The running shoe. The most important piece of equipment that a runner will ever own. Every runner has a brand that they LOVE or HATE (if you know me, you know that one). A shoe that got them through that first marathon. A shoe they swear caused their injury (doubtful). A shoe when you have a tough workout and want to feel fast. A shoe they like fine enough. A decent utility infielder, if you will.  What most of us runners search for (and rarely find) is the unicorn of running shoes or shoe brands. 

It fits your foot shape. The cushioning (or lack there of) is just right. The heel doesn't slip. The toebox doesn't pinch. You don't get blisters or lose toenails. It is durable. The color works for you. You can forget about it after the first step of the run because it is just that good. Whatever it is about a shoe that you must have and have not had in your shoe experience to date. If you have found it, and then it (inevitably) is updated in a way that you don't like (or worse, discontinued), you begin the 5 stages of grief. Welcome to my life.

Competitor Magazine posted on article on Twitter this past Thursday, stating that Pearl Izumi is exiting the running category by January 2017. Cue my heartbreak. After loving a shoe for one model year or two in other brands, an update would come out that was just not right. And then the search would begin again. Working in speciality running, you would think I'd find something fairly quickly. Not so much. I decided to step outside the offerings in my store and try Pearl Izumi. I had a few pieces of their apparel and thought I had nothing to lose by trying their shoes. 

I liked the lower drop, the options in stability, the colors, and the variety in weight and cushioning. My first pair were the EM Trail M2 and it was love at first step. It was wide enough in the forefoot but still snug in the heel and fit the shape of my foot first right. I loved the grip of the outsole and the rock plate. I have had some amazing trail runs in those shoes.

 My happy place. 

My happy place. 

When it came time to replace my most recent pair of disappointing road shoes, I knew where to go. Say hello to the EM Road M3. Those purple beauties carried me through Big Sur and have a few miles left in them. 

 Big Sur 2016

Big Sur 2016

The last addition was the EM road N1. I wanted something light, flexible, and fast. With a little cushion. BAM nailed it. I've crushed some track workouts in these and they have a lot of life left.

 My speedsters.

My speedsters.

Clearly, this brand has a shoe for every part of my running life. So where do I go from here? Aside from saving up some cash and placing a BIG order between now and January? I'm not sure. I'm on yet another running break right now, but should be back on the trails in a few weeks. I've been eyeing the Trail N3 for a couple of months and that will likely be mine soon. 

I don't know what is out there that might be similar. There are several brands I have yet to try (North Face, Salomon, Merrell). While most people would not consider those main stream running shoe companies, I want to make sure the brand has solid trail running cred rather than a brand who makes one or two trail shoes as an afterthought to the road market. If you've ran in Pearls and can recommend something, please do. If you haven't, but have experience in other trail brands, please let me know.  For now, I'll be rocking back and forth with my three pairs and muttering about my preeecciioouussssss.