The 2008 race season is here! The first two races of the 2008 FIRM Race Series are done and what a way to start the season.
As the season opener on April 20, the Wrentham Duathlon set a wonderful tone for the 2008 FIRM Race Series. The weather was race-perfect, the turn-out was fabulous, and the dog show going on next to the race venue was an extra bonus on the entertainment side.
The competition at Wrentham was intense with nearly 400 athletes kicking off the region's multisport season at this race. Jeffrey Boyd posted a blazing 52:58 over Dean Phillips' 54:47 to take top honors. With her outrageously fast running, Julia Duval was the first woman finisher in 1:02:04. (She completed the initial 3 mile run in 17:44). Amanda Kourtz was the second woman across the finish line in 1:03:46. The mixed relay team of Marisabel Portillo and Scott Brown posted a 1:04:49 as the fastest overall relay team with the mixed relay team of Laura Frem and Don Vescio taking second place in 1:07:21.
On April 27, eighty-four hearty souls gathered for the Rockbuster Offroad Duathlon. A light drizzle and cloudy skies set the stage for some messy fun and competition.
Joe Corcoran posted a 47:35 over Colt McElwaine's 48:06 to take first place overall. As a follow up to her strong performance at the previous week's Wrentham Duathlon, Mary Misiaszek, continued to show great early season form with her 51:16 over Nancy Thomson's 58:07. (Nancy does prefer events that include a little more water than a drizzly duathlon). The mixed relay team of Pete Cole and Sue Williams posted a 53:07 as the fastest overall relay team with the mixed relay team of Michele Packer and Lloyd Packer taking second place in 1:02:42.
The real show stealer at the Rockbuster event was eleven year old Sonya Jampel, who raced to a first place finish in the under 19 age group with a time of 1:10:42. Sonya posted a 13:28 for the first 1.8 mile run segment, and a 15:03 for the second 1.8 mile run segment. For a complete listing of race results, check out: http://www.firm-racing.com/results.asp
At both events, the top three finishers for age groupers, athenas, clydesdales, and relay teams received medals and prizes; the top five finishers in each category earned points towards the end of the season drawing for a custom, carbon fiber Guru bicycle frame (retail value of $4600).
Quadmultisport worked their magic at Wrentham and Rockbuster providing mechanical support to several athletes. You don’t want to need them during the race, but it’s nice to know that Tom Newton and his crew are every FIRM multisport event. And congratulations to the winners of the Quadmultisport drawing at the awards ceremonies. Those lucky athletes won great prizes including a Quintana Roo wetsuit, a pair of the new Zoot running shoes, a pair of Desoto tri shorts, and a lactate threshold test and a computerized diet analysis from Vescio Multisport Performance Services.
See you at the races!
Question: Does the bike course for the FirmMan Massachusetts race go through the prison?
Answer: The bike course goes by the prison, not through it. Although going through the prison could have set the stage for some unique race stories, it may have been challenging to find marshals for that section of the bicycle course.
Local professional triathlete, 25 year old Jarrod Shoemaker, has built quite the resume since beginning his sports career as a six year old on the T-ball fields in Sudbury. While he has put his early dreams of playing for the Red Sox on hold, he is establishing himself as one of the best triathletes in the world. Notable accomplishments from his resume include 2008 Olympic Team Member, 2005 U23 World Champion, and 2006-2008 Elite National Team Member. Last month Elaine Vescio caught up with Jarrod for a little Q&A about his athletic background, training and racing, and his thoughts about the upcoming Olympics.
Q: One of the articles about you described how you come from an athletic family including parents that have done the Boston Marathon, an Ironman uncle, and some fast siblings.
A: Both of my parents are still avid runners and run every day. My uncle still runs but has not raced an Ironman since 1998. Jenna, is a professional triathlete and currently living and training in LA. Martha is a freshman at NYU where she swims, and Jake is a senior at Lincoln-Sudbury where he competes in Cross Country, Swimming and Track. He is waiting to hear back from a few more colleges before he decides where he is going to run.
Q: Growing up did you think you would someday be a professional athlete? When did you realize that was a career option for you?
A: I always wanted to be a pro athlete, mainly as a baseball player with the Red Sox. Once I realized I wasn’t going to achieve that goal I hoped to be a runner. I still hope to someday throw out a first pitch at a Red Sox game.
Q: What is your background in each of the sports that makes up a triathlon?
A: I began swimming when I was 10. Jenna joined the Thoreau Sharks swim team the year before so naturally I had to follow Jenna on the team. I swam with Thoreau and at Lincoln-Sudbury. I started running in 7th grade when I was at the Fenn School in Concord and continued to run at Lincoln-Sudbury and at Dartmouth College. I only started riding my bike while I was in college, of course I had a mountain bike and rode that all over when I was in high school. I started seriously riding right after I graduated from college.
Q: How did you get introduced to the sport of triathlon?
A: When my uncle was training for his Ironman he told me that I should think about racing in triathlons after I was done running. He told me that swimming and running are extremely important at the elite level and since I already had those talents I could learn how to bike.
Q: When did you do your first triathlon? Which one was it? How did it go?
A: My first race was Boston Triathlon in 2003. I decided to race a few days before I had to go up to Dartmouth to start my senior Cross Country season. I had one of the fastest swim splits and had the fastest run split by over a minute for the 5km run. I finished 10th place overall.
Q: What’s your favorite FIRM race?
A: My favorite FIRM race is Sudbury. I have only done it once but it’s my hometown race at my hometown pool, so I can’t go wrong.
Q: How do you like to use your role as an athlete?
A: I am always excited when I get to talk with kids about the benefits of being an athlete and physical fitness. I have enjoyed going to a few classrooms and telling the kids my story and how if they dream it they can achieve it.
Q: Who are some of the sponsors that are making it possible for you to succeed as a professional triathlete?
A: My biggest sponsors are Hormel, who we just signed with this year, and Nike. I am working with Hormel foods this year and am excited to be working which such a great company. I have been with Nike since 2006 and they make the best clothing and running shoes. But I could not do it without all of my other sponsors, Team Psycho, Kuota Bikes, ATA Cycles and Rolf Prima Wheels.
Q: What is your current coach’s coaching philosophy? How does that suit you as an athlete?
A: I am working with Tim Crowley (Marlborough, MA) and one of the things that I feel is important about our relationship is that he is always on top of things. He reads the latest research in the sport and we are able to meet and work together several times a week. We have a great relationship and we are able to bounce ideas off each other and he gets me to understand the goals behind workouts.
Q: At what point during the Beijing BG World Cup event did you know that you were going to make the Olympic team?
A: I did not know I had made the team until I crossed the finish line. I knew that I had a great shot at making it the entire race, but until I crossed the line I knew that nothing was guaranteed.
Q: What was going through your mind when you realized that you had qualified for the Olympics?
A: I was pretty shocked, going into the race I knew that I had a 1 in 6 shot at making the team, but knew that the other 5 men would be just as motivated as I was to get that spot. After I qualified I immediately tried to call my wife and my family who I knew would be just as excited as me.
Q: How are you preparing for the conditions in Beijing? Heat? Pollution? Course?
A: We have started to look at the specifics of the race, but luckily the heat is something that will take care of itself since we will be training in July and August leading into the race and it will be hot and humid. The pollution is something that you never can prepare for, I just listen to the USOC sports science staff and wear the mask they tell me to. We have looked long and hard at the course and the GPS profile and will begin to train for it. Right now I have been working hard on all three disciplines knowing that everybody else will be working just as hard.
Q: What’s the equipment you will be using for the Olympics?
A: My bike of choice is a Kuota KOM with Rolf Prima wheels
Q: Which athletes/countries do you believe are most likely to bring home the gold, silver, and bronze in triathlon?
A: I won’t predict anything, but New Zealand, Australia, Germany and Great Britain all have some amazing athletes and Canada's Simon Whitfield (2000 Gold Medalist) and Spain's Javier Gomez have been looking amazingly recently.
Q: It seems like running is one of your major strengths as a triathlete. How were you able to use that strength to earn a spot on the US Olympic team?
A: The Beijing race came down to the run and knowing that I have always been a runner helped me stay positive and keep moving ahead on the run.
Q: It seems like swimming is your weakness in the sport. (I can commiserate.) How do you minimize its impact on your racing?
A: Swimming is definitely the most important part of swimming in draft legal triathlons. I have only been swimming year round now for about 3 years and have been making great improvements. I am slowly working my way towards my goal of coming out in the top 1/2 of the field. I think the hardest thing is getting used to swimming with 80 other men punching, kicking and running into you.
Q: Describe your favorite workouts.
A: For swimming, I love doing sets like 5x200 on 2:40 Long Course Meters and being able to descend my times down from 2:30 to 2:20. And I just got an SRM on my bike and have been loving getting the instantaneous output. My favorite cycling set would have to be the hardest sets I do--all out 1 minute intervals. For running, I love doing miles on the track: 5x1 mile on descending rest (3:00,2:30,2:00,1:30)
Q: I understand that there is a fundraising effort to help send your coaches to Beijing with you.
A: We are selling the t-shirts. They are on sale off my website. To purchase a shirt, you can email me at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. There are pictures on the website http://www.jarrodshoemaker.com/ and each shirt is $20.
Since FIRM’s interview with Jarrod, he has been off to a strong start for the 2008 season with a second place finish at the 2008 Mazatlan PATCO Triathlon Pan American Championship on April 19th and a thirteenth place finish at 2008 Ishigaki BG Triathlon World Cup on April 13th. Come see Jarrod Shoemaker race at FIRM’s Sudbury Sprint Triathlon on May 11, and support his efforts to bring his coaches to Beijing by purchasing a SHOE CREW t-shirt online or at the Sudbury Sprint Triathlon.
Most of the time, we have a general sense of the quality of our performance after a race; sometimes we feel that we've given our best, while others we regret that we did not go faster at a critical time during the competition. The best way to understand the quality of a performance is to carefully examine the data that you had collected through your powermeter or heartrate monitor.
On Sunday, May 4, I did the bike leg of the Sherriff's Spring Triathlon, located in Ludlow, MA. The day was cold--the temperature was in the mid-forties, and there was heavy rain prior to the race. Because it was so damp and chilly, I cut short my normal warm-up routine; during the race itself, I thought that while I had ridden hard, I could have done better. In order to get a more objective reading of my performance, I downloaded and analyzed my ride's data later that day.
I first looked at my heartrate data:
My first observation is that while my heartrate was relatively steady throughout the entire race, it was low as compared to my anaerobic threshold, which is 166 beats per minute (BPM). The graph above indicates that my heartrate averaged approximately 160 BPM for the entire race, which points to some possible problems: I did not warm-up enough; the cold and wet negatively impacted on my ability to perform at an optimal level; I may have been tired, as I was just completing a three week training cycle.
Also in the graph above, there are four distinct periods in which my heartrate dropped very low. Without looking at any correlating data, it is difficult to determine why this occurred, though the first two dips most likely corresponded to the first two 90 degree turns on the course.
In the graph above, I overlaid heartrate data with speed to see if there was any correlation between the two. Note that in the first two instances, my heartrate drop was matched with a corresponding drop in speed: in both cases, my speed had dropped to below 16mph, which is reasonable for taking a 90 degree turn in extremely wet and cold conditions. For the later two instances, there was a corresponding increase in speed, which suggests to me that I may have been riding downhill. The only way to validate these interpretations, though, is to introduce an additional data parameter, in this case altitude:
In the graph above, the tan overlay represents changes in altitude. For the first two drops in heartrate, note that there were no significant altitude changes, even though my speed had dropped. There are only two reasonable interpretations for this: I had lost concentration and slowed down; I was entering a corner and exercised caution. Because these two drops in heartrate occurred so early in the race, I would suspect the later, rather than assume that I had lost my concentration. This can be verified by adding yet another overlay, this time distance, and cross-referencing the course map.
For the last two drops in heartrate, note that both were associated with significant drops in altitude. As I rode downhill, my speed increased significantly, even though my heartrate decreased. This is a normal phenomena when cycling, and powermeter users also would note a corresponding drop in power output on descents, too. Interestingly, while my speed oscillated during the ride, my heartrate was relatively consistent throughout the entire race, which suggests that the course could be considered rolling or that I may have encountered headwinds on different points of the course.
What to Take Away?
A quick scan of the numbers confirms that Saturday's session was difficult enough to preclude a strong race on the following day, as I had spent almost an entire hour riding in Zone 4 and 5:
Again, data collected is useful only if you analyze it. I hope that the example covered in this issue will help you perform similar analyses of your own training and race sessions.
Our thoughts start wandering towards wetsuits with the region’s early season triathlons with open water swims just around the corner. These providers of warmth, speed, and a bit of a confidence boost have come a long way since the days when the triathlon pioneers wore their surfing wetsuits to avoid hypothermia. Now triathletes can peruse a variety of triathlon-specific wetsuits with a range of ‘gee whiz’ features.
Not surprisingly, Quintana Roo, the company that introduced the first triathlon-specific wetsuit back in 1987 is still leading the way in wetsuit technology. The QR line of wetsuits has been designed and built around a focus of being the quickest in the water and in the transition zone. This focus is made a reality by using new technologies, new patterns to aid in freedom of movement, and the very latest neoprenes.
‘Gee whiz’ features of QR wetsuits include: the Virtual Pull Buoy, the power transfer composite, the first metatarsal release system, the breakaway zipper, and the type 40 neoprene.
The Virtual Pull Buoy (V.P.B.) gives you the feeling of swimming downhill, and the added buoyancy and stability improves your body’s rotation during your swim stroke. Just like a pull buoy keeps your legs and hips high, the V.P.B replicates this in a patented process of increasing material thickness around the inner thigh area. With buoyancy located around the center rotation line of the body, V.P.B reduces the amount the lower portion of the body moves off the center line. Swimming in the V.P.B. suits from QR can be like sneaking a very comfortable pull buoy into your wetsuit at the start of a triathlon.
The power transfer composite, another technological feature for faster swimming, is designed to provide you with an increased surface area for the catch phase of your stroke. This, in turn, creates a more powerful forearm plant through your stroke. To get a feel for how a small change in surface area can impact your upper body’s ability to propel you through the water, try the following drill the next time you are in the pool. Swim 25 meters with your right hand in a fist through the entire stroke, and your left hand in your typical swim position. Most likely, you will feel like you have a wimpy right forearm. Now if you could readily increase the surface area of your forearm, imagine how that would help propel you forward with each stroke. That’s where the power transfer composite comes into play. It helps you catch more water during each stroke.
Now after your super-speedy swim segment, you don’t want to be one of those poor buggers struggling with their wetsuit zippers or flailing around on the ground with the wetsuit adhering mercilessly to their ankles. That’s where QR’s focus on speedy transitions comes into play. Exclusive to QR, the zipper has been designed to give you a release from the suit with one simple pull upwards on the zipper cord. The zipper teeth have been brilliantly designed to allow separation of the zipper teeth to travel the full length of the zipper in milliseconds. There is not a faster wetsuit release system available.
QR’s first metatarsal release system is designed to speed up the release of the foot from the wetsuit at the foot’s widest point (the ball of the foot or the first metatarsal head). By inserting a super-flexible material at the point where the foot exits the suit, QR has made it easy for the widest part of the foot to exit the wetsuit. This increases the speed of transition and ensures that precious minutes made in the swim from the benefits of the wetsuit are not wasted in transition.
Finally, QR was the first company to use type 40 neoprene in its stock suits, offering superior flexibility and movement over other materials. Type 40 neoprene can be found in the new QR Superfull suit giving it superior elongation and width stretch up to 400%.
For more information about QR wetsuits visit www.rooworld.com or call 800-229-0198. You can check at QR wetsuits at the Quadmultisport tent at all 2008 FIRM multisport events and even register to win one by completing a raffle entry while at the Quadmultisport tent.
While the words “Lowell” and “triathlon” typically are not uttered in the same sentence, each year on a single day in August Lowell plays hosts to two of triathlons best kept secrets: The Lowell YMCA Triathlon and the Wildcat Sprint Triathlon.
Set in the beautifully refurbished waterfront area of Lowell, these races run concurrently at Rynne Park. With its 8:00 AM start time, the Olympic distance Lowell YMCA Triathlon event is well under way by the time the Wildcat Sprint Triathlon starts at 9:00 AM. The swim for each race takes place in the Merrimac River. The placid water at this beach is like swimming in some of the nicer lakes on the Massachusetts triathlon circuit.
The bike course has been described by a number of athletes as being their absolute favorite bike course in the FIRM race series. It's an eleven mile fairly flat loop on beautiful roads that make you feel you are in a rural setting. Athletes competing in the Olympic distance event complete two loops while the sprint athletes complete one. Quadmultisport will provide support along the bicycle course.
The run is a flat, straight out and back—six miles for the Olympic distance event, and half that for the sprint race. Then it’s under the giant FIRM finish line banner and on to the festivities. The location of these races is ideal for hanging out, enjoying some delicious foods, listening to live music, and taking in the sights and sounds of this vibrant waterfront area.
Both races are part of the FIRM Grand Prix Series presented by Fuel Belt and Guru which means that the top five finishers in all categories earn grand prix points. Also the top five finishers in each category for both races earn double points towards the grand prize drawing for the custom, carbon fiber Guru bicycle frame (retail value $4600). For every point you earn during the season, you receive 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 whose name is drawn must be present at the awards banquet to win the bicycle frame.
Last year some triathletes chose to participate in both Lowell races—competing as a swimmer in a relay during the Lowell YMCA Triathlon and then about thirty minutes later as an individual in the Wildcat Sprint Triathlon. The extremes some racers will go to for grand prix points and bragging rights!
Be sure to put one (or both) of these Lowell races on your 2008 race schedule.
Vescio Multisport Performance Services
Sign up for either the Vescio MPS Platinum Level Triathlon Training Service or Gold Level Triathlon Service by June 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.