Professional athletes inspire us with their record breaking performances, but it’s the everyday triathlete, cyclist, swimmer, and runner who impress us with some of the most memorable results. TriBella highlights different female customers who exemplify the beauty of sport. Thanks for the inspiration ladies!

“Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

–St. Francis of Assisi

Carla Thompson

Liz Sharpe - Thursday, September 01, 2016 | Comments (0)

Carla has been a friend of TriBella since before we opened the doors in the spring of 2011. When she heard through the grapevine that we were opening a shop catered to women, she jumped fully on board. Without really knowing who we had on our hands, we quickly found out that she was (and is still) one of the most connected and respected women in Colorado's triathlon scene.  Since that time, Carla has further cemented her dedication to women triathletes, and time and again has shown her devotion to the triathlon community. We are honored to feature this outstanding mentor, friend, leader, and athlete, Carla Thompson. 

In 1999 I fell in love with the sport of triathlon. I joined a small women’s triathlon training group at my health club. I knew how to swim, I owned a bike, and I was sure I could run. I remember asking myself, “How hard could it be?” What unfolded next was a rude awakening to my extreme “lack of fitness”. At the time I was considerably overweight and under trained, however, I was fortunate enough to have a triathlon coach who believed in me until I could believe in myself.

Training consistently over time helped improve my fitness and endurance. As I think back on crossing the finish line of my first triathlon, I can still feel the pure exhilaration and sense of personal accomplishment as they placed the finisher’s medal around my neck. As it turns out, the finish line was not the end of the race, but the beginning of my life as a triathlete!

Over the next several years, I continued training and racing. I participated in the annual Danskin Triathlon. What was unique about this race was the camaraderie and support offered by the participants. The focus was more on participation and completion rather than competition. It was a friendly environment to explore this amazing multisport experience!

After several years of participating in the all women’s Sprint distance triathlons it was a natural progression to consider taking on longer and more challenging events. My training was focused on doubling the Sprint distance triathlon and in 2002 I was able to complete my first Olympic triathlon.

The Olympic races were co-ed and the athletes, both men and women, seemed very competitive. In spite of what felt like a “Harsh Entry” into this competitive environment, in 2003 I “Doubled the Distance” again and managed to finish my first Half Ironman triathlon.

As my fitness and endurance increased, I completed my first Ironman Distance Triathlon in Panama City Beach, Florida in 2010. I marked my most amazing athletic accomplishment in 2012 when I finished Ironman Coeur d’Alene, Idaho in just under seventeen hours.

I love long course multisport, but as the distances and competitive nature of the athletes increased, I noticed that I missed the warm and nurturing feeling that seemed more available during my early experiences with the women’s triathlon events. The other challenge that seemed to present itself is it became increasingly more difficult to find someone who wanted to swim, bike and run more than just a few miles.

While there were national online resources like Slowtwitch and Beginner Triathlete that were available to connect triathlon communities all over the world, it seemed difficult to connect with athletes who were local and available to meet face to face. It was in this instance of longing that EnduranceGIRLs was created.

EnduranceGIRLs is an online Facebook group made up of women who train, race and coach at long course multisport distances. The initial goal was to recreate a local, long course, nurturing, multisport environment where women could connect and communicate with each other around the topic of training and racing.

The group has come a long way from a central place to request a training partner. Over the last five years EnduranceGIRLs has woven itself into a safe space where local triathletes, duathletes, aqua-bike, long course swimmers, cyclists and ultra runners come to share both their athletic successes and struggles.

The EnduranceGIRL women are naturally nurturing and supportive of each other… each rushing in to share their personal wisdom and experiences to help their fellow triathlon friends through another training session or to get them to the start line of their race! Women who are new to the state are warmly welcomed into the fold of their instant Colorado based triathlon family of more than seven hundred local athletes.

Conversation topics run the gamut from “contemplating the best races both locally and nationally” to “navigating the emotional challenge of post race depression”. The sharing is heartwarming, open and authentic. It is a great place to warm your triathlon heart and uplift your athletic soul.

Over the last few years, I have struggled with injury. While I am on the mend and beginning to rebuild my athletic base I would like to share a few gems from my experience in hopes of supporting you if you find yourself on the sidelines of your triathlon life.

1. Find a way to create a routine. Having an injury that gets in the way of doing our normal swim, bike, run can be an emotional downer. As I was able to find a way to create a routine, of any kind, it was the intention to do SOMETHING that helped me shift from being STUCK to being back in motion. Even if it was a motion different from what I ultimately wanted to do.

2. Stay involved with the triathlon community. Initially you may want to withdraw but it may be supportive to someone else if you could make yourself available to pacing a slower swimmer, cyclist or runner. Also, race directors are often in need of volunteers. Not just for body marking and water stations. There may be a number of ways your time and attention would be beneficial. Reach out. Lend an hour or two of your time. You may find the experience uplifting while helping someone else reach his or her goal.

3. Focus on what you can do. There were many times when I would attempt to train and find myself derailed by pain. If I could not run, I did not want to work out at all. Over the last four years I realized that an alternative exercise could have been useful in helping me stay in shape. Honor your body’s signals, but remember to be agile in your thinking about what other alternative activity may be possible.

Hang in there during this time of healing. Be active in your recovery. Find the joy in this moment as there will always be someone whom you can help or who can support you during this journey.

So if you are NOT injured, but you still find yourself sitting on the sidelines wondering if completing a triathlon is a possibility for you, here are a few words of encouragement to help get you in the game!

1. Start where you are! Do not wait until you get in shape. You will gain fitness and lose weight when you are moving consistently. Find a coach or a friend and start where you are.

2. Use what you have! While the sport of triathlon is inundated with expensive triathlon time trial bikes, fancy high tech GPS wrist watches and other gear, you actually do not need any of these items to begin participating in the sport. Find a coach or a friend and use what you have!

3. Do what you can! When you first start out you may be lacking in fitness and endurance. When many of us start out, most of us are not able to swim, bike or run at the distances our heart desires. Find a coach or a friend and do what you can!

Whether this is your first triathlon or if you are exploring a more challenging distance, know in your heart that “Anything really is possible!”

Have Big Fun in the Sun… SWIM, BIKE, RUN!!!

~Carla L. Thompson, EnduranceGIRL





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