Olympic Team Selection

Lots of people have been asking about the process of making an Olympic Team. I listed a short version in the "frequently asked questions" in the sidebar. But really, it is fairly simple.

First, Joe has to get a qualifying score in order to compete at the Olympic Trials. He can get this score in any sanctioned track meet between now and then. He has to score the "A" standard, which is 7850, to automatically qualify, and 7650 for the "B" standard, which should also be sufficient (they take a certain # of athletes in each event...so if only 10 have made the "A" standard, they take the next best scores down to the "B" to fill the field).

Joe will do a decathlon (he's trying to decide which one) in March, and then maybe April, to get this qualifier. Then he trains for the Trials--which are on June 29-30 in Eugene, OR. At the Trials, there will be around 18 other decathletes who have met the "A" or "B" standard, and they compete for those 2 days in a normal decathlon...and the top three finishers go to the Olympics.

The Olympics in Beijing are in August. They begin on August 8, but the decathlon isn't until Aug.21 and 22.

So that's the process.


Moving to Stockton

It was a long, hard weekend for most of the athletes here--but they got the job done! This photo was taken late Friday night, after a muddy, wet, cold day of moving lots of heavy equipment. With pole vault pits, weight lifting equipment, a high jump pit, and thousands and thousands of pounds of runways and turf....this was not an easy move. Good thing they are all in such great shape!

The Port of Stockton is an amazing location--40,000 square feet of warehouse space with high ceilings. We are very blessed to have it. The place is looking amazing (we'll get photos soon). All day Saturday, the athletes set up, unrolled mats, moved equipment, and tried to make the best use of all that space. There is still a lot to do--they have to build a long-jump pit, cut boxes for the pole vault pits, and build lots of other stuff to make it all work. But they all trained there today, and after practice Joe got a net hung so they can throw discus inside tomorrow. This is also a big blessing to not have missed any days of practice (last week was a rest week, so everyone had Fri and Sat off---although they all worked so hard, it wasn't much of a rest week!)

We have to work out some details before we move over to Stockton. Right now it's an hour's drive to get to the Port from our RV park, so that won't be doable with only one vehicle for very long. Since we don't have a free place to park our RV in Stockton, one possibility is that we will move into a house with a group of athletes. It would be less expensive for us than paying for an RV park. So we'll keep you updated.

We've been burning a bit more veggie oil than usual with all the driving back and forth to Stockton....but thank goodness it's free! I've been pumping oil into the truck from the stored oil that Joe has collected--but I had never gone hunting for it by myself (it's a little tricky with Rowan). I ventured out by myself (with Rowan...and a DVD for her to watch!) in Stockton this weekend and again today for oil--and scored some very nice oil at a Mexican restaurant today. It's a thrill to first find good oil, then get permission to take it. It's very empowering!

I also got to spend an evening with my good friend Edye in Sacramento last week. She and her husband, Rick, welcomed a beautiful baby girl named Ellyn this fall...and I got to take some pictures. If you want to see more, I posted a sampling at Flickr here. I haven't had the chance to take many photos like this since we moved...so it was fun for me.

I'm sure Joe will post more later about the Stockton facility and what's up with his training. Thanks for checking in with us.



Some vids from various workouts.



Block Start


Cleans. Here I am missing 310lbs. I had gotten 295lbs the set before, but this one got the best of me. Only one on video.


Training Update

Well, it's Joe here again. Lots to update on, so this entry could end up being a long one.

Since returning from Hawaii, my training has continued to be excellent. Many of the aches, and chronic issues that I had been dealing with healed while on the island. Sunshine is so important to my body's chemistry. It's like a drug. I am eager for the return of warmer weather here in Cali for that very reason. My training was top notch despite being away from Coach Pfaff. In some ways it was good to internalize some of the things I had learned from him, as there was no one looking over my shoulder. All in all, Maui was one of the best decisions that Laura and I have made since the all important decision to move to Cali. Tickets were $290, accommodations were shoestring, if not gifted to us by a friend, and we ate smart. So for a surprisingly small amount of money we were able to accelerate my winter training in preparation for the spring season.

Coach Pfaff had a contact in Maui that was an old friend and colleague. His name is Scott Sanchez and I was able to train at his facility and discuss training with him on a regular basis. Scott works mostly with downhill skiers, and windsurfers. He is a quiet man that is slow to warm up. Over time, we really connected and he shared much with me about what he has learned over the years working with many world champions in sport. Scott is a very knowledgeable and talented guy, and after working out one day I asked him what it was that he was best at. “Making people great!” was his response. The next day, I pushed him on this and he finally explained it this way. In downhill skiing, if you took the top 10 skiers and gave them unlimited runs on the mountain for a day, they would each eventually run about the same fast time. But in competition, when everything is on the line, there are only a few that are capable of pulling that same performance. Why? Distractions. They are great at eliminating the distractions, right? Nope. They use them. Scott claims that it is impossible to remove them. They are facts, and are part of the landscape. The key is to know how to recognize and identify them, gather them up, and channel them into a proper outlet or cue. I could go on, but you get the point. Scott has really started me on a path toward mental control and strength. Probably more important than physical strength at times.

Speaking of the physical. Dan is getting me flat out striped ape strong right now. This guy's understanding of how body chemistry works is amazing. He also understands that many people choose to use drugs, but feels that they are taking a cheap and uneducated route to excellence. Yes, steroids are powerful and scary in their ability to take people to the next level. But there is a price to pay in damage to body and soul. Dan has always believed that with a proper understanding of the human physiology, we can come close to the same effect, but without the baggage of guilt and fear that accompany illegal substances. There would be no way for me to explain how Dan accomplishes this at this point as it is way over my head. The best I can do is to say that he knows what each particular type of workout does to the body's chemistry (atp production, lactate, calcium ion depletion, testosterone levels, cortisol, etc.) and then knows how to order the workouts to maximize performance and recovery of those systems. The bottom line, cleans and bench are over 300lbs, and squat is over 600lbs. These are not my max, but rather workout weights. At 6' 4” and 200lbs these are huge wattage numbers. The crazy part is that it is only January, and these numbers will go up quite a bit as we taper toward competition season. Now let me say that these figures mean nothing if I can't channel the force properly into a shot put or high jump. But I am with a coach who is daily helping me to be able to do that too. Exciting.

Coach Dan Pfaff

Things have been a bit stressful around TigerBar sports for the past month. The man who began the non-profit and spearheaded the training facility has come upon hard times. His fortune was made in real estate and as you know, California has been hit hard. Despite doing everything he possible could to fund our program, he will no longer be able to do so. It kills him to not see his vision completed. But he needs to put his family first at this point and get back on his feet. We are forever grateful for Tony and can honor this indebtedness by making Olympic teams. There are a potential 15-18 athletes from this training group who could find themselves on the 2008 team. That is staggering, but illustrates why the energy is so good day in and day out while we train together.

The burden falls to the athletes to come up with the money to pay Coach Pfaff and maintain operating expenses. A similar non-profit track organization out of Livermore, CA has stepped up to aid us in this journey. Tri-Valley Vault Club has been working with highschool athletes for the past 7 years. They are in the process of incorporating us and changing the name of the non-profit to Tri-Valley Athletics (or something similar). The scope and purpose of the organization will change and evolve to meet the needs of Olympic hopefuls in the Nor Cal area.

On Friday we will be moving the entire training facility from Isleton, CA to Stockton, CA. The Port of Stockton has offered us one of their warehouses to use as a training facility. We have an incredible amount of work to do to accomplish this transition, and much of the load will fall on my and Tye Harvey's shoulders. I am leery of the toll it could dish out, but grateful and aware of how fortunate we are to have an option for location at all. I'll get some pics together once we get the new facility together. In the meantime, there are some more photos of general training (and a few of Rowan) at flickr if you click here.

Take care,


Port of Stockton


After Holiday Happenings

I've taken a bit of grief from faithful blog-readers about that lack of posts in the last few weeks. It's nice to know people are reading! And sorry for the delay.

The biggest thing in our life the last few weeks is that Joe's dad got a new kidney! The transplant was on Jan. 4...and everything went great. He's home, recovering, and supposedly looking 15 years younger! You can check out details about their journey (and the amazing story of the woman, Stephanie, who gave him her kidney) at www.caringbridge.org/visit/cebulski
Just make sure to go back and read some of the previous journal entries. We are so thankful for a smooth surgery...and the promise of improved quality of life!

Other than that, we survived a big storm that rolled through here a few weekends ago. We are living in the "Delta" region--and there are a ton of levees all around us, holding back water in the rivers. The area is supposedly "at-risk" for a Katrina-esque type flood if the levees aren't improved. So of course, lots of attention is paid to storms. We had huge winds, lots of rain, but no flooding. We did, however, manage to flood the inside of our RV on our own. Our electricity was out for a few days....and the water is pumped electrically at the RV park, so we had no water either. At some point during this time, Rowan must have tried to brush her teeth (and turned the faucet to the "on" position)--and also decided to put the plug in her drain. We were at some friends' house for dinner when the electricity came back on...and the water, gushing into Rowan's plugged sink. We got a call from the managers at the RV park that they had heard water running OUT OF our RV. Yikes! We had a tense drive home...expecting to find the whole RV under 6 inches of water. LUCKILY, the water stayed in Rowan's bathroom and didn't do any damage.

Oh, the picture up above. That's from Christmas morning....much to Joe's dismay, Rowan asked for a princess dress for Christmas. Which her Nana (Joe's mom) was glad to provide...along with earrings, necklace, princess shoes. Rowan has worn this get-up every day since. This shot was the first time she checked herself out in the mirror--it cracks me up. I promise that I have not encouraged the whole pink, frilly, glittery, princess thing (to be fair, I haven't overly discouraged it, either)....it amazes me how little girls will just pick this up!

Joe continues to train amazingly hard. It is hard to describe how much fun it is to watch him get to train so long and full-heartedly. I am really proud of him for working through the pain--for showing up every day even when he is sore and tired....for getting out of bed on Saturday mornings to run challenging sprint workouts. His body is changing...he's always been pretty ripped, but it's at a whole new level. And more importantly than the changing body is the changing technique and understanding of events. Joe is daily impressed with and thankful for Dan's insight, teaching, cues, and commitment to seeing Joe improve. Being in California is undoubtedly the right place for us this year....and Dan is a huge part of that.

Rowan and I continue to bomb around town looking for things to do. We've been going to story-time at the library every week, got hooked in with a play group on Thursday mornings, play hard at the building with the athletes several times a week, play with Zailey at the RV park, do laundry with the regulars on Monday at the laundromat (Rowan is a big help with the quarters and the detergent), and just get to spend loads of time together. She is funny, smart, quick, and doesn't miss a thing. Lately she's been saying "I have a great idea!" when she really wants to do something (as in, "I have a great idea! Let's have hot chocolate! That's my great idea!") This morning she told me I was "diriculous" instead of ridiculous and lots of things have been happening "accidentally." Plus she's sleeping better, and has rediscovered her love for baths.

She is delightful, truly, but I have a growing need for time away from her, too. Because she doesn't nap, I am literally with Rowan 13-14 hours a day without a break. Lots of this time is a treasure and I wouldn't trade it for the world, but I think I underestimated how much I appreciated working a few mornings a week in Jonesboro. I've been looking into pre-schools in the area, but everything has a waiting list...or is mind-numbingly expensive, even just for 2 mornings a week. There are a few co-ops that are more reasonable, I'm just waiting for a space to open up. I suspect Rowan could use a bit of a break from me sometimes, too!

I posted a few random pictures to a set at Flickr. Click here to see them.