Renee and Gino Cinco

on . Posted in TCSD Conversation

I recently had a great time talking triathlon with Renee and Gino Cinco. Over the years they both have done a lot for the Tri Club and our community. I am certain you will enjoy their story and sense of humor.


Craig: Renee, what was your athletic background before you got into triathlon?


Renee: Well, let's just say I was not very athletic by the time I got to High School. Sophomore year, a good friend talked me into going out for Cross Country. Since I didn't really know what it was, I agreed to go along with her. She quit after three weeks to become manager but I've been running ever since. Since I didn't have a car until I was 20 I also did my cross training by riding my 3 speed the whole 3 miles to my job as a lifeguard at the town pool.

Craig: Renee, please give us a brief chronology of your multi-sport career.

Renee: My first multi-sport race was sometime in the early nineties where the bike portion was in the carpool lane on the I-15. I had a hybrid style mountain bike and had never worn cycling shoes in my life so I just used my running shoes the whole race. I went to the pre race talk and was so impressed that several of the pros were there speaking. I had terrible calf cramps from biking in my running shoes but had a great time. I did a few other duathlons at Camp Pendleton before I was brave enough to try adding swimming. My first triathlon was in Huntington Beach in 1997 and if I had known HB was famous for surfing, not swimming I think I would have chosen another race. I was so scared of the waves I don't think I put my head in the water the entire swim. I didn't give up but I chose Mission Bay for my next race so there would be no chance of big surf. I didn't do any multisport races again until Kai was about 9 months old. I had heard of the San Diego Triathlon Challenge and had always wanted to race it. Since I had never done such a long event I started searching for resources to train and somehow stumbled on TCSD near the end of 2002 and did my first club race in January 2003. From that point on I was really hooked and loved the energy of the club. I registered for the Triathlon Challenge in 2003 and trained using your training plan as much as I could. I had to modify it because I was pushing the double jogger and towing the trailer for a lot of workouts. Just one month before the race the kids exceeded my towing capacity so I had to retire the trailer and rework the training schedule. Since then I've mixed it up a lot. We usually do a relay for the Triathlon Challenge and I have done the CA 70.3, Lake Stevens 70.3 and Wildflower Long Course for distance events. I've even done a couple of Xterra events and one of my few podium finishes was the short course at Xterra Temecula a few years back. My favorite club event was Nicos and Flo's "King of the Mountains" where we ran all 5 peaks in Mission Trails. The club aquathlons are a close second. I also like to throw in the occasional marathon or 1/2 whenever I can.

Craig: How did you meet one another?

Gino: Renee and I met in Seattle in 1992 when we were both working as traveling physical therapists. The company that contracted us gave her my number so she could have someone to call and ask questions before she came out. She called and we arranged to meet up the week she arrived to start work. She had an image of a tall blonde SoCal surfer dude from our phone conversations so she was a little surprised when we met to find out that I was actually a "vertical challenged" Filipino with a "Southern California" accent.

Renee: We became friends right away. One of the first things we did together was a 30 mile bike ride in Snoqualmie, the Tour de Peaks. We had just started dating at the end of Gino's assignment when he took off to Alaska for the next job. Once I finished in Seattle I flew up to Alaska to join him to hike the Mendenhall Glacier. From there traveling PT took us to all kinds of adventures including skiing the Rockies, snorkeling the FL keys, mountain biking in the Bay area and AZ, camping in New England, hiking the desert trails of AZ and of course surfing in beautiful San Diego.

Gino: We also got married in Renee's home state of CT along the way in 1994. Since our wedding was mid October we've celebrated more than one anniversary volunteering in Kona.

Craig: Gino, what sports did you do prior to triathlon?

Gino: I started wrestling in Middle School and kept wrestling through high school and college. We did a lot of running in wrestling to make weight so I started competing in Track in High School running short distances.

Renee: Gino doesn't like to brag but he was an excellent wrestler in high school and college. He competed at the Olympic Trials for wrestling in 1980.

Gino: Yes, but that was the year USA boycotted the Olympics and I got my ass kicked in those Trials...picture a dog shaking a rag doll from side to side...that's was me getting my ass kicked!

Craig: Gino, what are some of the triathlons you have raced in?

Gino: My first triathlon was with Renee at Huntington Beach in 1997. I actually got through the surf OK but had signed up on a dare just 2 weeks before so I wasn't very prepared for the bike and run. I can remember being passed on the run by a 60 yr. old man who said "Great job, kid, looking good" as he shuffled by me. That was almost as bad as Sister Maddona, a 73 year old Nun, trying to pass me on the run of a 70.3. I would have tripped her, but God told me not to! I've done the bike leg of the Triathlon Challenge several times as part of our relay. I did Lake Stevens 70.3 the year after Renee did. We have a rule in our house - we have to alternate training for long distance courses otherwise we won't have time for work and family too.

Craig: You have been very gracious and hosted a few of the monthly TCSD meetings at your Sorrento Valley location. What are some of the reasons a customer would go to that location?

Gino: The name of our Sorrento Valley office is FunctionSmart - the Athlete's Wellness Group. That location offers a wide variety of services in addition to our University City Physical Therapy services. Our own Sports Wellness programs include the Computrainer Multirider Program, Video Running Analysis, strength and conditioning classes with our Suspension Strap system, and of course ART® (Active Release Techniques).

Renee: We also have acupuncture at that location with TCSD's Hadar Elbaz and chiropractic care with Dr. Michael Rintala. We selected both of those providers to work with because they are really good at what they do and share our vision of providing the highest quality care to athletes. By the time this goes to press we'll also have a massage therapist and will soon offer VO2 Max and Lactate Thres hold testing.

Gino: We moved to that location with TCSD in mind and designed the layout not only for the gym space but so that it could easily be set up for club meetings without having to move a lot of equipment. When we looked at spaces one of our main requirements was to be able to have enough space to host club meetings.

Craig: You have another location on Governor Drive. What types of care could someone expect at that location?

Renee: The University City Physical Therapy clinic on Governor Drive is our original location and it's much smaller than FunctionSmart. Right now I practice just at Governor Drive and my specialties are pelvic floor PT and pediatrics both of which are very different from our Sports Medicine programs. I love having the opportunity to work with kids and their families. We also have another pelvic floor specialist at that office, Dr. Linnette Clark, PT, PhD. Chris Hebeler, DPT, CSCS also sees patients at that office and at FunctionSmart. Chris is also a certified ART provider and loves working with athletes.

Craig: Gino, what is ART® and how did your journey lead you to get involved with ART®?

Gino: ART® stands for Active Release Techniques. This technique was started by Dr. Michael Leahy, DC from CO Springs. He has completed 42 Ironman events so he really know firsthand the injuries endurance athletes experience. In the mid 90's Dr. Leahy was being treated at UCSD for cancer. While he was in San Diego, he worked with the therapists at UCSD's outpatient clinics to teach his techniques. Renee and I were both working at the clinics at that time so we both got to learn directly from Dr. Leahy. The techniques really worked for me so I continued my training and progressed through all the advanced certification and biomechanics to become an instructor. The treatment techniques are based on knowledge of biomechanics and anatomy, are highly specific for each structure and really effective. It's been great to add these techniques to my practice because I'm able to get results faster. Most of triathlon injuries are a combination of overuse, muscle strain and poor mechanics and ART® techniques are effective for all of those problems.

Craig: Can you tell us about some of your most interesting patients?

Gino: I've been really fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with some very talented pro triathletes, Olympic runners, marathoners and racewalkers and recently some PGA and elite youth golfers. I treated a former Olympic wrestler who's now in his 70's. When he found out I wrestled in college he immediately had to check out my skills. Let's just say it's a good thing he was injured or I might not be typing this now. I also work privately for one of the members of the Royal family of a Middle Eastern Country. When his personal Therapist goes on vacation, his people will summon me to travel with the Royal family. He was initially referred to me by a physician who knew I was a Physical Therapist and a Certified ART® Instructor. After I treated him in LA, The Sheikh invited me to travel with him on his private jet first to Europe and then to his country to work on him and his family at the Royal Palace. The next year, right after we bought UCPT, the Royal family called again. This time he wanted me to accompany him on his 300 foot yacht on the Mediterranean. It was a tough choice but I headed out leaving Renee with the task of getting us set up on insurances and getting the clinic up and running.

Renee: Yeah, while I was in San Diego running around like crazy and dealing with insurance companies, he was living the high life on this massive yacht. Part of his "job" was to lead the Royals on hikes around Sardinia, Italy when they anchored there. He would start his day with espresso, breakfast made to order by the chef and a swim around the yacht in some of the most exclusive ports in Europe.

Gino: I don't think Renee has forgiven me for that yet!

Craig: I recall your family winning the TCSD Family of the Year Award back in 2006. What are your thoughts on how to share an active lifestyle with your children?

Renee: Definitely the best way to raise active healthy children is to lead by example. I believe that if they grow up seeing adults active and having fun from as long as they remember, then that's what they'll expect to do when they are adults. When we first started out, the kids used to participate by playing in the middle of the track while I did the Tuesday workouts with Coach Bill. Kai was just potty trained and me or one of the other moms used to bring a portable potty just in case. Now that Maiya is 11 and Kai is 9, they are starting to participate too. They both have youth memberships and have done lots of the activities with Coach Andy. Andy has been so generous devoting his time to put on events for the kids, we are really fortunate to have him as part of our club. This past year they got to do IronKids and the USAT Youth events that were here in San Diego. Maiya and I just did the USWTS Super Sprint for the third year straight. She couldn't swim the course without stopping the first year but this year she made me work! She was so proud to be the first finisher in the family division and rode on a road bike for the first time too. She's already way ahead of where I was when I started.

Gino: We really try not to push the kids and just encourage them to get out there and try. They both do a variety of other sports and activities so they don't go out and train, instead we encourage them to go out to have fun. They will race when the opportunity is there. It's always a struggle to fit in the kids different sports and activities, running our practice and finding time to train. You heard of "Soccer Moms", well we are the Tri-Parents...the people who try to fit in a workout in-between and during our kids games. You'll find Renee running circles around the soccer fields at different parks. During baseball season, I will set up my bike trainer right behind the dugout, pedal like a mad man while singing "Take me out to the ball game"...I think Kai used to get embarrassed, but now he knows that's the only way I can sit for 2 hours to watch a Little League game.

Craig: I've noticed that your kids names were copied by Osamu Chiba and Jessica Gehl. Their daughter Maya is 4.5 years old and their son Kai is just over a year old. What's up with that?

Gino: We were talking with them at the Aquathlon when Jessica was pregnant with Kai. We jokingly said "If it's a boy you should name him Kai" and were surprised when they said it was actually one of their top choices. We saw Osamu when Renee did the Catalina Ecomarathon right after their Kai was born and my first question was "What did you name him?" They aren't the most common names so it is pretty funny that they came up with the same names even though we hadn't met each other until that Aquathlon.

Craig: What are your future goals with triathlon?

Gino: Someday I'd like to do an Ironman. I've worked so many over the years and seen how much the athlete's appreciate crossing that line whether they are one of the first or the last so I'd like to experience that.

Renee: I think I'd like to do an iron distance race some time in the future as well. Right now training would be impossible between both of us working with our practice and the kids' activities. I also would like to be able to continue to train and race as long as I can. In the next couple of years I'll have to step up my training so Maiya won't beat me. Maybe if I stick with it until I'm over 70 I might be able to qualify for Kona!

Craig: This was really fun getting to know you both better. You are both a great example for your kids and all of us. Thank you for sharing your story. Good luck to the entire Cinco family!

Craig Zelent is sponsored by PowerBar, and B&L Bike Shop. Craig is also a USA Triathlon Level 1 Certified Coach and can be reached at 760-214-0055 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .