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Triathletes have many decisions to make. Decisions about food, about clothing, about pacing and about strategy. One of those decisions has traditionally been whether or not to wear socks during the run.
The argument against wearing socks is precious seconds can be saved in the transition, particularly from swim to run, if the athlete doesn't have to struggle to pull the socks over wet feet. The argument against them is the seemingly set-in-stone equation of wet, sweaty feet, plus run, minus socks, equals blisters.
Pearl Izumi has solved this problem with the isoTransition, a lightweight sneaker for triathlons, designed to be pulled on and off quickly and meant to be worn without socks.
The interiors of these stylish sneakers have breathable and smooth fabric along the upper mesh, which act as sort of a built-in sock to prevent rubbing. And the sole has an elegant line of 11 holes down the midline, each about the size of a teardrop, that allow sweat and water from the swim to escape.
The idea is to keep feet as dry as possible, to maximize comfort and prevent blisters. The sneakers are also comfortable with socks, but are not recommended on wet or rainy days, as those holes will also let water in.
Pearl Izumi worked on the isoTransition, also available in a men's version, with Tim DeBoom, two-time winner of the Hawaiian Ironman World Championship. Transition ease, comfort, and support are all given serious consideration.
For quick pull-on, the sneakers, offered in blue, black and white or pink, black and white, are cut low, and have a fat tab at the heel that even a tired, waterlogged swimmer can grab. No need to tie the laces -- they are springy enough that they probably won't need tightening, but if they do, a quick tug on the plastic pull will do the trick.
Once the Pearl Izumi iso Transition are on, the company's proprietary Energy Foam provides superior cushioning, and the outsole, made of blown rubber and EVA, gives lightweight stability.
One way they do that is by answering the sock-or-no-sock question with sneakers that are lightweight, comfortable, and give socks-free runners a little extra energy at a point in the race when they might otherwise flag. (MSRP $115)
Karen Nitkin likes to run, hike, bike, camp and swim. She spends as much time as possible on these activities, while juggling a writing career, family life, and doing errands like laundry and going to the grocery store.
Nitkin lives in Maryland, where the relatively mild climate allows her to run and bike year-round. She also spends at least a few weeks each year in New Hampshire, camping and hiking in the White Mountains. She has set a goal of hiking all 48 New Hampshire peaks that are above 4,000 feet. As of the fall of 2010, she is at number 20, following an epic rain-drenched four-peak overnight in the Pemigewasset wilderness over the summer.
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