Monday, April 18, 2011

Review: CEP Compression Socks

If you have not read the Compression Primer, I suggest you do that to start with.  It covers the generals about compression clothing.  This review is focused specifically on the CEP Compression Socks.  As with all reviews, this is my opinion based on personal use.  I was sent this pair of socks by CEP for evaluation for this review to add to the mix of products.

While these were not the first piece of compression clothing I have tried, they are the first to be evaluated and have the review fully composed.  I will keep these as standardized as possible to allow for easy comparison between each review. 

Garment Style:
  • The sock style compression is focused on the lower leg, specifically the calves.  Since transitioning to a more mid/fore-foot strike, I have noticed the soreness in my calves much more.   This is a change from when I was an avid heel-striker where the soreness would occur in my upper legs.  The CEP Sock is great to isolate those lower leg muscles without having to wedge yourself into a pair of tights.  
  • The socks are sized by the maximum circumference of your calf, thus making it important to pick the right size for maximum benefit.  Trust me, you want to get the right size!
  • Found at multiple shops and stores locally 
  • Found at a number of online retailers including All3Sports, see side for discount code
  • Pretty easy to get in and out of.  Simply rolling down the tops helps to get the toes started
  • Extra cushion in the foot area to allow for running with these socks in comfort.  
  • Dry wick material helps to wick away sweat keeping your feet more comfortable during the run. 
  • If you pick up a black pair, these could easily be worn at work in business attire, allowing more effective recovery
  • I would see some issues trying to quickly put the socks on, especially if they were wet.
  • Also not advised to wear during the swim portion of a race, even with a wetsuit
I am a big fan of the CEP Compression Socks.  Having come from a past where I only used tights, these have become a staple in my training.  The durability and quality of materials is great! I have gotten a good amount of use from these and they show little to no signs of wear.  They also hold up well after being washed.  The socks are a great article of clothing for anyone to add to their wardrobe for aid in recovering between workouts.  

I have used these regularly to help recovery my lower legs after tough workouts.  In combination with my normal routine, I have felt refreshed and ready to go.  They have allowed me to train at higher intensities without feeling fatigue from previous workouts.  

Why CEP Compression?
  • CEP = Compete, Endure, Perform.  Made with over 60 years of experience by a world leader in medical compression products, medi.  
  • Improved performance and recovery aimed specifically for athletes
  • 30 Day guarantee
  • Used to aid with a number of issues: Shin splints, cramps, achiles issues, fatigue, micro muscle tears, vibration trauma, blisters, blood clots from travel

Project X Unveiled

You have been patiently waiting or maybe you have not even been paying attention.  Recently I posted some messages on Twitter to raise some awareness around my current project....Project X. I was tossing around some other ideas, but nothing flowed quite as well.  Here they were:

Project D - for diamond
Project K - for Kestrel

Any guesses yet?
Project A - for Airfoil?!? This actually wouldn't have been bad, but X just builds up the anticipation a bit more. 

So here you have it, all of this time Project X has been a build of a Kestrel Airfoil SL.  Some of you may be saying, "Woah wait a minute, you said you ordered a Kestrel 4000 from Team Trakkers"  Well you are correct.  I did in fact order a Kestrel 4000 50cm Ultegra build, then got word that it was out of stock, so I bumped it up to a 52.5.  In the end it will give me about an extra 1cm of reach and only sacrifice 1/2 cm of higher stack.  That will be another post, this will focus on the Airfoil build.

If you have been around the blog much, you will note that I have been riding short course for the past 2 years.  I have been focusing on being able to push my body to the limit for the short races.  My evolution in bikes has been the following:

  • 2009 - 56 Trek Equinox 5
  • 2010 - 54 Cervelo P2
  • 2011 - 52 Kestrel Airfoil SL / 52.5 Kestrel 4000

When I found out I was going to be riding a Kestrel, I dug into as much info as I could find between the bikes and found the Airfoil to be similar and even slightly more aggressive than the P2 I had been riding, and the 4000 has a higher stack, so not quite as much drop.  Through all of this, I made up my mind with the 4000 as I planned on getting into the long course races, so I would not need to have so much drop available.  As I started listing my old bike for sale, I ended up parting with just the frameset at the same time as I had an opportunity for a new Kestrel Airfoil frame, and decided to reuse my parts and build it up, giving me a short course and a long course bike.

Now to the fun part - The Build/Pics:

This sleek frame is missing a little something, well actually a lot of something.  The entire seat tube is missing between the bottom bracket area and the top tube.  This is one of the things that makes this bike so unique.  Removing the tube allows for the frame to act like a spring and absorb vibration and bumps from the road.

I find my wrench skills are pretty good as long as my patience does not wear thin, but the first thing I saw was that the steer tube would have to be cut down, so a trip to a local shop and a few bucks later, they had trimmed it down to size.  I left it a bit long on the chance that I want to raise it up, but may end up chopping it all the way down in the near future.  The second part that needed to be cut was the seat post.  I did not have to trim my P2 post at all since the seat tube will accept the whole thing without cutting.  The Airfoil on the other hand, has a more limited room so it requires a bit more customization.

You may remember this picture from Twitter, on the way to the shop to be trimmed down. 

The build was slow as I tried to take my time, but also was trying to get a bike up and running so I could continue on workouts.  I had to buy a new base bar, so I went with the Profile Design Carbon Cobra Wing 40cm width.  The base bar goes well with the Profile Design T2+ Carbon Cobra Aero bars I moved over.  Although I had my old stem which was a 110mm 10 degree, I wanted to get something to sit more level, I ended up picking up a pretty nifty Specialized adjustable stem, it has different shims that allow you to change the angle, there are a bunch of ways to do it, from +16 to -16 degrees.

Here was another teaser pic I put on Twitter, and the original image.

During the build, I overlooked one thing, the chain stay length was different, thus resulting in my chain not being long enough, so I had to pick up a new chain as well.  As a side note, if you have not seen the message on the side and happen to be doing a build yourself or just need a few new parts, check out and use GOTRAKKERS to save 15% off your entire order! 

I got the bike in running order after picking up some new shift cables since the old ones were a little worse for wear.  After some messing around, I got the Dura-Ace bar end shifters adjusted, chain set to the right length, and derailleurs all working properly.  This was the step that tested my patience!  It is very tedious work trying to spin the crank and adjust to make sure you have full range of the gears.

One part I left off for later installation was the brake levers, well when I went to try them, sure enough there were issues.  The old FSA brake levers I had, are too small for the base bar, turns out you need adapters, well that will be for another day.

Then finally my final package arrived.  I figured why not give them a try.  I went with the Zipp R2C shifters.  After being a bit puzzled that they were labeled SRAM, I did some testing, and turns out they are actually the Shimano compatible model, but are just produced by SRAM, thus the branding, a bit confusing, but whatever.  A little tweaking and they were up and running.

On the way back from the shop after having all the brakes done up properly.

Build Details:
Frameset: 2009 Kestrel Airfoil SL
Stem: Specialized 110mm Adjustable (Installed at -16 degrees)
Base Bar: Profile Design Carbon Cobra
Aero Bars: Profile Design T2+ Carbon Cobra
Shifters: Zipp R2C - Shimano compatible
Brake Levers: FSA Aero Levers
Brakes: Cervelo branded brakes
Crank: Quarq SRAM S975 Compact with Red Rings 50/34
Chain: Dura-Ace 10 Speed
Front Derailleur: Shimano Ultegra SL
Rear Derailleur: Shimano Ultegra SL
Seat: ISM Adamo Road
Training Wheels: Shimano R500
Race Wheels: HED Stinger 90s with disc cover.
Tires: Zipp Tangente 700x21

I was able to adjust to the drop almost immediately, and cannot believe how comfortable I am.  My second ride was a 20 Minute FTP test which increased about 5% over the last test just over a month ago.  While it was indoors on the trainer, I am excited to see how this bike handles outside.  I know the position will get me some additional aero benefits in a position I am comfortable riding paired with my increased power, should yield some good results in the near future.

Weekly Ramblings - 4/11/11

Well... It has been a while for a weekly post, but I could go on for days about things since the last one.  I guess life has been busy enough that I had to cut a few things out, unfortunately the weekly posts were one of the first to go.  Do not fear... they will be back. 


Week 12
I am omitting the specifics for this week, just because they are not readily available right now, but this past week was a recovery week, and the first week of peak.  It was not terribly easy, just some lighter efforts towards the end of the week.  I had 4 swims, that I believe put me over 10k in a week for the first time.  I got one outside bike in this week before the weather went south.

I have only been outside a couple of times this year on the bike, and I am already finding it hard to suit up and hit the trainer.  We have had winter weather for over 6 months.  To say that I am over it.... is an understatement.

On another note, I have been considering getting a coach for a while, a long while.  While my workouts thus far have been going really well since I started using the Triathlete Magazine Week-by-Week guide, I think I can gain even more having a coach.  Right now I am only accountable to a piece of paper and myself.  I was not actively seeking out a coach, and this opportunity just happened to come around at the right time.  We have had some good communication back and forth and are going to let me finish this plan to get me through Knoxville and then start revising my structure of workouts to focus on the race season and my second A race of the year.  Right now that race is looking to be Rev3 Cedar Point Half.  I am pretty excited to see where this will go... stay tuned for more info as time progresses.

Swim Totals
 hr  min
Bike Totals
 hr  min
Run Totals
 hr  min
Total Volume

 hr  min

I got my new TYR jammers and Nest Pro goggles.  Holy cow, I am glad to have new jammers, my old ones were almost 100% see through, not something that is real appropriate for a public pool.  I had previously been using Speedo Vanquishers, but the switch to the TYR Nest Pros has been great!  These fit so much better and do not leave me with huge rings around my eyes.  I have yet to have a problem with water getting in either!.  

This past week, I fell off the nutrition truck, got ran over by the fat bus, and had a side of I don't even care.  Yeah.... it was one of those weeks.  I tell you, it never fails to amaze me how much effort you have to put in, and then how quickly it can be reversed.  I have been a bottomless pit, especially for sweets this past week.  That has got to stop.  Part of the issue comes from not planning meals for the week ahead of time.  Check, that is already done for this week.  I think I honestly took a nearly 6-7 pound swing up this last week.  NOT GOOD! I told my better half that she better be ready for healthy meals and a lack of going out to eat until Knoxville at least.  I am a long ways from my goal weight now and not even sure if it is possible to get to with this little time, but I am going to do my best effort to get there so I am light on my feet.

The rides I have had outside have been amazing to say the least.  I have been riding the Kestrel Airfoil Pro SL... yeah Project X... watch for a post tonight about that whole project.  This bike flys.  Ok so maybe my training and legs have something to do with it, but wow.  I do not miss the P2 at all when compared to this ride. 

It is great to see so many race reports from my teammates!  The seasons are under way, and the results are looking great for everyone.  People are seeing PRs, hitting early season goals, placing in their age groups, and in general

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Homemade Tuscan Pizzas

We love a quick and easy meal every once in a while around here and these things do the trick. The thing that takes the longest is cooking the chicken. Hint: If you make chicken earlier in the week, this works great with any left overs.

  • Flatouts
  • Pizza Sauce
  • Garlic - minced
  • Red Onion
  • Tomatoes - sliced and halved
  • Spinach
  • Artichoke Hearts
  • Chicken Breasts - sliced into small chunks
  • Feta Cheese
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Olive Oil

Start by heating some Olive Oil in a pan over medium heat.  When it becomes the consistency of water, add the chicken breasts.  To limit oil splattering, you can dry the chicken breasts off with a paper towel.  When you have the chicken breasts in the pan, place a lid over it and let them cook.  I season lightly with Seasoning Salt.  Let cook on the first side until the tops become white and are no longer pink, then flip and cook for an additional 4 minutes.  Depending on the thickness of the breasts you may need to cook longer.

As the chicken is cooking, you can be prepping your other veggies by cutting the tomatoes, artichoke hearts, garlic, and onion. Set aside until everything is ready.

Let chicken rest 4 minutes after removing from heat before cutting.  This will help to keep the moisture inside. 
  • Place the Flatouts on a cookie sheet
  • Spread the pizza sauce on them
  • Sprinkle garlic over the sauce
  • Add onions
  • Add tomatoes
  • Add spinach
  • Add Artichoke Hearts
  • Add pieces of chicken
  • Add Feta Cheese
  • Add Parmesan Cheese

Bake in oven at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.  I prefer to cook just a bit longer for a crispier crust.  

The final dish, minus a piece... it went fast!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sponsorships: A Beginners Guide

After reading some recent posts about becoming a sponsored athlete, I decided to put together my working knowledge on this subject and see what came together for a post to educate anyone curious about this topic. Let me give you a little background why I feel I can contribute to this topic with some credibility. My experiences with sponsors started when I was around 17 years old.  I spent a lot of time working on cars as one of my hobbies, the more knowledge I gained and activities I got involved with, the more I realized that I could contribute to a company through my experiences.  For example, I did a lot of work with a few guys from a local shop, when I would be at shows and talking with people, it just came up in conversation naturally.  I built on my passion of automobiles to include some of the biggest name brands in the automotive industry (Corbeau, Magnaflow, and Nitrous Express)

This article is to wrap my experiences from my past into the endurance sport scene to better understand what sponsorship really is about. 

Part I: Setting Expectations
These following questions will act as the outline for this topic, I challenge you to think about each of them and how it applies to you before continuing to that section.  Maybe you are on the same page, maybe I forgot something, or maybe we just agree to disagree!

  1. What does it mean to be sponsored?
  2. What should I expect from a sponsorhip?
  3. Why am I looking to become sponsored?
  4. What choices are out there, where can I find them?
What does it mean to be sponsored?
Think about what your response to this question is.  What came to your mind first?  I would guess that a majority of responses come back including free products.  Without going too deep right away, I would say a sponsorship is a type of marketing which includes compensation of some sort.

What should I expect from a sponsorship?
Let's take a look at this from the company's side first, so you know what will be expected from you.  Building on my point above that sponsorship is a marketing tool, I would say that first things first, you should not expect something for nothing!  It is as easy as it sounds.  The company is in business to make money selling their product, why would they just give them out without getting something in return?  Expectations come in many shapes and sizes, depending on the situation. 
  • Attend a designated number of events
    • Strictly a certain number
    • Sometimes of a certain size/location
    • It is all about exposure for the company, getting their logo/name in front of more people
  • Use their products - sometimes exclusively
    • What good does it do Gatorade if you are seen drinking Poweraid all the time
  • Distribute products/information
    • What better way to entice people with samples and discounts
  • Actively talk about the company
    • Social Media - Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc
    • Clubs and Events
    • Online Forums and message boards
Now that you know some of the things that may be asked of you, what expectations should you have from the company?  These again come in all shapes and sizes.
  • Support for entry fees
    • Partial or Full support of entry fees to an event
  • Discounted products
    • Percentage off products - % Off, Based off Cost, Pro-pricing, etc
  • Free product
    • Just as it reads, no cost to you
  • Cash or Credit
    • Sometimes it comes as a form of money to be used for equipment or entry fees
  • Pay-for-performance
    •  Benefits are directly related to some performance metrics (race places/wins, or generated business)
As you can see, there are a number of different ways a sponsorship could look.  With this in mind, it is my experience that you find entry fees and cash rewards more typically with a company not directly associated with the market you will be advertising.  In the case of triathlon, an accounting firm may agree to put their logo on your webpage or uniform in exchange for a few race entries.

Why am I looking to be sponsored?
Here is the big question.  What are you looking for from a sponsorship?  In the triathlon world, things cost money just like in the rest of life, but everyone is looking to make their dollar go the longest.  I call that being a smart consumer.  I am not one who normally pays full price for much at all.   One of the most important things I can offer is that you should not expect to get free products.  That is one of the biggest misconceptions about sponsorships out there.  I would say for most, it can be said that they are looking for some monetary offset as being sponsored.  I have another thought, but want to save it for one of the next sections about what is out there about this monetary offset.

The next question is what draws you to this company?  I can tell you from personal experience, and multiple companies I have worked with, if you do not believe in the product, service or company, and are just accepting for the benefits, it could be a painful journey for everyone involved.  Early on when I was working on cars, I took a sponsorship from a shop that I had worked with a bit in the past, but I was not a huge fan of their quality of work, but the opportunity came up, and I was excited so I took it.  Do you know how painful it is to talk good about a company that you do not support?  It always felt awkward because I felt like I was misleading people about the company.  Since learning my lesson a couple of times, I have become much more stringent on what I will apply for and eventually accept. 

Did you know? What some companies offer in "sponsorship packages" is nothing more than a quick google search for a coupon code or signing up for a newsletter.

I have found multiple places that will offer 15% off all products listed on the webpage in return for putting their logo on your webpage or uniform.  You could also sign up for their newsletter and get the same discount without having to do anything else.  Make sure to do your research when something is offered, they may be working to get something for nothing. 

I think one thing for some people, being a sponsored athlete is a stroke of their ego.  Why not?  Some people will use it as bragging rights, "Yeah I am sponsored by XYZ"  to try and impress their peers.  I had one person I knew who applied for a somewhat erroneous sponsorship, including a $150 dollar application fee, to get accepted and receive 15% off products, he also had to put some extremely obnoxious stickers on his car advertising for this company.  What did he get out of it in the end?  A $600 dollar exhaust system, discounted 15%, or  $90 dollars off.  Maybe it is my math minor, but something just didn't add up there.  He was not afraid to tell everyone that he was sponsored, apparently so with the extreme window banners on front and back windshield.

What choices are out there, where can I find them?
Some companies have very well defined programs that accept a certain number of people every year, others have no formal program.  Some of the big names are obvious choices, these are typically the companies who have well defined programs, and everyone knows about already.  These sometimes have the highest application rates because so many people are aware of the openings and want to get in.  Maybe they have a well known program, can anyone say Best Buy employee discount?  Word gets out and people want in.

Next you have your middle tier, maybe an online shop or even a local shop.  They may be willing to support some teams of people who will race in their kit to help promote their brand and draw customers to purchase from them.

Finally you have the non-industry sponsor.  As outlined above, Bill and Mike's Accounting may be willing to sponsor you, because they know your passion for the sport, and know how many activities you participate in.  Think about it... masters swim, cycling group, run groups, etc.  They just want to get their name out there, and why not help a buddy out if they can kick them some referrals.  No different than someone recommending their real estate agent or financial planner to someone looking, except that they may get something out of it.

If you are just looking for discounted products, sometimes the best bet may not even be a personal sponsorship.  You may be just as well off if not better joining a local club.  Often times these clubs work out deals with companies to offer discounts to members in order to get more people using their gear.  I have seen some clubs that have very active members or very successful members be able to pull some great discounts for the entire club.  You get the benefits and discounts and only wear the team kit to help promote the brands.  Not a bad deal.

  © Blogger template 'Isolation' by 2008

Back to TOP