Saturday, January 26, 2013

Pearl Izumi's Project Emotion Shoes

Stop the press!  
Call the mayor!  
And for goodness sake, order in some FOOD
and hook up the coffee maker.  
This is gonna' be a Looooooooong night!

Wait...  I don't even drink coffee!

Make that chocolate milk!

Long story short:
I'm officially worried about my future in running.  Pearl Izumi is replacing their entire line of road, trail, and triathlon shoes and it is not an exaggeration to say that I'm in a panic. 

Here's the more drawn out story.

It took me a good amount of time to find a pair of shoes that have worked well for me.  In 2010, I became a runner by completing my first half marathon.  My New Balance running shoes at the time caused three toenails to fall off; out they go!  From there I got my first pair of "real" running shoes, a pair of Asics GT-2150.  Well, those caused what I'm sure was the beginnings of Plantars, so out they went!  In came the Adidas Swift Cushion.  The following week I ran the NERelay and felt GREAT!  I had found a pair of shoes that worked for me.  Yay! I made it through my first 70.3 and 26.2 in those shoes!

Then the inevitable happened.  By the time I needed a new pair, Adidas had stopped making the Swift Cushion.  Ahhh!!!  So off to the running shoe store I went.  I came home with the New Balance M880.  Only two days in, I decided to cut that relationship short and took them back; they felt so stiff.  In what is undeniably one of the most book and/or movie like moments of my life, the attendant at the store brought out the Pearl Izumi Streak II shoes at the very last moment as a complete roll of the dice, slipped them on, and...

...the heavens sang!!

I had never felt a more comfortable shoe in my life!!  It has been love ever since.  And I loved them so much, I even bought the triathlon version, the ISO Transition

These shoes have been through a LOT!  And I've become a rather die hard fan of the entire Pearl Izumi line since.  I've used them to race Sprint triathlons, Olympic Tris, Rev3 Quassy Half, Beach 2 Battleship full iron-distance, two half marathons, a full marathon, and who knows how many training miles!  And I have plenty of races in the coming months that will see the likes of my Pearls!

But as everything must eventually come to an end...

Out with the OLD, in with the NEW!

Pearl Izumi has a new line of shoes coming out in February to replace their current lines.  As you can read HERE, the line is called E:Motion and will have four running road models, three trail models, and two triathlon models.  Here is the Pearl Izumi overview video.

While I doubt I would make use of the trail shoes, I am interested here mainly with the running and triathlon models.  Here's a quick list of what I loved about the Streak IIs and ISO Transitions so far.

  • Comfort from the first touch.  I've never felt a more comfortable shoe right out of the box.
  • Wide toe box.  I have wider feet that simply don't fit a majority of running shoes.
  • Breathable.  I've worn them in 90 degree blazing sun, down pours, and below freezing temperatures and have never had an issue.
  • Holes in the bottom.  I'm sure there's a fancy term, but the holes in the bottom of the shoe help drain out water soaked up from puddles, rain, aid stations, or even sweat.  They stay light!
  • Thin sole.  Both shoes have a front and back of 9mm and 19mm (website now says it's 18mm), respectively.  While I would like a slightly smaller heel-to-toe drop, I do enjoy the feel for the ground that the shoe offers.  Most other shoes keep you from feeling the small rocks because the front is some 20mm thick.
  • Flexible.  These shoes can be bent backwards right out of the box and have allowed my feet to feel free while running.  The previous shoes listed above were very stiff for "structure" that I do not like.

Looking through all the info I can gather online (which isn't much), here is the best comparison for my current running shoes

Streak IIs vs. EM Road N1
  • Weight: 7.6 oz & 7.7 oz
  • Drop: 9-10mm & 6mm (at ground contact)
ISO Transition vs. EM Tri N1
  • Weight: 7.6 oz & 8.1 oz
  • Drop: 9-10mm & 6mm (at ground contact)

I doubt half an ounce will make much of a difference in feel, however, what I have not been able to find is the heel and toe thickness.  Sure, they offer a low drop, but does that mean it's 15mm and 9mm or is it 30mm and 24mm?  There's a big difference.  If you look at the Streak II and EM Road N1 pictures, my guess would be that they've increased the padding on the new line.

I am also very curious about how this new dynamic offset in the midsole is going to work.  The idea is that Pearl has taken what they have called the "spring" that is usually in the toe box and moved it back 25mm.  I can't be sure what they're calling a spring, but they've moved it.  Now, when the midsole hits the ground, the shoe has a 4mm drop heel-to-toe, but when you transfer to toe off, you are increasing the drop to 7mm or greater.  There are a number of reviews and thoughts out there like THIS one that say they like the springy feel of the shoe.  But I'm skeptical. 

The same review as above also mentions how roomy the toe box is.  I am very happy to hear that!

As with every new line of shoes, there will be reviews throwing the shoe to both sides of the spectrum.  Here are my three main thoughts at this point in time...
  1. I am optimistic that Pearl Izumi will continue to be similar to their previous designs in order to maintain their fans.
  2. I am nervous that a completely redesigned line of shoes will remove all or some of the features of the previous line I've loved so much.
  3. I am sure that even if I don't love/like the new line, that I will find another shoe to stick with.  I simply hope it doesn't take long to find that new shoe if the need presents itself. I did find the Zoots shoes comfortable at the Disney Marathon Expo. 
Besides my own thoughts, here are the thoughts of some of the reviewers I've found already.

AKrush on the EM Road N2 - Overall, not a fan.
Cycling and Running for Women on the EM Road N2 - A fan
Jeffnboise from Beginner Triathlete on the EM Road N2 & N1 - Dislikes the N2, likes the N1
Beat City Reviews on the EM Road N2 - great feel, but stiff


1.  What shoes do you run in?  Do you have a specific go-to running shoe?
The Pearl Izumi Streak II is my go to!  I haven't run in a different pair other than the triathlon version - ISO Transitions - since October 2011. 

2.  If you knew your favorite running shoe was going to be discontinued, would you stock up?
I am hoping to find a pair of EM Road/Tri shoes to try out before I make my decision, but I doubt I'll have the opportunity before the availability of the Streak IIs becomes extremely low.

3.  Have you seen the new Pearl Izumi E:Motion line?

Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 


Running Ginger said...

I do my long runs in my Brooks Pure Cadence, and now I do my shorter runs in my Fivefingers. I love them both, but I am always looking around at other options. I need something with a lot of road feel. I haven't tried on your brand, so I will have to try them out next time I hit the running store.

Bron said...

I have recently changed from Asics to Mizuno and my feet have never felt better. If they were to stop making my shoe model (esp since I have bigfoot sized feet) I would buy up BIG TIME!

Anonymous said...

Funny how you right on you are about the Streak II and the New N1 , I currently wear the Streak Ii by pearl izumi and I am afraid that I may not find another shoe that feel as comfortable to wear. I own different brand name minimal shoes as well as barefoot brands but nothing feels as good as my pearls Streak II. I am hoping the N1's will be as comfortable as these racing flats or I will simply go to ebay or other online shops and buy the streaks again.