|The Indefatigable Tina Gouin
Skating 86 miles is no easy feat, not even for a body-building Miss Annapolis.
photos & story by Amy Mulligan
you can tell a lot about 34-year-old Tina Gouin just by seeing what's in her truck: Softball, in-line skating and weightlifting equipment, horseback riding gear and a trusty pair of running shoes. An avid athlete and self-proclaimed "energizer bunny," Gouin has channeled her athletic energy toward a cause this summer.
An 86-mile in-line skating marathon is her latest challenge. Set up to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the October 1 race starts in Athens, Georgia, and ends four to 10 hours later in Atlanta. Gouin is racing in honor of one close friend taken by Hodgkin's disease in 1993 and another newly diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Skating 86 miles is no easy feat. Starting at the Classic Center in Athens, the course rolls up and down hills and across flats, winding through five counties and finally delivering skaters to Atlanta's streets for a finish in Piedmont Park.
How do you train for such a demanding race? Already an active in-line skater, Gouin stepped up to serious with a fat instructional binder that specifies how she must train this summer. She lifts weights and, for cross training, spins or cycles. For hours each day she skates, climbing hills, skating for speed and learning to pace herself for the race.
Training with over 50 other Chesapeake Country athletes in the Team in Training program, Gouin has faced the heat and humidity all summer. She describes putting on her skating equipment as "sort of like getting ready for battle." A helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, wristpads and a water pack on her back are part of her regular armor. "I see so many kids and people with no helmets, no safety gear. It amazes me how many people don't wear their gear. It's so important," Gouin says.
Skating between 20 and 50 miles up and down Route 258 in Southern Anne Arundel County on training days, Gouin has suffered some wear and tear. "Sometimes my quads are in complete knots, and I'm exhausted," she says. A runner-up at the 1998 Miss Annapolis body-building competition, Gouin prides herself on being in shape. Standing five feet tall, what Tina lacks in stature she makes up for with stamina. Years of bodybuilding have given her a defined look with sculpted arms, powerful quads and perfect pecs. She has no doubts that she will finish this race.
"I'm confident I can make it. I like putting challenges in front of myself to see how far I can go," Gouin says. Her only doubt about a race that will take anywhere from half a working day to a full day and a half to complete is the brutal uphill skate at mile 70. "Skaters have been clocked at 45 miles per hour going back down that hill," Gouin says.
Tina's father, retired horticulture professor Frank Gouin of Upakrik Farm, is not surprised. As a child, he says, Tina was "very outgoing, always a very active person." He, too, is confident that she's up to the job. "She might come out of it sore, with ice on her back for three days, but she'll do it. That's the kind of person she is."
Tina agrees. "I might finish limping, but I will finish."
Four thousand dollars is the fundraising goal Gouin has set for herself and the Society. In hopes of reaching this goal, she's organized a benefit Sunday, August 20, at Calypso Bay from 3 to 7pm. All proceeds will go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, helping Gouin and her training/fundraising partner, Jennifer Stanley, of Lanham, reach their goals.
No stranger to volunteering, Gouin also finds time to volunteer for Progressive Equestrian Therapy in Upper Marlboro, teaching mentally, physically and emotionally challenged kids to horseback ride. In addition, she has organized Christmas in July at Skipper's Pier in Deale and is active in her College Park church, Holy Redeemer.
"I like being involved in things that benefit people. Life's too short to watch it go by," Gouin said. "I might as well do something good with it."
If you miss the fund-raiser, you can still contribute. Send your check to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Team in Training, c/o First Union Bank, P.O. Box 421, Merrifield, VA 22116. Include Tina's full name, Cristina Gouin, and her ID #: 520-056. The deadline for fund-raising is September 13.