March, 2008
Volume 1, Number 3

In this issue:


Message from Wendy and Bill: FirmMan Massachusetts Triathlon Festival

The sport of triathlon is booming in this part of the country with so many athletes and great racing. However, there has been one important feature missing—a triathlon festival. Well, we are pleased to announce that FIRM is hosting Massachusetts’ only triathlon festival on the weekend of June 7 and 8, 2008. The FirmMan Massachusetts Triathlon Festival, presented by Fuel Belt and Quadmultisport, includes a sports & fitness expo, a kids’ triathlon, an aquabike race, and a half iron distance event. This is sure to be an action-packed weekend of fun, fitness, and racing.  

On Saturday, June 7, the festival kicks off with the delicious breakfast treats and coffee from the folks at Starbucks fueling up festival attendees for the product demonstrations, free seminars, and sports clinics at the FirmMan Massachusetts Sports & Fitness Expo. This informative and fun expo takes place at the Sheraton by Four Points in Leominster, MA from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.  

In the afternoon it’s time for the kids to take the spotlight at the FirmKids Massachusetts Triathlon at Fort Pond in Lancaster, MA. This fun race is for children ages 4 to 12 years. The FirmKids race begins with a 50 yard swim in Fort Pond.  It is a time trial start for the swim with the children beginning one at a time with plenty of distance between swimmers. The swim is alongside a floating dock under the watchful eyes of swim volunteers who would quickly hand a noodle to any swimmer who wants one. (Of course, swim bubbles and life jackets are “legal” for this event). After a quick transition, the racers hop on their bicycles, tricycles, and big wheels to hammer the one mile bike course. Then they complete a half mile run finishing their triathlon under the giant, inflatable FIRM finish line.  Each participant receives a finisher’s medal upon crossing the finish line. After the race, it’s time to celebrate with some food and live entertainment.

On Saturday evening legendary endurance sports athletes, Dick and Rick Hoyt, are the guest speakers at the pasta and chicken parmesan dinner at the host hotel, the Four Points by Sheraton in Leominster. It’s a great opportunity to meet the Hoyts, fuel up, and hang out with other racers. And you might as well spend the night at the Four Points by Sheraton since the room rates are only $99.00 for a single/double, $104 for a triple, and $110 for a quad. The hotel is 7 minutes away from the race site. To receive these rates, call the host hotel at 978.534.9000 and ask for one of the FirmMan or Triathlon rooms.  

The festival’s premier event, FirmMan Massachusetts Presented by Fuel Belt and Quadmultisport, starts at 7:00 AM on Sunday at Fort Pond in Lancaster, MA. After a 1.2 mile swim in placid Fort Pond, the athletes cycle through 56 miles of rolling hills before finishing with a 13.1 mile run through the rural roads of northern Massachusetts. While the athletes are competing in this half ironman distance event, the triathlon festivities will continue with music, live entertainment, kiddie amusements, and more! Each participant in the FirmMan event receives a long sleeved performance jersey, finisher’s medal, and FirmMan socks.  

For those of you who want to get your work buddies more active, put together a team for the corporate relay team division for FirmMan Massachusetts. And for those of you who have been itching for an aquabike event, sign up for FirmMan Massachusetts Aquabike. It runs concurrently with the half ironman event—same distances, just no run segment.  

Remember to put the FirmMan Massachusetts Triathlon Festival on your calendar. It’s going to be one of those memorable race weekends. 

Wendy & Bill Fiske


Grand Prize for the 2008 FIRM Race Series

Thanks to our generous sponsor, Guru, one of the top competitors in the 2008 FIRM race series will win a Guru custom, carbon fibre bicycle frame. 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).   

These frames are definitely worth digging deeper for while competing in FIRM races this season. Crono with its award-winning design has accumulated victories on the Ironman® circuit. It features the first and only seamless, customizable aero carbon frame in the world. From tube lengths and angles to fiber lay-up configurations, this bike frame would be precisely tailored to deliver optimal riding position and performance for the person who wins it. 

Guru's Crono

Geneo is a customizable composite bike that is seamless, shapely and aerodynamically superior to other road frames. The frame's high modulus carbon construction features an exceptional 70/30 fiber-to-resin ratio. This ultra lightweight, yet exceptionally rigid (where it needs to be) frame would be a pure joy for the winner to ride.

Guru's Geneo

Elites, age-groupers, Clydesdales, Athenas, and relay team members earn points by placing in the top five in their category at FIRM events in 2008. First place earns eight points, second place earns five points, third place earns three points, fourth place earns two points, and fifth place earns one point. Points are doubled at FIRM Grand Prix events and tripled at FirmMan Massachusetts and FirmMan Rhode Island. For every point earned by an individual, that individual receives one entry into the drawing for the Guru bicycle frame. The winner’s name will be drawn at the FIRM Grand Prix awards banquet at the end of the race season. The person who’s name is drawn must be present at the awards banquet to win the bicycle frame.

The FIRM Race Series  Presented by Fuel Belt and Guru consists of 10 FIRM multisport events:

  • Wrentham Duathlon on April 20

  • U. S. Coast Guard Duathlon on May 24

  • Ludlow Boys & Girls Club Triathlon on June 1

  • FirmMan Massachusetts Triathlon on June 8

  • Webster Lake Triathlon on June 22

  • Old Colony YMCA Triathlon on July 13

  • Lowell Triathlon & Wildcat Triathlon on August 3

  • Witch City Triathlon on August 10

  • Journey for Sight Triathlon on August 24

  • FirmMan Rhode Island on September 7.  

The Wretham Duathlon season opener is only a few weeks away.  Remember, it is a Grand Prix event, so points are doubled. Update your race calendar and get ready to start earning points!



Coach's Corner: Data That Matters, Part III
By Don Vescio, Vescio Multisport Performance Systems

Data Patterns
Most athletes who have downloadable powermeters and heartrate monitors never take full advantages of the data that they collect during their workouts.  While powermeters and heartrate monitors can provide useful instantaneous data (for instance, whether your power output or heartrate is approaching anaerobic threshold, which is can be used for pacing), the real value of the data collected is its utility in quantifying what happened during a training session and how environmental factors may have impacted performance.

Within the context of cycling, a powermeter measures the amount of work being done on the bike, while a heartrate monitor measures the impact that the work has on our physiology.  Both forms of data are important in maximizing our performance; but because bicycle powermeters are still relatively expensive, the following examples will be keyed to heartrate.

Cardiac Drift
One of the most important environmental factors that impacts athletic performance is heat.  As an athlete's body temperature increases, the overall load on his/her physiology also increases; this is frequently manifested as a gradual rise of heartrate over time.

The graph above tracks heartrate during a two hour steady-paced spinning class.  The session took place in a room that was poorly ventilated and poorly cooled; as the class progressed, the heat generated by 24 participants raised the room's ambient temperature by almost ten degrees.  While every attempt was made to keep the perceived effort the same throughout the entire session, the rise in room temperature resulted in a gradually increasing heartrate.  Take away: adequate cooling is critical for optimal athletic performance.

Stochastic Variables and Outdoor Training
Before you put your trainers away in anticipate of warm, dry spring days, consider that riding outside involves a number of variables outside of your control that may impact your ability to complete a training session as planned. Hills, wind, traffic, temperature, and humidity all can have a deleterious impact on athletic performance; what is important is understanding how such environmental variables can make structured sessions difficult to complete.

In the example above, note the significant variations in heartrate for the two hour session.  The intent for this session was to ride at a steady aerobic pace for two hours. Due to the ride's terrain and a gusty wind, it was impossible to ride without spikes in heartrate.  As a result, what should have been a simple zone three ride actually became a ride with a series of unstructured intervals: a significant portion of this ride was completed in zone four and five.  Because this ride was much more intense than planned, the following day's session was not effective due to the fatigue generated by the prior session.

The term "stochastic" means "random."  The randomness of the hills and wind associated with the session above outweighed the session's planned intent.  Perhaps the easiest way to limit environmental variables is to ride an indoor trainer or ergometer, which completely eliminates the influence of wind and hills.

The plan for the session above was to complete three intervals at AT threshold.  Note the clearly defined curves in the heartrate graph that marks warm-up, interval, recovery, and warm-down efforts.  By performing this session on an ergometer, effort and intensity could be carefully controlled to yield maximum benefit for the athlete.

What to Take Away?
Download your heartrate and/or powermeter data after every session to better assess whether your actual performance for the session matched your planned intent.  Use this data to review the impact that environmental variables might have had on your performance and refine future training sessions based on the information that you have gained.  For maximum efficiency, consider doing your most structure training sessions indoors on a trainer or ergometer to minimize variables that can have a negative impact.



Gee Wiz: Do Aerobars Matter?
By Don Vescio, Vescio Multisport Performance Systems

Recently, I was wondering why the fastest time trial times over standard distances really aren't all that much faster in today's aero age than when they were twenty years ago, before the advent of aerobars, disk wheels, and sculpted carbon framesets.  For instance, in 1978, British rider Alf Engers rode a 49.24 twenty-five mile time trial on a stock road bike, and in 1988, Colin Sturgess rode a ten mile time trial to a startling 18.48.  While there are, of course, outlying performances such as Chris Boardman's 45.57 twenty-five mile ride and Bradley Wiggins' 17.57 ten miler, there is not a significant difference in times for the most of the fastest riders, whether or not their performances took place after the advent of high tech aerodynamic bicycle technologies.  Interesting, a similar pattern emerges when examining the bike splits at Kona, too.

So the question naturally arises as to whether developments such as aerobars and disk wheels make a significant difference for most elite riders.  It's generally accepted that a low position on the bike--pelvis rotated forward, elbows in, head held below the level of the shoulders--is necessary to go fast.

Note in the photo above, the rider's back is flat and his head is held low.  By rotating his pelvis forward, he is able to further drop his shoulders to achieve a more optimal aerodynamic position.

The rider in this photo has his pelvis in a more neutral position, which forces his shoulders up; this also causes him to stretch in his reach for his aerobars (notice that the angle of his elbows is much greater than ninety degrees).

A quick review of the top time trialists of the seventies and early eighties demonstrate positions remarkably similar to those achieved today with aerobars.


The riders in each of the three photos above all have extremely aerodynamic positions, probably better than most riders today who use aerobars.  Their backs are flat, their heads are low, their arms are held tight to their bodies, and their pelvis' are rotated forward to further drop their shoulders.

Would these riders have been faster with aerobars?  Most likely, but not for the reason that you might think.  It is possible to achieve a very efficient aerodynamic position without the use of aerobars, provided that you have a strong core, exceptional concentration, and a willingness to suffer greatly during your ride.  What aerobars do for most riders to to enable them to achieve a good aerodynamic position with minimal physical effort--aerobars enable the arms and shoulders to support their upper body, which allows more energy and attention to be directed toward making the bike move forward quickly.  What I am suggesting is that it is very possible to have an extremely effective body position without aerobars for a shorter (say, less than ten miles)  time trial. (Example: hands held near the stem on bar tops, back flat/slightly below horizontal, elbows held tightly against the body, etc.); Of course, holding such a position without aerobars would require exceptionally strong core strength.

Do aerobars and the latest in tricked out aero wheels and bicycle frames make a difference?  According to most studies, aerodynamic bicycle equipment can yield up at a 10% gain in performance, which is huge for most riders.  But more important than aerodynamic equipment is making sure that you are fitted properly to your bike and that your body position is optimized for power and aerodynamics as much as possible.  Unless these two criteria are met, no aerobar or expensive time trial equipment will make you appreciably faster. 



Tri Living



Swim, Bike, Run, Eat, Sleep, Repeat

(Ford Ironman Florida 2007)

By Patrick Smith, Team Comprehensive Racing


The Time Required to Reach "The Promised Land"

Patrick Smith


PART 2 - Pre-Race

On November 3, 2007 I (and three friends) had the honor of becoming a first time Ironman in Panama City Beach Florida at the Ford Florida Ironman. This 3 Part training/race-day report summarizes my seven month season to "The Promised Land". 

This is part 2 of a 3 part series (Part 1 - Training, Part 2 - Pre-Race, Part 3 - Race Day)


The four Horsemen, soon to be the four Ironmen, fly Boston to Panama City Beach via Atlanta.  As we get off the plane at our transfer in Atlanta I have none other than Doug Flutie walking beside me in a Red Sox cap, hooded sweatshirt, and jeans. I get to chat with Doug about the BC Eagles undefeated stretch and other sports stuff.  This trip is definitely starting out on the right foot.



We arrive three days before the race (Wednesday for the Saturday race); it’s 75 degrees and super sunny. We check on our bike delivery from TriBike Transport (the bike check-in is located at the IM registration), pick up our five race bags (two transition, two special needs, and one morning clothes) and take a quick peek into the IM merchandise store.  Afraid of jinxing our finish, none of the Four Horsemen pre-purchase any IM wear; we need to earn this first. We were glad we came an extra day early, as Jodi (another member of Team Comp Racing) found out the following day: the lines for check-in were huge two days before the race (which was also the day of the mandatory pre-race meeting).  We tour through the IM village of sponsor's, merchandise, and pro interviews.  We check into our hotels, unpack, and then check out our registration bag.  We sift through the piles of ad flyers, sample products, the five race drop-off bags, and then our race numbers. To see my name on the bottom of the race number finally made it official: I'm racing an Ironman, so let the games begin.  Denise and I are staying at the Moondrifter Condos, one hotel east of the host hotel, The Boardwalk.  Unless you book accommodations two weeks after registration (mid November), you can forget about getting into the Boardwalk. Between travel, check-in, and taking in the IM village, we are hungry early and venture a few miles away to Carrabba's Italian Grill for dinner, where there’s no line and no wait.  The food (pasta and chicken) was great and the price was right.  We'll try to come back for our final meal before race day.


Gatorade is sponsoring a 7 to 10 am swim practice, Team Comp Racing is all present, and we're ready to roll. We walk from the retro Moondrifter Condos along the beach, change up, chat with a couple from Colorado, formerly of Seattle, and overhear some German, Portugese, and a slew of other accents as we stand on the beach. We are truly at an international event, and shivers run down me from head to toe, this is too cool.  The water temp is near 70 degrees and our Southern counterparts are in their full wet suits.  The Four Horsemen from the North take on the practice swim without wetsuits, finding the water quite warm as compared to the upper 50 degree waters of Nahant. True to last year's reports and pictures, there was a current traveling towards the Southeast (out to sea).  After our 45 minute swim, I grabbed my bike and ventured out towards the run course, which was a little safer than the bike course, with its multitude of hotels and shops along the water.  Afternoon winds of 20 to 25 mph picked up and made the biking a little challenging in the aero position.  Thank the tri-gods we were on the panhandle side of Florida; the Atlantic side was getting beaten by 50 to 70 mph winds from a tropical storm that would soon be a hurricane.  What would race day be like?

The pre-race IM meeting is at 7pm, we decide to skip the pre-race dinner buffet at 5pm (we heard the food for $25 would not be anything to write home about) and opted for Tony Roma's for some steaks and ribs (chicken for Denise). The food was OK (although not for Stu later) and again dinner was under $20 and again they tempt us with 2 for 1 drink specials, "round of waters please".  The 7pm pre-race info session at the host hotel, The Boardwalk, and was very entertaining and full of good info for us 1,100 first timers (that's half the field!).  So many first timers! Could we place better than we thought?  With a strong German troop of 100+ and an equal number of speedy Canadians; don't bet on it.  This is a strong competitive field. Oh I hope I sleep well tonight.  We were told not to worry, no sharks in the waters off Panama City Beach, but watch out for the bears on the bike course and cougars on the run. We were also told public nudity would not be tolerated after a racer decided to expose and relieve himself on the front lawn of a house that happened to be occupied by a family of several children and a lawyer who tried to banish the whole 2007 IM race from Panama City.  So much for the buck-naked ride I was planning on to lighten my ride



A couple Tylenol PMs aided my sleep, but I was still  awake by 6 A.M. My mind is running on 100% Ironman at this point.  Gatorade would sponsor another 7 to 10am swim practice on race course, so Denise and I decide to hit it again. I wear a wetsuit this time to remember its feel after spending the last two weeks in the pool.  Stiles Pond and Nahant Beach were just too cold in late October to keep up with the swimming outside.  We swim for 30 minutes, covering half the 1.2 mile course and then hang out on the beach chatting with a couple of lads from Ireland. They tell us it's hard to train early in the season in Ireland and the November timing of the Florida IM suits them just fine. We return to the Moondrifter and I start filling my transition bags, special needs bags, and morning bag. It’s like filling Halloween bags: a Chapstick; two Band-aids; two packets of lubing chamois butter in bags two through five; food in bags three and five; GUs in bags two and five; swim items in bag one; bike items in bag two; and run items in bag four.  Whew!  I lay it all out on the floor in front of each bag.  It covers the whole living room floor!  I carry my swim to bike and bike to run transition bags to the race start, leaving the bike for later, because I wanted to do one last spin.  The race transition areas looks like an entire university just dropped off their laundry in matching bags: thousands of bags lined up on the pavement in neat lines.  

Our troop of five is now seven,as our friends Dan and Steph fly down to assist Denise with the cheerleading and photography duty.  We all travel back to our favorite dinner spot, Carrabba's Italian Grill, for our final dinner before race day. But it's now a Friday night and everyone is out, so there is a forty-five minute wait just to get a time to see what the wait will be!  We make a mad dash around Panama City Beach to find a substitute.  Stu says no way to Tony Roma’s, so we check the map, find lines everywhere, and end up with a surprisingly good meal at Applebee's. For a third night in a row, our strong will power holds up as the two for one drinks go by (waters, with lemon please").  Then it's time get some sleep and a year of training and preparation comes down to tomorrow, game-day November 3rd, to be an Ironman.



Tri This! My Triathlon DVD

Media Shower Productions is pleased to introduce My Triathlon DVDs to commemorate your triathlon experience on high resolution digital video.  Each video includes personal scenes of individual athletes woven into a video including the best race highlights, pre and post race coverage, crowd reactions as well as music, narration and graphics.  You will see yourself on your DVD – guaranteed!   

Media Shower uses multiple camera operators along the race course to create a beautiful, cinematic record of the race and your accomplishments.  Dramatic race footage is recorded with professional mini-dv and high-definition video cameras. My Triathlon DVDs include chapter menus allowing viewers to pause, play, repeat or skip to any point in the video.  Each 30-45 minute DVD is custom imprinted with the race, location and date and is packaged and shipped in an attractive book-style DVD case.

Ensure that your race is timelessly preserved, for only $29.95 (plus $3 shipping and handling). Order your DVD today by logging on to your race registration at    Or fax your order to FIRM at 508-434-0121.



Local Highlight: Quadmultisport

This part of New England is a thriving area for triathletes with its choice of triathlon clubs, races almost every weekend during the triathlon season, and wonderful stores to help satisfy athletes’ triathlon shopping needs. Quadmultisport in Arlington Heights, MA is one such store.  

Local athletes, Tom Newton and Marco Paoletti, founded Quadmultisport with four core values:

  • Offer the best equipment on the market

  • Keep prices affordable

  • Provide outstanding customer service

  • Offer tools for all levels of athletes from beginner to expert and from casual to serious

These core values stem from Tom and Marco’s passion for helping people learn about appropriate exercise, proper equipment, and the joys of multisport. As experienced athletes and business owners, these guys have what it takes to build Quadmultisport into the Boston area’s premier multisport shop. Tom completed his first triathlon in 1990 and has been racing ever since. The demands of owning and operating a small business in the Boston area that was the winner of Boston Magazines "Best of Boston" award for four consecutive years limited Tom’s training and racing. So, he sold his business, moved to Arlington, and became involved with QuadCycles, a local bicycle shop. Over time the owner of QuadCycles and Tom tossed around the idea of opening Quadmultisport to help meet the demand for multisport equipment and services. On December 15, 2007, Tom joined forces with Marco and Quadmultisport opened its doors.

Marco came to the sport of triathlon from a running and duathlon background. Having the experience of totally bombing the swim in his first triathlon, Marco enjoys commiserating with other “non-swimmers” about that first leg of the race. Also, he’s the person to talk to about proper bike fit. Marco attended Fit Institute Slowtwitch (F.I.S.T.). There he learned from Dan Empfield of Slowtwitch and John Cobb of Blackwell Research Products about proper bike fitting, frame geometries, and the consideration of body morphology during a bike fitting.

Tom and Marco have designed Quadmultisport to be a full service shop. They offer:

  • Triathlon specific gear

  • Foot & biomechanical analysis

  • VO2 max testing

  • F.I.S.T. certified bike fitting

  • Full bicycle repair and service center

  • USAT certified coaching

  • Wetsuit and race wheel rentals

  • Swim, bike, and run apparel

  • Cleat fittings

They carry many major brands including: Zoot, Hind, Saucony, Zipp, Profile, Brooks, Sidi, Fuel Belt, Desoto, Speedo, Guru, Fuji, Scott, Jamis, Quintana Roo, Shimano, Orca, Aqua Sphere, Rudy Project, Time, and Look.

Stop in and talk with Tom and Marco, or look for them at the 2008 FIRM Race Series. Quadmultisport is the official bicycle mechanic and support vehicle for the 2008 FIRM Race Series, and a Platinum Level Sponsor for the FirmMan Massachusetts and FirmMan Rhode Island races. Be sure to ask Tom how his training is going.  He’s gunning for a ten hour race at Lake Placid this year, and he had better stay on pace during that race considering his wife if due to deliver their third child on that day!



Welcome New Sponsors: Desoto, Quintana Roo, and Zoot

Welcome Desoto, Quintana Roo, and Zoot, three new sponsors for the 2008 FIRM Race Series.  

Thanks to Zoot, a number of FIRM athletes will win a pair of ultra cool Zoot running shoes this season. Check out the running shoes and other Zoot products at 

Quintana Roo is teaming up with Quadmultisport, FIRM’s official bicycle mechanic and support, to raffle a free wetsuit at every FIRM multisport race in 2008. Plus Desoto is offering a pair of tri shorts for the raffle at each race. Check out these sponsors and their great products at , , and .



Special Offers from Our Sponsors

Vescio Multisport Performance Services
As the official coaching organization for FIRM in 2008, Vescio Multisport Performance Services would like to help FIRM athletes get ready for the upcoming triathlon season. Sign up for either the Vescio MPS Platinum Level Triathlon Training Service or Gold Level Triathlon Service by May 31, 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 April 31, 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.