics foam that is light, agile and provide positive energy with every stride. So the FFBlast+ meant it is lighter, and well, more responsive. Compared to DNAFlash on the Tempo, they felt similar but due to the full length carbon plate, the MS2 felt significantly stiffer - I was not able to "bend" the shoe.

Wife got a pair too. A MS2 in US8.5 women sizing at 204grams!
My wife got a pair too. Her colorway is Safety Yellow and boy (or girl), it's super bright and it makes my Safety Yellow/Green colorway looked dull. Its officially her lightest ever shoe and it is Carbon plated (obviously). So for this unboxing, you get to feast your eyes on TWO different colored Magic Speed 2.
Almost full length outsole. Heel striker may find this pair eating up fast

The Yellow pair has a green outsole. So cool
The upper material of the Magic Speed 2 is made up of two different material. When I consulted my speedy friend Nor Amin, he mentioned that Magic Speed 2 is actually classified as a daily trainer. Wait - a carbon plated daily trainer? Like it will be affordable carbon plated daily speed/tempo trainer? Now I am sitting up straight as that would meant many would be able to afford it and start experiencing a sub RM800 CF shoe. Do give Amin's IG a follow, and his review of the Magic Speed 2 is more learnt as he has the racing iteration of Metaspeed Sky and Sky+
Very breathable. The yellow colorway showed the inside better
This shoe is designed with minimal padding. It is not padded except at the collar and near the achilles. If you are looking for something cushioned and padded, this is not for your liking. 
Dual material with varying density
The insole is stuck on, and you can't remove it. Do that this into consideration if you require specialised insole for your feet need.
Stuck On Insole
The tongue of the MS2 is also not padded. However it is gusseted and it will not move/run out of place when you wear it. Do check for fit or any potential hotspot if you run sockless, in case some part of the tongue bites into your feet. Also, due to the dual-type material construction, you may want to consider ensuring your toes or feet will not develop blisters if running sockless. I believe many readers here wear socks, so not so much of an issue. 
gusseted. Take note of the collar padding

See why the wife's yellow version so much more attractive
Based on how I felt, and devoid of any technical data even on Asics website (because this shoe only launches on September 1, 2022, remember?), I would say the drop is circa 8mm. It felt right at home for me. If you noticed, the shoe has significant up-turned shape. This shoe helps transition fast and take off from the mid-to-the-toe. It has all the promises to be snappy and peppy. Now add in the CF (ok, I need to calm it down on the fact i have a CF shoe now). 
Rocker Guide  promising to rock you forward

The laces is not stretchable, which is a good thing, as it limits how the shoe may move on the upper part. Stretchy laces is hard to predict when you tie it down, as it can provide some movement and comfort when you are running long - but detrimental if you are pushing the shoe hard in your run. 
The yellow mellow fast fello from the top

In case you do not know it's a Magic Speed

Magic Speed sign more obvious on the Green version

See, Magic Speed magically disappear in yellow

There isn't much more to write about the shoe from unboxing perspective. Enjoy these photos. Consider this a first hand look of this yet to be launched shoe in Malaysia. Captions will lend some explanation.
Pronounced rocker guide

Stable looking heel

FFBlast+ with green sole in sight

45 deg view from top. Dual material upper obvious but not as obvious as my Green

Why men do not have this colorway?
Testing The Shoe
I wore the shoe twice. Once for an easy run the next day at the Garmin Run Club clinic. First feel of the shoe at motion running at 6mins pace. It felt neutral, the feet turnover quicker despite the slower pace, so had to reduce my stride length to maintain the pace of the group. I could not "feel" the carbon plate working at this pace, but I felt the foam to be soft and responsive - reminds me of my Brooks Hyperion Tempo. 
I wore socks because it's a new shoe... I do not want to dirty it with my overly sweatly feet
The data from my Stryd showed everything to be normal. Nothing unusual happening. It felt, normal. I picked up the pace somewhere towards the end, turning from pace 6:00 to near pace 4:50. I then felt the shoe pushing me to go faster, almost like asking me - what takes you so long to know what you want to do? I brushed it aside - it might be the new-shoe feel talking.
Spot the Magic Speed amidst the sea of shoes
However, my wife has other idea. She went for a quick 400m around the KJ car park. Her verdict - not sure i fast or the shoe fast. It got me super curious but I can't just go and run a 5km TT unprepared...right?
Muse In Motion
The next day, in my usual routine of run streak, i laced up and took the Magic Speed for a spin around the neighborhood. I had just completed a workout of 25mins TT three days prior, and the result was as expected around my neighborhood with elevation gain of 40m over 5km. The only "hard" section is a 500m up slope that makes up this elevation gain. I know this route like the back of my hand. 

Wife went for an earlier run and came back telling me this shoe is sick
So when i took the Magic Speed 2 out, I intend to run it as I always does - Easy zone 1/2 pace 5:15 average no frill Zone 1/2 power. Within the first 500m up the road, i realised that I was pacing at 4:30 - no. I did not do this on purpose. KM1, average was 4:30. OK, that's 20s faster. Is this a sign I should just turn this into a TT?
Yes I did.
I was running at a pace I do not usually (able) to hold at this route. sub 4:00 pace. I tell myself maybe this is a fluke. But KM2 brought in 3:59. KM3 at 3:58. KM4 3:56. KM5 3:53. I rewrote my course best timing from 21:50 to 20:18. I average out 20s faster per km. At a lesser effort (2bpm HR) and at higher power (302W), and reestablished a new CP at 301W. This Magic Speed 2 saved almost 9.4% of power in this 5km.
And I wasn't pushing. I was thinking the whole of the last 4km - Is this pace real. Yes I had time to think and that was how lesser effort I was running. RPE8 vs RPE10. Just like that.
I wrote a 15 points summary on this in my Instagram . Give me a follow for more sharing.

Bear in mind that this Magic Speed 2 is not even the top range Carbon Plated shoe. But it is my first. And this is my first ever experience running with anything this high-tech. I've been hoping I will get the Brooks Hyperion Elite 2 or even the upcoming Elite 3. Unfortunately they do not have them in my US11 or US12 size. It would be super sweet to break my 5km PB of 18:50 on my sponsor brand. Until then, I may consider training up for another round of 5km and keeping the Magic Speed 2 for this purpose.
Until that happen, enjoy the Magic Speed 2 - Duo
This unit (and the other unit of my wife) is courtesy of Asic Malaysia and provided as part of being pacer for Garmin Run Asia Series taking place on September 11, 2022. I will be pacing a 3:00hours 21km and my wife will be pacing a 10km 70mins effort. I have had clearance from my sponsor to recieve this with no conflict as it is for the Garmin event. Thank you Asic, Garmin Malaysia and my fellow pacers. 

Asic Magic Speed 2 is scheduled to be launched in September 2022. Unknown date, unknown pricing. However US-based reviewers that got hold of the test shoes has indicated September 1, 2022 and priced at USD150. If indeed this is true, this may be the most sought after daily carbon-plated trainer suitable for tempo, interval and fast run - and for some (like me) likely a racing day shoe - that is until I taste a proper carbon plated racing shoe... manifest it for me!

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Kenanga Port Dickson 2022 Triathlon Race Report

Does anyone still read blogs? Or perhaps the appropriate question to ask is, does anyone still write blogs? In this time and space where information need to be quickly disseminated, blogs and writing (the long one) are slowly setting like the sunset. Good news is, I am still writing. Not too good news, I am writing less as I have started to embrace other channels of social media. Bad news is you still have to put up with my longish post, like this one.

Welcome to the first ever race report post Ironman 2019.

PD Triathlon is a race that started my Swim-Bike-Run journey back in 2005. It has been 17 years. Bar Covid lockdown, I've raced all 16 editions (this is my 16th). PD for me is very sentimental. It is where I learn the value of friendship in sports, self respect and respecting others, empathy for failure and celebration in success. I have lost two friends in this location. Both due to swim section. A reminder to myself that to always self-check and ask if this is what I want. 

PD Triathlon 2005. No joke. That was how I raced in those gears!

Thanks to Zoot Malaysia, I was given a spot to race. I would had signed up but being sponsored a spot as the brand ambassador is sweet. It also for the first time, allow me to race outside of my 10 years old orange alumni tritop. The same one you see in my blog header. Covid sort of destroyed the tri-top with the material disintegrating in my last ride. 

OK. Lets get back to the race report. Enough of throwbacks. Races aren't won on throwbacks. As a close friend once tells me - Keep Moving Forward.
2013 PD Tri
The Race Report - Finally
I took the motorbike down to collect race kit. I've stopped "staying" in PD for the race as to save cost, and as it is a short race that can be done in half the day time, and be home with family. Wife followed me down as to check for the race day shops - in case there are some sales happening (there ARE always sales happening, somewhere). Anyhow, it was more to catch up with friends post lockdown and of course, as the complimentary entry need some administrative work to be released. 

With that done, it was time to head home before the traffic starts building up. With more vehicles coming in on weekend for holiday, many folks will be caught off-guard by additional 600 vehicles with bicycles specifically to one spot - the Avillion Marina PD.
594 on Race Day. Thank you Sports Paragon!
Home in 90mins, it was time to prep the bike. Nothing much really, as I've been training on weekend that is equivalent to the distance I am racing. Thanks to Covid19 and Virtual Races, my fitness was maintained. Training a Bike-Run (BRICK) is Saturday mainstay, as an example. Well, except swimming, which up till the race day morning, I've only swam 6 times this year (2022). So yeah, with goggles anti-fog lining gone (read: it won't fog because I can't see except it's blur anyway), and it's too late to "try" new gears, I will race with whatever I have.
Lets go lah!
A sleep later, and with a date with Edwin at 4am in the morning, we will drive down in this Party Van to PD, with hope to reach by 6am. As always, he will set up his Van to provide bicycle support to anyone that need it. Great guy. This year, we have Tan, which I've not met before joining us, and along the way, pick up Omar in Seremban. 4 in the van, with 4 bicycles. All system go. We arrived by 5.45am, secured a good spot to provide bike support, and almost immediately friends and people showed up to ask for help. 

It was surreal putting on the race bib, helmet sticker, body sticker and the ankle timing chip. Transition was just over the roundabout, and we checked in with 20mins to race start by the beach.
Transition as usual, bustling with activities. Look of anticipation, friends laughing, some very focused, noticed a few going through their race stuff over and over again, likely playing the T1 and T2 scenario in their head. For many, this is their A-race. For me, this will be my only Triathlon race in 2022.
How my transition is setup
Here is a small tips and I hope it help. In the transition basket, separate your items by the sports you be doing. In this case, I lay out the swim stuff - buoy, goggles, earplug, swim cap. Then I lay out the bike stuff - Helmet on handle, racebelt with number on seat, socks (??? because i know the run will be on beach and no, it won't be nice to have blisters due to sand in shoes later) in my cycling shoe. Bonus - a pack of AminoVital with BCAA on the side, in case i need it. Very likely not. For the run, I am expecting sun, so my sunglasses is in my shoe. All i need is to just take it out, put on head, wear shoe and go run. Simple. If there is a bigger tip in transition, it is TO KEEP THE F CALM. Unless you are podium material  (which meant you be doing swim like shark, fly mounting on bike, run dismount, you get my drift), I would suggest you take it easy in transition. That extra 10s spent ensuring you get all you need (sunglasses, shoelaces properly tied, water, food) may determine how you be surviving the race. So take it easy!
Swim 1.5km

It was low tide when the swim was to start. With rain till the early morning, the sea was a bit rough. Noticeable waves crashing. Did shake my confidence a bit. But if it is tough for me, it will be tough for others as well. I told myself to just finish the swim and come out. That is the priority. Keep the bouy (yellow and red) to your left, circumvent around them, stay away from others and do not crowd one spot else you risk being kicked or punched. My sighting was crap - Not helping the waves that throw me around in the first 500m before we enter the marina. Once I was in the marina, the water was calmer than swimming pool. I started to pick my pace up a little more - reminding myself not to worry about the sighting and just go for the yellow, then red buoy and I be on my way out and to shore. Did exactly that and the exit of the Marina with the waves pushing and current helping, i posted a very decent swim of 27mins. Close to 5mins faster than my usual 1.5km - and experience tells me that the swim was under distanced. I clocked about 1.3km plus the run into the water and the noob me pressed the Lap for T1 when I stood up about 50m to shore. More discount in terms of distance.
bought this from SmartPix.

Thank you Sir Chan WK!

The photos out of water showed how happy I was. Swim is my absolute kryptonite and i sucks a lot with swim. It is also my most undertrained section - partly due to pool availability and distance to nearest pool. I took my time walking/jogging to the bike area. Showered a little and rinsed my mouth - the saltiness of the seawater was something i've not tasted since Langkawi. Once I was at my bike, i sent a message to my wife to tell her I am ok, safely out of water. I then sent her live location so she know exactly where I am in the race. The Zoot trisuit race pocket was used to store my phone. I did not take any fuels with me, except for a bottle of iced (overnight in freezer) water on the bike.
I then took my time to rinse my feet, wear the socks, wear my cycling shoe. Wear the helmet, clip the race belt and walk out to the bike start. I had the Power Guide ready for my route, and aiming to hammer the bike course at 90% FTP - or more depending if I feel good in the first 5km. I spent 7mins in T1. The old Stupe never learn that transition counts into overall timing... but hey, family always first and I need to make sure my wife is not worried about me at the swim!
Still hugging the buoy

Thank you SmartPix. I forgot to buy this photo. Will do so!
Bike 40km
Happy that I managed the swim safely and with the sun still hiding behind overcast cloud, I know this will be a fast bike section. I decided that I will go hard on the bike. 90% FTP is bare minimum and I won't bother to hook onto any peloton - and if there are any, I will try to keep to the front as I am not comfortable riding behind people I do not know for fear of their bike handling. This is one thing many people overlook. You only hook on the train of an experienced rider (which by the way, likely on the way to podium by the time you cycle half way) or you hook on the wheels of a friend you cycled with before. After exiting the Avillion slip road, I was on aero position and working the plan. Felt really good in the first 5km and decided that I will give my all on the next 30km (15km on the undulating trunk road one way). A few triathlete hooked on my back, which doesn't really bothered me. 
Thank you Sir Chan WK
If I am too slow for them, they can overtake. Reality is, not many wants to do the "work" at the front. And coming from training and racing mostly alone, I do not have the privilege to be drafted by others. At KM20 U-turn, a group of triathlete caught me as they were drafting behind me. They overtook me at the U-turn and I decided to follow their pace. They were blistering fast. I found myself hitting 100% FTP the next 15km. In the peloton was a few friends I know, and one of them was from my other Alumni, Masirin from VI. I stayed close to them and decided to take the lead a few times. They left me as we merged at the highway - partly I planned for it as I want to ensure my legs have sufficient time to recover in the last 3km - and that last 1km from roundabout to T2 is riddled with potholes - do not ever risk falling just to gain that 45s!
Hands on hood for safety. Thank you SmartPix

Last turn to T2. Thank you SmartPix
In total, I took 4 sips of water. Once every 10km. My bottle was half full. The weather was overcast, and I was not sweating as much as I expected. Its better to be under as I can top up on the run. Bike was done and I clocked a PB. I did a 69mins in 2020, and it was a solid resounding 67mins with easy 5km out and 3km back. My HR was back to my running Z1HR by the time I dismounted from the bike. Legs hot for the run.
Ave of 35km/h and at 100% intensity with NP @ FTP.I went hard.
Run 10km
As I entered T2, I saw my senior from VI, Hafiz which also came in the same time as me in the bike. I was actually behind him (as seen in other photos post race) and I did not realized it. Must had focused so much on the bike. Geared up and was out of transition in less than 2mins. The race has just started. 
Thank you Sir Chan WK!
I skipped the fuels again, and went empty. I took a sip of water from my Camelbak as I racked the bike and that was it. I have been training under all weather (hashtag allweatherrunner yo) and I can go without liquid or fuels for up to 3-hours. So, this race until now, has been on fumes. No glycogen intake (I then realised all I had in the morning was a bun and peanut butter from wife at 4am). 
Thank you Sir Chan WK
As I exited the green field, Arief shouted at me and took video. Thanks so much brother, it meant a lot. I soon saw many of them that overtook me on the bike. Using them as target and motivation I shifted gear and picked up the pace. Gonna break a few hearts today. Keeping the effort to Zone2power and my HR was edging into Zone3. The bike took out some recovery ability as I can see my HRV become low as the HR starts to climb pretty fast once I push into the 4:50 pace. It's only KM1 and if i keep to this, I be in Zone5 by KM5. Pulled back and allowed the run to be determined by power instead. With my Stryd broadcasting power, it was then an easy cruising run pace of 5:05 to 5:20. Slower on the sandy beach and uneven surface - and that was when those trail running muscle memory came back. Those of you that ran PD will remember the jagged stones portion. I cruised past it as running trails prepare you for those quick short sharp footwork and to throw your arms around for balance. My pace did not drop and I headed to the last 2km. I did not even know how long I ran as the watch face was just showing power reading.
Running strong

I will remain the try-athlete
I crossed the line. Finished my first race since PD2020. The feeling was overwhelmingly happy. It has been a while since I felt so... light. Got my medal, my PD towel, a bottle of water and an isotonic drink. It never tasted that good - I realized I've only stopped at one station to take a cup of water, gargled and spit out. The sun was just coming out - and it was a kind weather not punishing at all for me. The run was 9.4km and I brought it home in about 49minutes. Not too bad for a Zone2 effort.
You know what they say... don't forget to stop your Garmin!
Upon crossing the line, I was greeted by a friend I been helping with his run. Bro RedMachine showed up and cheer me at finish and presented me with a finishing video. How cool is that. I made an IG Reel of the race here: IG Reel. Credit to all friends and photog that has helped to document it.
One more paperweight for collection
The rest of the time after the race was spent catching up with friends that I know in real life, and online, that has now met for the first time, in person. I am very happy that some still read my blogs, follow my social media accounts and provide inspiration to show up everyday. I thank all of you from the bottom of my heart. This race is for all of you.

To wrap it all up. Everyone I know had a good race. Bonus for me was that it was a safe race for me with no incident. If there were any dissatisfaction - it was me not having enough photos! I spend quite a fortune buying the photos you see here from SmartPix. Thank you to my sponsors Sports Paragon, Brooks Running, Prime Sports, Zoot Sports, Garmin Malaysia, BigBigPlace, Stryd Malaysia for the support and trust to carry the name of the brand despite being a try-athlete.
My principal from Sports Paragon that manages Zoot, Brooks and Prime brand

Hopefully UFL-Camelbak see this and sponsor a new Podium bottle - this one has seen 5 Ironman races
Brooks Launch 8. Finally EOL post >1200km. But can still use for training, right?

AminoVital - can you sponsor me so I don't need to just carry it for photos (aka actually eat it)
Bike sponsor? I think you all bored seeing the same Boardman right? Somemore old font, nevermind it's mechanical shifting and running on free tires!
And lastly - to this three gentlemen that has spent the morning with me. Thank you Edwin, Omar and Tan. Truly enjoyed the brotherhood and TCSS.
Oh, did i mentioned I rewrote my PB for PD Tri by 11minutes? I scored a 2:42 in 2020 edition, and today, a solid official record of 2:31:17. That placed me on 26th on the age group and 76th overall. Not too shabby after trying for the past 17 years to get a respectable results while having whole load of fun!
This is a Garmin Fenix7x Sapphire Solar in Mineral Blue and Whitestone, by the way. Very limited edition in Malaysia. Thank you Garmin.