Can Pearl iZUMi Really Help You ‘Run Like an Animal’?

Post written by Susan Lacke.

“We want you to RUN LIKE AN ANIMAL.”

When I got an letter from Pearl iZUMi with this statement, I had to double-check to make sure it was actually my name in the header. It was. Surely, the company made a mistake. I don’t run like an animal. At best, I suppose I could run like a lobotomized duck, but even that’s pushing it.

I’ve been a fan of Pearl iZUMi’s cycling gear since I began triathlon training. On long rides, I swear by their women’s cycling shorts. Without them, my ability to feel my bum after 60 miles would be non-existent. No other brand will do for me.

In spite of my ass full of gratitude, I was a bit apprehensive when Pearl iZUMi asked me to test out their running gear. Typically, when a company with a strong reputation in one discipline tries to expand into a multisport role, they flounder.

My curiosity outweighed my skepticism. This lobotomized duck took their running gear for a spin. If you want to Run Like An Animal, too, here’s what you need to know.  (Disclosure: Pearl iZUMi sent me this stuff to try out for free.)

The Apparel (Finally, no PINK!)

Girls, let’s be frank: Not everyone wants to run in pastel flowered skirts. If that floats your boat, great…but when I’m sweating it out and blowing snot rockets, I don’t really care if I look ladylike. I swear, if I try on one more trisuit with a pink hibiscus…

The cool thing about the Pearl iZUMi line for women is the availability of bold colors in addition to the standard girly fare. My test samples were the Infinity short and Infinity In-R-Cool Short-Sleeve shirt, in — y’all ready for this? — black and white.

Both these products performed excellently. The material is soft and light, with awesome wicking and ventilation features.  The shirt is cut a bit longer and features a built-in sunblock (UPF 50). The shorts were super-comfortable and the lining never got damp, even on long runs. My favorite part? The inseam never rode up like some of my other running shorts do (if you’ve ever dealt with chafing thighs or had an embarrassing race photo where you look like you’re wearing a strange bikini bottom, you know what I’m talking about).

Bottom line? I can’t wait to stock my running closet with these. They’re going to get some heavy rotation this summer.

The Shoes

In the midst of Running Like An Animal, my skepticism about a cycling company making running shoes was both confirmed and disproved.

Two pairs of shoes were sent to me for testing. While the first pair was a bit of a letdown, the second was a pleasant surprise.

The SyncroFloat IV is a neutral trainer made with recycled material. When I first slipped my feet into the product, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. The shoes are highly cushioned, almost to the point of feeling like an overstuffed couch. The product description I was given stated this “Energy Foam” was highly responsive and bounces energy back on every step. I didn’t experience that. Instead, it seemed to me the foam was slow to respond, like when a person presses down on a memory-foam mattress. It’s great for sleeping, but when I run, I need something that springs back faster.

To be fair, my research on the product revealed this shoe is more for heel-strike runners. I’m a mid-foot striker. Perhaps it was a case of the wrong shoe for the wrong person.

Pearl iZUMi redeemed itself with its isoTransition triathlon race shoe. One second in these kicks, and I was in love. The shoe is light, flexible, and easy to slip on — essential in transition during triathlons — thanks to the quick-pull lace system. The upper hugs the foot well, eliminating any need for socks, and the ventilation (in the upper and in the soles) is excellent. The cushioning wasn’t extreme like the other pair I tested — in fact, I found it to be just right for runs up to ten miles.

You’ll be seeing me sport these in my shorter-distance triathlons this season…they’ve got the NMA Triathlete Stamp of Approval.

Do You Want to Run Like an Animal, Too?

The friendly folks over at Pearl iZUMi want to give you the opportunity to Run Like an Animal, too. They’ll be giving away two pairs of shoes to NMA readers — one for the guys, and one for the gals. Go to their website, check out their shoes, and come back here to comment below with the style you’d pick if you won. Winners will be selected randomly on March 22, 2011.


Susan Lacke serves as No Meat Athlete’s Resident Triathlete. While writing this article, she consumed an entire 1-pound bag of baby carrots. When she isn’t getting down with her bad NMA self, she’s usually searching for the perfect cupcake or writing for Competitor Magazine. Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke



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  1. Hi Susan, love your posts! You motivated me to sign up for a triathlon. The training is going good so far, but I am still looking for a proper tri-suit to wear during the race. Do you have any recommendations? Brand? Pearl Izumi? One piece or two piece?
    Also, what is your opinion of Pearl Izumi since they have been acquired by Shimano? Any changes? Thanks a lot!

    • Trisuits are a highly individual thing. Some do better in one-piece suits, but others (especially people who are exceptionally tall or short) do better in two-piece.

      In my own experiences, I find that I really like 2XU trisuits for shorter distance tris. But in half and full Ironman distances, I use a standard cycling kit (YES, Pearl iZUMi) for the bike and then change into different clothes for the run. It’s just more comfortable for me.

      I’d suggest you try out different things while you’re training to see what works for you. Don’t purchase anything and wear it for the first time in a race setting. The results could be disastrous.

  2. Thanks for the review! I am so sick of pastel colors on everything! I’d love to try the isoSeek IV for trail running!

  3. I guess I need the isoShift, although the other ones look cooler! I wonder if these would work for me… I’m soon in need of a new pair of running shoes, and I have never quite found shoes that support me very well (W size 9, D, low arches).

  4. Cool! I’d love to try the Streak II.

  5. I would LOVE to get my hands–er feet– on the isotransitions- perfect for the quick slide on in a tri!

  6. I like the syncroGuideIII…I have really high arches and need some cushioning, so I am really picky about shoes!

    I’ve never had tri shoes, though, and as I get into tri season, I’m thrilled to see your review of these new products.

    I wear Pearl iZUMi cycling shorts and love them.

  7. The SynchroGuideIII looks awesome for me, and I just signed up for my first marathon! I could really use these 🙂

  8. Hi Susan –
    I would chose either the Synchropace III or the Cruise. And thank your for mentioning the cycling shorts – I would really like to be able to feel my butt after a long ride and I’ll definitely be getting some!

  9. Joe Kanaszka says:

    The Streak IIs look really cool! Wouldn’t mind a pair of those!

  10. I would love to try out the isotransition ones for the upcoming tri season!

  11. Hey Susan,

    My wife is the biker so she’s familiar with Pearl iZUMi shorts – love to put her in a pair of isoShift’s to try out. We read the column and site fairly frequently – love your takes!

  12. I love the SynchroFloat. I guess it doesn’t feel overly cushioned to me because I weigh a bit over 200 pounds.

  13. I would love to try those isoTransitions! I have never tried a true tri racing shoe before. Plus they look awesome!

  14. Heather Griffith says:

    I want the Iso Seek IV…Mama needs some new trail shoes!!!

  15. This was a great review. Thanks for the details!

    I’d love to get a racing shoe, so I’d try the Streak II.

  16. Thanks for the review, sounds like they’ve got sine interesting products.

    From the men’s range I’d go for the syncroFuel, although I expect that they won’t keep white for very long!

  17. hmmm. from what i can tell, the isoSHIFT may be the closest to what i already wear. i saw a bunch of these shoes at a recent race and was intrigued. plus, i like that they aren’t nearly as ugly as my tried and true, much loved brooks. i’m really sick of only have baby blue and pink as my running shoe color options.

  18. I’d love to try the Streak II!!

  19. I’d go for the Peak XC. That’s my style. 🙂

  20. The isoTransition looks awesome – I love the “laces” and I have to admit, I’m a fan of pink! 🙂

  21. would love to try the Streak II. I promise not to “streak” in them either.

  22. Carol Scheer says:

    Great post! I checked out their website and think I would like those isoTransition shoes – doing my first triathlon this summer, these would be a great choice!

  23. I’d go for the isotransition… my first 1/8 triathlon is coming up and I’m a overpronator, so stability is good! They look lovely.

  24. I would get the Peak XC

  25. I would love to try out the isoSeek IV’s!

  26. Awesome, I will definitely be looking into some of this gear further! I would especially love the W’s isoTransition except I love the hot pink pictured and the website only shows it available in blue (I’ve had my fill of blue running shoes).

  27. I’d actually love to try the isoTransition triathlon race shoe as well. For the ease of triathlon training, yet, but I’d also love a no-hassle, lightweight running shoe in general!

  28. Stability is essential. I’d pick the isoShift. Thanks for the review!

  29. The Streak II !

  30. Crazy excited about (and would love a pair of) the Streak II!

  31. Wow! I love PI and would love the opportunity to try out their running shoes 🙂 I have only used their bike shoes and they are really comfy.
    I would love the isoTransition, that is one good looking shoe!! plus I don’t have any tri-specific running shoes so this would be great~

  32. Billie Buck says:

    They have a beautiful design to all the shoes, I never would have thought of PI for running.
    I would pick the Peak XC or the SyncroFuel XC since most of my running is out in the muck and on the trails-very nice shoe

  33. I really need a pair of neutral running shoes, but now that I’ve seen the isoTransitions, I think they’re really adorable and want those! I’m easily distracted.

  34. i would love the transition tri shoe. i am doing my first tri in august and im terrified about the transition. these would make it so much easier!

  35. I love Pearl iZUMi. I would get the streak II for sure.

  36. I really, really like the ISOTransition but the website only shoes it in blue not pink. Hmmmm….is it avail in pink????

    Regardless, that would be the model I would pick!!
    My second choice would be the StreakII not just because it is pink but because I like a good racing shoe!

  37. I would LOVE a pair of the syncroFuel XC for the trail-half I’m currently training for!

  38. i love the isoSEEK IV WRX – I live in Florida and the summer showers make a water-resistant shoe a necessity!

  39. The Streak II for sure! Thanks for the review Susan, your posts rock.

  40. I would love the syncroFloat IV!

  41. Isoseek IV please! 🙂

  42. I’d love to try the ISOtransition shoe! And I like the blue color shown on their website better than pink!

  43. Sweet! I’d love to add the isoTransitions to my shoe wardrobe!

  44. Jadon Ross says:

    Thanks for the chance to win a pair of shoes! I’d have to go with the iso shift IV size 12.

  45. Daniel W says:

    I would love a pair of isoSeek IV’s

  46. Ryan Wachter says:

    Mens IsoTransition as well.

  47. Holly Burlew says:

    The SyncroFloat IV shoes sound like they would work best for me. They look nice, too!

  48. I like the sound of the isoTransition shoe- especially in the turquoise/black- like you, I’ve had enough pink!

  49. i’d have to go with the isoTransition–bring on the animal 🙂

  50. Rachel Roland says:

    I’d def go for the isoTransition 🙂
    I did a tri last year.. and kinda fell of the wagon (though i wasn’t inactive.. i started taking a pakour class) but this site has inspired me to start training again.

  51. I’d love any of their tank tops. Even though it’s only mid-March it’s already sports-bra-only weather here in Los Angeles…goodness only knows I’m going to need some new hot weather gear soon!

    Also, I love how Pearl Izumi organizes their running shoes from neutral to pronation control. So many other companies just have a list of model names and then leave it up to you to decipher how much stability the shoes provide compared to other ones. Props to Pearl Izumi for that!


  52. I think the Syncro Fuel would be the right fit for me. They do have a great looking line.

  53. Chris H. says:

    While I do not feel like an animal wearing PI unless a very domesticated and pampered dog, I love their gear for tris and for cycling. If it was legal and socially acceptable to wear their tights in public I would.
    I am a huge fan of their Streak II, a perfectly light but comfortable racing flat. I hope I win!

  54. I would definitely go for the isoTransitions. I love the fact that you can go sockless in the shoe and literally slide it on. Half the time I leave my shoes tied and stretch them out when I slide them on anyway.

  55. It’d be the isoTransition for me… I hate tying laces and my feet stink 😉

  56. The SyncroFuel XC trail shoe looks like the best choice for me because they look great & seem to have what I’m looking for as far as performance goes. As I get more into running, trail running has become a favorite. The SyncroFuel XC shoe looks like the perfect trail runner with mild pronation support and ultimate traction, which is important to me on the trail.

  57. The isoTransition look like great tri shoes. As a swim coach, anything that makes putting my running shoes on easier adds motivation!

  58. I’m looking forward to being a triathlete again after I finish the Boston Marathon in April. I’ve been running a lot! I’d love to try the isoTransition for this upcoming tri season. Thanks for the review!

  59. I’d get the Streak II – I’m looking for a neutral lightweight racing shoe and that certainly fits the bill!

  60. Those adorable pink isotransitions make me want to be a triathlete, but I think I’d go for the IsoShifts.

  61. Boy I like them all but the syncroGuideIII really caught my attention.

  62. Boy they all look great, but the syncroGuideIII really caught my attention.

  63. Oooh, I’d love to try the PeakXC. Am in need of a new trail shoe. 🙂
    Cool website they have!

  64. Definitely the Streak II !

  65. Hey Susan… Great post! I love your sense of humor! I’d like to win a pair of isoTransition shoes. And since I’m the mother of the NMA I think my chances of winning should be increased to tenfold. Oui?

    • Hey, Mama Fraz! There’s only one entry per person, sorry…but if you e-mail me with some mortifying stories about Matt I can use to blackmail him later, let’s talk.

      (Just kidding, Boss. KIDDING.)

  66. I haven’t quite made it to full runner yet, but that is my goal. I had a really hard time deciding which pair I would pick if I won, but i think the Streak 2 would be the pair I would pick since I would love to run a 5K and maybe even move on to a longer race later on. It sounds like a sneaker for either a short distance runner or a long distance runner!

  67. And I forgot to say that my husband and I too wear their biking gear!

  68. Great review; I agree with your general sentiment – I live for Izumi cycling shorts, but have been leery of their non-cycling apparel.. After your review, I will definitely check their running stuffs! I’d love the isoTransition for my short tris this summer!

  69. I choose them all

  70. I’m more on the minimalist side, Streak II. Keep up the great posts!

  71. Tess Moore says:

    I love the isoSleek IV WRX fir its’ all weather claim, looks and cushioning. I also love the Streak II. What can I say……AWESOME!

  72. I’d pick the syncroFuel!

  73. I would love to win a pair of the Streak II’s. 🙂

    What a great give-away!!


  74. Oh, how I would love to try the isoTransitions!! Love the reviews and your humorous approach to life (as always).

  75. Hey Susan,
    Thanks for the great reviews! I think the iso Transitions would be great shoes for me to win!

  76. Margaret McCleery says:

    I would try the women’s SycroFuel!!! I am not fast but I prefer the lightweight shoes with not a lot of correction in the shoe.

  77. Beth Ulibarri says:

    Would love to try the isoTransitions!

  78. There are a few pairs of their shoes that I’ve heard about that I’m really interested in, but I think I’d like to try the isoShift first. It sounds like a really great shoe for me.

  79. Brittney says:

    I think I would go for the syncrofuel. They seem to be lightweight but pretty sturdy too. What a fun giveaway!!

  80. iso Transition looks good to me!

  81. The streak2 for sure!

  82. I would love to try the W’S ISOSEEK IV WRX. I’m looking to get into trail running and these seem great!

    Also, I rock a pink running skirt like it’s my job. No shame!

  83. I’d be most interested in the isoTransition for women. It sounds like a great shoe for the triathlons I’ll be doing this year!

  84. Hi Susan, I always know I can look forward to a good laugh when I read your posts. I guess I laughed a few too many times (especially at the image of the “strange bikini bottom” part) because my wife finally asked what was so funny. She laughed at the comment too.

    So I would like to run like an animal, to be my true self; a runner not a jogger, but I guess its for different reasons now as it doesn’t really take any effort to run down a vegetarian meal unless the cherry tomato is rolling across the floor and my dog is after it.

    To be a runner Pearl Izumi style I would love to try out the synchroFuel XC!

  85. I like what you said about the Iso Transition shoe. I can go as far as an Olympic distance in a good shoe with out socks. And I like the quick pull laces.

  86. Having never owned a ‘real’ pair of triathlon trainers the isoTransition look awesome. Having recently been hit by a car whilst out cycling and nursing a fractured tailbone to my next race, any time saving apparatus and comfort afforded to the rest of the race would be unbelievable!

  87. Having signed up for my first sprint triathlon in June, I would love to try out a pair of the iso Transition because of its light weight and other features.

  88. I’d like to try the mens Isotransition.

  89. I have signed up for my first two triathlons (first is a month from today!). The isoTransition shoes sound interesting. I will go with those, please!

  90. I mostly look for super lightweight running shoes, so the synchroFuel looks enticing!

  91. Janice Phillips says:

    Iso Transition, DEFINITELY! I’d love to try those puppies out. 🙂

  92. Great article! I’d love to snag a pair of the IsoTransitions as well! (Size 6.5 :))

  93. Amy Korman says:

    IsoShift shoes look good for some stability!

  94. Tonya Felix says:

    Hi Susan,

    Love your columns, you crack me up. I would like to try the isoShifts.


  95. I like the idea of the isoShift. I ran a barefoot race last spring and surprised myself, which led to an obsession with transitioning myself into a forefoot striker by way of more barefoot running and VFFs. Unfortunately, my heel couldn’t handle the lack of cushioning. I think the isoShift would help me practice my forefoot strike while also providing adequate cushioning. The entire line looks awesome though!

  96. Allison Jacobson says:

    I would LOVE to try the isoShift for women. They sound fantastic and right up my alley!

  97. Would love to try the Iso Transition! Like the feature about “no socks”

  98. Timmy Mac says:

    Well, I reckon I’d take a crack at the Peak XC if I won.

  99. i think i like the syncoFuel XC’s from what the write-up said…and they look cool! 🙂

  100. Christine Stewart says:

    isoseek IV WRx looked like a great shoe for running in New England!

  101. The Syncrofuel XC sound perfect for the trail race I’ve got next month.

  102. would like to try the isoSeek IV MRX.

  103. I would love to try the syncroGuideIII. My high arches would love the support!

  104. Being a trail runner I would like to win the Syncofuel XC. It’s great looking shoe!

  105. iso Transitions look awesome! I’m all for the quick laces! I also need the drainage holes in this rainy NW wx!

  106. Melissa Di Maggio says:

    A pair of the Streak 11 would be so sweet! I love that they are light weight and fit for something as small as a 5k but also a marathon as well. Sounds perfect for my lifestyle of running.

  107. My animal type is more of the “plodding elephant” nature. Training for my first full IM, I am seriously looking at the isoTransition, because I AM a heel-striker.
    I appreciate your feedback on the products, and your commentary.

  108. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE the Iso Seek IV. I’ve got at least one trail race this year, and NO trail running shoes… I’m so ready for a pair! These shoes look great.

  109. Peak XC look awesome!

  110. I’d like to try the isotransitions (women’s). I have two duathlons I’m looking at and transitions are not my strong points.

  111. I’m digging the isoShift.

  112. Hi Susan,

    I would try the syncroFuel. Perfect to start my training runs.

  113. I would pick the IsoSeek IV. Still trying to find the perfect trail running shoe!

  114. Carrie on the run says:

    I had NO clue Pearl Izumi offered a runner’s line and I own some biking products. My favorite runner’s store doesn’t carry their line. Hmm.. so after studying up on this new line I’d have to say their SyncroFuel XC. I have been wanting to transition from a full stability shoe now that I have the hang of things. Super cool colors too!

  115. Denise Pereira says:

    I’d love to try the isoTransition!

  116. Stephen Harding says:

    Great post, Susan. Thanks. I’ve been looking for some new gear, and in particular, a pair of lightweight shoes for my next marathon (now about 6 weeks away–just enough time to adjust and break them in).

    Would love to try the Pearl Izumi syncroFuel.

  117. I think I’d pick the synchofuel. I’m a pronator.

  118. The SyncroFuel look pretty awesome.

  119. Fishback Boy says:

    I really liked the syncroFuels I tried out but the outsole broke down too quickly for me. I’d like to try a pair of the syncroFuel XC for trail running.

  120. Patricia says:

    Love the Peak XC!

  121. Michael Petersen says:

    Can’t believe I’m actually considering trying out a vegetarian running season!

    Men’s isoTransition size 9.5 would be my preferred pair.

  122. After years of Saucony, I’m searching for new shoes. The Peak XCs look really great!

    P.S. Since you’ve got the ear of these companies, please relay that WE NEED DARK SHOES! Every tight and short I own are black, and I’m sick of big white clodhoppers getting grimy and nasty after just a few outings. I’m pleased to see that these showed more variety.

  123. I would love to try the iso Transition. I want to do my VERY FIRST triathlon this year, and the right shoes would help me transition (pun intended) into the new sport.

  124. Thanks for the review. Would love to try trail running in a pair of the Peak XC 🙂

  125. christopher says:

    that’s why they call me the streak … the streak II is all i need to run in.

  126. Moving up and doing an olympic distance tri this year, actually putting run training into my workouts this year – the isoTransition’s would def cut time from t2 – awesome, thanks

  127. Melissa Tucker says:

    women’s isoseek 4 size 7 or 7.5!!! They look great, pick me!! I <3 nomeatathlete : )

  128. It’s nice to see PI offering a tri specific shoe that’s designed for sock-less running. I’ve worn some of the other tri-specific shoes/brands, but I found they never mastered the seamless feel. I’d love to try out the isoTransition!

  129. i’m eyeing up the isoTransition!

  130. Would love to run my next 5K in a pair of the SyncroFuel. Women’s 8.5 🙂

  131. What a great giveaway! I’d totally go for the Isotransition for my triathlons. I hate dealing with laces, and even when I put Yanks in my shoes, they’re still annoying. Plus, these look super-cute 🙂

  132. I ate half a bag of baby carrots while reading this article 🙂 I haven’t done a triathlon (yet), but I enjoy running (5k to half marathon). The Streak II sounds like a shoe I’d like to give a try!

    Nice review on the shorts, I know exactly what you mean with that weird bikini bottom thing and I wondered if it’s possible to find shorts that don’t do that.

  133. I would love to win a pair of the Streak II’s
    Why not
    best rub down

  134. I like the isoShift. Great contest. Love you guys

  135. The synchroFuel shoe looks really good to me. I like the sound of those shorts too

  136. The SynchroFuel XC looks awesome.I love the style, and I’ve been wanting to dive into trail running this spring. A pair of these shoes might get me past my trepidation and onto the trail!

  137. Right on! I would love to try the Streak II!

  138. Great review, Susan! Thanks so much for this. I also cannot enjoy cycling without my Pearl iZUMi knickers. There is no better padding out there! I am curious about these running shoes now and would love to try the SyncroFloat IV since I need a little more support 🙂

  139. Michelle Novak says:

    After your review how could I not pick the isoTransition although if it wasn’t available the isoShift looks worth a try too! Thanks for your post, it put a smile on my face as usual! 🙂

  140. I’ve owned multiple pairs of Pearl iZUMi’s and absolutely love the one-piece upper (my feet are so much less BEAT UP when running). My most recent pair was the SynchroFloat III, and I’d like to try the newest model of that shoe. I’ve never ordered my “special” width, but would ESPECIALLY love to try these shoes in a 2A width!! 😀

  141. Caroline says:

    I think the Isotransition would be for me. Looks like the closest to minimal.

  142. The StreakII’s look pretty sweet. Love the reviews.

  143. I’d have to go with the Streak II since I’m a supinator…need that cushioning!!

  144. I love the look of the isoTransition. I’m currently training for the Hy-Vee Triathlon in September. I’ve been Vegan since last May, just came across your site and gotta say I’m in love. After the triathlon, I plan on training for an Ironman event. Not sure where or when yet, but it’s in my future.

  145. Clare Mitchell says:

    I would choose the isotransition shoes for sure. I run triathlons of all distances and have been considering a pair of running shoes that don’t need socks. These Pearl Izumi’s would be perfect.

  146. Why did it take me so long to find this site? Syncro Fuel XC for the 7 veggie powered ultras on my plate for the year.

  147. As a potential triathlete, I’d love to try the isotransitions…

    skidownthehill at yahoo dot com

  148. Would love to try the streak II. Just discovered this site and loving it!!

  149. Thanks for the reviews. I would love to win a pair of synchroFuel XC for trail running.

  150. I just got a bunch of the new Pearl Izumi gear and it’s incredibly lightweight. I really like the feel of the fabric. Cute colors, too!

  151. hey susan!

    i have been in constant struggle with my weight since the third grade and to keep this brief, drastically lost weight in high school but still didn’t feel healthy. since then, i have been on atkins type diets as well as modified crash diets but have realized the true way to a happy physique is through nutritional knowledge and exercise. eating healthy, portion control and a regular exercise regime (i’m on my 3rd round of p90x) is key.

    i have been long hoping to get into running as my fondest memories as a youth were racing kids on my black nearly twice my age and leaving them behind me. i hope to continue to learn about fitness and reach a goal of marathon / triathalon running within the year!

    educate yourselves everyone and push yourself to achieve every goal you have so you have more time for the ones waiting for you!

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