Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Shoe review N2 Pearl Izumi

     The best thing about being sponsored by a shoe store rather than a shoe company is the chance to try out a plethora of trail shoes. Team 7 Hills is being sponsored by Pearl Izumi, Scott and Hoka One One. Phil gave me a pair of Pearl Izumi N2 Trail shoes to try out.
     I have been looking forward to getting into a pair of Pearl Izumis for a while. I love the look and have heard great things about them. I took them and ran.
     The uppers are plush. Nice fit across the top of the foot and a lacing pattern which makes sense. The  bumpy lumpy laces actually seem to work and do not untie. The N2 has a low drop and a bit of a rockered front of the shoe leading to a roll off the forefoot. I find both very nice and they lend themselves to a quicker turnover than a flat format. The only rub I've heard about the N2 Trail is in the stability on slippery downhills. In my testing I found this to be somewhat true. The tread design works great on wet uphills but the knobs seem to be a one way gripper and give ground on sodden downslopes.
     My overall opinion of the Pearl Izumi N2 Trail is positive. I really enjoy running in this shoe and would recommend it to serious trail runners. It is light and responsive and would rock on a dry course.
     The downside of my experience with the N2 is the squeak. I have had two pairs of shoes in my life which have developed a squeak. My pair of Pearl Izumis developed a squeak in the left shoe after about 20 miles. I love this shoe when I am wearing headphones but without all I can think about is what is causing the squeak. I think it is a production flaw in the rubber. Even off my foot, bending the shoe, you can hear the difference in the sound. Odd. I had a pair of Hoka Stinson Trail Shoes I wore at Wasatch last year which also developed a squeak only on the right shoe. Even my pacers started to be driven somewhat mad by the ever present sound.
     I would compare the P.I. N2 to the Scott Kinabalu in nimbleness and support. Both great for races up to 50 miles.
     Thanks again to 7 Hills Running Shop, Phil and Pearl Izumi for the opportunity to test drive these shoes. Next up, the remodeled Scott Kinabalu 2.0.

Peaks and Valleys

     Balance. The fulcrum. The swing of the pendulum. All things seek balance. I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised the needle needed to be returned to center. The lottery luck caught me by surprise and also put me on notice. I thought the balance might be found in the difficulty of the races themselves. I was mistaken.
     The worm turned as the Christmas madness peaked. The holiday scamper was almost a wrap when one by one the family succumbed to a flu like virus. The rare whammy of everyone sick at the same time with an upper respiratory squeeze with cough and fever. I had people on vacation at work so I had to put in seriously long days in a cold warehouse. My training miles took a hit. We started recovering. I decided to run the Capitol Peak Mega Fat Ass 55k anyway. Dumb? Sure.
     The race was interesting as it was 34 degrees and foggy at the start and finish but almost 60 degrees on the peak which was snow and mud free. I didn't know what I had for legs so I went out easy and hung with friends and chatted to the first aid station. Then I lost everyone as they stopped for water but I had plenty in my handhelds. I chugged up the clearcuts and saw, then caught Zach Gingrich who I had been expecting would win the day. I started feeling really good running in the Sun. I am solar powered. The single track was in great shape and I hit the peak , ran around it and back up feeling great. The last 20k of the race is almost all downhill on bermshot mountain bike trails. I settled into a steady pace and munched on a chocolate croissant and my homemade "Dookie Wads".  I was just crossing a dirt road passing an early starter when a guy I had been running with at the start of the day came crashing down the trail out of nowhere! Yikes! I had about 4 or 5 miles to go so I put the pedal to the floor and started my finish sprint. I still felt great. Sprinting felt the same as running, I was nearing the finish when my handheld bottle managed to clip itself to my chest strap on my pack. I couldn't let it go as it was half full so I had to sprint with one arm swinging and the other across my chest while I laughed and laughed at how silly I looked. I crossed the line in 4:40. Jon Pearch the race director said, "That's a really good time. It might be the record." Later I learned it was the course record besting the previous time set in 2005 by Kyle Skaggs. (although the course has changed over the years). Still, not bad for an old guy with a sniffle.
       The Seahawks won the Superbowl and I ran Orcas Island 50k in 5:01 landing in 7th place, first master. I still felt not quite right. After a frigid Superbowl parade with Theo and a night of ski racing in sub zero temperature I was spent. I went to the Dr. to find out what was going on. A chest x ray revealed pneumonia. Walking pneumonia which I probably had since Christmas.
     Up, down, up, down. The peaks and valleys of being a parent, or a human in this life can sometimes be overwhelming. The antibiotics are working, my milage is still suffering. I have ski racing tonight, birthday parties coming up. I run trails because I like to control my ups and downs. Choose my Peaks and bomb the valleys. I'm hoping I can do what I can to stop the scales from bouncing but so goes life.