Triathlete has family support
When Coeur d'Alene was named host of the Ironman USA Coeur d'Alene triathlon, Colin Thompson's dreams came back to life.
On June 29, he will put years of athletic training to the test by swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles and running 26.2 miles.
And assisting in his dream is his wife, Serena, and their four sons.
“It doesn't have much of an impact on me. The only difference is Colin is not there when I wake up in the morning because he leaves early to fit in a workout,'' said Serena.
Thompson, 32, began running 10 years ago. His first marathon was the 1995 Portland Marathon. He has also completed the Spokane Marathon twice, and his fastest marathon is 3 hours, 36 minutes. He ran Bloomsday this year in 48 minutes, 30 seconds.
After running the Portland Marathon, he began to have knee problems. So he started swimming at Witter pool and taking a swim class at Spokane Community College. He completed his first triathlon in 1996 in Coeur d'Alene. And he started thinking about competing in an Ironman.
The thoughts translated into action last summer when the whole family- Serena, 32, Cody, 12, Micah, 5, Lucas, 4, and Ethan, 3 – traveled to Canada. They wanted to watch the Penticton Ironman, and Thompson was going to sign up for the next year's race.
Serena and Thompson took turns watching the events and watching the kids. They were energized and marveled at all the fit people. “I am not a triathlete, but watching the Penticton Ironman was an amazing experience and very inspirational,'' said Serena.
But Colin came to another realization the night before registration.
“Serena would have her hands full taking care of the kids. I would have a hard time concentrating knowing the Herculean task Serena would be handling. I just couldn't do it,'' he said.
He left Canada disappointed but relieved by his decision. No Ironman for him.
Then Coeur d'Alene was awarded the Ironman. There wouldn't be travel logistics or hotel room expenses. It was going to be in his backyard, so he signed up.
He has no illusion of being top in his age group or getting an invitation to Kona, Hawaii, the site of the Ironman World Championships.
“But I know I am capable of doing this. I am most confident about the run because I have been doing that the longest,'' said Thompson.
And how has the training affected the family?
“I am totally supportive of it. I think exercise helps our marriage. It makes us happy people,'' said Serena. “He is a role model for our sons. We hope they become healthy, active and have happy lives.''
The Thompsons met in Barrow, Alaska, while working at Ilisagvik College. Serena never exercised and was slightly overweight. They began by running the dirt roads together.
“I could only run for 10 minutes at a time, but Colin was patient with me. I went from being a crabby person to being happy,'' Serena says. They moved to Spokane in 1994.
Serena gets her running in whenever she can and ventures out four times a week. She is training for the Colbert Autumn Classic Half-Marathon on Oct. 4 and wants to learn how to swim.
“I doubt I will do a triathlon, but I am going to learn how to swim,'' she said.
And Thompson trains around the family schedule. He gets up at 5 a.m. to go swimming. On the days he doesn't swim, he runs or bikes his 15-mile commute to work.
He skips training on Saturday or Sunday so he can spend the whole day with the family. He is home every night for dinner.
“Anything you can do to help your kids start an active lifestyle is great,'' said Thompson. He adds “I just can't not work out. I don't feel myself without exercise.''
It is a family-held value. Serena says “Everyone has different priorities. Our main priorities are having time together as a family, church and exercise.''
And the family will all be part of the event. Serena is signed up as a finish-line volunteer.
“Watching Colin finish will be huge for me,'' she says. “He has put so much into it. People just don't understand what goes into training for an Ironman. I am his biggest fan.''
Their boys will be running in the Ironman Kids Race on June 26. And Thompson's parents, Pete and Mary Jane Thompson, will be at the finish line. One of Thompson's role models is his father, who has completed every Bloomsday. And his three brothers and two sisters will be cheering him on from near and far, either live or in spirit via www.ironmanlive.com.
Thompson would also like to see lots of community support.
“I hope if someone has a dream of completing an Ironman, they would show up and watch the late finishers. It is an inspirational experience,'' said Thompson.
“Our community is lucky to have an event like this,'' adds Serena.
Thompson's next adventures will include Spokane's Troika Half-Ironman, the Coeur d'Alene Triathlon and the Spokane Marathon. He also has interest in adult hockey.
And maybe another Ironman.