We're regularly inspired by our members at the Y, and accomplished triathlete Sandy Thompson is certainly one of those members at Finley! Sandy is extremely humble despite her impressive resume, but for the sake of encouraging current or potential triathletes, she agreed to share a bit of her story:
Can you share the specifics of the Ironman distances?
Sure, keep in mind there are shorter triathlons as well: Sprint: 1-2 hrs, Olympic: 3-4 hrs, Half: 6-8 hrs.
An Ironman distance triathlon involves swimming 2.4 miles, then biking 112 miles and finishing with a marathon (26.2 miles), totaling 140.6 miles. Events must be completed in 17 hrs to officially count as a finisher.
What are the origins of your involvement with triathlons?
I have played sports my entire life and got into running with my husband years back. After running Boston, I was seeking a new challenge. I saw the Ironman World Championship on the TV while visiting my sister. I thought it would be impossible and jumped in anyway. She said I was crazy, less than a year later, I did my first full triathlon. (Yes, I'm wired to do things outside of my comfort zone.)
What do you count as your greatest accomplishments in your triathlete “career?”
My humble answer may surprise you. I've been doing long course triathlons for 11 years. I am grateful to stay healthy, motivated and mostly injury free over my tri journey. I like the diverse challenges of each race, but I'm happiest representing Team Challenge Crohn's and Colitis each time I cross a finish line. Our patients' struggles and perseverance give me added strength to conquer each race day's inevitable challenges.
Here's my tri summary:
12X Full (140.6) Ironman Distance including 3X World Championships (2015, 2021, 2022)
17X Half (70.3) Ironman Distance
What advice do you have for folks interested in triathlons?
Two thoughts: First, volunteer for a local triathlon and witness the excitement of finishing each portion of the race, while giving back. Second, just jump in! Maybe start with the shorter courses to see if you like swimming, biking and running/walking. My first tri was in a pool and I rode my mountain bike! Triathletes range from kids to 80+ year olds and each has their unique story. What will be your story?
How has the Y community been a part of your training?
I have definitely been powered by the Y! Many of our triathletes are Y members and we swim at the pool (and the lake), ride in group rides and/or spin classes and run the trails and roads together. And of course, celebrating each person's journeys and milestones, both big and small, keeps us coming back for each other. I honestly couldn't do long course racing alone. I absolutely need my training buddies and am fortunate they put up with me ;-)