When I think of friend and fellow athlete Lori Sharp, I picture one of my favorite childhood princesses, Ariel (The Little Mermaid). Both have beautiful red hair, a knack for singing, and can move through the water with grace and pure joy. I also envision an authentically happy and confident woman who is always ready to embrace a challenge. Lori is a powerful influence in our local endurance athlete community. She spreads positivity and encouragement during training sessions, in her work environments, and even in the midst of grueling competition. This interview offers a small glimpse of her athletic background and motivation. You can find out more about Lori’s latest adventures here.
Current town of residence: Oxnard CA
Hometown/place of birth: Richmond Virginia
Day job: I’m a sales associate at Mile 26 and REI, and I also teach backpacking/hiking/outdoor fitness classes at REI.
Dream job: Getting paid to travel
Favorite sports or hobbies: Running, Biking, and Olympic Weightlifting. I also enjoy traveling and backpacking
How did you become an endurance athlete?
Ironically, when Josh (husband) and I lived in Hawaii we just happened to be in Kona the day of the Ironman World Champs. We were on Ali’i drive getting shaved Ice and stumbled upon the bike/run transition. We were just in shock . What is going on?! These people are doing what?! It was awesome. I think I sat there for an hour not realizing what we were actually watching. Silly right?
Little by little we’ve transitioned to from strict runners to triathletes. My first sprint triathlon was at an all women’s event while we were living in North Carolina. The swim was in a pool and afterwards I hopped on my huge mountain bike . When we moved to Oxnard from Los Angeles a friend gave us the name of a local triathlete, Adam. Josh teamed up with him pretty quickly. He introduced us to local duathlons, a track group, and swim class. Being around all these amazing athletes helps me enjoy the sport so much.
Favorite endurance athletic accomplishment: Augusta Ironman 70.3 . Having just moved from Hawaii, we were flying solo at our first 70.3 in Augusta,GA. We had no family with us and knew NO ONE at the event. I even second-guessed myself being there. I’m a runner, not a triathlete! Josh and I had a running group and small triathlon group we trained with in Hawaii but did most of our training with each other. When his wave was about to start lining up I had a small panic attack. He gave me my pre-race kiss and he was gone; I was ALONE, and I would be for the next 6+ hours. I finished well before all the time cutoffs and had a real fun time! I had completed the longest and biggest race of my life (at that time) by my own strength. I was hooked and knew I wanted to keep doing triathlons.
Hardest endurance event you’ve ever completed: I think the Crossfit Open 17.1 workout this year was one of the hardest. It was a 20-minute long workout combining dumbbell snatches and burpees. You had a 35 lb dumbbell that you snatched over your head a certain amount of times, and then you had to jump on and over a 20 inch box in between doing burpees. The dumbells started with a set of 10, then 20, 30, 40, ending with 50. In between each set you had to do 15 burpees. I had a minute and fifteen seconds before time was up with 15 box over burpees left. I was exhausted but I wanted that time. So I sprinted through the box jumps and burpees and I finished with 1 second left. I was hurting and almost blacked out but I ended up being the #1 female in my gym for that workout–couldn’t have been happier.
Most memorable endurance training and/or race moment: Even though it just happened, I don’t think I’ll ever forget this weekend (Mountains to Beach Marathon, 5/29/17). I’ve never felt as good as I did during miles 15-18. I was just waiting for my race to go south, the slow down, the race leg cramps–and it never did. I mean, I hit the “omg I just want to walk” moment around mile 22, but I knew what I had on the line. You won’t have to run another marathon until Boston if you just make it through these next 4 miles, I told myself. That was enough motivation for me. I flew down Sanjon Rd looking at my watch and almost crying. If just kept my pace I was going to finish more than 5 minutes under my qualifying time. Before the race I was just hoping to get a qualifying time. Instead, I did better than I thought possible.
Current competition goals: Qualifying for the 2018 Boston Marathon and finishing my first full Ironman.
Why do you want to accomplish these goals? The Ironman is another “unicorn” for me–a mythical race that seems just outside my reach or comprehension. As I keep catching my unicorns, I can’t help but relish in the fact that I can ACTUALLY BE an athlete. I still have a hard time seeing myself as one. Having the resume of Boston Marathon and an Ironman will help solidify that. Plus, I love racing, I’m sure you didn’t know that. 😉
Competition mantra: Courage to Start, Strength to Endure, Resolve to Finish
Pre-race ritual or superstition: I like to paint my nails the color of the race. It’s just something girly and fun I enjoy.
Training tips: If you’re attempting a new race distance or event, make it a fun one or do it with friends.
Training/racing pet peeve: Racers who only care about themselves. They move your stuff, cut you off, take 2 and 3 cups of water in a row at an aid station, etc.
Post-race treats: Pizza, chocolate frosted cake/cupcakes, and doughnuts.
Ideal training “camp” location: ANYWHERE warm. I do better in heat than in cold.
“Pump up” jam of choice: I start every race with the song “Geronimo“. It’s a fun song and it’s one of those iconic things you say when you jump into water. Like “here I go!”. I think of that as I run past the beginning of every race start line.
What motivates you to keep training and competing? Being born with multiple birth defects, the ambition set for me was just to be healthy, not “anything you want”. So, I held myself back thinking “I’m too small, too weak, too fragile, too slow”. I have problems with my own abilities. That’s why I keep racing. I want to prove to others and mostly myself that I’m a strong athlete. Every time I cross that finish line or get through a rough workout, I feel like a champion. Also, everyone I train with. I have some amazing athlete friends and I love hearing about their achievements and motivational stories.
What motivates you to keep going when it gets tough? Music is a big passion of mine. When I get frustrated I start singing either out loud or in my head (especially during triathlons when I don’t have music).
Something you’ve learned about yourself through endurance athletics: Regardless of my past, current condition, and perceived mindset, I can make myself into the best version of me if I just try.
Best athletic encouragement you’ve ever been given: Pain is only temporary, while the feeling of an achievement lasts a lifetime.
Athlete hero (and why): Chrissie Wellington. She set the stage for women in the triathlon world while being extremely humble and down to earth . I love that, like me, she’s a clumsy, self-proclaimed Muppet. *Insert image of Kermit the frog flailing his arms every where while running*
Words of wisdom to aspiring endurance athletes:
Some days will be easy, some days will be hard, and some day you’ll just want to quit. Just remember, you are creating the best version of yourself. Celebrate the good days and be gentle to yourself on the bad. Creation takes passion, patience, and perseverance.
What does “Fuel” mean to you? Whole, non-processed, colorful, and healthy food.
What does being “Fit” mean to you? Being able to achieve your athletic goals in a healthy manner.
Swim, bike, or run? Run
Open water or pool? Hawaiian ocean bays; in California? POOL
Trail or track? Trail
Solo or group training? Group
Chocolate or cheese? Chocolate
Watch on your left wrist or right? Left
Morning or evening workout? Morning
Hat, visor or headband? Visor
Swim cap or no cap? Swim cap; my hair gets tangled in my mouth without one
Cheerios or Wheaties? Honey Nut Cheerios
Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate? Coffee
Crocs or Birkenstocks? OOFOS 😉
If you could swap out one triathlon discipline (swim/bike/run) for another (anything!), what would you swap out and what would you add in its place, and why? Umm…how about Horse Ride/Run/Horse Ride.. that would be amazing!
Any other fun facts about you: It wasn’t until 2011 that I started running, or participated in any regular athletic activity. It’s been a long, hard road but I’m finally learning to love it. Everyone I workout with is amazing and a great inspiration.