A Chat with Adrian Cooley
By Michael Orendorff
Annoyed by cross sports analogies? Then prepare to be annoyed. IMHO, some triathletes dance and weave as boxers do – slipping punches, trying to create misses. Adrian? I’d put her in with the boxers who face the opponent directly and move in squarely. Sure, she’s maybe going to take a few more hits but the current triathlon challenge she is facing better be ready to be flattened or knocked out. And then it’s on to the next triathlon challenge/opponent.
Beginning in February 2012 we start another transformational tale. I hope you’re not too bored with them by now as they do seem to proliferate in our hobby. Of course you know the old saying: “We can only begin where we are at.” For Adrian this meant, at that time, a start with one mile of running per day and some aerobic classes for physical health. For other culprits that rob many of our lives as well as hers, she utilized the resources of the Addict 2 Athlete group. Her permission has been given to mention two specific culprits in her case — depression and an eating disorder. She hopes that perhaps that will encourage others with the same challenges.
As she progressed on the path of better physical and mental health, her first event goal was the September 2012 Rock ‘n Roll half marathon in Denver. As a high school student, she’s a 2006 graduate of Pueblo West HS, Adrian had run cross-country. Still, with six years intervening, to finish the half-marathon was the primary objective. Doing the half with Rob & Sheena Archuleta and Shawn Reid, Adrian finished in 2:03 – a time and a run experience that were both quite satisfying. So she was ready to move on to the next challenge. (Note that her finish time at the recent bitterly cold local Rock Canyon Half Marathon on December 7th was down to 1:45:22.)
The A2A group was not only encouraging toward pursuing her own athletic and wellness goals but she was also encouraged to begin to serve others by sharing her story. In February 2013 she did that. And she found what others have taught over the centuries to be true. Often as we help others we are helped to continue down our own path toward our own goals without narcissistically focusing on ourselves – one of life’s paradoxes.
In our conversation I asked Adrian what she considered her greatest 2013 achievement. From various goals met she drew out the Austin 70.3 (half-iron) triathlon. But it was not the placing or the time which was emphasized. It was the combination of the learning experience encompassing the training for the event and then successfully putting it all together on event day, October 27th.
I had to bring up, though, what had impressed me as an outsider – recovering from a bike wreck in the Boulder Sprint Tri. It was not the physical recovery, however, which impressed. It was recovering from the mental and emotional disheartening which could have overwhelmed one after focusing so long, preparing so hard and hoping so much. And here is where that beginning cross sports analogy comes into play. She squared up. With her own self-talk and with encouragement from key people she faced her fears and disappointment head on. Facing this “failure” had to be done mercilessly in order to keep the other goals alive for which the Boulder Sprint Tri was supposed to have been a stepping stone. (‘Failure” is in quotes because the author believes there is almost no such thing as failure in the triathlon game.)
A key person stepping into this process was Melanie Milyard. On an August bike ride Melanie took it upon herself to work with Adrian regarding using her bike to its fullest advantage. That meant going over proper shifting technique, correct gear selection and maintaining best pedal rpm. Instead of shutting out the proffered instruction, as many of us with too much pride can do, Adrian listened. Implementing Melanie’s teaching, Adrian became more comfortable so when looking at her future self-challenge in Austin she began to truly believe, “I can do this”. The results at Austin 70.3 validated that belief.
In 2014 the biggest triathlon challenge will be Ironman Kentucky (Louisville) on August 24th. She’s selected an event where she won’t have a contingent of friends alongside. Though aware of the long distance support she’ll have on event day, the more solo nature of this trip will be the special spice to the challenge. Austin has been the hottest event she has experienced so far. In Louisville she will be adding significant humidity. Adrian knows the proper physical preparation required to complete the distance. She knows the tricks one can do in our desert environment to prepare somewhat for a high humidity triathlon. The greatest challenge will be nailing race day nutrition. It will be a long day on a tough course (every iron distance tri turns into a tough course, eh?). Let’s wish her the best.
NUTS and BOLTS: For those like me who wonder about the basics, here are the key workouts Adrian has settled on to fit in with the rest of life’s demands.
- Mon – Swim long
- Tues – Run long (5-7am) and bike whatever life allows
- Wed – Off day (a firmly held belief re its requirement)
- Thurs – Swim and Run
- Fri – Run and Bike
- Sat – Swim easy and big Bike day
- Sun – Run long and then spin class if feel ok
PARTING WORDS: Adrian truly does encourage each of us with: Don’t give up. Face fears, taking them head on.