September, 2008
Volume 1, Number 5

In this issue:

Message from Wendy and Bill: Grand Prix Update

Chilly mornings, back to school sales, and the FIRM Grand Prix Awards Ceremony---all signs that the 2008 New England race season is winding down! The 2008 FIRM Grand Prix Awards Ceremony is scheduled for Sunday, September 21 following the inaugural TDD Duathlon in Sutton, MA. At this awards ceremony, the top three individuals in each category for the grand prix series will receive prizes and the top three teams for the grand prix series will receive cash awards. Plus we will choose the events for the 2009 FIRM Grand Prix Series.

The drawing for a custom carbon fiber Guru bicycle frame will take place during the Grand Prix Awards Ceremony. Entries are earned in this drawing by placing in the top five in your category (elite, age group, Athena, Clydesdale, or relay team) at any FIRM multisport event during the 2008 race season. The winner may choose from Guru’s top of the line triathlon frame, Crono, (retail value $4600) or Guru’s top of the line road frame, Geneo, (retail value $4100). The person whose name is drawn must be present at the awards ceremony to win the bicycle frame. A special thank you goes to Tom Newton from Quadmultisport for arranging this Guru drawing.

Competition at the 2008 FIRM Grand Prix Series presented by Fuel Belt and Guru has been intense. Thousands of athletes have participated in these ten events including over 500 participants at the Webster Lake Triathlon and at the Lowell races. Bruce Kurtz (male 70-74 category) has moved into first place overall in the series with 61 points. Jill Herrick (female 35-39 category) is in second place with 56 points followed by Nancy Thomson (female 40-44 category) with 46 points. Cyclonauts has expanded their lead in the series with 815 points over Comprehensive Racing’s 568 points. Blackstone Valley has moved into third place with 141 over North Medford Tri with 140 points, a mere 1 point difference. Comprehensive Racing continues to dominate in the relay division holding the top spots in the mixed team (80 points), all male team (45 points), and all female team (43 points). For a complete listing of current grand prix results, go to: With one grand prix event remaining for the season—FirmMan Rhode Island—the opportunity exists for additional shifting in the individual and team categories.  

The TDD Duathlon which precedes the Grand Prix Awards Ceremony is an especially important event on the FIRM calendar. It is a memorial race for Tyrus, Dante, and Daniel Vescio, triplet sons of local racers, Don and Elaine Vescio, and a fundraiser for the UMass Memorial Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Worcester, MA. The Sutton venue is fabulous and the race course is scenic yet extremely challenging. The bike route was designed by Don Vescio, and many of you are familiar with Don’s affinity for cycling. Bring the whole family. There will be a kids’ fun run, entertainment for children including a performance by Mr. Kim Webster, food, music, fun, and, of course, the grand prix awards ceremony and drawing for a Guru bicycle frame. Register today for the TDD Duathlon at:





 Coach’s Corner: Running Strong in a Triathlon
by Chris Benestad CSCS, USATF II, Running Coach at Vescio MPS

A very good triathlete once told me that to have a great run in triathlon, you need to be a strong cyclist.  It seems backwards, but it is true. You need to be able to hammer on the bike and still have reserves left for the run. Conversely, if you can barely drag your carcass through the bike segment of the triathlon, you are not going to feel too spry on the run. So consider becoming a strong cyclist the first step to completing strong

runs in a triathlon. Since the focus of this article is on running, I will not go into specifics about how to improve your cycling.  

Once you have become an efficient and powerful cyclist whether through structured training or the assistance of a cycling coach, it is time to focus on running strong off the bike. Four primary components of running strong off the bike are:

1.      Improving your overall fitness through strength and conditioning activities

2.      Building your endurance through cycling and running

3.      Getting your legs used to running when tired by completing brick workouts or doing a tempo run right after a running interval workout

4.      Staying fueled and hydrated during the bike and run segments


Improving your overall fitness through strength and conditioning activities is the first component in that I will address. Cycling and running are power exercises. An effective year round strength and conditioning program is key for developing the requisite power for cycling and running and for helping with injury prevention by eliminating muscle imbalances. Thirty minutes twice a week is sufficient time to devote to this activity as long as you focus only on exercises that you need, and you pair exercises for time efficiency. For example, instead of simply doing overhead presses, do one legged dumb bell curls to an overhead press. You can plan a program by researching appropriate exercises or by seeking assistance from someone who is knowledgeable about strength training for triathletes.  

By building your endurance through cycling and running you are developing the aerobic engine that you will need to go the distance. For non-ironman distance competitors, it’s important to get your body used to working for at least the time you expect to race.  This is best accomplished during the base phase of your training program. If you are planning to race an Olympic distance triathlon, then your race will last anywhere from two to four hours depending on your ability and fitness.  Your training rides during the base phase of your training year should be approximately that amount of time to help you establish an appropriate endurance foundation and these workouts should be done at a zone 2 pace. Though your run in an Olympic triathlon is only 10k, your long training runs should be at least 90 minutes to build sufficient endurance for running a 10K at the end of the race. Remember to decrease these distances during the build and race phases of your training cycle.  

The third component for running strong in triathlon requires getting used to running with tired legs. An effective way to accomplish this is to practice bike-run workouts called bricks. Add bricks to your training schedule about six weeks prior to your first B race of the season or get these bricks in during some early season C races. Don’t try to go hard in both the bike and run portions during most of your brick workouts.  Combine a hard bike ride with a short easy run or a short bike ride with a hard run. During the taper for an A race on your calendar, it’s good to do a “dress rehearsal” brick where you go hard on the bike and the run, but for shorter distances than your big event. Indoor bricks work well in lousy weather as all you need is access to a treadmill and an indoor bike or trainer. Make sure you have at least four brick workouts under your belt before doing the following workout. After a good warm up of jogging and easy spinning, complete 5 – 8 sets of biking a hard 5k, then immediately run a hard 1k for time.  After the 1k, take a 3-5 min recovery before starting the next set.  Keep track of your time and try to improve from one workout to another.  This type of workout is very demanding and requires practice and patience.  You should only complete this workout once every 14 – 21 day. Remember that the key to this workout is running fast after a hard effort on the bike.  Also you get to practice changing your shoes quickly.

Another tactic for getting used to running strong with tired legs is to do a short tempo run right after you complete a workout with running intervals. For example, if you are training for an Olympic distance triathlon, do 3x1 mile repeats with 400 easy recovery. After the last 400 recovery, run at tempo pace for about 15 minutes. Your legs should be tired from the mile repeats so it should take some effort to hold the tempo pace.

The final step for running strong in triathlon is to stay fueled on the bike so that you start your run hydrated and ready to cover the distance. Triathlon racing can require a large amount of calories and fluids.  Your body has about enough energy for two hours of racing.  After that, you need to take in calories in order not to bonk.  Depending on the weather conditions and your fitness, drinking one to three bottles of sports drinks during a 40k bike split and consuming one or two energy gels will keep you properly fueled for your run.  Continue to drink at the water stations during the run. Figure out what types of drinks and foods and the amounts that your body can tolerate during your brick workouts and your long rides and runs.  Then put it into practice on race day.

 Hopefully these techniques will help you run strong in your next triathlon.  Race smart, and race with confidence that your training will hold up under race conditions. Please contact me if you any questions at:




Tri Living: Triathlon Helps Family Cope with Tragedies 

For the past four years, local athletes, Elaine and Don Vescio have been fixtures at the FIRM events. Yet, few people know how the sport of triathlon has helped this couple cope with two life altering tragedies in the past five years.   

The first tragedy occurred on June 10, 2003. Don, a category 2 road cyclist and category 1 track cyclist with one of the fastest sprints in the country, was on an easy bike ride when a car took a left turn in front of him. Don braked hard, leaving a twenty foot skid mark. The car hit Don in the left hip, launching his body into the windshield, and then over the car. His injuries were extensive. His left hip and shoulder dislocated with such force that they shattered the surrounding bone. Forty percent of the shoulder bone was missing; thirty percent of the hip bone was missing.  The bone had been pulverized by the car. The list of serious injuries was extensive—broken pelvis, broken shoulder, torn rotator cuff, fractured vertebrae, and broken ribs. Don spent the next month in the hospital and two months in a wheelchair.    

Shoulder surgery and hip surgery helped repair some of the damage, but it was obvious that most of the injuries would be permanent. Undeterred, the day he got out of the wheelchair in late August, Don got on his Computrainer for a bike ride. He knew his sprinting days were over as his left shoulder and hip were too unstable for the explosive movements required in sprinting, but he was determined to compete on the bicycle again.  

In March 2004, Don entered his first race since the accident, the Sutton Duathlon, with his wife, Elaine, as the runner in the mixed relay division. This race was an ironic choice given that the race’s bike course began at the same location where Don was hit by the car. Battling his fears especially when riding past the site of the accident, Don completed the race. He had found an outlet for his competitive juices; he could compete in cycling time trials. Elaine agreed to help him find swimmers and runners for relay teams so that he could compete in the bike segment of triathlons and duathlons, and she switched from bicycle racing back to triathlon, a sport in which she had competed back in the 1980’s. The accident had taken away bicycle racing—an integral part of their lives for many years including being the way that they had met in 1990. Now triathlon would help to fill that void. If only that were the end of the story.  

One year after Don’s return to racing, Elaine was admitted to the hospital. She was in preterm labor with triplets. After two weeks of total bed rest combined with a plethora of drugs, their three baby boys were born on April 8, 2005. Tyrus and Dante lived a short time; Daniel was stillborn. Overwhelmed by the loss of their three children, Elaine and Don grappled with how to go on with their lives. After a few weeks, Don started riding and racing again. There was no joy in it, but it was his attempt to regain some normalcy in his life. Elaine returned to teaching spinning classes at the end of May, but simply would reply “no” when asked if she were going to compete in 2005. That would change as she realized that she needed something positive on which she could focus, something that could take her mind off the loss of her sons even for a short period of time. So Elaine decided to return to triathlon. In June, she competed in the bike segment of a relay at the Ashland Triathlon and found it was exactly what she needed. The sights and sounds of the race venue and the energy of the race reminded her of the fun and excitement that racing had brought to her life during her 20+ years as a endurance athlete. She realized that training and racing could help her cope during this tough period in her life.   

In 2006, Elaine and Don approached FIRM about putting on a memorial race for their sons that also would serve as a fundraiser for the UMass Memorial Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. The venues for the 2007 edition of the event did not pan out, but the race is on the 2008 FIRM race calendar. The inaugural TDD Duathlon will be held on September 21 in Sutton, MA. Triathlon, the sport that had helped them cope after Don’s accident and after their sons’ deaths, was now allowing them to do something positive—bring together a large group of people to celebrate their sons’ lives and raise money that could help other babies live long, healthy lives. For more information on the TDD Duathlon, go to: 



Gee Whiz—Newton Running Shoes 

Many coaching articles and training books extol the benefits of forefoot running—faster leg turnover and less energy lost with each foot strike. Now a running shoe is available that actually helps the wearer achieve forefoot running. After ten years of research and design, Newton Running has introduced the Newton Running Shoe.

The Newton Running Shoe achieves forefoot running through its Active Membrane Technology. This technology permits the sole of the shoe to mimic the wearer’s sole allowing the foot to move freely and promoting forefoot impact. Then the shoe’s design allows the wearer to get the most energy from every foot strike. Each time the wearer’s forefoot strikes the ground, the actuator lugs stretch the membrane as they are pushed from the outer sole into the midsole. As the wearer pushes off the ground, the membrane returns to its original shape pushing the actuator lugs back out from the midsole and turning the energy into forward motion. The overall design was inspired by Newton’s third law of motion—for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The result is a running shoe that offers less energy loss, more cushioning, less friction, more mobility, more natural biomechanics, and less weight.  To see how Newton Running Shoes can help you run better, check out: 

FIRM is thrilled to have Newton Running as a sponsor of FirmMan RI. The male and female who post the fastest run split at that race, win a pair of Newton Running Shoes. 



Tri This!: A Seat With a Split Personality

All cyclists have had the experience of ending a ride realizing that a garden brick would have been more comfortable than their state-of-the-art titanium-carbon-gel saddle.  Riding a bike in an aggressive time trial position only hastens the discomfort process; while new technologies and materials have been introduced to address the issue of saddle comfort, saddle design--for the most part--has remained remarkably unchanged over the past one hundred years.

John Cobb, aerodynamic guru to the pros and entrepreneur, decided to take a different perspective on bicycle saddle design.  Rather than designing a saddle in which the cyclist's body weight rests primarily on the soft tissue of the perineum, which is susceptible to pressure and abrasion, he developed a seat which enables the hard surface of the lower pelvis to support the body.  The result is a seat that has a uniquely "split" personality:

The name of the saddle is "Adamo," which is a derivative of the Latin "for pleasure."  The seat is specially designed for time trailists and triathletes who ride for extended periods of time on aerobars.  When riding, the cyclist actually sits on the two "prongs" of the saddle, thus supporting their body with the boney structure of the pelvic area:

There are two advantages to the Adamo design, one of which might not be so obvious.  The first is that the seat shifts the body's weight off of the perineum, help to avoid abrasion and bruising in this area.  The second, which is especially appropriate for cyclists who need to abide by the UCI rules on saddle set-back, is that the seat's truncated length enables a rider to adopt a much steeper effective seat angle than what is normally afforded by traditional saddles.

For more information regarding Adamo saddles, including installation and set-up instructions, visit:





A Behind the Scenes Glimpse at the Olympic Triathlon

During his trip to the far east, Tim Crowley, the coach for Olympian Jarrod Shoemaker, provided regular email updates to a group of friends and clients as a way of sharing his experiences and to give a behind the scenes glimpse of the Olympic Triathlon. FIRM is pleased to share excerpts from these emails to readers of the FIRM Racing Newsletter.  

Saturday August 9: First Five Days

Hi All,

After nearly 40 hours of travel, we finally reached out destination in Jeju. The first 6 hr flight to San Fran was uneventful. Then as we were getting ready for a 12 + hr flight to Seoul, we were taken from our seats and moved to Business Plus (to me it was first class. A glass of champagne, a few beers and a 4 course dinner  (followed by 3 movies and a 3 hour nap), and we arrived in Seoul. Since it was 5:00 PM, Alicia and I decided to get in a swim at the hotel’s 25 m pool. 

After an easy 1500m, we exited the pool to the lifeguard clapping for us (guess they don’t see to many people training there). After dinner and some Tylenol PM, a good night sleep was in order. 

The next day of travel was the last leg to Jeju, and required a 45 min bus trip to another airport. Once at Gimpo, we were pulled into a room to explain to security why we had a cooling vest and C02 cartridges. Security did not speak English and knew even less about exercise science. They thought we had life vests and inflators. Well after we explained it, we were good. Boy did we stick out at that airport!

Next we got our car at Avis where they spoke no English and had no English maps. And the road numbers did not match the map. So a 45 min drive turned into a 3 hour adventure before we finally found the training center and got checked in.

 Monday August 11: Report from Camp Jeju

It’s getting to crunch time. The final key training sessions are being done, and its time to sharpen up and rest before we head to Beijing.

Yesterday  morning we went down to the coast for a flat run. It poured harder that I have ever seen it rain as Jarrod did his final 9 miler.  

Later in the morning, it was up to the mountain where the road was rolling hills but windy. It’s very hard to find flat roads with little traffic. I have spent several hours over the last few days searching for good cycling roads. This doesn’t sound too difficult, except all the maps and street signs are in Korean. Getting lost can be an adventure. But with my sense of direction, no problem.  

Today was a sprint triathlon put on in Jeju for the elite athletes training here. It was a 750m swim, 20km bike, and 5 km run. Jarrod used this as a final tune up. The goal was to get in a hard effort safely. He raced to an 3rd place and had a solid race.


After lunch, the athletes who did not race did an ocean swim. Jarrod did a easy ride, and I followed behind in the van, using the road I discovered the previous day. That was perfect until he decided to ride the narrow streets of a fishing village. This made for some interesting driving. 

When I went out to run at 1pm today, the heat index was 110 degrees. We just found out that the temperature at the Beijing swim venue is 90 degrees. 

That’s all for now. I will send the next update before we break camp and head to Beijing.


Thursday August 14th  

Yesterday we started the day with an open water swim. Alicia and Matt Reed did a long swim while I swam close by to keep an eye on the bags. The water was warm and clear, making it easy to see objects like sunglasses on the bottom. Matt found 2 pair and gave them to the Korean cooks. They think they are rock stars now. 

Jarrod did his last bike/run combo, and both went well. It was a very steamy day (as all are here). He finds it funny to go flying thru the little villages while I get stuck behind a bus in the van as we follow. The US athletes will be using ice vests to keep their core temperatures down before the race begins. We have been using them in training as well. Sara Haskin’s husband, Nate, nearly ran over Olympic favorite Javier Gomes on his bike as Gomes came running thru the gate of the track and Nate was flying by on his bike. Alicia was running at the track yesterday and the Swiss Team was up in the stands timing her and watching with binoculars. Too bad she’s not even racing.

Today was the last training session I may see. Jarrod did a short track session, followed by an indoor trainer session (It’s monsoon season here). With the high security at training venues, coaches may not even get in to the workouts. We’ll have to wait and see.  

Time to pack up and head to Beijing. We head out early Friday morning. The flight is packed with athletes, support staff, and bikes. Hopefully everything we need makes it to the hotel. Next update from Beijing!


Friday August 15: On to Beijing! 

We left in a 4 van caravan to the airport this morning. Our entire flight was triathletes from all corner of the globe. It was a “who’s who”. What a bunch of dorks they all looked like with flip flops, recovery socks pulled up to the knees and shorts. There was so much luggage that they began stacking wheels in the aisles. 

We road a coach bus to the Hotel.  The sun was shining (rare), and clear blue skies. After checking in and building up our bikes, we headed out for a ride. We were able to get on the course and ride a few laps. On our way there, I was ripping it up as I passed 90 year olds on 3 wheeled bikes with boxes and cardboard piled 6 ft high on their bikes. The barricades were up on the course, and it was fun to spin around with Jarrod and chat. Finally after 11 months, we were on the course, and it felt good. Jarrod’s last hard session yesterday went real well, and he is relaxed and excited to go. 

 Post race report

The race is over, and we have already had our post race beer. What an exciting race. This is great for the sport to have a 2 hour event come down to a 4 man drag race over the last 300m. When you line up 55 of the fastest guys in the sport, it’s going to be a fast race. 


Jarrod had a great swim and was right up in the main pack.


The bike stayed together, and he sat near the back where it was safe and rode a smart race. Onto the run, and it was very fast from the start. Jarrod got into a good running rhythm on the first lap, and began moving up thru the field. He finished in 18th position, and it was very good to see him smile and enjoy becoming an Olympian. Our goal was for him to be strong in all 3 disciplines and to race to his potential on this big day. He did, And for that I an proud of his preparation and execution on the day.  




Local Highlight-- Summit Spring Water 

You train hard, choose healthy foods (most of the time), invest in fancy equipment, and get up ridiculously early on Sunday mornings during the race season. All to find out just how fast you can swim, bike, and run on a given day. Despite the thought, energy, and money that goes into your training and racing, how much consideration do you give to the water that you drink?  Not just how much you drink, but the quality of the water that you ingest into that finely tuned machine called your body? Considering the human body is 70% water, it stands to reason that the more naturally pure the water you drink, the better for your body. 

Summit Spring Water’s uncommon purity is documented in texts dating back to 1792. In the late 1800s it was shipped in wooden barrels around the world and sold as a healing tonic.

While Summit Spring Water does not make any claims of magical healing powers today, they do believe that Summit Spring Water may well be some of the purest naturally free-flowing water on the planet. A complete detailed analysis is available on their website along with video of the spring and lots of historical photos. 

Summit Spring Water has gone to great lengths to preserve the natural integrity of the spring and the water that flows from it. To this day Summit Spring Water still bubbles up from the ground all on its own—without the use of pumps or boreholes—inside the original stone spring house near the top of Summit Hill, the highest point in Cumberland County, Maine. The water collects in an enclosed stainless steel chamber where it flows—by gravity alone—to the bottling facility just fifty feet away. From the time it presents itself at the Earth’s surface to the moment it goes into the bottle it never sees the light of day or contacts anything but surgical-quality stainless steel. 

Summit Spring is honored to support the F.I.R.M. 2008 Race Series and the athletes who strive for personal excellence by providing Summit Spring Water for every race in the series. Cases of Summit Spring Water also are available for purchase at a special discounted price at most races. At the end of the race season 10% of the profits from those sales will be donated to a charity of F.I.R.M.’s choice. Visit Ray at the Summit Spring table for more information.  Also, remember to look for Summit Spring Water in the Nature’s Place section of your local Hannaford supermarket. 

To learn more about the spring and its fascinating history, please visit 





Congratulations Tom Newton

Congratulations to Tom Newton from Quadmultisport. What a week he had in July! Tom raced well at Lake Placid, missing a Kona slot by a mere 40 seconds. Guess he’ll let those wetsuit strippers work their magic next time. Fortunately the latest addition to his family was a little late too.  His son, Shea Newton, arrived on July 23rd, a few days after his due date which coincided nicely with Lake Placid.






Special Offers from Our Sponsors

Vescio Multisport Performance Services
The off-season is almost upon us, so it's not too early to begin preparing for next year. As the official coaching organization for FIRM in 2008, Vescio Multisport Performance Services offers a variety of coaching programs for triathlon, running, cycling, and swimming. Gift certificates are available.

Sign up for either the Vescio MPS Platinum Level Triathlon Training Service or Gold Level Triathlon Service by September 30, 2008 and get 25% off the first month’s coaching fee. To receive the discount, enter “FIRM25” in the appropriate space on the sign-up form. May not be combined with other offers.  

Bring the following coupon to any Quintana Roo dealer by November 1, 2008 and receive a 20% discount on any Quintana Roo bicycle and/or a 25% discount on any Quintana Roo wetsuit.  This coupon is good for in-shop purchases only and is not applicable for online purchases