Thursday, June 30, 2011

Adopt an NFL Player

My buddy Ryan sent me this and thought all you football fans would enjoy!

For maximum effect I suggest you cue up some Sarah Mclachlan while reading:

Can You Help?

Americans have come together as never before in our generation. We have banded together to overcome adversity. We have overcome corporate/government scandal, layoffs, unemployment, stock price plunges, droughts, fires, mad cow, SARS, and high gasoline prices.  But now, we must come together once again to overcome our greatest challenge yet.

Hundreds of Professional Football players in our very own nation are going to be locked out, living at well below the seven-figure salary level. And as if that weren't bad enough they could be deprived of their life giving pay for several months, possibly longer, as a result of the upcoming lockout situation. But you can help!

For only $27,080 a month, about $902.75 a day (that's less than the cost of a large screen projection TV) you can help an NFL player remain economically viable during his time of need. This contribution by no means solves the problem as it barely covers the annual minimum salary, but it's a start, and every little bit will help!

Although $900 may not seem like a lot of money to you, to a football player it could mean the difference between spending the lockout golfing in Florida or on a Mediterranean cruise. For you, nine hundred dollars is nothing more than a month's rent, a mortgage payment, or a month of medical insurance, but to a football player, $900 will partially replace his daily salary.

Your commitment of less than $900 a day will enable a player to buy that home entertainment center, trade in the year-old Lexus for a new Ferrari, or enjoy a weekend in Rio .


Each month, you will receive a complete financial report on the player you sponsor. Detailed information about his stocks, bonds, 401(k), real estate, and other investment holdings will be mailed to your home. Plus, upon signing up for this program, you will receive an unsigned photo of the player lounging during the lockout on a beach somewhere in the Caribbean (for a signed photo, please include an additional $150). Put the photo on your refrigerator to remind you of other peoples' suffering.


Your NFL player will be told that he has a SPECIAL FRIEND who just wants to help in a time of need. Although the player won't know your name, he will be able to make collect calls to your home via a special operator in case additional funds are needed for unforeseen expenses.

Remember, a lifestyle is a horrible thing to waste...


I would like to sponsor a locked out NFL player. My preference is (check below):

[ ] Offense [ ] Defense [ ] Special Teams [ ] Entire team

Please charge the account listed below $902.75 per day for the duration of the lockout. Please send me a picture of the player and my very own Roger Goodell (NFL Commissioner) pin to wear proudly on my hat (include $80 for hat).

Your Name:____________________Telephone Number:___________________
Account Number:__________________Exp.Date:_______

[ ] MasterCard [ ] Visa [ ] American Express [ ] Other


Alternate card (when the primary card exceeds its credit limit):
Account Number:_______________________ Exp.Date:_______
[ ] MasterCard [ ] Visa [ ] American Express [ ] Other


p.s. If you have a little extra, please enclose for the cheerleaders. Contrary to public opinion, cheerleaders are people too.


Thanks for Reading,


Sunday, June 26, 2011

USAT Coaching: Are Barriers to Entry Lacking?

Flashback to a couple of weeks ago:  My wife Annie and I raced at a  local sprint tri.  Since she had a much later wave start I found myself at the finish area waiting for her with some time to kill.  As I was standing around a guy who was probably a few years older than me walked up with a beautiful black lab puppy on a leash.  Naturally I asked if I could play with his dog and we then began to chat and discovered his wife was in the same wave as mine and he was awaiting her finish as well.

We got to talking and he told me that he and his wife did their first triathlons last summer and they both were hooked on the sport.  From that point on it was the normal conversation between triathletes about races, training, clubs ...etc.  I was only paying partial attention to him as I was secretly thinking of ways to steal his awesome lab pup when I heard him utter the following phrase:
"My wife and I are even Certified USAT Level 1 Coaches!"

Only a few minutes before he was telling me how he and his wife were new to triathlon and now he is saying that they both are Certified USAT Level 1 Coaches. They are self proclaimed newbies so how can they be Certified USAT Level 1 Coaches?  Something just does not seem right?

Flashback to last October:  My buddy Dave and I are doing a large group ride with one of the local Triathlon Clubs on the northern part of the Ironman Texas course.  We are headed east and come across some cyclists who are having mechanical issues and they are stopped along the shoulder.  We stop and offer our assistance as Dave has some tools in his saddle bag.  As they begin working on the bikes I step to the side and start talking to one of the other cyclists.  It turns out she is doing the same 70.3 race as me in November.  She tells me this is her first 70.3 race and that she is very excited and also very nervous.  As with most triathletes the conversation leads to training and we start comparing notes about the weekly volume we are doing for the race. We were talking about the amount of swim volume each of us was doing on a weekly basis. She proceeded to tell me that she felt I was swimming too much and was going to burn out and that she was ...

"... a Certified USAT Level I Coach and I should trust her!"

Only a few minutes before this she was telling me how this was her first 70.3 race and then shortly after is tossing around her credentials as a Certified USAT Level 1 Coach. She had never done a 70.3 nor asked a single question about my swimming background.  Something just does not seem right?

I will be the first to admit that I did not even know what the hell a Certified USAT Level 1 Coach even really meant when I had the conversation with the cyclist.  I had never done any independent research on the subject and the only real knowledge of USAT Coaching I had came from blog posts by Jaime @ Swim Bike Run Live and Joel @ TriMadness.  In hindsight, I never really cared too much about it until more and more triathletes kept telling me they were Certified USAT Level 1 Coaches.

If you are unaware of what the USAT is it is the governing body for Triathlon in the USA.  As the governing body and as an association all US Triathletes pay a $39 yearly membership.  I assumed that the USAT probably had some stringent barriers to entry.  I assumed they required Advanced Degrees in Physiology or Physical Therapy or even a certain number of years successful coaching before someone could even apply to be a  Certified USAT Level I Coach.  Basically I assumed that the USAT would want to have the most qualified group of individuals possible being certified to coach with the USAT Logo as credentials.

I was wrong and once again learned a the valuable lesson that assumption is the mother of all f#$k ups.

Here is what I found straight from the USAT website:

Level I

Prior to certification, candidate must complete and/or submit the following: 

The Level l Clinic is a 2.5 Day classroom based lecture and the Written Examination is an online test that you have three months to complete.   In addition to the Clinic and Exam as long as you are not a hardened criminal, have paid your USAT yearly dues, have gone to a CPR course, and paid USAT  the $525 fee you too can be a Certified USAT Level 1 Coach.

Guess this answers how a nice couple that had been participating in triathlon for less than a year could be Certified USAT Level I Coaches.  Or how someone who had never personally done a 70.3 race was confident enough to give someone who had done several training advice.

It appears that the only barriers to entry are the ability to have 2.5 free days to listen to a lecture and $525 to pay for those days.  Something just does not seem right?

Getting back to my stories above - I asked the guy with the lab puppy if he and his wife were coaching any athletes and he told me that they were coaching a few ladies from his office.  In my opinion, this is irresponsible by both this inexperienced couple and USAT, but mostly USAT.  As stated, this couple was new to triathlon and  I could clearly see from the guy, very passionate about it.  If the governing body of the sport gives you an option to become a Certified USAT Level 1 Coach that is easily obtainable it is hard to blame these people.  That is why I place the vast majority of the blame squarely on the shoulders of the USAT.  They created the certification programs and make it too damn easy to become a Certified USAT Level 1 Coach.

As for the mechanically challenged cyclist I did not ask if she coaches any athletes nor did I ask how long she had been coaching.  She may have just had the accreditation for shits and giggles.  However, she did use the fact that she was a Certified USAT Level 1 Coach to make her point!  Even though she never asked anything about my swimming background, time goals, level of fitness, or even if I liked to swim.  She just asked about my weekly volume. And with just that little bit of information decided it was too much volume?  BTW, I was swimming around 10,000 yards a week - that is not too much volume.  But who am I to challenge her, she is a Certified USAT Level 1 Coach?

Now once this little ditty hits the interwebz I am sure to receive a few pissed off comments and emails.  That is fine and I expect it.  Since mostly triathletes read this blog and most triathletes now seem to be a Certified USAT Level 1 Coaches (kidding)  I expect some backlash!  Have at it.

But just to be clear.  I am not saying that ALL USAT Certified Coaches are under-qualified.  As a matter of fact, it appears that once a coach progresses to Level II and Level III the program becomes quite stringent and it takes a hell of a lot of work and experience to acquire these accreditations.  This is good for both coaches and athletes and hopefully this level of expertise will trickle down to the Level I course.

What I am merely stating is that the barriers to entry (In my opinion) are entirely too lenient as determined by USAT.  This does not mean that there are not some very good coaches with Certified USAT Level I credentials. I just means the our governing body makes it to simple for bad coaches to have the same certification as the good ones.  And if I was a Certified USAT Level 1 Coach (which I am not)  I would be pretty pissed at what a joke the USAT has made of this certification!

If you feel I am wrong and that you learned enough in 2.5 days of lecture to be a coach then I will eat this post (not really).  But if you are a coach and this is the only credential you have on your resume then I am not impressed.  This is not your fault because your governing body set the bar this low but if you are wondering why it is so hard to find clients then maybe you should look elsewhere then the USAT for that answer.

I guess the bottom line is that if you are an athlete in the market for a coach dig deeper than just a USAT Level I Certification because based on what I have found it really does not mean much.  Buyer Beware!

Let's talk this out in the comments.  Have any of you had similar experiences? Do you feel the USAT Barriers to entry are lacking?  Are you a Certified USAT Level 1 Coach and want to come down to Texas and slap me?

Thanks for Reading,


Friday, June 24, 2011

Talk to me Blogosphere ....

Just Your Average Houston Summer!

As you can see from the temperatures above it has been a blast furnace here in South East Texas.  Add in the ridiculous humidity levels and when you walk outside it feels as if you are draped in a hot wet blanket!  Lovely, huh?

I hear the term Heat Acclimation tossed around all over the message boards, Twitter, and other blogs.   With the weather here I even toss around the Heat Acclimation phrase quite often and over the last couple of smoking hot runs this term got me thinking:

  Am I getting the most out of my training by doing it in these ridiculously hot conditions?  

Now this mostly applies to running as I already spend a fair amount of time on the indoor bike trainer.

Here is a list of Pros and Cons I have come up with in regards to training in the extreme heat:

- It builds mental toughness and teaches you how to suffer.
- It teaches your body its needs and limits in terms of hydration and dehydration.
- Forces you to go slower and thus builds aerobic capacity.
- It does seem to help improve performance when you enter/race cooler environments.

- It wears you down thus your body needs more time to recover.
- Due to increased fatigue from the heat your form may breakdown and then you are just practicing bad form.
- You go slower so you do not cover as much distance so you might not be maximizing your time that is committed to training.
- You can hurt yourself.  In these temps a point is reached where the sweat output far exceeds the water input.

Over the last year I have ran well over 1000mi and only about 8 of those miles have been on a treadmill.  The current consideration is to up the indoor miles.  With the extreme heat I have REALLY been suffering on my runs.  On Wednesday I ran 4mi and finished at 7:30pm.  My pace was around 8:30/mi and I was exhausted and lightheaded after.  I was so exhausted that I was unable to get out of bed at 4am the next day for Masters Swim.  This wasn't the first time the heat has zapped me of energy just the most recent and it is concerning because it was such a short run.

Here are the questions I need help with from you guys:  Should I move my runs indoors?  Or is it better to just suck it up and keep running outdoors as it will help me in the long run?  Can you think of anymore pros v cons? Am I just being a baby?

Thanks for Reading,


Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Today I signed up for Ironman Mont-Tremblant.  It will be my second 140.6 race and it will happen on August 19th of 2012.  The course looks extremely difficult but last I checked Ironman wasn't supposed to be easy!

Go read Kevin's post on Ironman Tremblant as he describes it perfectly!  We have an awesome group of bloggers going and the only negative is that we have to wait 14 months to race.

Going to have to brush up on my French!  And when I say "brush up on"  I mean "learn a few key words".

Thanks for Reading,


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Things of Interest ...

  • Lots going on in the Triathlon world over the last couple of days.  First, WTC announced a new 140.6 race at Mont Tremblant.  This race has me intrigued.  Actually I might be a little obsessed with it by Googling everything Mont Tremblant related.   

  • The above picture is of MT.  I emailed it to my wife yesterday morning and told her that in August of '12 an Ironman will be happening here and that I wanted to do it.  She replied back with two words: Book it.  
  • We might have a couple other blogger buddies interested in this one too! *cough* Kevin, Mandy, Jon *cough*  who else is thinking about it?
  • WTC followed IMMT by announcing another race - Ironman New York City.  They are calling it the Ironman US Championship (whatever the heck that means?) and word on the street is they are going to charge $1000 per entry.  Freaking ridiculous!  Especially considering 90% of the race is in NJ.  Oh, and the swim is in the polluted Hudson River, yuk!  I'd rather churn butter for 17-hrs then do this race!
  • My wife, Annie, did her 2nd every Sprint Tri on Sunday.  Click HERE to read her report.
  • I saw a picture of myself from the race on Sunday and realized something weird.  Look at this pic and see if you can see it as well:

  • Do you see it?  My thighs are bigger than my entire upper body.  Completely disproportionate.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing for a triathlete BUT it is a bad thing for ones own vanity (and also trying to buy properly fitted pants).  This is freaky looking - time to start adding in some weight training for the upper body!
  • So I mentioned the other day that my achilles has been giving me some trouble. It has actually been bothering me since the beginning of April but since I am a meat-head the path taken to deal with it was that of ignorance.  This path is not one that I would recommend as it could have become a lot worse than it is now.  That being said, it really is not at injury stage yet so I have decided to take a couple of weeks off from running and let it settle down some.  Because of this I have decided to not race Buffalo Springs Lake 70.3 at the end of the month.  The thought is to take the time to get healthy so I can begin a solid block of training leading up to Rev3 Cedar Point Half Rev on September 11th.  Oh, and if you haven't signed up for Rev3 Cedar Point Full or Half you better get to it soon because all the cool kids are going to be there and you don't want to miss out!
  • Speaking of Rev3, check out the new website!  It is so easy to navigate and gives you all the information about your races that you could possibly want. The user friendly rating for this site is through the roof. This should be the template for all race website from this point forward.
  • The weather here in Houston has be brutal.  It has been over 100 degrees for the last few days with dangerous level of humidity.  Yes, Houston is usually hot this time of year but not this bad.  Hopefully it cools off by the time I resume running next week or I might have to do my first treadmill run of 2011.  
Thanks for Reading,


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tejas Race Report

Annie and I woke up at 3am on Sunday morning and made the hour drive south to Sugarland for the Tejas Triathlon.  This was going to be Annie's second Sprint Tri and I really was just looking for something to do after IMTX.

We got to the race site and had to park about a mile away.  It was already in the low 80s and the humidity was extremely high.  It was going to be a smoker.


The swim was in a duck pond and it was 656 yards (600M).  The water temperature was 88 degrees and it felt like I stepped into a warm bath.

I was in the first wave (M30-39) and the RD wasted no time getting us in the water.  I was sort of late lining up (big shocker) so I got stuck towards the back of the group at the start - it meant I was going to have to swim over and around a quite a few people.


The gun went off and it was your normal washing machine that is associated with the triathlon swim start:

The first 100 yards or so was a little rough but I found a seam and really pushed to get ahead of the big pack in the middle.  There was a big turnaround buoy at about the 400m mark and by this time I was towards the back of the lead pack of about 12 or so guys.  It was really hot and I could not wait to get out of the water to cool off (read that sentence again).

At this point I could see the finish and was just trying to stick on some feet to pull me home.  Then a guy in a kayak told us we were going the wrong way and we need to go to another buoy and make the turn.  It was about 50m away and we had to swim BACK to it and then make the turn.  This sucked because I easily lost a minute or two doing this but so did 6 or 7 other guys so it wasn't a big deal.  But the people coming up behind us picked up some ground on us as they all followed us in the right direction.

According to the pre-race announcement and the athlete's guide we needed to keep to the left of all buoys.  By us going around this last buoy it was to our right?   The funny part was I asked my buddy Steve, who was 3 waves behind me, if I just missed the announcement at the pre-race meeting.  He told me that they were watching us swim the wrong way from the shore and the RD made another announcement telling the rest of the swimmers to go around the buoy!  This is why I love the small local races - we all stood around after the race and laughing about it!  If it was a big race and something like this happened (See CapTex from last week) everyone would have been bitching and moaning.

My Swim Time was 11:27 which is 1:45/100yd.


I had a quick transition at 1:33 and jumped on my Kestrel and started to spin in granny the gear.  Then I realized it was a freaking sprint and I needed to hammer.  My last 4 races have been an IM and three HIM's so the spinning has become a habit to get the legs ready for the long ride - not need here buddy.

The bike course changed some from previous years as it used to be 13mi so I really had no idea what to expect.  The RD told us it was a little over 11mi this year.  The course was flat and on good roads but had a bunch of turns as it was a 2-loop course.  It was difficult to every really get in a groove as you kept having to slow down to hit a turn.  For the last year plus I have not been training for this type of burst on the bike so my legs were screaming for most of the bike split.

Transition came at about the time I was starting to warm up!

My Bike Time was 31:32 and the distance was 11.54mi (according to the Garmin) which was a 22mph avg.


My bike to run transition was only 52 seconds so I hit the course fast.  My problem was that the competitive portion of my race was done when I put my bike on the rack.  I've been experiencing some pain in my right achilles for about the last 2 months.  And to make matters worse over the last 2 weeks I have had some piriformis and lower back pain on the left side.  I probably should have done the Aquabike but just decided to take it easy on the run.

The run course was a picturesque little 3mi jaunt though a nice neighborhood with big old Pecan Trees that offered excellent shade.  It was still in the low 90's but the shade really helped.

I had trouble fighting the urge to run harder as people were passing me but kept myself at the 7:30/mi pace that was comfortable.  My legs were feeling awesome and I had a sub-19min run in me but for once I did the prudent thing and did not push the achilles.

My run time was 22:26 with a 7:29/mi pace.

Overall I finished in 1h 07m
It was 87th out of 400ish.

This is the first sprint I have done in a long time and I forgot how hard they are!!  It is just an all out anaerobic effort from start to finish.  Lots of pain on the bike! The best part was hitting 28-30 mph on a couple of the longer flat areas on the bike and not worrying about blowing up because you still had a long run upcoming!  The bad part about doing this sprint was that my body had no idea what was going on!  It was like, "Whoa, Jeff, slow down bro, we need to ease into this!"

This is a fun local race that is just a great way to spend a Sunday morning and I would recommend it to everyone.  Lots of food and drinks at the post race party too!  Annie had a really good race and more importantly is really enjoying doing swim, bike and run.

I'd like to thank our friend Anne for coming out to support  and to take all these pictures.  She is a talented photographer and captured a ton of great shots of Annie!

Thanks for Reading,


Friday, June 3, 2011

Big Weekend

I love this time of year!

Not particularly for me because it usually is the start of the brutal summer season here in Houston (ie: 103 degrees yesterday).  BUT because all of my cooler climate peeps are finally able to put all that hard training to the test and get to do some races!  This means a plethora of Race Reports to read on Monday!

Wishing a wonderful race weekend to:

Sorry if I missed anyone!  Let me know if you are racing in the comments.

Thanks for Reading,