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

Courtney Culligan

Liz Sharpe - Thursday, March 27, 2014 | Comments (0)

If someone had told me ten years ago that I would be competing in triathlons and finishing Ironman 70.3 races at the age of 44, I doubt I would have believed it. In fact, I’m pretty sure I would have said, “No way, those people are crazy.”  But, here I am, doing exactly that and I couldn’t be happier about it.  My friends and family often ask me how I manage to train for multisport events and successfully balance my busy life as a wife, mother and teacher.  The simple truth is that I absolutely love everything I do, so it seems to come naturally.  In my eyes, life is a journey of self-discovery, re-invention, prioritizing, re-prioritizing, lessons learned, dreams realized and passions followed.  For me, triathlon has been a new beginning. It has helped me grow in my self-confidence as a woman in every facet of my life.  Triathlons have enabled me to feel strong, powerful and independent. And, I have developed strong bonds of friendship with other women through these experiences.  

For the female athlete in Denver, Tribella is synonymous with camaraderie, friendship, support and empowerment.  I like to call it “Girl Power”.  This year, I am honored to be a part of the Tribella/MHM Platinum race team.  And, I hope that I can instill my passion and excitement for the sport of triathlon to other women in our community.  As the mother of three young sons, I value the example that I set forth for my children. I want them to have an empathetic and positive view of the women who are a part of their lives and those whom will enter their lives in the future. I believe this starts with a mother who feels good about herself and who feels good about the things she does for those around her.

I have always been athletic. But, like many, I have struggled with my self-image and a lack of self-confidence through the years.  My insecurities started in high school and continued well into my early 30s.  I think I have grown a lot in many ways but I am still a work in progress.  My father was certainly one of my biggest supporters.  We had a mutual love of sports and he really enjoyed that I was an athlete.  He tried to be at every one of my soccer, basketball and softball games as I was growing up. There was a very special bond between us that I do not think I truly understood until I grew older.  

I was devastated when my Dad died of Acute Myelogenous Leukemia in September, 2003. I was just a few short weeks away from my due date with my first baby.  In the end, my father’s death came quickly and somewhat unexpectedly. I was on bed rest in San Francisco and could not travel home to be with him at the end nor could I attend his funeral.  It was a traumatic event and one which has had a long lasting effect on me.  I think I threw myself into my new role as mother in order to mask my grief. But, I also felt like I had been blessed with this miracle for which my husband and I had worked so hard. I felt like I owed it to my father to be the best mother I could be and to pick myself up and forge onward.  My husband and I had two more sons in the next three years.  With each of my pregnancies, I was on bed rest for six months. Bed rest was a challenge for me physically and emotionally and it taught me the importance of mental strength. I had been busy and active my whole life.  Lying in bed for months at a time was not an easy task for me.  But, of course, after each of my babies was born, all of the discomfort and fear dissolved into endless joy and love. This gave me a new perspective on the power of will and the strength of self-belief.

I started running again when our youngest son Tommy was only 6 weeks old. I decided to register for my hometown Cincinnati Flying Pig Half-Marathon and set it as a goal for myself. Ironically, the race fell on Tommy’s first birthday.  I was determined to get back into shape and reestablish my fitness after years of minimal exercise. My endurance had diminished and my muscles had weakened. But, I was determined to get it back into shape! I completed my half-marathon in less than two hours and I was thrilled with the results….except for the fact that I tore my Achilles tendon in the process. So, I went straight into physical therapy and started riding a bike to give my Achilles some time to heal and strengthen.  As soon as I could, I signed on to do a century ride for Team in Training and to raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  I learned to balance the challenges of our home life with my love for swimming, running and cycling. My self-confidence grew, my stress reduced and I became a stronger and happier woman! I crossed the finish line at my first triathlon in 2011. And, this past season, I proudly completed my first Ironman 70.3 race in St. George, Utah as well as competed in the USAT Age Group National Championships in Milwaukee. I remember my sister sending me a message the night before Nationals. It read, “Dad is so proud of you!” And, I cried, because I knew it was true.

I find myself going back to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous quote: “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” I try to remember that on every challenging training day and as the nerves start to get to me on race day.   I feel lucky to have fabulous women with whom I can laugh, cry, cheer, yell, hug, swim, cycle and run! And, I am incredibly blessed to have a wonderful and supportive husband who appreciates what triathlon has brought to my life.  I look forward to a fabulous season!

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