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.


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Pearl Izumi Running Shoes - My Story

Yes, I am going back running in the Pearl Izumi EM series as my primary running shoes.

No, I am not writing this to get PI's attention or attempting to get free gear or stuff from them. I writing this to wrap my head around why I stopped running in Pearl Izumi running shoes twice and why I have decided to go back to them now.

Sometimes you gotta eat a little humble pie when you write something like this and are totally honest with yourself.

Let's get real, when there are too many choices going on around us and others are talking about how great brands x, y and z are doing for them, we tend to make poor choices or give in to the subtle or not so subtle peer pressure or a great marketing campaign that the brands have designed to make you believe that you need to wear "their" shoes.

What else is new.

Where it Started

For Christmas 2013, I got a pair of Pearl Izumi N2's

Pearl Izumi N2 Road v1
and a few weeks later some N1 Trails, because of the lack of traction for winter running that the N2's have or more accurately didn't have.

Pearl Izumi N1 Trail v1
Then I traded a pair of Nike Free's with another runner for an extra pair of N2's (which are back in my regular rotation now and did 10 miles in on last Thursday).

Pearl Izumi N2 Road v1 - Gray
So by the end of January I had three pairs of Pearl Izumi EM running shoes. Quite a change since I had never run in any Pearl Izumi shoes before that.

I ran really well in my Pearl Izumi rotation for several months during early 2014, between the two or three pair I could do most any kind of running that I wanted...winter running outside in the snow, sleet, slush, snowmobile trails and the N2's did well on the treadmill or on days when the roads were clear. I ran well and injury-free while logging 30-50-mile weeks right through April in them.

That spring, for some reason I got it into my head that they just were not fast enough shoes and that I needed something different. The grass is greener thinking that I have done so much of when it comes to my running shoes.

So I came up with minor things that were negatives about the PI's and blew them all out of proportion in order to justify me going out and getting new and different running shoes.

Yeah the N1 Trails let in some road crap in the gap between the tongue and upper, which was a pain, but I still ran great in the shoe - it was just an excuse.

Yeah, the N2's were inflexible and firm as hell compared to some of the other new more cushioned choices I wanted to wear, but at the same time, I was running really well in them.

However, it was the siren's call of newer, more sexy shoes that was tearing me away from the running shoes that actually worked - for me. I just used those things as justification to get new shoes.

Siren's Call

So for the next few months I wandered around searching for the "right" shoes again - never really finding anything that actually worked and found myself injured while running in "one" of those other shoes.

Even after the injury, I tried several different brands/styles and all that other balderdash. You know the rest of the story...nothing was working so...in August I figured out that maybe, just maybe, I needed to go back to running in Pearl Izumi's again.

Since I had run better in them than anything else.

Back to Pearl Izumi

I ordered a pair of N1 Roads in August 2014 and started running in the size 8.5 N2 Roads again to get used to the firmness (the V1's were/are firm and inflexible compared to many shoes I have run in) and made them part of my regular rotation - again that August.

Pearl Izumi N2 Road v1 - Gray
It was then (for the first time), that I remembered how smooth and comfortable it was to run in the Pearl Izumi's.

Pearl Izumi N1 Road v1
Unfortunately, I had gotten rid of the other N2 Road's and the N1 Trail's before I decided to go back to PI, which looking back wasn't the smartest thing I have ever done (yeah - that is sarcasm).

During August to October, again I ran primarily in Pearl's without too many issues (I still was and am having issues with my hamstrings, but the Pearl's didn't exacerbate the problems).

Which is developing into sort of a pattern isn't it.

Tired of Something Working

Once I got to over 300 miles in the N2's and 200 miles in the N1 Roads, to be honest, I got tired of them. Even though I was running well and both still had plenty of life left in them, but sometimes I am such a dunce that I felt that I wanted something new.

They didn't feel fast to me, they only let me run well, such a problem hmmm.

Looking back it makes me wonder how far up my ass, I had my head.

Yeah - let's be blunt.

Plus I had been selected as a wear-tester for a different brand and even went down to Boston to check them out and talk to them. Which meant that I was all hot and bothered about running in their shoes. On that trip, I stopped and talked with another runner and looked at the N2 v2 and drooled a little, but he had a pair of bright orange shoes that were so totally me (unfortunately, I ran like crap in them).

As far as being a wear-tester, my feet are the wrong size, so I still haven't worn a pair of their shoes to test, so that was a waste of time. I know that this was where I started to go off on a tangent in what I was using for my regular running rotation and started to move away from Pearl Izumi.

Yeah, in November 2014, I also picked up a pair of trail shoes, traded for a couple of pairs of road shoes and bought another pair of road shoes, so I had a bunch of new running shoes that got in the way of wanting to run in my old Pearl Izumi's.

You know those shoes that had worked so well for me.

I put the PI's away.

Then like the running shoe whore that I am, late in November 2014, I saw a pair of Pearl Izumi N2 Tri's on sale at a price point I couldn't resist.

Pearl Izumi N2 Tri v1
So I ordered the N2 Tri model, which fit completely differently than either the N1 or N2's did. Although I could run in them, plus it was winter and they had a rather breathable upper which made them cold as hell and there was just something about the shoes that I really didn't like - at all.

It is something that I will never figure out, but as a result of running in those N2 Tri's, I was completely turned-off to the Pearl Izumi brand, even though 4 out of the 5 Pearl Izumi shoes I had run in had done quite well by me.

Could have - Should have

Which is too bad, because while Granite City Running was open in Hallowell, they carried a complete line of Pearl Izumi v2 running shoes. However, with that bad experience with the N2 Tri's I wasn't going to go back to ever running in Pearl Izumi again.

The wonders looking back with 20/20 hindsight.

So I didn't even look closely at the PI in the store - which was a big mistake. I had the answer to many of my running woes right in front of me and due to being such a dunce...well I didn't choose well at that time.


The story of 2015 is that I have searched for running shoes that work for me and even though I have run in a lot of shoes, nothing seemed to actually work as well as I needed/wanted. All the shoes I ran in had a fatal flaw that made them a no-go for me.

You can read about my 2015 running shoe saga here.

Fast Forward to October

After searching, looking and not finding running shoes that actually work for me in 2015, a couple of weeks ago, I started to re-read my running log, well this blog and noticed a pattern. I had periods of running well and injury-free that coincided with my running in Pearl Izumi EM lines of running shoes.

That is one of the reasons I like to have my blog, so I can go back and see different patterns (both good and bad) and use it to help me make choices later based on what actually happened, not just what I remembered.

Which piqued my interest again in Pearl Izumi, after all I had run well in them and the more I re-read about how smooth they felt, I remembered how much I liked them and thought about the real why I had stopped running in PI running shoes.

I sighed a little because the real reason was that I had grown bored with them (they simply worked), had too many other new shoes that were more talked about and needed to get miles on them.

You know, the Pearl's were not the newest or sexiest models and finally my experience with the N2 Tri model.

It hurts to admit some of that, but it is the truth.

Running in Pearl Izumi - Again

Honestly, I thought that I had gotten rid of all of my old Pearl Izumi running shoes during my great shoe purges this summer and wasn't into going out and buying another pair of new shoes this month, especially since I had just gotten a new pair a couple of weeks before. It wouldn't be a good thing for the budget or the wife's nerves. I would have gotten on them too much.

Then I remembered that I had squirreled my N2 Road's behind the seat of the truck, as a pair of just in case shoes.

I went out and got them, cleaned them up a little and took them out for a run. No issues, no problems, the N2's felt smooth, ran quiet and were comfortable, even after spending almost 9 months in a gym bag in the back seat of my truck.

I ran in them for the rest of the week, loving the fit, feel and the way that I was able to just run in them.

The only thing I could think about while running in them this past week was why in the hell did it take me so long to get back to running in them.

Then on Wednesday I did a run in my Adidas Boost shoes which sucked so bad in comparison to the PI's that I returned them that afternoon. There simply was no comparison.

The Pearl's are a far superior running shoe for the way that I run.

The day after I got rid of the Adidas, I ran a good, pain-free 10 miler in the N2's and decided that instead of always looking for the next great running shoe from X brand(s), maybe I need to go back and stay with what is actually working for me.

Pearl Izumi.

What comes next?

Now I just have to figure out my next move.

What in the hell are you talking about?

The Pearl Izumi EM line works great for the way you run Harold, don't go screwing around with a good thing and head off on another one of your running shoe tangents.

I am not planning to, but I need to think about which PI models best suit how and where I run.

I saw a great price on a pair of H3's at Sierra Trading Post and got them in Friday, based on two runs in them, I have a feeling they are going to be GREAT.

However, winter is coming up heah in Maine and will probably be heah before we want it - that is how it usually works. Which means that the N2's and H3's will be sort of kind of useless in snow, sleet and other crappiness that is going to be here. The tread design is great for roads, not so much that kind of running.

Which means that I am going to have to figure out which one of the Pearl Izumi trail models that I will be using as my winter running shoes...N1, N2, or M2's.

Also in talking to some other runners and doing a lot of thinking about where I will be doing most of my running, (some roads, but mainly dirt roads, trails, snow, muddy dirt roads, etc.), a pair of Pearl Izumi trail shoes might also be my best choice as my next road shoes, as well as my primary winter running shoes, since they run quite well on roads in my and others experience.

Just gotta figure out which model best serves that purpose going forward.

Oh, I will wear out the N2 and H3 Road's I am sure, but I have a feeling that the Trail shoes will become my primary all-purpose trainers when they are gone.

Then when my Hyperspeed's get a bit more worn, do I go with N1 Roads or the N0 as my race day shoes. I vacillate back and forth between a race day shoe with a little more cushion or a true racing flat. I am not sure on the direction I need to go with this one. I liked the N1 Road's, but didn't find them that fast of a shoe (but then again, I am starting to figure out that I am not that fast of a runner either), so would it be overkill to have the N0's and would they be cushioned enough for me?

More likely - either shoe is faster than I will ever be and either would be a good choice. It will just come down to which feels better at the faster paces for me.

Decisions, decisions.

The reality is that

I love the way I run in Pearl Izumi's EM line of running shoes and keep coming back to them when everything else is not working for me. So I have to question my running sanity when I keep going to a different brand, hoping that they will work better.

Are the Pearl Izumi EM line of shoes perfect, no, but I haven't found anything I run better in lately either.

All I know is that I run quietly, comfortably, the uppers do not bother my Tailor's Bunionette and best of all, I have confidence in them. I know that I can run any distance that I want to run in my PI's.

Which is important and something that I really need to think about before I go wandering off to answer the siren's call of the next great shoes, not named Pearl Izumi EM/__.

Sometimes you gotta swallow your pride, look at what works versus what is the newest, sexiest, most heavily hyped running shoe out there and use what actually works for you.

For me, it seems as though my Pearl Izumi's are checking off all the little boxes and a two shoe rotation of:

  • EM/__ Trails
  • EM N0 or N1 Road for faster running 

might be all the shoes I really need for the kind of running that I actually do.

Although I gotta admit that the H3's I got the other day are pretty damn sweet so far. At the price, I got them and how they are feeling on the two runs so far, I might have to ask Mary to get me a pair for Christmas, while they are still on sale at that price.

Now to just not get sucked back into the black hole of needing the newest, greatest or sexiest running shoes that I know will be coming out over the next few months and stay with what actually works for the way that I run.

No, the grass is not always green on the other side of the fence.

Sometimes it is pretty damn sweet right where you are - you just have to stop and see what you have before you jump over that fence.

Have you ever gone back through your running logs and found a pattern that existed that you did not realize and it made you look closely at what you were using for running shoes as a result?

 Originally published on One Foot in Reality, © 2011-2015 – All Rights Reserved. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to One Foot In Reality with appropriate and specific directions or links to the original content.

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