Thursday, April 17, 2014

Triple Threat Profile: Gina Shand - Virginia

Gina Shand is a former police officer, a veteran triathlete, and 3x Ironman who represents Virginia on our national team. That "crazy mom on the bike trainer in the parking lot" brings a lot of energy to our team, and we are thrilled to have her on board!

What’s your background and how did you get into triathlon?

I grew up swimming year round. I wanted to find a sport that could incorporate my love for swimming. Cycling was new to me, but hey, it is riding a bike, right? I signed up for my first triathlon in 2002 and have been hooked since. I am not one to work out for the sake of working out, so having a race on the calendar keeps me honest.

You’ve been quite vocal about holding the open water swim split title in the Shand family ;) From what you’ve told me about your fish named Molly, however, how long before you concede the crown?

As soon as that kid puts on a wetsuit, my reign will end for sure! She already has me in the pool by 4 min/mile. As long as I can stay ahead of my husband, I am good. He smokes me on everything else.

Could both of you please share a Shand Secret for getting faster in the water?

Molly: Work on kick switch drills. They force you to kick and make you focus on front quadrant swimming. 

Gina: Time and technique, no silver bullet.

How would you sum up your 2013 season, and what was the highlight/lowlight?

Busy! Across the family 13 races. Highlight - racing with Molly in her first Sprint triathlon. So cool to see her accomplish that at 12 years old (and get first in her age group!) Lowlight – Had some friends that were training with us for IMMT (Mont Tremblant) but could not compete due to injury. Missed seeing them out on the course.

In your application you wrote “my tri goals for the future are to get faster. I know I can cover the distance, but I am working on pushing my own personal limits. I want to see what I personally can do by getting over the mental aspect of racing. I want to be a faster me.” What's your plan in working towards that goal?

I am working with a different coach this year with a different approach. For me, it’s the accountability to do the workouts right. Not just doing the time and sport, but also the prescribed workout. All the nitty gritty stuff that hurts. I keep telling myself that if I want to go faster, I have to go faster. My training plan is also in Training Peaks this season. I am a rule follower, so I can’t stand to see red!

Your team profile states that you were swore you'd be a “one and done” at the Ironman distance after Ironman Texas in 2011. Beyond being able to walk again a few days later, what changed your mind?

Peer pressure! I have an amazing group of friends that I train with. We all signed up for Florida together, but we don’t all agree on whose “fault” it was that we did IMMT in 2013. (Okay, probably mine). I was allegedly taking 2014 off from Ironman, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to race with almost 100 other people from Richmond in Chattanooga this year. Training and racing would be no fun without my ladies!

What’s been your favorite to least favorite IM? (For whatever reason – your race, venue, course, etc)

1. Mont Tremblant is hands down the favorite. Gorgeous venue, amazing volunteers, so well organized. The swim is fast in a beautifully clear, perfect temperature lake. The bike was great except for the awful stair step hills at the end and the run has a lot of shade. I volunteered while my husband raced in 2012 and we both raced in 2013. Great family vacation venue. Truly a destination race, but still drivable from the East Coast. Did I mention the poutine at the finish line?

2. Texas – crazy hot and humid, but I really enjoyed the rolling bike course and the three loop run was entertaining along the canal. The crowd support was amazing. Logistically it was difficult because The Woodlands is difficult to navigate. But is it was my first IM, so I will always have love for it. My husband and one of my friends are racing this year, so I will be volunteering and cheering. Would do it again, but would like to try some other races first.

3. Florida – windy,flat and hot. For those reasons, not my favorite race. In 2012 the swim was choppy for sure. First time I have gotten sick while swimming. Some people love the flat and windy, but I like some hills. Don’t feel the need to go back again.

In addition to local races including Rev 3 Williamsburg in June, I know you’ve got a date with the inaugural Ironman Chattanooga in Sep. What’s the scuttlebutt on the course, and will you be able to scope it out in training?

I try to stay out of the scuttlebutt about courses. Hilly/challenging means different things to different people. Even the elevation changes can be deceiving. That being said, I hear it will be a fast downstream swim, rolling bike and hilly run. Should be a good time! I probably won’t be able to get down there to ride the course prior to the race. I actually kind of like it that way. No matter what you have to ride it, so does it really matter if you know what’s coming?

You wrote “I am that crazy mom on the bike trainer in the parking lot at the swim meet between events. But if I miss a workout to be with the family, so be it. Family is key.” Do you find it stressful to balance everything or is being creative with time management part of the fun for you?

Gina on said trainer at swim meet
It is a bit stressful, but it is what we do. When I was training for my first IM, but mantra was "self-imposed” (uplifting, right?) Meaning, I am the one who signed up for this, so no griping about workouts or not wanting to do things. I committed to it, so I owned it. At this point, it is just what we do. We have discussions every night on who is doing what workout at what time and we make it work. People tell me all the time that they would do an Ironman, but they just don’t have the time to train. Really? No one has the time. You have to make a conscious choice to make the time. You have to be creative. 4 hour swim meet session? Awesome. Have an hour between events? Perfect. The trainer in the parking lot, come back in watch an event, then back out for a run. Pools even have showers. Score!! I am at the meet for the important stuff and in the process show my daughter that I have to take care of my own commitments as well.

Word on the street is you started running by chasing bad guys as a cop. What was that lifestyle like, and why the change of course?

Very true. I hate running. Only reason I started is because I knew I would have to run in the academy. My 7 years in law enforcement really shaped who I am as a person and a leader. My husband and I were in the police academy together, so that really helped a lot to understand what each other was going through. We understand each other’s often awkward sense of humor and working a crazy schedule is just what we have always done. It was a great run, but after a while, it was time to try something different and get a different experience. My husband is still a police officer, so I still am around it all the time. There are some things I miss about it, but I sure don’t miss directing traffic in the rain!

From your experience do you have any advice on getting family into the sport? Do you think most kids gravitate to swim/bike/run after watching their parents or do they need a little encouragement to tri?

I think the best way to get your family involved is to lead by example and make it a family affair. We would go camping somewhere that I could race. That way we would have a vacation, and I could do my tris. I tried for 8 years to get my husband to race, but he was not interested. He would run and bike but was not interested in racing. Something clicked when he came to my first half-iron distance to support me. He saw the huge array of shapes, sizes, equipment, and ability of the participants and that day, he decided he was all in. Within 15 months he had completed all of the distances to include Ironman. As for our daughter,she was always a swimmer, but got into tri just to join in the fun. She started with the local kids tris at 9 and completed her first sprint last summer. With her, I think it was more of a “If you can’t beat them, join them” mentality! She needed encouragement to “tri” but she was really proud of the accomplishment. That pride goes a long way.

From what you've told me, it sounds like our sport is alive and well in the Richmond area. What makes your stomping grounds such a great place for triathlon?

We have a lot of really good races close by. You can race all season, just about every weekend up to half-iron distance without driving more than an hour. With the James River and the great trail system, we have a ton of places to swim and ride. The Richmond Triathlon Club has over 800 members and there are no fewer than four large training teams to choose from. No matter who you train with, it is a really inclusive, close knit community. We are super excited to be hosting the 2015 UCI Road World Championships next May. That says a lot about how active our community is. Look for almost 100 RTC members at IM Chattanooga in September!

Triple Threat team interview archives:

Famous Dave Fisher - Connecticut

No comments:

Post a Comment