I HAVE MOVED

After a lot of thought and consideration -- I have decided to retire One Foot in Reality and leave it as an Archive. I will still monitor it to keep the trolls at bay, but will not be posting here any longer.

If you are looking for my new posts, please go to www.haroldlshaw.com .

Thank you for all they years of following One Foot In Reality.

Harold

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Pearl Izumi EM/N1 Trail v1 - 50 Mile Review

After a lot of thought I have decided to move some of best of my old posts from Aging Runnah and A Runnah’s Story blogs, primarily the old reviews, maybe a few of the better posts and race reports that I have written over the years. I have a feeling that at some point, my WordPress.com blogs are simply going to go away and I want to still be able to go back and read some of the stuff I wrote.

If you are reading this blog post, that is why it is has been re-posted here.

Originally posted on: January 21, 2014


Pearl Izumi N1 Trails - Right side view

I have 50.58 miles on my Pearl Izumi EM/N1 Trail running shoes, which means I get, well in this case I want to do my usual 50 mile review of them.

FTC Disclaimer: Back in 2014 - What am I to Pearl Izumi - nothing, absolutely nothing. I paid for these shoes with my money at the Rail Trail Run Shop, so I will say whatever to hell I want to about them - good or bad.

That being said, of all the running shoes that I have run in over the past 10 years, make that 20 years, hell maybe forever, if I had to pick and use/own just one pair of running shoe (no specialty shoes) to do roads, trails, speed work, winter running, or even race - The Pearl Izumi EM/N1 Trails are the running shoes that I would choose - period.

Bold praise for a pair of trail running shoes that I have only run 50 miles in and no trails in yet (too much ice up heah) -- You bet! And you know something I do not have any second thoughts about what I have said.

I have run in over 30 pair of running shoes over the past couple of years and a helluva lot more than that over the past 40 plus years I have run, so I have a pretty good idea of what I like and want from a pair of running shoes...so let's get down to it, why do I feel this way?

The Pearl Izumi EM/N2 Trails have performed and done things that NO other running shoes have done (trail, road, minimal, motion control or whatever style/model they were), during the first week I have had them. I started with a speed work session on the treadmill (yes in trail shoes), did a faster run outside, the mistake run - outside, a 15 miler - outside mostly on tar, a road race in snowy conditions and last but not least another quick run - mostly on tar (at least quick for me with a few Fartlek repeats thrown in).

Six runs that have made me really think differently about what a pair of running shoes should be able to do.

I am very reality-based and have been burned by running shoes that I have loved at the 50 mile review before. Those that I have gushed and hyped up o much in the past. The N1 Trails have performed at a different level than any other shoes I have run in previously. That is the difference I am basing my comments about the N1 Trails on, not just some willy-nilly, oh golly, gee, I got these shoes and they are great, type of review, just to say good things about them. This is how I actually feel about these running shoes.

The N1 Trails are the Swiss Army Knife of my running shoe inventory, which is especially important for my winter-time running, due to the constantly changing road conditions from day-to-day or hell in many cases hour-to-hour. They are running shoes that I would not hesitate to use in any running situation that I do and am confident I would run well in them.

I think that is the important thing, I feel confident in these shoes. That I will be able to run and run pain-free for as far as I want.

No, this does not mean that they are the absolute perfect shoe for every different type of running situation for me or anyone else. It does mean that they are working for me.

Technology

Each manufacturer has their own "technology" that is the "best" and they all market their running shoes based on that technology. Pearl Izumi uses Dynamic Fit technology and even though I am a running shoe geek and could go on and on about my opinions and views on this technology and how Pearl Izumi markets it - I won't.

I will let other's who are smarter and more technologically sound/advanced/based, discuss and ponder the pros and cons or even if it is actually something that is real or not when it comes to Pearl Izumi's 

Dynamic Fit technology.

It is enough that it works and works well for me.
Sole

The tread, bottoms or whatever you want to call them, have worked great for me in a variety of conditions: snow, railroad bed rocks, sand/salt/water slurry mixtures on the side of the roads, puddles, tar. The tread clears itself of build-up and caked on crap pretty quickly and the traction has been fine. I imagine based on my experience with other trail shoes, that in deep mud these shoes will struggle (no deep lugs), and they don't work worth a damn on glare ice (I haven't found too many that do well on this, even with screws or carbide tips in them).

I haven't had any issues with rocks getting stuck for long in the tread, which is something that just irks me and takes my focus away from running when I hear that click, click, click noise every step down the road and then have to empty the rocks out after I get done running.

Pearl Izumi N2 Trail - Bottom View

When I was running on the rocky railroad bed, which was a LOT tougher than many trails that I will run on, the rock plate more than protected my feet and I was able to run another 5.0 miles, without any issues after getting done with this part of my mistake run.
Railroad bed rocks - it was safer than running on the black ice/ice-covered tar

There is very little wear on the tread after 50 miles, so I would imagine that the sole will hold up for me past the running life expectancy of these shoes, to when they become lawn and garden/walking and eventually screw shoes next winter.

The sole unit is definitely firmer and less flexible than other shoes that I have run in over the past year or so, but it has not affected the smoothness or comfort of the N1 Trails when I am running in them. I transitioned over to the Dynamic Fit and the way the Pearl Izumi EM line feels, in my N2 Roads which are stiffer and firmer than the N1 Trails.

Upper

A welded seam upper that gives/stretches just enough to be extremely comfortable, even with my Tailor's Bunionette issues (yes the toe box is wide enough to not bother me). I haven't had any hotspots, blisters, foot pain while running in the N1 Trails, even after going through icy puddles, which soaked my feet, the water drained out quickly and within a few minutes, I didn't notice that they were wet.

In windy, cold conditions, my feet have felt cold initially, but after a mile or two they warm-up and I don't notice the cold. This might be an issue in the summer heat, but this time of year, I am not worried about breathability.

Pearl Izumi N1 Trail - Front view

Something that has really surprised me was that I didn't immediately change out my shoelaces to LockLaces and still haven't decided whether I will or not. The stock laces are working so well that I would hate to screw things up by changing them out, when I do not need to. Maybe down the road, I will change the laces, but not for now.

One thing that impressed me, was when I was post-holing in 6-8" of crusty snow, that I didn't rip the upper to shreds (which I have done before to other shoes, while running in crusty snow) - there was no discernible damage to the uppers.

Looking up the trail at all three challenges, ice, crusty snow and railroad bed rocks

One that I usually do not worry about as much as the functional part, but is still a consideration - is that I think they are a good-looking shoe.

Pearl Izumi EM/N1 Trail - Left view

Something that is a small thing, but that I like is the heel pull-tab, it just makes it easier to pull the shoes on. Yes, it is a small detail, but it is the accumulation of these small things that make the difference between a good shoe and one that I want to run in and get again.

The only thing that I would like to see on the upper is a gussetted tongue, sometimes I have found little grains of sand that have gotten to the shoe - probably through the tongue area.

Comfort

I can wear them running and then wear them around all day without any issues or problems. They remind me a lot of my Skechers GoRunRide 2's in that I want to wear them, instead of the "oh I have to run in these today" attitude that I have with a lot of shoes, although the fit and feel are very different.

Yes, I whined and moaned a lot about how firm and stiff the N2 Roads were and while the N1 Trails are still firm, they feel to me, to be more cushioned than the N2, even though they are still quite firm and not that flexible compared to other shoes.

Pearl Izumi N1 Trails - Very Comfortable

When I run in them, they just feel very smooth and are quiet, even on the roads, which is something I look for in my running shoes, I interpret that to mean that am running somewhat efficiently in them.

Conclusion

In each run the P/I N1 Trails exceeded my expectations, they have done everything I have asked of them and more.

Pearl Izumi N1 Trails after running

The N1 Trails are a faster running shoe than I am a runner, they can go places and on trails that I probably won't go running and can comfortably go further than I want to run, all the while without the foot issues that I have become so accustomed to and endured with other running shoes. You know those things like: blisters, hot spots, pain due to my Tailor's Bunionette being pressed against/squeezed and all those other assorted things that happen to our feet while they are in running shoes.

All I can say is that when I run in the N1 Trails, I am not thinking about how bad my feet are hurting or gonna hurt, I am focusing on running. Which is what I expect and want from my running shoes.

Put 'em on and forget about 'em and so far that is what I am doing with Pearl Izumi's N1 Trails.

Pearl Izumi N1 Trail

Good job Pearl Izumi - I just hope when you do your first update you don't make a lot of wholesale changes just for the sake of changes, these running shoes are pretty damn good just the way they are.

Okay where am I running in them today?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

35th Central Maine Striders January Thaw Race Recap - 1-19-14

After a lot of thought I have decided to move some of best of my old posts from Aging Runnah and A Runnah’s Story blogs, primarily the old reviews, maybe a few of the better posts and race reports that I have written over the years. I have a feeling that at some point, my WordPress.com blogs are simply going to go away and I want to still be able to go back and read some of the stuff I wrote.

If you are reading this blog post, that is why it is has been re-posted here.

Originally posted on: January 19, 2014



This is the 3rd year in row that I have run this race and each year it has a different challenge to contend with. Today's challenge was a 2-3 inches of fresh powder on the roads and sleet during the run.

January Thaw 2014 - Looking at the road prior to the race

The Belgrade town crew did a great job and sanded the roads we were going to be running on.

Now because of the road conditions, I decided to run in my PI N1 Trails and was very impressed with how great they did. They had good traction and to be honest I didn't even think about them after the race started. I just ran and that is what I expect/want from my shoes.

It was nice to see many familiar faces at the race and I think it was the first one of the year for most of us.



Everyone coming to the start - yes, it was still snowing/sleeting during the race.

Garmin Stats 1-19-14

At the start of the race, I went out at a sub 6:30 pace for the first half mile and it was deceptively uphill. For some reason or other, I could tell that I was going a bit too quick for me now, it had a lot to not being able to breath correctly. Then when we got out on Rt 27, the roads were snow-covered and had a lot of traffic, which slowed me down a bit.

This course is not an easy one and that long incline was a deceptive (damn deceptive hills). I know that I just seemed to keep slowing down, the incline isn't really that bad, it just kind of lulls you into going slower and slower. Finally, when I was almost to the top, I finally realized how much I had slowed down. Then I picked it back up, especially when I went down the hill. However, I just couldn't catch the runner in front of me, even though I did close the gap a bit.

During the last 1/2 mile, I did slow down, when I saw that I wasn't going to catch her and that I had enough distance ahead of the guy in back of me, I just cruised in to the finish. In other words, I just didn't push the end of the race, which disappointed me.

How did I do?

I finished 7 out of 26 (the weather affected the numbers), was 2nd in my age group and able to set a 10 second personal course record. Overall it was a nice race for me and a good start to the year, but I could have done better and will do better.

January Thaw 2014

Thank you Gene and all the volunteers at the race, you made it a great day and a fun race.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Sometimes We Forget - That We Get to Run


After a lot of thought I have decided to move some of best of my old posts from Aging Runnah and A Runnah’s Story blogs, primarily the old reviews, maybe a few of the better posts and race reports that I have written over the years. I have a feeling that at some point, my WordPress.com blogs are simply going to go away and I want to still be able to go back and read some of the stuff I wrote.

If you are reading this blog post, that is why it is has been re-posted here.

Originally posted on: January 14, 2014



Trail Runner magazine has done a daily motivational post to start 2014 and the other day had one that really resonated with me.

Enough that I made it my background on my computer.

I do not have to run - I get to run - Image from Trail Runner Magazine

Interesting words:

I do not have to run. I get to run

I have read and heard this saying many times before and came really close to using it as my blog's tagline today, when I updated my header, but at the last-minute decided to use A Road Less Traveled by Robert Frost.

What do these simple words mean to me?

I do not have to run.

Nobody forces me to go out the door, in hot, cold, rain, snow, winds and all the other weather conditions that I have run in or get on the treadmill to do mile after mile of mind-crushing tediousness - all to simply go for a run.

After all I do not have to run, actually it would be easier to not run.

Which to be quite honest I have done at several points of my life.

I do not rely on running to provide my income to support my family or lifestyle. It is not required for me to stay healthy or at a reasonable weight, running does not pay the bills, in fact it causes more than a few extra ones. When I stop and look at it, there are many more reasons not to run than I really want to think about.

So I do not have to have to run and sometimes often it would be a lot easier if I did not.

However...

I get to run.

It means that I can run.

Many cannot.

I think of Travis Mills and the many others who would love to be able to run but cannot and those who still attempt to run despite of their challenges. I do not have those challenges.


The picture says more than I ever will

I am healthy, currently uninjured and can run. I have been injured and unable to run and it sucks, to not be able to do something that you love to do and want to do.


Take the bad with the good :-)

It means that I can make a choice about whether I want to run or not.

I think that is one of the most important things about why I run - is that it is a choice - my choice.

Short stumpy guy, covered in mud

I can choose to make and take the time out of my life to go running. It might mean I have to sacrifice something else: sleep, quiet time, family time, time watching TV or all those other things that we do over the 24 hours a day we have, but I can make time for a run if I choose to.

The reality is that

Even on those days that it sucks to be outside in shitty weather or stuck doing those onerous double-digit runs on the treadmill, I am doing something that I choose to do.

Not something that I am being forced or have to do, something I/we choose to do.

The run may suck, while I am doing it and I do what us runners do very well (piss and moan about the weather or whine about having to run on the dreadmill), but I have to remember that I am running because I get to, not because I have to.

Sometimes we forget and take that for granted

I do not have to run. I get to run.

My Running Bucket List - Updated for 2014

After a lot of thought I have decided to move some of best of my old posts from Aging Runnah and A Runnah’s Story blogs, primarily the old reviews, maybe a few of the better posts and race reports that I have written over the years. I have a feeling that at some point, my WordPress.com blogs are simply going to go away and I want to still be able to go back and read some of the stuff I wrote.

If you are reading this blog post, that is why it is has been re-posted here.

Originally posted on: January 14, 2014



Every year I update my running bucket list, to reflect things that I really want to do over the next year and beyond.

This year I have reflected a lot about who I am as a runner and as a result have taken out a lot of the things that are not who I am or no longer important to me.
  • Run a 5K with Mary.
  • Qualify for the Boston Marathon
  • Run in a race with Katie and Nate
  • Run with my grandkids

Places to run

These are different courses from when I lived or worked in these places. I want to go back and relive a bit of my personal history.
  • Coast Guard Group Portland to Bug Light O/B
  • Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod 5 mile loop (if I can back on the base)
  • Airport Loop, St. Ignace, MI
  • Washington D.C. during Cherry Blossom time, not necessarily the Road Race
  • The "Bitch" Loop, Groton, CT
  • Munjoy Hill Loop, Portland, ME
  • Gunnison Beach Loop, Sandy Hook, NJ
  • Along the Charles River - Boston, MA
  • Acadia National Park Loop, Bar Harbor, ME. - I have gone to Acadia and been riding/driving along this loop since I was a little boy back in the early 60's. It is just one of those things I want to do.

Races to Run

  • Run to Home Base - Fenway Park, Boston, MA. - I have been a Red Sox fan since the days of the "Impossible Dream" season and being able to combine my passion - running, with going to Fenway, would be something very special.
  • Boston Marathon as a "legal"runner. A promise made a long time ago.
  • Beach to Beacon - Cape Elizabeth, ME. - I live in Maine and this is probably Maine's biggest running event, I only want to do it once.
  • Falmouth Road Race - Falmouth, MA. - Something that I always wished that I had done either of the two times I live on Cape Cod, but never did. Especially back in the late 70's, that would have been special and it will be when I do it.
  • Grandma's Marathon - Duluth, MN - It is a race that I have read about for so many years and it would mean that I would also be seeing my girls and the grandkids.
  • An Ultra Trail Race - No particular one, it is just one of those want to do it things.
  • CGAS Cape Cod 10K - Otis ANGB, MA. (if they still have it)

I didn't include too many items on this list that require me to either travel very far, simply because I don't travel very often, I am just too much of a homebody. Except to go to Minnesota every couple of years to see the girls and my Grandkids.

People

Sitting down and having beer and pizza with:
  • Bill Rogers
  • Frank Shorter
  • Rod Dixon
  • Joan Benoit Samuelson

I think the names speak for themselves.

The reality is

To me running is not just about races, but also about people, places and creating memories, when/if I do the things on this list, I will definitely have created some new memories.

You know something else, as get older, my bucket list, seems to keep shrinking. No, it is not so much that I have done all the things on my previous lists. It is more that the things that I used to think would be cool, fun or interesting to do as a runner, no longer hold a lot appeal to me or they just are not important.

I am finding out that the biggest thing that I want to do is simply just keep running, smiling and enjoying the journey that I am on, wherever it takes me.

How about you, do you have a bucket list? Do you find it changing?

Are there any things that as a runner, I really need to do at least once in my life, that I have not added to my list?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Pearl Izumi EM/N2 Road v1 after 50 miles - 1-4-14

After a lot of thought I have decided to move some of best of my old posts from Aging Runnah and A Runnah’s Story blogs, primarily the old reviews, maybe a few of the better posts and race reports that I have written over the years. I have a feeling that at some point, my WordPress.com blogs are simply going to go away and I want to still be able to go back and read some of the stuff I wrote.

If you are reading this blog post, that is why it is has been re-posted here.

Originally posted on: January 4, 2014


Pearl Izumi EM/N2 Road

This not going to be your typical, “I love this shoe from the moment I put it on review”, because I did not.

I found the Pearl Izumi EM/N2 Road’s were a shoe that took some getting used to, especially after I had run in softer/more cushioned feeling running shoes for most of the summer and fall.

No, I am not going to repeat the manufacturer’s claims, stats or marketing propaganda about their shoe. I am just going to give my experiences and opinion about a pair of running shoes that I received as a Christmas gift from my wife (these are not free media samples).

What I am going to focus is how the Pearl Izumi EM/N2 Road fit my tough to fit feet, whether I found them comfortable and if they worked for me during the first 50 miles I ran in them.

Yes, this is one of the Emotion Line of Pearl Izumi's most recent line of running shoes (which has been out for a while now) and has their "new" technology called Dynamic Offset. It is beyond my intent or ability to explain how it works or does not work. If you are looking for that kind of information, go to the Pearl Izumi website or do a Google/Bing search of Pearl Izumi EM/N2 Reviews. You will find out all about its dynamic offset technology, stack height, weight, drop and all that other technical stuff that we all seem to be so hung up on today.

Another difference is that I am going to put my conclusion first and then if you want to read more about how I got there, you can keep reading.

The reality is that

The PI/N2’s have impressed me, but only after getting over their initial lack of “Wow”. They were not the most comfortable shoes right out of the box that I have tried on.

When I try a pair of running shoes on and they feel too firm or are not “super flexible”, I put them down without a second thought since they do not give that immediate feeling of comfort that I have come to expect from the style of shoes I have run in lately. That is what I would have done if I had not done a lot of research about the Pearl Izumi EM/N2’s beforehand.

I am glad that I asked for N2's for Christmas, because it meant that I was not in a hurry to try them on and then make a decision about whether I liked them or not within a couple of minutes, with a salesperson breathing down my neck to make a choice so they can move on to the next customer.

It also meant that I got a chance to actually run in them, beyond a quarter-mile on a treadmill or a quick jog up the sidewalk (if the local running store even allows that).

Pearl Izumi EM/N2 Road - First Run on the treadmill 12-26-13

To be honest, I was quickly impressed with the N2's during my first run in them, which was a 10.0 mile treadmill run. When I can run double-digit miles on the treadmill (which is harder on my right foot than running outside) as my first run, it is definitely a good start for those running shoes.

My experience is that these shoes are meant to be run in and that I do run in them very well.

The bottom-line is that so far I am very happy with the Pearl Izumi EM/N2’s and how they are working for me. Happy enough that I am seriously considering getting a pair of N1 or N2 trail shoes, to replace my current trail running shoes.

The Rest of the Story


If you are interested in the rest of the story about the fit, comfort and how the Pearl Izumi EM/N2's worked for me - please keep reading.

Fit

I was worried about this – a lot. We didn't have any local retailers who carry Pearl Izumi locally (the new Rail Trail Run Shop does carry them) and I hate to buy running shoes completely blind, not knowing how they will fit or feel on my feet. I have had too many negative experiences doing it this way.

There were a LOT of conflicting reviews of how the N2’s fit and finally after all my reading and the Shoe Fittr recommendations, I decided to go with a size 9.0 US, instead of my usual 8.5.

I was glad that I did – I have a thumb’s width between the end of my big toe and the end of the shoe, which is perfect for how I want my shoe to fit.

The other thing that I was extremely worried about was the width in the toe box, which I had read was generally wide, but some reviewers claimed that it was too narrow for them. I had to make sure that the forefoot was wide enough that they did not bother my right foot Tailor’s Bunionette. The didn't seem to and a crucial test for any running shoe over the past couple of years is if they can do 7-8 miles on the treadmill, without any discomfort or pain. 

The N2's passed this test on the first run without any problem.

Pearl Izumi EM/N2 Road with LockLoaces

I did change the laces to LockLaces, which is something that I do for all of my shoes and this minor change felt fine. In addition, the ability to have two places to attach the laces to the tongue ensures that it does not move around during a run, which is a nuisance or a blister waiting to happen (which it has for me in other shoes).

Pearl Izumi EM/N2 Road - rear view

I have a very narrow heel and heel slippage is a problem in many running shoes with a wider forefoot. While I had a little heel slippage on my first couple of runs, it was a simple fix. All I had to do was slightly adjust the LockLaces, which is why I like them. They have a little give, but at the same time hold the foot in place and they are working well in the N2’s.

The heel cup is not squishy, but is not hard plastic and I had no issues with rubbing or blisters on the heel or ankle areas.

Pearl Izumi EM/N2 Roads Right side view

Finally, the uppers, are made of a stretchier material, which doesn’t have any stitched overlays to irritate my feet (especially the right forefoot/toe area) and provides a little extra give, if I have to wear my wool socks for running outside more comfortably in the subzero weather we have endured around here lately.

What all this blathering means that the fit of the EM/N2’s has been outstanding for my hard to fit feet!

Comfort

At first, I did not like the ride!

I was worried that I had made a mistake in asking for them for a present. The N2’s definitely felt too firm and the sock liner/insole felt like I was running on concrete. When you add in that they are not very flexible, I was disappointed with how uncomfortable they were during my first try them on and walk around the house test.

Unfortunately, the N2’s really do not give that out of the box, I WANT TO WEAR this shoe feeling.

If I had been at a running store and tried the N2’s on, I would have chosen something else. Simply because I usually like a more cushioned feel to my new running shoes than what the PI’s are right out of the box. I had done a lot of research on the N2' and because they were a gift, I did not have to make a decision about these shoes based on a 2-3 minute wear around a store, a quick jog on the treadmill or a run up the sidewalk.

The N2's lack of flexibility did not bother me like, I thought it would especially once I started to run in them their perceived lack of flexibility it was not a factor.

Thankfully, the PI/N2’s have a full tongue, which for me makes the shoes a little more comfortable. It seems that too many running shoes that I have used lately have moved to a minimal tongue, which I have come to HATE. I find this style uncomfortable and a pain in the ass, especially when I am trying to put the shoes on and they bunch up or crinkle (they are a hot spot or blister waiting to happen. In the future will refuse to buy any shoes that do not have a full tongue.

As I ran in the N2’s either my feet/body got used to them or they loosened up a bit, because when I ran 10 miles on the treadmill in them this week, I did not notice anything uncomfortable about them. If anything, they disappeared on my feet, which is what I want and expect from my running shoes. I need/want to be able to put them on and forget about them.

How are they working?


I have run in the PI N2's seven times with four of those runs on the treadmill and only two runs outside, the weather has been super cold and lots of ice/snow/white ice. I've done one session of speed work, two 10-mile runs, two medium length runs, then a shorter outside run on a wet/sloppy/slushy/icy crap and on New Year’s Day a 7+-mile run in the cold (around zero) on packed snow and ice.

During the faster paced runs and speed workouts, the N2’s didn’t feel like they were bottoming out like when I wear more cushioned shoes and gave me the “right” feeling of firmness when I was running faster.

The N2's surprised me in a good way when I was running on snow pack/icy roads on the 1st. They did a lot better than I thought they would and while I would not go run on the local snowmobile trails, out in a snowstorm, or use them on technical trails; they will work quite nicely on roads, dirt roads and non-technical trails. You know those things they were designed for.

The shoe’s design and use of the Pearl Izumi Dynamic Offset technology seems to work for me. Which is all I really care about.

To be honest, I do not really need to know why it works, just that it does. Sometimes I think we as runners get too enamored with a shoe’s technological advances and forget to focus on whether the shoe actually works for us when we first run in them. That is my usual problem and when the newest and greatest technology does not work as I expected, the shoes find a place in the back of my closet and collect a lot of dust, until I get rid of them.

I do not believe that is going to happen to the N2's

The Pearl Izumi EM/N2's have become my primary running shoe and I would not be afraid to use them to run any road run that I plan to do.

Pearl Izumi EM/N2 Road

Pearl Izumi EM/N2 Road after 50 miles

After a lot of thought I have decided to move some of best of my old posts from Aging Runnah and A Runnah’s Story blogs, primarily the old reviews, maybe a few of the better posts and race reports that I have written over the years. I have a feeling that at some point, my WordPress.com blogs are simply going to go away and I want to still be able to go back and read some of the stuff I wrote.

If you are reading this blog post, that is why it is has been re-posted here.

Originally posted on: January 4, 2014

Pearl Izumi EM/N2 Road
Pearl Izumi EM/N2 Road
This not going to be your typical, “I love this shoe from the moment I put it on review”, because I did not.
I found the Pearl Izumi EM/N2 Road’s were a shoe that took some getting used to, especially after I had run in softer/more cushioned feeling running shoes for most of the summer and fall.
No, I am not going to repeat the manufacturer’s claims, stats or marketing propaganda about their shoe. I am just going to give my experiences and opinion about a pair of running shoes that I received as a Christmas gift from my wife (these are not free media samples).
What I am going to focus is how the Pearl Izumi EM/N2 Road fit my tough to fit feet, whether I found them comfortable and if they worked for me during the first 50 miles I ran in them.  Yes, this is one of the Emotion Line of Pearl Izumi's  most recent line of running shoes (which has been out for a while now) and has their "new" technology called Dynamic Offset. It is beyond my intent or ability to explain how it works or does not work. If you are looking for that kind of information, go to the Pearl Izumi website or do a Google/Bing search of Pearl Izumi EM/N2 Reviews. You will find out all about its dynamic offset technology, stack height, weight, drop and all that other technical stuff that we all seem to be so hung up on today.
Another difference is that I am going to put my conclusion first and then if you want to read more about how I got there, you can keep reading.

The reality is that

The PI/N2’s have impressed me, but only after getting over their initial lack of “Wow”. They were not the most comfortable shoes right out of the box that I have tried on.
When I try a pair of running shoes on and they feel too firm or are not “super flexible”, I put them down without a second thought since they do not give that immediate feeling of comfort that I have come to expect from the style of shoes I have run in lately. That is what I would have done if I had not done a lot of research about the Pearl Izumi EM/N2’s beforehand.
I am glad that I asked for N2's for Christmas, because it meant that I was not in a hurry to try them on and then make a decision about whether I liked them or not within a couple of minutes, with a salesperson breathing down my neck to make a choice so they can move on to the next customer.
It also meant that I got a chance to actually run in them, beyond a quarter-mile on a treadmill or a quick jog up the sidewalk (if the local running store even allows that).
Pearl Izumi EM/N2 Road - First Run on the treadmill 12-26-13
Pearl Izumi EM/N2 Road - First Run on the treadmill 12-26-13
To be honest, I was quickly impressed with the N2's during my first run in them, which was a 10.0 mile treadmill run.  When I can run double-digit miles on the treadmill (which is harder on my right foot than running outside) as my first run, it is definitely a good start for those running shoes.
My experience is that these shoes are meant to be run in and that I do run in them very well.
The bottom-line is that so far I am very happy with the Pearl Izumi EM/N2’s and how they are working for me. Happy enough that I am seriously considering getting a pair of N1 or N2 trail shoes, to replace my current trail running shoes.

The Rest of the Story

If you are interested in the rest of the story about the fit, comfort and how the Pearl Izumi EM/N2's worked for me - please keep reading.

Fit

I was worried about this – a lot. We didn't have any local retailers who carry Pearl Izumi locally (the new Rail Trail Run Shop does carry them) and I hate to buy running shoes completely blind, not knowing how they will fit or feel on my feet. I have had too many negative experiences doing it this way.
There were a LOT of conflicting reviews of how the N2’s fit and finally after all my reading and the Shoe Fittr recommendations, I decided to go with a size 9.0 US, instead of my usual 8.5.
I was glad that I did – I have a thumb’s width between the end of my big toe and the end of the shoe, which is perfect for how I want my shoe to fit.
The other thing that I was extremely worried about was the width in the toe box, which I had read was generally wide, but some reviewers claimed that it was too narrow for them. I had to make sure that the forefoot was wide enough that they did not bother my right foot Tailor’s Bunionette. The didn't seem to and a crucial test for any running shoe over the past couple of years is if they can do 7-8 miles on the treadmill, without any discomfort or pain. The N2's passed this test on the first run without any problem.
Pearl Izumi EM/N2 Road with LockLoaces
Pearl Izumi EM/N2 Road with LockLoaces
I did change the laces to LockLaces, which is something that I do for all of my shoes and this minor change felt fine. In addition, the ability to have two places to attach the laces to the tongue ensures that it does not move around during a run, which is a nuisance or a blister waiting to happen (which it has for me in other shoes).
Pearl Izumi EM/N2 Road - rear view
Pearl Izumi EM/N2 Road - rear view
I have a very narrow heel and heel slippage is a problem in many running shoes with a wider forefoot. While I had a little heel slippage on my first couple of runs, it was a simple fix. All I had to do was slightly adjust the LockLaces, which is why I like them. They have a little give, but at the same time hold the foot in place and they are working well in the N2’s.
The heel cup is not squishy, but is not hard plastic and I had no issues with rubbing or blisters on the heel or ankle areas.
Pearl Izumi EM/N2 Roads Right side view
Pearl Izumi EM/N2 Roads Right side view
Finally, the uppers, are made of a stretchier material, which doesn’t have any stitched overlays to irritate my feet (especially the right forefoot/toe area) and provides a little extra give, if I have to wear my wool socks for running outside more comfortably in the subzero weather we have endured around here lately.
What all this blathering means that the fit of the EM/N2’s has been outstanding for my hard to fit feet!

Comfort

At first, I did not like the ride!
I was worried that I had made a mistake in asking for them for a present. The N2’s definitely felt too firm and the sock liner/insole felt like I was running on concrete. When you add in that they are not very flexible, I was disappointed with how uncomfortable they were during my first try them on and walk around the house test.
Unfortunately, the N2’s really do not give that out of the box, I WANT TO WEAR this shoe feeling.
If I had been at a running store and tried the N2’s on, I would have chosen something else. Simply because I usually like a more cushioned feel to my new running shoes than what the PI’s are right out of the box. I had done a lot of research on the N2' and because they were a gift, I did not have to make a decision about these shoes based on a 2-3 minute wear around a store, a quick jog on the treadmill or a run up the sidewalk.
The N2's lack of flexibility did not bother me like, I thought it would especially once I started to run in them their perceived lack of flexibility it was not a factor.
Thankfully, the PI/N2’s have a full tongue, which for me makes the shoes a little more comfortable. It seems that too many running shoes that I have used lately have moved to a minimal tongue, which I have come to HATE. I find this style uncomfortable and a pain in the ass, especially when I am trying to put the shoes on and they bunch up or crinkle (they are a hot spot or blister waiting to happen. In the future will refuse to buy any shoes that do not have a full tongue.
As I ran in the N2’s either my feet/body got used to them or they loosened up a bit, because when I ran 10 miles on the treadmill in them this week, I did not notice anything uncomfortable about them. If anything, they disappeared on my feet, which is what I want and expect from my running shoes. I need/want to be able to put them on and forget about them.

How are they working?

I have run in the PI N2's seven times with four of those runs on the treadmill and only two runs outside, the weather has been super cold and lots of ice/snow/white ice. I've done one session of speed work, two 10-mile runs, two medium length runs, then a shorter outside run on a wet/sloppy/slushy/icy crap and on New Year’s Day a 7+-mile run in the cold (around zero) on packed snow and ice.
During the faster paced runs and speed workouts, the N2’s didn’t feel like they were bottoming out like when I wear more cushioned shoes and gave me the “right” feeling of firmness when I was running faster.
The N2's surprised me in a good way when I was running on snow pack/icy roads on the 1st. They did a lot better than I thought they would and while I would not go run on the local snowmobile trails, out in a snowstorm, or use them on technical trails; they will work quite nicely on roads, dirt roads and non-technical trails. You know those things they were designed for.
The shoe’s design and use of the Pearl Izumi Dynamic Offset technology seems to work for me. Which is all I really care about.
To be honest, I do not really need to know why it works, just that it does. Sometimes I think we as runners get too enamored with a shoe’s technological advances and forget to focus on whether the shoe actually works for us when we first run in them. That is my usual problem and when the newest and greatest technology does not work as I expected, the shoes find a place in the back of my closet and collect a lot of dust, until I get rid of them.
I do not believe that is going to happen to the N2's
The Pearl Izumi EM/N2's have become my primary running shoe and I would not be afraid to use them to run any road run that I plan to do.

Pearl Izumi EM/N2 Road
Pearl Izumi EM/N2 Road