Name: Gina Pauline
Tell us about yourself.
I have lived in Syracuse since the summer of 2006. I am originally from Yonkers, NY (about 15 minutes outside NYC) but have had the opportunity to live in many places thanks to my education and career in the sport sector! I currently work at Syracuse University as a faculty member in sport management.
I have a great family that includes my husband of ten years Jeff, our three kids Gabriella (7), Dominic (4), and Tyler (4), as well as our newest addition, a chocolate lab puppy, Bailey who is 6 months. Being a mom of three young children, and working full time, certainly is a balancing act, and keeps me on the go at all times but I wouldn’t change it for the world!
How long have you been involved in Triathlon and what made you take it up?
I have been involved in triathlon for about 2 years now. When I was in college, I had always wanted to do a triathlon but never had the opportunity to do so. One of my research lines as a faculty member focuses on volunteer management. In 2010, I decided that I was going to do a research study on volunteer motivation and satisfaction at triathlon events. As a result, I ended up going out to Syracuse 70.3 and once I saw the event, spoke to the volunteers, it reignited the interest in doing a triathlon and more importantly, getting back into shape. After having three kids and not working out at all (for almost 4 years) when our twin boys turned 1, I decided that I was going to do a sprint triathlon 9 months later. In looking back on it, this was one of the best decisions I made not only for my own personal interests but also to be able to keep up with my kids, especially the boys as they are in constant motion!
What is your athletic background?
My athletic background has truly revolved around swimming! While I played a little tennis and the typical soccer, as a child, the pool is where I spent the majority of my time growing up! I have been swimming competitively since the age of 7. I started swimming just for a summer club and by the time I turned 10 I was swimming year round and dragging my family to swim meets all over the place! I swam competitively at Binghamton University and was blessed to earn 4 All-American honors in the 100 and 200 butterfly. Interestingly, I swam very little freestyle (less than ¼ of each practice), until I started doing triathlons, which now is pretty much all I do! Not sure I could even do a 200 butterfly right now! After finishing up my swimming career, it took me 10 years to get back in the pool and start swimming laps again!
What are your Triathlon strengths and weaknesses?
Certainly the swim is by far my strongest leg of the sport. As far as the weakness, this is a moving target still. In my first year it was definitely the bike, and last year, it was the run so it is a toss-up! And of course there is always room for improvement in the transitions J Certainly, lots of room to improve still, which is why I love the sport.
What was your first triathlon and what do you remember most?
My first triathlon was 2011 YMCA Livestrong Green Lakes. I had thought I was so well prepared for the race as I had been running, swimming (in a pool), and had been mostly riding spin bikes at the gym. I had not gotten on my road bike until about 2 weeks before the race nor had I ever done a brick workout. The race started, and I took out the swim pretty hard, which that year was based on seed time so I was battling to stay in the front with the men. Of course I got hit several times! I got out the water more winded than I had expected and realized that this was going to be harder than I thought. My transition was fairly slow (another thing I didn’t practice). I got out on the bike, and about ½ mile out of the park, went into the gravel and went flying off my bike! I remember a few of the guys passing, and saying, “You’re doing great, just keep going”. As I got back up, I was pretty scraped up, and realized that I had lost my water bottle. I kept going yet questioning why I was out there doing this. I ended up finishing the bike, and off on the run I went. At that time, I was really winded and had to just keep talking myself out of stopping. When I got close to the finish, I saw my husband and kids, which helped me finish. I crossed the finish line, where I was then escorted over to the medical staff to treat all of my cuts and bruises from the fall. I left Green Lakes very sore, all bandaged up, and for about 2 days, I wasn’t sure I would ever do a triathlon again. J.
What is your favorite race and why?
This is a tough question as I have several favorite races that each have their own meaning to me. I think the one that always stands out in my head, has nothing to do with a PR or how I felt during the race but rather the experience of completing it. After having a terrible first race, somehow, I convinced myself that I was going to do Ironman 70.3 Syracuse in September 2011 (yes, only three months after my first race ever and having no clue what I was doing). After putting Green Lakes behind me, I signed up for a half ironman! I worked hard to get myself ready to race and certainly logged many more bike miles before that race. The morning of the race it was FREEZING but I will never forget how excited I was to embrace the journey of completing my first long race. My husband and daughter as well as my parents were there to watch me start the race and cheered me on as I came in from the swim. They were then there at different points during the run and the bike. During the entire race, I was very calm, soaking it all in, and truly enjoying the experience. As I finished the race I will never forget seeing my friends, husband, and mom at the finish line, all ready to embrace me with big hugs! It meant the world to me to have them there. The feeling of accomplishment after completing that first 70.3 was incredible as I felt that I had reached a goal that I would never dream possible after having three young children and certainly from where I started just a few months prior.
What was your worst race and why?
2011 YMCA Livestrong Green Lakes (See above)
What races are on your race calendar for 2013?
This year is pretty low key for me as I have been really limited with my training the last few months due to work and family life. Currently I only have two races on my calendar but hoping to add a few more: Musselman sprint and Toughman (70.3 distance). Both of these are favorite races of mine so certainly excited to be part of them again!
What are this year’s goals?
My goals are just to continue to improve my fitness level, work on my weak links in the sport, and most importantly to have fun out there!
In five years you hope to … :
Still be competing, improve on my age group rankings and hopefully by then (or sooner) do my first full Ironman.