Monday, February 25, 2013

First thoughts: Pearl Izumi E Motion N1 Run

So I know this is a brand new shoe and there are some people out there excited to get reaction to it and possibly get their hands on a pair, so I will give my initial thoughts on this shoe even though I have only worn it once. I will begin by saying, that like many other things (nutrition, bike saddles, etc), running shoes are highly personalized so this is just my take on this piece of equipment.
The shape of the midsole in the entire E Motion line is what sets it apart from most other running shoes. It has a slightly curved sole... Think "Skechers Shape Ups", but only to about 1/1000 of that degree. This idea was first introduced to me in the Scott T2, and I found it to work quite well. When running, it basically forces the midfoot to contact the ground first and then throws the runner up on his/her toes. I find it to be an even greater help the more my legs are fatigued, say after a hard bike ride - triathlon!? When you first put on a shoe that employs this style of sole, the first reaction is almost always one of discomfort. The shoes feel horrible when standing still and very awkward to walk in. It isn't till you get up to speed that the technology can be appreciated.
With the PI's in particular, I find then to have a firm sole and they are fairly stiff. This is, of course, compared to the uber flexible, minimal shoes that are so popular right now.  I really noticed the stiffness when I first held them in my hand, but I didn't notice it near as much in use.  These shoes definitely threw me up on my forefoot and I really had to make a concious effort to land flat footed.  I naturally have a midfoot to forefoot strike when I'm fresh, so I had to relax my lower leg in the beginning, but found it much more natural as the miles ticked off and my body adjusted.  One note: this shoe likes to go fast... seriously.  It really begs to be strided out and when you slow it down with a quick chop step, it sends negative feedback straight up the legs by making the prounounced midfoot much more noticeable.
The listed weight of the shoe (in size 9) is 7.7 oz, although my size 12's are certainly heavier.  I would list this at the top end of the weight range of a shoe I would call race worthy.  The redeeming quality of its slightly bloated mass is that the shoe wears well and therefore doesn't feel heavy.  It is snug in the heel and midfoot, but with plenty of room in the toe box.  It rides pretty low to the ground and gave a decent amount of road feel for what I would look for in a long course shoe.  Even though it is the lightest (and therefore fastest) shoe in the EM lineup, it is definitely not a race flat.
I would love to see PI come out with a much more minimal version of this shoe and keep the EM styled sole, only thinner.  I'm not ready to declare this as my race shoe for San Juan, but it is definitely in the rotation and being considered.  That is saying something!  If it weighed about 2 oz less, I think I would have a winner.
My early verdict:  I really like this shoe.  I haven't quite figured out the best way (which distance and what conditions) to use it.  Stay tuned!

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