Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hatfield Foot - Calf - Stretch Strap review

Planters fasciitis is an ugly word in the world of triathlon. When you're out there pounding the pavement for hours on end during training and running anywhere from 3 miles to 26.2 miles on race day, you're bound to experience it in some form. Some people live with it day in and day out while others might see a flare up on occasion.

Regardless of how often and the severity you have or will experience it, it's a pain in the ass... or rather the foot.

Doctors and physical therapists will recommend anything from proper stretching to ART therapy to relieve the aches and pains, because as we all know, no triathlete worth their salt is going to lay off the training for things to heal up. You might have also seen the sleeping socks that pull the toes up with a strap connecting at the shin or other imaginative solutions. Any way you slice it, there are a lot of opinions on how to mitigate the effects of PF.

Why are we discussing this today you may wonder? Well, the inventors of the Hatfield Strap (http://hatfieldstrap.com/) reached out to us to test out their calf stretching product. We have had our fair share of PF issues and could certainly extend ourselves to test out their torture device. Read on for a look at our thoughts about the Hatfield Strap.

Packaging / Shelf Appeal / Marketing

The box is professional and sharp in appearance, definitely not something someone put together in their garage. You open it up to find your Hatfield Strap with sewn in handles and a shoulder extension strap for any more variation when using. You will as also find some limited instructions with pictures to illustrate how to use the strap. What's also a nice side benefit is the box not being totally destroyed in the process of extracting it for use. Makes for convenient storage later.


Form / Construction / Fashion

When you examine the strap, it's made of sturdy nylon similar to what you would find for construction safety harnesses for workers in high risk areas. It's pretty obvious that's their nothing you can do with your bare hands to break the strap. The seams are hardcore stitching that could probably support the weight of a truck. Rest assured you're not going to anything under your own strength to tear this strap apart.

It's a unique design that allows adaptation for several body shapes and sizes. There might be a few body types that might not fit, but 98% of us triathletes will fit. The adjustable clips can be tightened down to hug the upper calf below the knee for a snug, but not painful fit. They thought of pretty much everything down to the soft pads built into the back of the leg straps so the plastic clasps don't cut unto your skin.

Fit / Function

At first, it's an art form and delicate dance to balance your foot on the strap and find the right position to apply pull force without your foot slipping out. You can't jam your foot in a hurry and hope it works right. That being said, once your foot is positioned correctly, then you can apply as much force as reasonably possible to get a sufficient stretch. The handles are large and provide ample grip to pull with effort and not having to worry about them slipping out of your hands.

The only notable issue we had was with the adjustable straps on the upper calf. We had to pretty much cinch them all the way to get a secure grip to pull against. Even with fully cinched straps, it would slowly slide down our leg if you didn't compensate for it by adjusting leg position or force pulling on the handles. The Hatfield Strap does come in multiple sizes, so make to make a proper selection that will ensure the best fit.

But, we still got ample force to get a good stretch on the calf, relieving some of the achy PF soreness before and after our Ironman Texas attempt and Ironman 70.3 Kansas race. We used the Hatfield strap for a couple of weeks and we noticed an immediate difference. The impact of the effectiveness came in the morning as a lot of PF sufferers will attest to that being the most painful times. After using the strap the night before, we experienced around a 50% decrease in morning heel pain and stiffness. Isn't nice to get to the potty for that morning pee without hobbling and pain? We thought so.

We did experience the same level of issues if we did not use the Hatfield strap. To put it into simple terms, if you don't use it you lose it. We found that if use is discontinued, the relief went away as well. The strap is not a cure for the root issue be it an injury, bad running form, worn out or ill fitting shoes or something else, we found. It gives you relief, but only if used on a consistent basis.

Cost

Now, would we have sought out the Hatfield strap on our own? Perhaps. We have bought several products for PF relief in the past and spent time in a PT office, so the drive to spend money in this area is there. The Hatfield comes in at $35 to $90 depending on style and accessories. In reality, that’s not all that bad for the durability and quality that you get. $77 would get you the calf strap and shoulder strap we tested out. You could pay at least that for most stretching and pain relief apparatuses anywhere.

You will be limited on options where to buy the strap as they are only sold on their website at the moment.

Final thoughts

When the dust settles, the Hatfield Strap is worth your consideration when it comes to PF relief or getting the most out of your calf stretching. Sufferers of achilles strain would also appreciate the effectiveness of the Hatfield Strap. The price might be a bit extreme (based on your perspective) based on all of the options you want, but you could end up with a great passive stretching (using the shoulder strap) that you could use while recovering with a good book, watching tv or writing product reviews. You'll also receive comfort in knowing the strap will outlive your racing days as the quality construction is first rate.

Disclaimer

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

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Xterra wetsuit sale - $119 Use code "C-STPM" and 7 percent goes to Tri4aHandUp.com

Our great www.Tri4aHandUp.com partner, Xterra wetsuits, is having a sale!

Get wetsuits starting at $119 for the weekend of the 4th of July.

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!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Ironman 70.3 Kansas 2014 Triathlon preview

Time is short, I'll get to the point.

Sunday is Ironman 70.3 Kansas.  I've raced this race 5 times (1 DNF due to mechanical issues) and Ironman Boulder 70.3 once.  So, this will be Half Ironman attempt number 7 for me.

After the DNF on the run at IM Texas 2014 in May, I'm careful not to look past a long distance triathlon.  Don't take it for granted relying on "I've done this before", "I've got enough endurance to get to the finish line, so it's ok if I miss workouts or don't have 100 percent to give during a workout".

But, after racing Ironman Lake Tahoe and Ironman Texas, I'm definitely looking forward to "only" 56 miles on the bike and 13.1 miles on the run.  My best time is 5:34 in 2013, and I'd definitely like to do better this year.

Problem is that there is a local half marathon that I've been doing for 5 to 6 years now that is usually the weekend before Kansas. But, this is one of the rare years that they are on the same weekend.  They also broke out the 5k for a Friday night race.

So, I could, if I wanted to, run a 5k Friday night, half marathon Saturday and half Ironman Sunday.  I don't know if I'm stupid enough to do it...

On one hand it would be awesome to get the Hospital Hill Re-Run swag of running the 5k and then Half the next day.  You get a medal for each race and an extra medal for running both... I'm a sucker for hardware I guess.  I'm confident that I have enough endurance in the tank to do all 3, but I'm not sure how my body will react Sunday if I raced them all.

I'm not sure if I could apply my new hammer philosophy to the bike like I have the past two weeks.  I've focused on hard effort on rides keeping upwards of 18.5 mph averages on 1 to 2.5 hour rides, whereas in the past it would be from 16 to 17.5.  I'm determined to get more out of the bike without completely sabotaging the run.

But if I run a 5k and half marathon the day before, what's left on Sunday?

I'm still on the fence.  I'd still love a new half ironman PR or sub 5:30 time, but it would also rock to have a challenge weekend of getting it all in.

Time will tell if I'm stupid daring enough to attempt it.

Stay tuned for the recap.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Tri4aHandUp partners Xterra having wetsuit sale - Speedsuit + lava pants + vortex sleeveless #Triathlon #swimming

Our great www.Tri4aHandUp.com partner, Xterra wetsuits, is having a sale!

Choose Velocity M Speedsuit + Lava Pants + Meshbag for $225
Vortex Sleeveless + Transition Backpack for $169

Sale ends June 3.

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!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

IRONMAN TEXAS 2014 RACE RECAP - 5/17/14

Sometimes you don't know where the edge is until you cross it and it's too late to come back.

After a stellar swim and an acceptable bike ride, I found myself with 9 hours to complete the 26.2 mile run to get in under 17 hours and only needing to complete the run in 6.5 hours to better my Ironman Lake Tahoe time at the 2014 Ironman Texas triathlon... but like a dumbass, I got greedy and put all my training and racing blunders of the day front and center.

It was reminiscent of Mother Nature pissing her pants-suit...


What if I had trained more focused on my bike rides?  What if I completed more of my scheduled long rides instead of cutting them short?

What if I had accounted for the time lost going from part time to full time work and dropped the stuff that truly didn't matter in the grand scheme to focus more on training properly?

What if I would have drank enough water and not as much sports drink on the bike and run start?

What if I would have not been aggressive with walking every other aid station to start the run?

What if I would have made myself throw up the crap I had in my stomach and started over with lost of water?

There are a lot of what if's for that Saturday.  What's not a what-if is the fact I turned in my 2nd DNF of my triathlon life.  Ironman Kansas 70.3 in 2011 was for mechanical reasons and Ironman Texas was for physical reasons.

At mile 13ish on the run, I was light headed, thrown up once and from my abdomen to my quads cramped up in so much pain that I can only think that maybe that's what child birth is like for women... ok maybe a 10th of that pain, but I was hurting.  I could not physically get up off the sidewalk to keep walking and ended up in an ambulance to the med tent for IV zofran for nausea and IV fluids for good old fashion dehydration.

Lets take it from the top...

After traveling Thursday and Friday the week before, and then traveling to Tulsa, OK, for a work conference from Monday to Wednesday before IMTX, I loaded up and took off right after dinner on Wednesday and pulled an all nighter to drive to Houston.  That wasn't a smart move.  I rolled in at 5am Thursday morning and used my hotel room for 6 hours before I had to check out and head to athlete check in.

It was the finest moment, but I had little choice and in retrospect I would have stopped somewhere around 11 to catch some z's before finishing the trip.  It would have kept me on a better sleep pattern, not necessarily got me more net sleep.

Meeting my Ride to Give teammates was great!

I met Melissa and Dave from Ride to Give.  Dave was racing for Xavier and Melissa was racing for Team Mallorie.  I was racing for Ironhearts and kind of picked up IMTX on a whim, which I never thought I'd ever race a spring Ironman.

We hit the practice swim on Friday, and I rode with Melissa Thursday.  It was nice to have that added camaraderie, but I was so thrown off by being in a rush to get there from work conference, travel and being tired, I didn't take full advantage of hanging with the team.  It was survival mode most of the time.

The swim was awesome.  2.4 Miles : 1:14:13

That's good for sub 2:00/100 and easily the best IM swim compared to Tahoe, besting by 12 minutes.  It was so great in fact that at the T1 tent, I could feel my fingers and it only took 11 minutes compared to 26 at Tahoe.  What can I say, it went pretty well aside from getting kicked, punched and pulled under and going a little off course.

My only issue is I much prefer the rolling start like Tahoe.  Your time starts when you pass the arch and enter the water instead of a mass water start.  I spent way too much energy trying not to get killed in the first mile and I even started behind the mass of people at the very front.

I was mildly worried that I wasn't getting enough time in the pool, but I was at least maintaining and sort of getting speedier... and with a wetsuit legal swim, it turned out great.

The bike was sufficient.  112 Miles : 6:39:41

After Lake Tahoe, I had no idea what to expect over the rolling 112 of Texas.  Luckily this was easiestly the coolest Texas race by far with highs at maybe 83... so the bike was not a suffer fest like it could have been.  I took a laid back approach, knowing I did not get in rides like I wanted in training and hoping that I was leave enough to get through the run in good shape.

I focused on electrolytes, sports drinks, nutrition and felt pretty good about how I managed that aspect.  I did have to stop 3 times for pee, bananas, back stretching and special needs bag that I'm sure cut into my time, but 6:40 compared to over 8 hours on the bike from Tahoe is hands down the best IM day ever.  Score.

I came into T2 feeling a little tired, and hammy's were screaming a little, but no serious cramping or issues to note as I headed to the changing tent.

I will say this, there was maybe a 15 mph wind on the way back, and being from Kansas I was perfectly ok with that, what sucked was the 40 miles of chip seal roads.  Talk about a momentum killer.  But hey, at 6:40 for a "realistic" IM bike course time, I'll take it.

The run... oh the run... 26.2 Miles : DNF at mile 13.75

So over 8 hours into the race coming out of the tent, I only needed a 6.5 hour marathon to beat Tahoe time and 9 hours to finish before the cutoff.  Why the hell I got so greedy to try and get under 12 or at least under 12.5 is beyond me, in retrospect.

I started walking every other aid station which was probably 1.5 miles or so.  I felt ok, and loaded a hand held water bottle with sodium/potassium mix with sports drink at the tent to take with me.  There I was sipping my drink, grabbing water and bananas at aid stations and thinking I was doing pretty good.  And, I was until I headed on the second loop.

As I passed the changing tent on loop 2, the first bought of cramps hit.  Groin and hammy's.... plenty of time to walk it off and walk the aid station.  I sipped my drink and grabbed a banana half and sports drink to try and get the sodium replaced and potassium on board.

I felt good enough to trot again and went to walk at every aid station.  That was working ok until mile 12ish and it was disaster time.  Mother Nature pissed her pants-suit.

Nausea, dizziness and dry mouth were my nemesis.  I could no longer stomach the thought of anything else going into my gullet.  So I walked.  I walked to mile 13 aid station, yarfed a little in the port-a-potty, laid on the sidewalk while a sweet gal poured cold water on my and regrouped.

I can do this.

Started walking again.

Got more light headed.

Stopped to sit on a bench to get a rock out of my shoe.

Cramps. Groin.  Both quads.

Laid on the sidewalk to stretch out.

Not letting up.

Didn't feel like responding to "are you ok" any more.

Bike riding EMT's on the scene.

"Do you need to wait it out?  Anything we can do?"

No, I can't move.

They called transport to take me to med tent.

I now have a new reason to shave body hair.  When they hook up monitors, they need bare skin, so they shave your chest anyways.  They do NOT shave your shins where they hook up others.  Word to the wise, even if you don't think it will be you, shave.  You will save yourself agony of ripping highly adhesive monitor patches off your skin and your hair with them.  I was left with a happy face shaved into my chest and missing patches of hair on my legs.

That's just one lesson I learned that day after I puked up my socks in the med tent and felt 110 percent better after IV zofran and a bad of fluids.

I also learned my sodium, potassium and electrolyte levels were good, despite the concern I was losing the fight.  My wife and I put our minds together and realized I didn't have enough plain old H2O.

READ:

http://science.howstuffworks.com/science-vs-myth/what-if/what-if-you-drink-saltwater1.htm\

Potential Effects of Drinking Saltwater (or ingesting too much sodium with sports drink / powders or pills)

Have you ever been minding your own business on an elevator when an aggressively perfumed person stepped on? What happened? Did the Lady Stetson/Drakkar Noir stay on the person? Nope, it wafted all over the elevator so that everyone could smell it. That's diffusion in action. This net transport of matter from a region of high concentration to a region of lower concentration is happening all the time.

When it comes to diffusion and saltwater though, human cells have biological membranes, which can prevent salt from freely waltzing into our cells. Although our bodies can normalize sodium and chloride concentrations to an extent, dealing with extremely high concentrations of salt in the blood is challenging. That's because a cell's membrane is semipermeable -- although sodium, chloride and other substances may not be able to easily diffuse in and out of the cell, water can. When the salt concentration is higher on the outside of our cells than on the inside, water moves from the inside to the outside of the cells to correct the imbalance. The attempt to equalize the concentrations of matter on both sides of a semipermeable membrane is called osmosis.

If you're consuming seawater, the results of osmosis are spectacularly disastrous. Remember the salinity of seawater is almost four times that of our bodily fluids. If gone unchecked, the net transfer of water from the inside of your cells to the outside will cause the cells to shrink considerably -- and shrinkage is never good.

Unless you drink a lot of freshwater, the body's regulatory mechanism in this situation is potentially fatal. With seawater, the change in sodium concentration outside our cells is the main culprit. In order to regain an isotonic state, a must for cell survival, the body attempts to eliminate the excess sodium from its extracellular fluids. It secretes urine. However, human kidneys can only produce urine that's slightly less salty than saltwater. So, in order to remove the extreme amount of sodium taken in by saltwater, we urinate more water than we actually drank. And dehydration sets in.

So, if you're guzzling seawater, you actually aren't taking in any water but are incurring a net loss, leading to depleted body fluids, muscle cramps, dry mouth, and yes, thirst.

The body tries to compensate for fluid loss by increasing the heart rate and constricting blood vessels to maintain blood pressure and flow to vital organs. You're also most likely to feel nausea, weakness and even delirium. As you become more dehydrated, the coping mechanism fails. If you still don't drink any water to reverse the effects of excess sodium, the brain and other organs receive less blood, leading to coma, organ failure and eventually death.

Of course, consuming small amounts of saltwater won't kill you. The take home message is clear, though: Salt and water are best consumed separately -- and any salt intake should be accompanied by plenty of freshwater.

So, what's the conclusion?

Do I have a chip on my shoulder for IMTX?  No.  It was my own stupidity that lead to my DNF.  My conditioning should have got me to the finish line.  I left out one simple undeniable requirement, water.

My pride and ego is hurt more than feeling the need to either quite Ironman racing or race Texas again to prove I can do it.  I've already finished Ironman Tahoe and know I can do 140.6.

What I do need to do is weed out the superfluous junk in life to focus on the important stuff in life.

Up until now I had been trying to fit it all in while going from self employed part time to full time at a company.
Family
Friends
Work
Triathlon Training
Writing
Product Reviews
House Chores

It had to give and at mile 13.75, it came to a crashing halt.

The plan has to change.  I wasn't getting it done, being stressed, frustrated and upset that everything seemed half assed.

No more.

The new focus:
Family/Friends
Work
Triathlon training and racing.

This will result in stuff like this recap being a week after the event.  I probably won't be pumping out as much writing content.  Product reviews will probably be few and far between.  The important stuff needs to get handled, I need sleep and all else can wait.

Hopefully all that look to this blog for any pertinent info will understand.  It's not going away, but it won't be nearly as consistent as before.

Safe racing everyone!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

$3 Triathlon Thursday - donate $3 at https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/6b2s7 for charity #IronmanChattanooga #triathlon #Charity

Alright people, it's time to start stepping up the fundraising efforts for Ironman Chattanooga. Starting with $3 for Triathlon Thursday! Hit my fundrazr page - https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/6b2s7 - and donate $3 for Triathlon Thursday.

Help support Ride to Give and Mended Little Hearts as I train for Ironman attempt 2 for the year. As most of you know, I faltered at Ironman Texas and have a renewed sense of focus and cutting out some of the "frivolous" stuff in life that really doesn't matter... no, that's not the wife and kids. ;) I'm spending less time on anything other than family/friends, work and training. Those come first and anything else is a distance 4th. I shorted myself for Texas and it's not going to happen again.

What that also means is I need more support on the fundraising side so I can focus more on training and less on trying to squeeze donations from people. The more you donate, the more I can set myself up for success at Chattanooga! Thanks!