Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Update, Baking Triathlete and 910XT Sale on Clever Training

Hey readers... for those that are still reading.

Lots going on, which means very little time to blog.  I have posted a few products reviews of the 100 products I have to look at.  Wish I had more time to devote, but family, work and training have taken all my time.  Priorities people!

But, I wanted to share my latest endeavors with baking on my eating cheat days.  Some bakes are "healthy"ish and some are downright evil.  Take a look at the recipe and what turned out... not bad if I say so myself!

Baked Apple Peanut Butter oatmeal

Recipe from www.twopeasandtheirpod.com
The results, with less artistic fanfair...
And it tasted pretty darn good!

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies + Peanut Butter Chips

They don't look as pretty, but I had no problem downing them all day!
Just add master chef to my many titles!

Also, Clever Training is running a super sale on the Garmin 910XT.

Garmin FR910XT now $249 (was $399 down to $299, then $50 rebate) - Visit CLEVER TRAINING

Garmin FR910XT HR bundle $287 (was $449, down to $336, then $50 rebate) : Visit CLEVER TRAINING

Anything bought using the links returns a 10% commission to help offset the costs of running the bare bones blog.  Since I'm focused on the day job, I have scaled back quite a bit.  :(  I'd love to devote more time to the blog and reviews, but that's where I need your help to make it self supporting.  No pressure.  Thanks for those that do support the site by using the affiliate links!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

ASICS Gel Lyte33 running shoe review from weekend Ironman Triathlon warrior

ASICS was kind enough to shoot over a pair of Gel Lyte33's that we tried out. After a couple of months on the road, paved trails and treadmills, here's a look from an every day triathlete.

Fashion / Appearance

The Lyte33’s are visually appealing. Some styles actually turn a little ugly in the larger sizes, but these were beauty's in size 12. The layout of the patterns meshed well together and avoided the appearance you might think with a Ford Mustang front end and a Ford Futura rear end; just wrong. Not the Lyte33.

They have style. We tested out the red traced with black that are comfy and stylish enough to wear out for casual outings aside from hill repeats or AT intervals. Asics offers a wide variety of colors to assure you have the right shoes for your personality or color requirements.

They do have that twist that comes with the lightweight running shoe line in appearance. It’s a combination of a casual shoe and running shoe that harkens to the crossover car market. It takes a little appreciation and acceptance from that diehard running shoe enthusiast.

Form / Construction

From ASICS.com, “The GEL-Lyte33 gets serious about weight reduction, dropping almost two ounces for a truly lightweight natural running experience. The GEL-Lyte33 is updated with a nearly Seamless Upper and Solyte® Midsole to maximize performance while minimizing weight. Built with FluidAxis designed for underpronators and neutral runners. Weight: 6.8 oz. Heel Height: 17mm. Forefoot Height: 11mm.”

Note that the Lyte33 is built for lightweight features, but contains the ability to be used for underpronators and neutral runners. We’re not sure about the rest of you, but very few triathletes and runners have perfect running form and when balancing work, life and training, few have time to correct bad form issues. It’s good to know that if you prefer lightweight shoes, you don’t have to give up functionality to assist with your running shortcomings.

On the outside, the overall construction looks solid. After over 200 miles of running on streets and treadmills, our tested Lyte33’s are still holding up, a testament to being designed to withstand the test of time and miles.

Fit / Function

Like we mentioned, we have tested out these Gel Lyte33’s for over 200 miles over a span of 6 months. They were used in a running shoe rotation from 3 mile easy runs to 16 mile long runs, pavement and treadmill runs. They were given the royal treatment and spared from no expense.

The soles showed minor wear, but held up overall over the pounding. A successful indicator of a well built shoe is the ability of the sole to stay adhered to the actual shoe. Nothing’s worse than that flopping toe deal after the shoe starts falling apart.

The insole stayed intact and another indicator of good construction is the printed images didn’t rub off after a few outings. The insole held its shape for a good duration of the 6 months of abuse. Towards the end, it probably could have used a refresh replacement.

We did notice a little less bounce back from the sole at the end of our trial. As with most running shoes, the recommendations are to replace the shoe near 6 months or a couple hundred miles of running, depending on make and model.

We have a notoriously bad running form, so to go to 100% lightweight shoe for running just isn’t a reality. We mixed in GT 1000’s and 2000’s with some other running shoes in a two shoe rotation to mix it up. More akin to the idea of running trails every now again to strengthen ankles and various other running muscles, using different styles of shoes in a controlled approach could theoretically yield strengthening in weak running areas.

There is a noticeable difference in weight going from a traditional running shoe or shoes meant for stability or to correct other run form issues. The Lyte33’s were, like the name implies, lighter. It was like wearing a neoprene swim bootie on your foot, but with a sole and laces. They are not rigid and very comfortable, even after a 16 mile run.


Shoe prices are getting out of hand, which is why it’s refreshing to see the Lyte33’s started at $90 and now run for $55. We suspect they might not have taken hold as hoped for, as color and sizes are limited these days.

But don’t let that dissuade you, the Lyte33 shoes are worthwhile as a solid option in your running shoe rotation. Similar to cross training to work often unused muscle groups beyond the basics swim, bike and runs muscles, they Lyte33’s can be used in moderation to work on muscles long forgotten thanks to shoes that almost run for you. They work great for strength training footwear and you don’t even need to change shoes if you run a couple miles after a lift for cool down. For $55, you can’t get much better quality for long lasting shoes.

Final thoughts

The Gel Lyte33’s are geared for lightweight running shoe enthusiasts. They have design characteristics that can carry them over into the mainstream running community, but with caution and controlled regimes.

The price has dropped since their initial release, which makes them a great deal for what is actually a solidly built shoe. If you have foot issues or bad run form (like 90% of us), don’t lose hope as the Lyte33’s were made with you in mind. It may not be an everyday option, but it is definitely a good shoe for shorter workouts and a savior and break for your long haul shoes.

Take a look.


* Writer's note - Asics provided the products for this review at no cost and did not influence this review.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Review of @ClifBar Builder's Protein Bars

If you pay attention to your Facebook or Twitter feed, you undoubtedly see all kinds of add and posts about the need for high levels of protein in your diet. Whether you’re a weekend 5ker, Ironman, cross fitter or obstacle course racer, every fitness related food maker and their dog are racing to get their latest and greatest protein products in your hands. If you’re at all interested in eating better to go along with all those hours you swim, bike and run, then you have probably realized the importance of eating the right combination of fats, carbs and protein. It’s not just about the protein. It’s a delicate dance of factors from desired weight to expected race performance. If you’re not fueling the engine right with more than just protein, it doesn’t matter how many hours you train to reach your goals.

No doubt you also like to enjoy your snacks rather than just get the essential nutrition out of them, unless you’ve really bought into paleo and want to eat like a caveman. What can make the task of proper fueling even more difficult is the specter of the average triathlete being on the go with work, family and friends. Not everyone has easy access to a kitchen with whole food ingredients at their fingertips for every meal. Most need a convenient meal on the go that won’t make a mess that they can jam in their face between meetings in the morning or afternoon.

CLIF bar was gracious enough to send a sample of Builder’s Protein Bars for a review as an alternative for easy access to good fuel with a handsome dose of protein.

Read on for our take on the 8 flavors minus the new chocolate hazelnut of Builder’s Bars that CLIF sent us.


Packaging / Shelf Appeal / Marketing

When you hear the name, “Builder’s Bar”, we immediately think of that body builder dude pumping iron at the gym, screaming at the top of his lungs for that last set of 300 pound bench presses. So yes, the bar might be geared for muscle heads looking for protein substitute instead of raw meat, but for triathletes spending some hard time working out at high intensity levels, they need that protein as well to repair and feed muscles. When you see the bars, they are packaged in a powerful wrapper that’s bold and attention grabbing, like the name. Who doesn’t like something shiny to unwrap? It’s also convenient to throw in a gym bag or the glove box (careful as they will melt on hot days) and not lose track of. The package won’t tear or snag as it’s sturdy construction.


Form / Construction

When you open the Builder’s Bar, the majority are chocolate flavors, so they appear similar to your standard candy bar with a chocolate coating and a crunchy bottom layer. For those that like the crunchy candy bars, it won’t be far off. They are not the other protein bars that are solid and chewy that sometimes can get gritty as you break them down to be able to swallow.

The Builder’s Bars weigh in at 270 calories or so per bar. Of that, 9 grams is fat, 29 grams is carbs and 20 grams is protein if you are keeping count at home. So, don’t just add the Builder’s Bar into your daily diet without planning. It’s almost half a decent sized meal to begin with. It has a good protein to carb ratio, but it will steal some calories from your daily meal planning. That may almost be more than most candy bars calorie wise, but you will get around 40 grams of carbs and 4 grams of protein from a candy bar which is hardly the proper nutrition for an athlete or fitness minded person.

An important item of note is that the bars have zero grams trans fat and does not contain partially-hydrogenated oils or high fructose corn syrup. In today’s ever over engineered food work where taste and profit are king, some are still finding ways to deliver good food without all the crap.

Fit / Function

Yes, they have a good chunk of protein, but do they deliver on taste and fill you up / fuel you up / help you recover like you would anticipate?

With protein bars, taste and texture are the big hangups. Everyone wants the benefits of the protein, but not everyone appreciates the method of delivery. While Builder’s Bars aren’t going to be as tasty as a Snickers bar, they are much better than some chewy protein bars on the market that get all grainy after chewing on each bite for 5 minutes to break it down enough to swallow. They taste like the flavor printed on the package and have a nice crisp texture that doesn’t require jaws of steel. The real issue is limiting yourself to one bar and not using them as a go-to snack substitute or dessert item.

They do fill you up for the short term, which makes them a great snack item between meals. Used before a cardio workout or after a strength workout, they can be key meals to keep your body fueled and reduce injuries from undernourished muscles. We would not recommend the Builder’s Bars as a meal substitute unless you are in a bind. They just won’t fill you up for hours on end.

They have 9 flavors currently to choose from, so if chocolate isn’t your thing, you have options. They are great for throwing in your gym bag for a pre or post workout snack and they even stay in one piece in bags being thrown into your car or jammed in a gym locker. They only drawback will be on hot days, they will melt and make a mess. Best is to not leave them sitting in your car during the summer.



You could spend $1 for a snickers, or $1.50 (online) for a Builder’s Bar. At the convenience store, you might pay a little more if you’re in a pinch, but plan ahead and you should be ok. That’s one catch with Builder’s Bars, they aren’t cheap, but they can be less expensive than other protein bar alternatives. Some can go from $2 to $2.50 a bar online, and even more in the brick and mortar stores.

You do get what you pay for. You may end up spending more for a Builder’s Bar than a candy bar, but you’ll get higher quality nutrition and not a crap sugar load.

Final thoughts

You know you have a winner when you review a product and you end up buying it outside of the review with your own money. We have since stocked up on Builder’s Bars to be proactive and get them at a reasonable price instead of convenience store prices. One a day will do it, as they do consume a large chunk of calories, but when you need 170 grams of protein a day, and you don’t want to get it all through egg whites and tuna fish, the Builder’s Bar is a good alternative. You just need to be careful about trading it out for other foods in your meal planning and not adding it on and expecting to lose weight.


* Writer's note - CLIF Bars sent us the Builder’s Bars for this review and in no way influenced the review.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Quest Protein Chip by @QuestNutrition Review

If you’re at all interested in eating better to go along with all those hours you swim, bike and run, then you have probably realized the importance of eating the right combination of fats, carbs and protein. It’s a delicate dance of factors from desired weight to expected race performance. If you’re not fueling the engine right, it doesn’t matter how many hours you train to overcome that.

But, how do you make sure you are getting what you need from your healthy snacks without sacrificing taste and appeal? Not everyone can kick back a can of tuna and a cup of cottage cheese and “enjoy” it. We’re all human. We like to enjoy taste and texture of what we eat.

There are all kinds of approaches from paleo to all natural grass fed no antibiotic hand combed cows and chickens, but lets get real. This day and age, if you want unaltered ingredients or something “simple”, you’re looking at higher prices and something that virtually financially unsustainable for a family. If it’s not mass produced and chalked full of preservatives for shelf life, it’s going to cost more.

In the never ending quest to find healthy snack alternatives, we found Quest Protein Chips. It’s kind of an oxymoron when you first come upon them. We found them at our gym and decided to buy a couple and give them a spin. We’ve heard of the bars they produce, and my wife loves them, but we were skeptical that a chip could be advertised as healthy.

Read on for our take on the Sour Cream and Cheddar and BBQ flavors.

Packaging / Shelf Appeal / Marketing

The packaging and images actually make you want to eat what’s inside. Not all health foods or those that pretend have the right marketing scheme. Some throw pictures of mascots and other junk not even related to the food inside that distract you from the real mission, finding quality food.

The picture on the package is pretty true to what the ships look like, unless your 4 year old sat on the bag in the car or punched it out of your hands when they were impatiently waiting to leave the gym waiting on you to pay for the chips. It happens. They still eat the same as whole chips or crushed pieces.

Form / Construction

Where the rubber meets the road. Are they full of crap? Do they have the advertised 21 grams of protein per serving and double the carbs? What are you getting for your $2.99 at the gym counter?

INGREDIENTS: Protein Blend (Milk Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Isolate), Dried Potatoes, Corn Starch, High Oleic Sunflower Oil. Contains less than 2% of the following: Tomato Powder, Onion Powder, Paprika, Garlic Powder, Spices, Salt, Paprika Extract (Color), Yeast Extract, Calcium Carbonate, Natural Flavors. CONTAINS: Milk Derived Ingredients

The bags say right on the front : NO SOY, GLUTEN FREE, 5G CARBS, 21G PROTEIN, BAKED NEVER FRIED

Pretty much all you need to know is on the front of the bag, but for you macronutrient counters, they have in 32 grams per serving (1 bag), 120 calories, 2g of fat, 5g of carbs and 21g of protein. For a quick snack on the go for the fitness types, that’s a quality 120 calories. I know I’m always looking for meals and snacks that won’t blow the calorie budget that give me my best protein ratio. Compare that with a not-to-be-named baked BBQ chip, 28g serving, 120 calories, 3g of fat, 22g of carbs and 2g of protein. The fat looks good, but you’ve just broke the bank for carbs without much protein benefit. Get ready to skimp on dinner to save your day nutrition wise. Hello tuna on a plate...


Fit / Function

Do Quest Chips go down easy, or do you have to choke them down like so many chalky protein powders and drinks that are out there?

I’m here to tell you they taste as good as any chip out there. They have that baked / popped chip look and light density when you bite into one. They crunch and that sweet nectar of cheddar or BBQ that you crave will be there for the taking. Consider your craving for crap satisfied, but you didn’t have to sacrifice your soul for the nutritional deficit that comes with most chips.


Where’s the catch you ask? We get taste and nutrition!? Well, it’s not free. We paid for these out of pocket, no freebie reviews, and at $2.99 a bag at the gym, it can get pricey. Your generic chips can go around $4 for 6 to 7 servings. Quest chips are $3 for 1 serving. Eat wisely, my friend. You get what you pay for.


Final thoughts

We will continue to buy Quest Chips. Santa may even drop a few in our stockings. If anyone could benefit from a healthier chip, it would be the big man from the north.

The taste and texture is spot on, the shelf appeal is there. It’s got all of the right ingredients, but you will pay a premium for 21 grams of protein, only 5 grams of carbs in 120 calories. You have to decide that if your chip craving can be satisfied for $3 a pop. Used wisely, this is a great alternative for a midday snack, or a companion to your meal. It holds you over for a tough workout without being too full, and serves well as a post-workout meal to replenish protein to rebuild muscle. That’s a big benefit in the winter months as most multi-sport athletes head to the gym for strength and conditioning.

Grab a bag and try for yourself, just don’t sit on them.



* Writer's note - We purchased the chips for this review and Quest in no way influenced this review.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Xterra wetsuit sale - Use code "C-STPM" and 7 percent goes to Tri4aHandUp.com when buying $99 volt sleeveless wetsuit!

Our great www.Tri4aHandUp.com partner, Xterra wetsuits, is having a sale!  In the spirit of raising funds for Tri 4 a Hand Up charities.

Get their Volt Sleeveless for $99 or Vortex Fullsuit for $163 until the end of today!

Use code "C-STPM" at checkout to get the sale price.

Check out the deals below and hit www.xterrawetsuits.com and use code "C-STPM" at checkout to get the best price!  Also remember that Xterra will donate 7 percent of all sales with the code to Tri4aHandUp charities!  We don't keep a dime!

Thanks for the support!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Updates / Races / DNS / Ride to Give / Prayers for Triston / Ironman Chattanooga - #‎TeamRTG‬ ‪#‎IMChattanooga‬ ‪#‎raceday

So, posts are few and far between, so I will try and bring you up to speed.

After Ironman Kansas 70.3, the only race I had signed up for was a local fun race, Shawnee Mission Triathlon.  It's a nice park that is totally closed off for the race.  No traffic.  Raced many times.  Problem was that this race seems to get cancelled or cut short for weather every other year.  This year we were about to swim over to the swim start area to line up and bam, started raining and some lightening.  Nothing wild, but enough to delay and they eventaully cancelled the race.  I headed to the gym to race an indoor triathlon instead of waiting around until 9am to see if they called it off.  Glad I did since they did can the race.

SM Tri was the only other triathlon I was signed up for until Chattanooga.  I eyed a few local events and even volunteered with my mini-me at one, but opted not to stress out the homefront with a race and save the entry fee for travel for IM Chattanooga.

No pressure on IM Chattnooga since I only had 4 triathlons on the schedule.  Texas = DNF.  KS = finished with PR. SM Tri = Cancelled.  IM Choo = ????

Speaking of IM Choo, as you may notice, I teamed up with Ride to Give to raise funds for racing IM Choo and orginally selected Mended Little Hearts as my charity partner.  Well, we did some recon and decided it would work out better to select a child with a need rather than a broad organization.  That's when we switched to Prayers for Triston.  Trison is a sweet little boy that lives south of St Louis, MO, with his family that was born with a severe congenital heart defect (CHD).  By the grace of god, he made it through some tough times, but his family is barely keeping ahead of his medical needs.  We're hoping to help pick up a little slack by raising funds to help offset their financial needs.  Read on for my journey thus far and think about donating!

The journey has begun...

So Wednesday was the start of Ironman Triathlon attempt 3 journey. First completed was Lake Tahoe in 2013 (2014 was cancelled last week from smoke from an arson fire). Second attempted was Texas 2014 in May which saw me unable to continue at mile 14 on the run (after completing the 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike ride) due to severe cramps and dehydration. IM Tahoe was nice with a less hectic work situation and I was able to focus on attempt 1 and feel pretty confident I could finish it. Texas I wondered what winter training would get me and I thought I was going to get it done without many problems. I spent 3 days before at a work deal in Tulsa and then drove until like 5am to get to Texas and it was shoe-horned in and not that great of a journey.

The Chattanooga journey this year has been complicated with a new job for me and Emily and both kids in school and growing up. It's been a balancing act and I believe I'm ready, but took some time off this week so it wasn't crammed in. I'm in Paducah, KY, tonight and then driving the last 4 hours tomorrow morning straight to packet pickup and then hopefully some light workouts and enjoying the experience. Unfortunately it will only be me as Emily had to work and it just didn't work out to bring an entourage.

But, along the way was a good omen, the Little Debbie trailer on a truck headed the same way. Since Little Debbie is the sponsor for Ironman Chattanooga, I figured I was in good hands on the drive in.

I also made a stop in Ste. Genevieve, MO, and drove through Cairo, IL. What’s interesting about each of those? One was to meet a special bud and the other was like the town that withered and blew away.

When I drove through Ste. Genevieve (an hour south of St Louis, MO), it struck me as an odd place to have a large little town. I didn’t really see any good reason why someone would settle in that area and then have the town grow around it. I actually went to google to find out more, cause as we all know, the internet is always right. Founded by French Canadian colonists, it was the first organized European settlement west of the Mississippi River in present-day Missouri. It was founded for farming mainly and later moved inland a little to avoid flooding. Why am I going on about this? I found it interesting to find someplace so steeped in colonial heritage. You could see it in the buildings and town layout and was refreshing to see a place rich with heritage being kept alive. Even better than the history lesson was the chance to meet the little guy I dedicated my fundraising to with Ride to Give. Triston and his family live in Ste. Genevieve, MO, which was pretty much right on the way to Paducah. Emily had met them all before and participated in many CHD awareness events and events specifically to help with Triston’s medical and financial needs. It was the first time I met him in person and he is quite the cuddler. He’d make a great snuggle buddy in the fall for football watching on the couch, or Mickey Mouse, which is his preference. He seemed to be fascinated with facial hair and checks out everyone’s hair versus is curly locks by running his fingers through them. He’s definitely a lover, and a CHD fighter.

Don’t forget about the fundraiser for Triston! We are $2920 away from our $5000 goal, with half going to Triston and his family to help with expenses to keep Triston moving in the right direction. https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/6b2s7 - I really need any help I can get to get to the goal and all donations are tax deductable.

A small side note was driving through Cairo, IL. It was basically an abandoned city that looked like it had flourished at one point, but now on its way to being completely uninhabited. Cairo is the southernmost city in the U.S. state of Illinois. Cairo has the lowest elevation of any location within Illinois and is the only city in the state surrounded by levees. This part of Illinois is known as Little Egypt. Several blocks in the town comprise the Cairo Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). The Old Customs House is also on the NRHP. The city is part of the Cape Girardeau−Jackson, MO-IL Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population at the 2010 census was 2,831, a significant decline from its peak population of 15,203 in 1920. At its peak it had a huge ferry, train and trade industry. It had no bridges to cross the river so the town was basically built to support getting people and supplies across the river. Once they built several bridges, the town basically dried up. It was just kind of sad to drive through and see the history and see its active fading into oblivion. It was a unique look into American history and how the impact of progress actually made a 15,000 person city obsolete.

I'm here!  I'm actually in Chattnooga finally!

I got in Thursday and headed straight to athlete check-in to get that out of the way. I’ve been on the second day and it’s a zoo, so I wanted to make sure to check that off the list asap. So far I’ve checked in, set up in the hotel, ran a quick 3 miler and chilled. Well, I did a little work too… bleh.


Today I’m scoping out areas to get a quick bike ride in to make sure the setup is all good and then hit the athlete dinner. The main goal is to not spend too much time on my feet and make sure everything is ready.

Being the 3rd full Ironman race I’m getting ready for, it’s a mix of “I kind of know what’s going on” and “it’s going to be great at the finish line, but it’s a long day to get there”. 112 miles (actually 116 since they had to modify the course for traffic issues) is no joke. I’ve heard it’s a “fast” course which hopefully translates into “not killing myself to get it done”. Forecasts have us starting around 65 degrees in the morning with a high barely getting to 80 degrees. They also are slipping in some rain towards the late afternoon / evening. As long as I’m dry on the bike, whatever works.

It’s odd being here and going through the experience while life continues as always for everyone back home. Emily, my Mom and my Aunt have it a little more difficult without me at home and juggling kid patrol. I am experiencing the “Fear of Missing Out”, but trying to stay focused on what I came here to do.

Speaking of my to-do list, we are getting “closer” to the $5000 goal for Ride to Give and Triston. How about that transition? We have surpassed the $2000 mark at $2080, $2920 to go. I know that it will take a miracle to get it all by the end of Sunday, but consider any donation amount, nothing is too small. Check it out at https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/6b2s7.

Maybe every time you check out my status during the race Sunday (bib 1679), you donate $1? That would be cool.

Regardless of donations, thank you to all that have supported me and worked around my travel to help with my family while I’m gone.