I recently talked triathlon with TCSD member, Vanessa Homyak. Vanessa is the ultimate volunteer. Please read on and get to know this very giving lady.
Craig: What was your sports background before triathlon?
Vanessa: Back in high school I played junior varsity football at Hilltop High. My position was a defensive lineman. I did a bit of weightlifting back then. I also played junior varsity soccer and track and field. I dabbled in high jumping and pole vaulting - never set a record, but what’s more fun than flying through the air.
I also have a good collection of ribbons from my grade school days in the 100yd, 200 yd dash.
Craig: Did you get any grief for being a girl in a traditionally male dominated sport? If so, how did you handle it?
Vanessa: Always. Coach McFadden on the football team wasn’t too happy having a girl to deal with. He would put me in off and on and when I took out a guy on the field eventually he warmed up to having me around. I enjoy proving people wrong. There are always people that think that you aren’t good enough. Maybe they think you’re too slow, but it’s those people that you can’t wait to show what you’re made of. It’s those people you should let fuel you, not shut your hopes down.
Craig: What advice would you share with school age girls who are interested in playing sports?
Vanessa: Pick something you enjoy and play, no matter what sport it is. Support from your family is huge. Listen to what they want to do and let them (boy or girl) play what they want. Not every girl wants to play volleyball or soccer so be who you want to be and know that’s great.
Craig: How did you find yourself becoming a triathlete?
Vanessa: A dear friend and then coworker of mine Carmen Kline had a plan. We could bike to work from her place in Bay Park to Kearny Mesa. We were both doing the Breast Cancer 3 Day Walk in 2009. She thought it would be a great cross training opportunity. I started going to the Wednesday night workout mountain bike in tow. After a few weeks Desi and Linda both offered their spare bikes. After a few weeks of riding a bike that was too big I bought my own. Spring Sprint Triathlon was a few weeks away and with a push from my friends I signed up. It was a fun race. I used a swim buddy to help me sight, did the bike, the run and I was so happy to have what would be the first of many races under my belt.
Craig: What roles have you held within the Tri Club?
Vanessa: Swim buddy at the local races has always brought me a warm fuzzy feeling. So many people go into a race not being comfortable in the swim. A swim buddy helps them out. I’ve been glad to help with that the past few years.
Last year Andy Concors was looking for a group to take over Wednesday night’s Bike Workout. When I started out in ‘09 this workout meant so much to me and helped me build friendships. I knew I had to step up to help keep the workout going. I don’t know how Andy did it by himself. I’m glad I’ve got Linda and John Rich, Brad and Mike to help with the workload.
Raffle Queen at the monthly meetings - I can thank the Food Queen Dawn for this. I started by helping her. It’s fun picking numbers to give lucky ticket holders great swag. I’ve also started swimming sweep on the Monday night swim for the beginners group. Jim Markwell leads the swimmers and I swim sweep. You might be sensing a pattern.
Craig: What can our members expect out of a bike workout?
Vanessa: Much of the same that Andy did. We always welcome new riders to our group and we won’t leave until everyone is back in. Sweeping the course should always happen; if you come out know that no matter what your speed we will wait for you. Having ridden in at Sunset in the beginning I know how it is and won’t leave a rider behind.
Craig: Which of your TCSD jobs has given you the most pleasure?
Vanessa: So far it has been swim buddy, but having just started with this season’s Wednesday night Bike Workouts I’m sure it’ll be a tie soon.
Craig: What is your approach to triathlon?
Vanessa: Enjoy it as much as you can. If you’re not having fun, then it’s time to stop. Yes, we all enjoy getting first place or the coveted podium spot but the majority of racers might not get there, and that’s ok. Think of a friend that wouldn’t even dare to try a tri. Getting out there is half the battle, so grab a swimsuit, borrow a bike and dust off your running shoes and Tri it.
Craig: What is the dumbest or funniest thing you have done while training or racing?
Vanessa: Both in 1 shot at the San Diego Triathlon Classic in ’09. I ran right into the fence right out of transition. It was pretty funny and stupid at the same time.
Craig: What triathlon related accomplishment are you the most proud of?
Vanessa: Technically finishing Ironman California 70.3 this year. I had the option of getting in the bus at 4:18pm, but I stayed on the course and finished what I started. The signs out on Camp Pendleton said, “Pain is temporary, pride is forever” Unless you are sick or injured, there is no reason to quit.
Craig: What do you do for a living?
Vanessa: I am an animal technician at UCSD. I also have 3 cats: Tigger, Goo, and George.
Craig: What are your goals for 2011 and beyond?
Vanessa: Vineman 140.6 in July is probably the biggest challenge I’ve taken on so far. I plan to repeat a few other races, as well. Beyond that, who knows what crazy idea might be thrown my way.
Craig: Vanessa, thank you for sharing your story. And thank you for all you do for our club. Please include me in your many TCSD friends who will be cheering for you to finish Vineman and all the other future challenges you plan to embrace.