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.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Xterra wetsuit sale - Use code "C-STPM" and 7 percent goes to Tri4aHandUp.com when buying Kona edition speedsuit!

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, we have 6 days until Ironman Chattanooga and still have around $3200 to raise before then (not impossible, right?)

Get their new 2014 Kona edition speedsuit starting at $149 with two shipping until Sept 23rd!

The countdown to Kona and Maui has begun.. With less than 30 days until Kona, and less than 60 days until Maui, Xterra is happy to unveil their new speedsuit. They're pre-selling them, and if you're headed to Kona, they will be bringing them to hand off to you! If you need it in time for KONA, when you get to the check out section, please enter "KONA" in the company line during checkout! If you're not racing KONA, check out their $237 Vector Pro wetsuit, and of course the always loved $159 Vortex Fullsuit.

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!

Sunday, September 7, 2014


So, it's been a while... I'll pick up where I left off.

Ironman Kansas 70.3 was the last race preview I left you all hanging with.

Here's what happened when I hit the swim start, condensed version.  ;)

It was half Ironman distance triathlon 7 for me, and it ended up being one of the best overall half yet.  If you read the preview, maybe you wondered if I ran a 5k Friday night, half marathon Saturday morning and then a half ironman Sunday.  To end the suspense, I ran the 5k on Friday night with the kids in the running stroller, opted to ditch the half marathon as it was raining and the kids were sound asleep and raced Kansas on Sunday.

After running a 28ish minute 5k pushing 150 pounds of kids and stroller, I was a little sore, but ok to hit it hard Sunday morning.  I was hoping for a half PR and getting under 5:30.


SWIM : 34:15

The swim was perfect.  Calm waters.  Calm winds.  Temperatures allowing wetsuit legal race, but not too cold.  No rain.  Perfect conditions for a swim PR by a few seconds, literally.

It felt great compared to where I came from with my swimming skills.  I used to be back of the pack getting caught by all the other waves... now I'm the one trying to swim through the back of waves ahead of me.  Nice change.


BIKE : 3:01:33

Not a PR, but I like the 18.5 mph average over a tough course.  There were minor winds to deal with, but nothing near what we have had to deal with in the past.

I also made an effort to get more speed out of my workouts after IM Texas.  It's time to hammer the rides and the way I have to structure rides, I have to get the most work out of less time.  It paid off.

I also made it a point to get at least half and half with water and sports drinks.  I ate some bananas and Cliff bars on the ride, but after Texas, water was the key even if the temps were not extreme.

I wanted to leave the bike with something left, but a little less than I have had in the past.  Push the edge to see how close I can get.

RUN : 1:47:58

The run could not have been better for that race on that day.  PR by around 2 minutes from last year.  The run was a little warm, but staying on top of water, hydration and nutrition left me with enough to push a consistent pace until 3 miles to go to let it all go to see what I could do.

I was running along flirting with a sub 5:30, but I was in the space of pushing too much too early to get ahead of the mark and risk melting down, or laying off too much and missing my window to get there at the end.

With 3 to go, I opened it up and made a push for sub 5:30.

FINAL : 5:30:40

SO CLOSE!  I was one port-a-potty stop in T2 from getting sub 5:30.  I was tempted to let it go on the bike, but didn't realize it would be the difference between 5:30 and sub.  Oh well.  One way or another, I needed the bio-break or it would have been a painful 13.1 miles.


Race day was perfect.  The only hiccup was the race was to be converted to a 1 transition area race, and they changed it the day before to the traditional 2 transition race it had always been.  It's not a deal breaker, but I'm not sure why not just stay with what works?  Why tease us with changes.  Oh well.

I played this race pretty close to the chest.  I didn't go all out, but I was careful to keep the PR in site.  Always want to do better than the year before and doing this race as many times as I have, I know the course well.

I like how each year I have done better at the swim.  This year was a PR in the swim and run.  I have yet to beat the first year's bike time, but I'm almost 30 minutes faster in the run than my first HIM.  Not a bad trade off going up by 6 minutes on the bike and down 30 minutes on the run.

It was also awesome to race with my athlete, Tim, that I trained and mentored remote since he lived in Illinois and I'm in Kansas.  It was his first HIM and he did great!  He definitely gained an appreciation for what race day would take and word on the street is he's looking at a full IM.  Good luck!

More to come as I hopefully get more time to dribble my thoughts onto blogger to keep you posted about triathlon, endurance sports, gear, family and life.

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.


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.


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