Monday, May 23, 2011

Where the Rubber Meets the Road, A Review

Since last Friday I have logged 17 miles on the road: 3.45 walking and 13.55 running miles - and hurray! - I got my 7 miler on Saturday!

When the rubber of my running shoes met the road on each of the last two Saturdays, I was wearing the technical shirt that was part of the box of products sent to me by Scott of Outside PR.

The very first thing I noticed was that it was a Pearl Izumi top.  I have never owned anything made by Pearl Izumi and in fact have sort of avoided buying their products because of their advertising campaign.  Have you seen the ads?

To be fair and honest, as I've read more and more of this campaign, it seemed to me that what these ads were trying to do, was to point out that often people who are not properly trained and ready, enter races.  I've experienced a bit of that myself, having to bob and weave around run/walkers who suddenly decide to walk and stop right in the middle of the road out of sheer exhaustion.  It's frustrating when you're truly racing and I've often wished aloud that something could be done to teach etiquette to those folks - most of whom have raised thousands of dollars for charity. (BTW, proper etiquette is to move completely to the left or right side of the road - as far away from runners as you can - then walk.)  But PI went about it in the wrong way and alienated slower runners.  While PI sits and judges me as a "jogger" during a race, what they fail to acknowledge is that what their elitist PR people may consider a jog, IS my run. Even at my slower pace, when I go out to race, I DO run like an animal.  But it's insulting to think that there is some sort of standard that I need to meet to be worthy of using Pearl Izumi products.  Not to mention that they fail to take into account that "joggers" - probably just like me - are spending the same money that "runners" are!  We buy new shoes every 300-500 miles, we relish our sweat wicking clothing in the heat of the summer and the ice of the winter.  We are, in fact, athletes in every sense of the word. When I race, maybe I'm a gazelle and not a cheetah, but I am a runner. And so I decided I just won't allow Pearl Izumi to categorize me.  They don't know me.

In the end, though I started out feeling conflicted about Pearl Izumi, I decided that I would not treat them the way they treated so many runners - that I would not pass judgement without actually trying their product.  I would get to know them before I passed judgement on them.

I tend to buy a lot of my running clothes from places like TJ Maxx and Marshall's. I do this for a couple of reasons - because the prices are a lot better than at any sporting goods store and also because I like to have options.  I want to have lots of options so I'm always looking for a bargain.  Running as a sport can get quite expensive when you start buying lots of technical clothing and good shoes.

When I was getting ready for my run that first Saturday, I picked up this shirt and immediately saw the retail tag: $45.00.  Whoo!  That's about 4 times what I would normally pay for a running shirt.  But even before I put the shirt on, I noticed how soft and fluffy it felt, sort of the softness of a chamois. Just the feel of this shirt told me that it was a different class than the shirts I normally wear. I also noticed on the other attached tags that PI has 3 levels of clothing - which I'm certain means 3 levels of pricing.  This shirt was part of the Elite series so mid-range price wise. 

I took off for my run and 5+ miles later when I got home was shocked to realized that I could not feel one ounce of sweat next to my skin even though I was sweating hard.  Comparing this to other brands of shirts I've run in, I have to say it out performed anything else I've ever worn.  Often when I get back from a run I will stay in my running clothes while I do a couple of chores around the house.  Usually I have to put on a dry shirt otherwise I feel a chill.  I did not experience anything like that at all with this shirt!  It really did have superior wicking technology.  During the week, I went online to see what else I could find out about the shirt and was delighted to discover that is also has a UPF of 50!  This means besides great wicking it's providing protection from harmful sun rays.  Here's how they describe the shirt and I have to agree:

"The W's Infinity In-R-Cool® Short Sleeve features our innovative In-R-Cool® fabric technology to cool the body while you exercise. This is the ultimate lightweight warm weather running top."

I went out again this past Saturday for that 7 miler I'd been itching to get and the shirt performed just as well the second time around.  Also, can I just admit, I think the design on the back is great and I love how it gives me a waist?! (Sorry for the cut off design - Mr. Helen strikes again!)

Bottom line is this: I love this shirt.  I love this shirt so much, when I went to look up the information on it, I noticed there is a matching compression short and I've already put those on my Christmas wish list.  While I can't afford to have every single one of the many running shirts I have cost this much, this shirt is one I would definitely buy as a treat for myself if I was running a half for full marathon - where an average runner would have to be in those clothes for a couple hours or more. (Fran, I'm looking at you and your dislike of running in heat.)

My one and only criticism is of Pearl Izumi's marketing campaign.  Don't they realize that there is a whole big world of runners (and weight loss bloggers who have taken up running) that they could be marketing their great product to?  How about it Pearl Izumi?


  1. What a great review - you said so much, not only about the shirt (which I now covet, dang it) but about the company and their marketing strategies. Wouldn't it be great if they actually listened to what you said???

  2. Great review: you make me want to buy this shirt too :) although I wouldn't have to wear it for a couple of hours in the heat because I won't start another race in the heat LOL.

    If they mean by their message to inform people to train and prepare they could have told it in a much more friendly and respectful way. I'm a slow runner and that's why I never stand in line at the front but somewhere in the middle and after the start I immediately go to the side of the road because there are always faster runners after me. Even if I want to go to the other side where there might be more shadow I look over my shoulder if there's nobody behind me. I agree there has to be a runners etiquette for these things.

    But I also read an small article in the Dutch Runners World about a guy who "ran" the LA marathon in over 10 hours. That is he ran the first 10K and walked the rest. I'm sorry but that's not running a marathon in my opinion. I have no problems at all by walking during a half or a full but if I do a half I want to run it most of the time. Otherwise I could better enter a walking event. What's your opinion on this?

  3. I realized as I was swimming that I forgot to acknowledge your running miles - that is so fantastic! Very happy for you getting in some good runs. :)

  4. Hooray on getting so much mileage in! And after reading those campaign messages, I would be put off by reading that too - WTF? You are a runner and a good one at that.

    Glad you put your feelings aside and found a shirt you love! I would check eBay and see if you can find them cheaper. :D

    Happy Monday!

  5. Yeah, not a great campaign for slow runners like me. I always thought it was funny during my long training runs where the coaches would say "don't run your marathon pace" and I wanted to say "this is my marathon pace, I can't run any faster!"

    I finished 2 marathons in 6:45 - which I would like to challenge any 2 - 3 hour marathoners if they could run that long?

    Having said that, the shirt is cute, and it if keeps you comfy for a long run, then its worth it despite their ad campaign!

  6. Reaction on your comment: I know training can be done in 12 weeks but I prefer 16 weeks and build it up slowly. DNF on the half has really broke my spirit, more than I talk about on my blog and right now I'm very insecure.

    I start in 2 weeks because I won't be following the training plan during our vacation, I will run then but just for fun. And I have two races before the half and use the week before those races also as a kind of taper week.

    The way my running goes at the moment it's hard to believe I was ready to do a half marathon and I'm doubting myself everyday if I can do it again. It's hard to get out of that negative thinking. Hopefully starting the next plan will help me get my confidence back too.


  7. I love love love it! I'm so glad that you found one you like! I agree with the marketing though. Duh. :)

  8. DAMN this is a fantastic review..and interesting as well.

    heres hoping the learn from your marketing thoughts.

  9. Hi Helen, your Shirt looks just great.
    Just wanted to comment on the Pearl Izumi Ad which I find absolutley great and I'll tell you why. If you read the ads they're sometimes really funny, sometimes they tell a kind of truth. The campaign "runnersnotjoggers" focuses on the ATTITUDE you have when you go out running. It's not at all about speed, even though a few ads suggest it. But check the whole picture. No matter how slow you are - if you have a runners ATTITUDE then you're a runner. If you only run to get it over with or you can't run without other things to get your mind off running until it's over then you're jogging :-)
    So you are definately a runner!
    Regards from Berlin