Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Power Crunch energy bar review and Raffle! #Triathlon #charity #CHDawareness

All triathletes have been put on the spot before or after a workout looking for the right fuel or recovery snack. We might even be pressed to find something in a pinch to gobble down for in-workout fueling for long days. We don’t always have the luxury of being at home to raid the pantry or time to cook something up for a proper workout snack, be it before, during or after the workout. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be a workout day and you might find yourself with an angry gut wanting sustenance but you don’t want to raid the candy machine for crap food.

What’s a health conscious endurance athlete to do for those healthy on the go snacks? There’s a LOT of choices out there. ClIF bars, Kind bars, Picky bars and so many others you can’t count them on all of your fingers and toes. Beware that while some bars contain natural and healthy ingredients, moderation is key. If you’re snack bar is 700 calories and you’re wanting to maintain “race weight”, it may not be the best option for your 10am snack, or you will have to raid calories in other meals to balance your daily intake.

And what about protein? Exactly, what about it? Paleo, South Beach, Shakeology and so many other plans out there thrown into the faces of health minded triathletes. What you will find with most bars labeled protein is a high carb count to go with that. You have to be very careful of what you’re eating as there are very few products that come with high protein and few carbs.

In our eternal quest for the perfect protein bar we found Power Crunch. Well, rather they found us and offered an assortment of Power Crunch energy bars to try out for a review. After eating our fair share (all of them they sent us), we have a few thoughts we’d like to share.


Packaging / Shelf Appeal / Marketing

Power Crunch has come out in a big way. They are pretty much a staple at any gym snack bar and can be found in most food chain stores. Health stores, gas stations and more all carry Power Crunch.



The wrappers are clean and appealing. They catch your eye, but aren’t obnoxious. One wish list would be something more eco-friendly than the standard foil wrappers, but that’s splitting hairs. The other catch is you may not find the flavor you are looking for as shelf space might be limited.

Form / Construction

When you open your Power Crunch, it’s a wafer based bar. It was actually refreshing to find a self proclaimed energy bar that wasn’t the consistency of a fudge bar. So many energy bars are dense and gritty and Power Crunch is not. It’s reminiscent of the vanilla wafer days as a kid, but a little healthier.

Sorry those that are lactose intolerant or allergic to peanuts. Most bars have both of those ingredients but some are gluten free, if you’re looking for that. If you’re into the science, you can read up on the ingredients of each bar to find one that’s right for you and read up on Power Crunch’s unique form of protein called “hydrolyzed whey protein.” We won’t dive into that here, but what we will draw attention to is the ratio of protein to carbs per bar and what the calorie content is.

We are always looking for low calories, high protein options for our endurance lifestyle and were very excited to see that Power Crunch in general carries 14/8 protein to carb ratio around 200 calories. Competitors can get to 22/30 ratio with 270 calories with 80 calories from fat. Do notice though that around 115 calories are from fat for Power Crunch depending on the type of bar. They are using stevia leaf extract for sweetening, but still carry a decent amount of fat content which could be a good fuel source to train your body to work from on long distance training. It all depend on your take of training and fueling methodologies.

Fashion / Appearance

Power Crunch bars are appealing. You open up the wrapper and find a delicious looking wafer bar either with either a small coating or completely covered bar of “glaze”. They look like they were made by someone who knows what they are doing and not someone in a garage with a chemistry set. When you open one up, you actually want to eat it.

Fit / Function

So how does it do as a daily snack or workout fuel source? We tried it all. It was a daily snack in the morning or afternoons. It was a pre-workout snack. It was a during-workout fuel source. It was a post-workout on the go snack. Power Crunch bars were super handy when you have a busy day of the “day job”, kids, family and trying to jam in training somewhere.

It was extremely filling, but if you’re on the go working out, you may not want that. It was light, but provided enough to satisfy the snack cravings during the day (we subscribe to 3 meals and 2 snacks per day).

All of the flavors were pretty good. The best were Cookies and Cream and Peanut Butter crunch. We weren't huge fans of the mint chocolate, but someone out there may dig it. There’s something for everyone with 13 energy bar options.

The biggest highlight was eating an energy bar and not having the fudgy texture without the fudge taste. Some competitor bars are akin to eating cardboard with grit. Have you ever eaten an energy bar that seemed like someone took some sand and added dough to it? Not Power Crunch. That wafer snack you loved as a kid is back, and it’s healthy! Our kids even loved them (but keep your hands off daddy’s workout snacks!). Overall we found Power Crunch to be satisfying as far as taste, texture, filling and supplying functional energy.

Cost

For a box of 12 bars, you will pay $24.99 from Power Crunch directly, plus shipping. Now, you didn’t read this here, but savvy internet shoppers can find it perhaps $10 less on other locations. You can also find them in local stores and forgo shipping as well.

Using the savvy internet shopping route, energy bars in the relative same market space go about equal for a count of 12 such as Power Crunch. So, really you won’t pay any extra for Power crunch over the competitors. What you pay for is an alternative to the dense energy bars with high protein to carb ratios.

Final thoughts

Flat out we loved Power Crunch. Maybe not all flavors, but we found a good 10 flavors that we could stock our pantry with and enjoy for years on end. They offer a wide variety and the wafer model is so much more appealing than the fudge density bars that are out there. Cost wise you really are not paying a premium to use Power Crunch over competitors, so it really only comes down to how you want your energy delivered.

Disclaimer

Writer’s Note – Power Crunch sent us samples for this review and in no way influenced the review.


AND NOW FOR THE RAFFLE!

It's time... time to give some stuff away!

So those that have followed this blog, you have noticed I do a fair share of product reviews.  Some are great, some are good, some are so-so and some don't happen since the product didn't work out for one reason or another.

Well, those people that have sent me the products are on board with helping me reach my fundraising goals for Ironman Texas ($1500 goal), Ironman 70.3 ($600 goal) Kansas and Ironman Chattanooga ($5000 goal).   It's coming along, but we need more!  This is all a part of my master www.Tri4aHandUp.com fundraising scheme for 2014.

I have a shelf in the basement full of stuff to give away to my readers, followers, fans and supporters.  I'm taking a huge leap of faith setting up online raffles will result in contributions and not be a bust for the great people that sent me products.

How do you get in?

Each giveaway entry is counted by a contribution to one of the fundraising pages.  Each giveaway will have a unique amount to donate so I can keep track of what's an entry and what's a regular donation.  I get emails from each page when someone contributes, so they all get counted.  You can enter as many times as you want.

You can contribute to either page:
http://www.active.com/donate/kickstartyourheart/T4AHUIMTX
https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/6b2s7/ab/61quY2

How do you win?

I will number each entry and hit random.org to randomly generate a winner. I will keep generating numbers until someone gets 3 hits and then they win!

How do you get your prize?

Pay attention to this blog and the Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/Tri4aHandUp.  Winners will be announced and I will have you email me your address for shipping.

Who is eligible?

Anyone in North America.  No overseas shipping UNLESS you are in the armed services and you have a North American shipping address that ships items to you.

What's up for grabs this week?

Power Crunch Peanut Butter Fudge Box of 12 bars.

Check out my reviews:
EverymanTri.com

In recognition of Ironman Texas being my second full Ironman triathlon, entry will be $2.00 at either site.  Enter as many times as you want!  Entry closes 11:59pm central time on Saturday, May 3.

You can contribute to either page:
http://www.active.com/donate/kickstartyourheart/T4AHUIMTX
https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/6b2s7/ab/61quY2


 
 

Monday, April 21, 2014

4 weeks until 2014 Ironman Texas!?

And what in the world am I doing!?

It doesn't feel like Ironman training.  It's been a tough road to hoe with work and family life.  Training has not been to the volume I would have liked.  I'm hoping that the LA Marathon training can carry my aerobic conditioning as getting on the bike has be almost non-existant for IM triathlon training.


Honestly, I'm a little nervous.  I think I will be able to finish, but the problem could be the bike in the heat.  I need to really focus on fluids, electrolytes and sodium.  I have a few tricks in my bag, but the bike leg is going to be slow and I'm not sure how it will affect the run.  I have stayed pretty true to my run volume and training, but last week I missed all of my swims due to work travel and missed a few hours of bike riding.  Not to mention, I've not been on the road much due to weather.  Hoping I'm doing enough on the trainer to make it happen.  Also aiming a heater at myself on the trainer to get heat training.  ;)

So, with that, here's what last week's forced rest week looked like.

RUNNING : 42 miles
BIKING : 102 miles
SWIMMING : 0 miles... do'h
TOTAL MILES : 144.5
TOTAL TIME :  13:12 hours

Uggg... no swimming.  That stinks.  I'm hoping to get all 3 swims in this week to stay on track.  This is really the last week to get a big volume week in.  I need to taper after this to avoid being overtrained for race day.  No sense in trying to make up for lost time by cramming at the last minute.  It will do nothing but hurt in the end.

Stay tuned for this week's raffle contest for Power Crunch bars!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Surge dynamic fluid resistance trainer review

More often than not, triathletes tend to overlook strength training. Most are lucky to get the required swim, bike and run workouts in, but strength work can be just as vital to a triathlete. Strength training can enhance body control, increase power, stave off injuries and mix up an otherwise dreary training existence to name a few benefits.

Now, whether you hit the traditional weights, go to crossfit or do a combination, there’s right ways and wrong ways to go about it. You don’t want to hit the weights so hard as to bulk up and lose flexibility if your goal is to improve your triathlon performance. You also don’t want to go too heavy and possibly injure yourself. There are many plans and variations that triathletes can find on the internet.

The other obstacle is getting a gym membership or buying home gym equipment. If you have children, then your weights and racks will be competing with doll houses and motorized jeeps for storage space. Some just can’t afford the gym membership just for the weight lifting component.

That’s where this review on the Surge Dynamic Fluid Resistance Training tool by Hedstrom comes in to play. Its design and applications address a lot of tough questions faced by triathletes about space, price and proper workouts. We tried one out and read on to find out what we thought.



Packaging / Shelf Appeal / Marketing

We were sent the Surge in the mail, in an appropriate sized box and packed neatly and securely in the box with the directions and marketing materials. When looking online, the Surge is available in a few brick-and-mortar stores, but we have yet to see what they look like on the shelf. Pure speculation would be that it would sit on the shelf with the instructions attached to it without any other packaging since it’s a pretty big.

Form / Construction

The Surge is sturdy. As soon as you unbox it, you can see that it’s made from thick durable plastic and the last thing you will need to worry about is the device breaking or leaking. The opening for adding water is a heavy duty thread with a thick plastic cap that screws on securely with a water-proof seal. No worries about this leaking on your carpet or hard woods.

The marker lines for how much water to add to determine how much weight you are working in are permanently raised marks on the exterior of the surge. You won’t need to break out your science book to figure out how much water you need to add to get to 15 pounds.

On minor setback might be the seams on the exterior where the two parts of the Surge are fused together. It’s probably unavoidable during manufacturing. The seam is a little raised and can be rough and possibly snag on clothes or leave a nice scratch on your skin. The issue is readily solved with a little sandpaper, so no problem.

Another nice feature is the texture of the Surge. It’s not a truly smooth plastic cylinder, but rather a little grit is present so when you go to grab the Surge to move it or workout, it won’t just slip out of your hands. Speaking of getting your hands on the Surge, the handles are excellent. They are built in, so no protruding parts to catch on walls, doors, clothes or body parts while working out or transporting. It also makes storage easier with less space needed to account for handles that stick out. The design is also smart and has two different handle positions on opposite sides to allow for different hand grips to work different muscles. Hedstrom did their research.

Fashion / Appearance

The Surge is what we would call no frills. It doesn’t have a race car paint theme or neon colors. It comes in utilitarian grey-ish blue with the Surge logo. Wouldn’t you rather have a solid strength training tool at a lower cost than pay more for a slick paint job? Let’s be honest, you won’t be taking the Surge out on the town to show off at the bars.

When you see the Surge, it looks tough and functional. It begs you to pick it up and see what it’s all about. It’s not a sissy plastic cylinder, but rather a tough and rugged resistance trainer.

Fit / Function

We tried out the Surge with a variety of workouts that came on a DVD that accompanied the Surge and a few online videos produced and distributed on YouTube by various coaches.

At first, we were a little skeptical and only went with 15 pounds of water in the Surge. Honestly, can water in a plastic tube be that difficult? Yes. After 50 minutes of following instructional videos we were sweating, panting and shaking from muscle fatigue. The Surge makes you use stabilizer muscles you didn’t know you had and probably wouldn’t want to use unless you had too. Now, you get out as much as you put in. If you take a lot of breaks and don’t take it seriously, you won’t get much out of it much in the same way as traditional strength training. You have to stay active and try to keep it under control.

We got adventurous and added more water to get to 25 pounds and it was almost too much. As with any weight program, you can definitely add too much weight too soon and the Surge is no exception. If you have too much water in it, you can hurt yourself trying to accomplish the workouts.

The dynamic fluid resistance concept might be akin to pilates reformer work or exercises with low weight, high holding times. But, unlike movements just using body weight or smaller weights, the Surge adds in the dynamic component of water swishing around. There’s even movements were the objective is to get the water moving as fast as possible and then counteract the movement to stop it.

Cost

On the Surge site, they list the price direct from them at $179.99 and online it ranges from $179.99 to $199.99. That’s before tax and shipping. All bets are on that it’s most cost effective to buy direct from the Surge site.

When looking at other workout gear, such as TRX or kettlebells, you could spend $150 to $300 for a kettlebell set with different weight options and $200 to $250 for the TRX set. For $179.99 you can get the Surge which can be filled with varying volumes of water to achieve different weights and resistance levels. You don’t have the storage issues as with kettlebells and you don’t need to tie the Surge to the wall or ceiling like with TRX.

Final thoughts

When we broke open the box for the Surge, we weren’t sure that a water filled tube would offer much resistance training. When performed properly, workouts with the Surge can be more than challenging. You will have to do some searching for movements if you are not creative enough to figure out moves of your own, like us. But, there are plenty of offerings on YouTube and the Surge comes with a DVD compilation of workouts.

The Surge isn’t cheap, but you get what you pay for. It is very sturdy and appears to be very quality construction.

For those looking for functional strength without needing a costly gym membership or space for racks and benches for free weights, the Surge could be a great option. All you need to do is pour in more water for more challenge and shake your way to getting stronger.

Disclaimer

Writer’s Note – Surge sent a unit for this review for no charge and in no way influenced this review.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

2014 ROCK THE PARKWAY HALF MARATHON RECAP - 4/12/14

So here I am, traveling for work relishing the past weekend of racing...


...where yours truly pulled a miracle out of my rear and posted a new half marathon PR at the 2014 Rock the Parkway Half Marathon in Kansas City.  With everything going on with traveling for work, home, family, family medical emergencies, Ironman Texas training and no taper whatsoever and riding my bike to the race to get a bike ride outside for once, how did I pull this off?


Well, it wasn't a walk in the park.  I wish I could say with all of my LA Marathon training and Ironman training that posting a new half marathon PR was cake, but it wasn't.  Everything past mile 1 sucked and hurt.  Going out I had a tailwind, but hills.  Coming back was more downhill with a headwind, well, more like a breeze.

So I worked going out to build a comfortable pace cushion and used it up dealing with headwinds coming back.  I would not recommend my training regimine at this point to anyone.

From jamming dinner in for me and the kids and family over to watch the kids the night before to getting all the bike and running gear together AND getting it to fit in my Camalbak, there wasn't really any rest involved with this race.  That's life now these days.

I woke up earlier than I usually would to get food and enough time to ride to the race.  I ate as standard as I could but packed a PB packet to scarf an hour before the race since it would be about 2.5 hours from when I ate to race start.  It was just an akward expereince making this happen, but I did it to myself.  Remember, the goal is Ironman Texas, it wasn't a Rock the Parkway PR unless conditions allowed it.

So there I was, after running a mile warmup and getting elbowed at the start line with people trying to wedge into the start chute, hoping I had enough nutrition and reminding myself to drink up on gatorade on the course.  It was actually one of the warmest days in KC yet this year, topping out near 80.  I knew running hard I would sweat like a pig and I needed electrolytes and fluids.

Off we went and I was trucking to keep 7:15 min/mile pace as long as I could.  I ran the aid stations chugging as much gatorade as I could keep in the cup and only taking an extended break at mile 6 and 10ish.  I knew I needed more fluids than was sloshing out of my cup running.

Luckily I found a tallish dude to draft from the headwind at miles 10 to 12.  Thanks.  Hopefully you didn't mind my clodding feet and out of breathe breathing.

Mile 12 started the downhill into the finish and I knew if I hauled butt, I could have a new PR.  Mile 12 was 6:35, my best mile by 18 seconds.  I was leaving it all out there.  Thanks to that effort I have a new half PR by around 2 minutes at 1:35:53.  Rock the Parkway has proven to be my A-game race for half marathon PR's.  I don't know how I keep pulling it out... maybe I'm so excited to finally run a race outside in KC after a cold winter?

Who knows, I'll take it.  Then I took a 5 mile run to finish my mileage for the day and THEN preceeded to ride my bike home taking what I thought was a direct trail to my house.  Turns out I missed a turn, found a trail that worked and rode into a headwind all the way home.  It's been a while since I have seen a 13 mph average over 20 miles on the bike.  Barf.

At any rate, the race was successfull.  The training day was successfull... but I took Sunday off as I felt ran over and sore.  I missed having a peak week of training volume wise, but as I sit in my hotel room writing this, I'm eyeing my running gear and 60 degree weather for tonight's run on the traveling road.

There are no excused to not getting it done.  Before the kids get up, after they go to bed, pack your workout gear, find a hotel with a treadmill... make it happen.  ;)

Monday, April 14, 2014

www.Tri4aHandUp.com #GIVEAWAY No. 1 for 2014 Results

The first week giveaway results for ReInfinitize recovery formula.


After tracking the donations, there was no need for a drawing for week 1 as there were only 2 entries and it was the same person.  Congrats!  Easy win!  Enjoy your Evolution Solution!

Hopefully next week's raffle draws a little more interest.  ;)






And now, we return to lovely spring weather in Kansas City.  April 14, 30's and snowing.  Yeah.  Time to turn on the ole sprinkler system... or not.



Friday, April 11, 2014

2014 Rock the Parkway half marathon preview

Races are just popping up all over the place now!

Saturday is Rock the Parkway half marathon.  It's quickly becoming one of the biggest half marathons around Kansas City.  I have been racing in the event since its start in 2010.  The first year I ran the 10k (when they had it) and every year after it's been my PR race for the half marathon distance.  Well, except for last year when I missed my PR by 43 seconds... oh the agony.  Not really.  I didn't think I could come close to matching my PR last year, but 43 seconds off isn't half bad.


Expectations

Would I like a new PR?  Sure.  Would I like a sub 1:30 half marathon?  Sure.  Do I think I can pull it off with the LA Marathon training under my belt and the added training from Ironman Texas coming up in May?  Maybe.

I have not tapered at all for this race.  I'll take it easy Friday and maybe just swim, but IM Texas is the focus and I'm going to make sure I get that in before I drop workouts to get a PR at Rock the Parkway.

My goal is to get a warm up run in, run the race hard, and then get the rest of my miles in for my scheduled 21 miles for the day.  It'll be interesting, but I did set my current half PR of 1:37:13 after I rode my bike to the race 17 miles from my house and then rode back home.  Contemplating riding to and from this year as well.  Nice long brick training day.

Weather?

76 for a high?  58 for a low?  Yes please!  There is a chance of rain and some breeze, but that's a heck of a lot better than 40's and rain.  Makes riding to the event much more tempting.



Why am I racing it?

At this point it's become tradition.  I used to work where the race started and it was sweet to park at the building and stay inside until it started.  Now, I've ran it every year and I figure I should keep running until I've been in it for like 30 years, right?  Be one of those legacy people that could say they ran it every year.  That would be cool, eh?

That and it's a fast course.  It gives me a reason to stay on my running game in the winter to be ready to pound the pavement come April.

Happy running this weekend!