I love shoes. Not in a Sarah Jessica Parker kind of way because I think there's a certain element of masochistic foot binding to high heels--plus I have no balance in them, and at 31, they still make me walk like a little girl trying on her mom's heels for the first time.
I'm more of a slut for casual wear--Keens, Merrills, and of course, running shoes. I have about 10 pairs of running shoes, and each pair has a sentimental chunk of my heart. (I'm going to end the shoe/lover metaphor here before you erroneously conclude that I actually am a slut.)
Anyway, you can see why I was giddy to open my pair of Pearl Izumi Float III shoes to test and review. Once opened, though, I tried to be a legit runner who could shrug off the Miami Vice blue, the blinding white mesh, and the clunky look that reminds me of a pair of sneakers I owned when I was 8.
Maybe, I thought, these shoes are so well-crafted for a runner's foot, that they transcend appearance.
Maybe the company exhausted their resources on the superior function of the shoes so that there was no money left over to come up with a good look.
Like finding the next Dalai Llama in a ghetto, maybe they are ugly precisely because they're the perfect running shoes.
I think more to the point, the designers at Pearl Izumi are not quite in touch with what women want their running shoes to look like. The men's shoes, for the most part, are good looking, but I think the women's shoes may have been designed by sweet Jane because her feet were cold:
I don't feel too bad giving the shoe such a bad review when it comes to looks because nearly all of you agreed with me. Appearances aside, I was willing to give the shoes a try because I don't stare a gift horse in the mouth. I'd look a gift llama (that was for you, Nitmos; hurry back) in the mouth, but not a gift horse.
I put on the shoes a couple weeks ago and immediately noticed that they're wide, even with my orthotics in there. I have kind of narrow feet, so they might work for most people, but the shoes are wide from the heel up to the toe box. If you have wider feet, this could be a selling point for you, so I thought I'd mention it. When I asked my contact at PI if I could send them back for a pair that was narrower or a different shoe altogether, I didn't get a response, so we're going to base my wear-test review on the 4-mile run I did yesterday.
The short version is they were okay. Fine. Not bad.
But would I trade my Saucony Pro Grid Triumph for them? Nope.
My feet adjusted to the PI pair pretty quickly and nothing felt kooky in the shoes while I was running, which does mean something, because I switch my shoe loyalties with some frequency. But I couldn't get past the width, and given that I'd probably only wear them on my treadmill because they of how they look--I'm slutty and shallow when it comes to shoes--they're not the shoes for me.
I do appreciate the folks at PI sending me shoes to review, and the Episcopalian in me is pained by not raving about a gift. I'm sure my mom would be horrified to see my training in grace and courtesy kicked to the curb.
When I used to teach, I learned that a critique should always contain "three goods for every should." Between the ho-hum style and function of the shoes*, I think that means I need six goods.
1. They are lightweight.
2. They didn't hurt.
3. They weren't puce. (No matter how you feel about the color, "puce" is a horrid word.)
4. They would cost less than my other running shoes.
5. They came with the laces already threaded.
6. They don't have high heels.
*Not sure how this fits into a shoe review, but an added gripe (if you want to elevate it to that status) of mine is an itty bitty statement on PI's web site for its "Running Preservation Society." I'll mail a copy of Chi Running to the first person who can guess what my gripe is. I'll give you a hint: if you know the angle of most of my writing about running, you should be able to easily figure out why the statement irks me.