B oulder runner Adriana Nelson, 33, won her first U.S. title last weekend at the U.S. Half-Marathon Championships in Duluth, Minn.
She finished in one hour, 11 minutes and 19 seconds, just seven seconds ahead of Desi Davila. Nelson was born in Bucharest, Romania, where she won national titles in the 5K and 10K. She moved to the states almost 11 years ago, and became a U.S. citizen in 2011.
She and husband Jeremy Nelson co-founded Roll Recovery -- a business that creates recovery products for athletes -- in Boulder last year.
You went to the University of Texas-El Paso. How did you end up there?
They recruited me. I didn't know anything about El Paso. The school was amazing. When I first got there, I was like "Please I want to go back home." But the athletic department and the school was great for me. A great experience.
How did you meet your now-husband, Jeremy, who's also a runner and a cyclist?
I met Jeremy in 2007. We met in Boulder at Whole Foods sampling strawberries and raspberries. We were just sampling them and we just looked at each other like "It's good, yeah?" There was a big line behind us. The guy behind us said "Hey can we try some too?" That's where it started. I was leaving for Puerto Rico the next day for two weeks, so that's when we started chatting a lot and got to know each other. I didn't tell him I was going for a race in the beginning. When I came back, I got injured before my debut in London and I was like "Hey I can barely walk but let's meet up." From the moment we met for that first date, it was the end of the story.
When did the two of you move to Boulder from Fort Collins?
We stayed (in Fort Collins) for a couple years, and then Jeremy invented the new Roll Recovery tool, and we needed a good place to launch it. I was also training in Boulder, I was going back and forth a lot so we moved to Boulder and launched our business here in 2012.
Are you still training with Brad Hudson? Any changes to your training?
Yeah, still training with him. I'm doing more volume than I used to do before, and we have great communications. He doesn't want me to be over-trained, but I like to be more aggressive, so it's very good communication between us. We kind of hold each other back.
The half-marathon title is your first U.S. national title. How were you feeling going into that race?
I never underestimate anyone. This spring I injured my knee. I couldn't run five minutes without pain in my knee. I took a break, training with very easy, light runs to stay on my feet. I knew about the half-marathon championships, and it was like "OK, I haven't really trained." I said let's see how the next two weeks of training go and then we can decide about U.S. half-marathon champs. I did my first workout five weeks before the race and that's when I decided to do it. It was my first training and it was not even really hard. I thought I could make it.
After winning, you said you just pictured your training loop in Boulder and Jeremy riding his bike next to you. Where's that training loop?
I was alone during the whole race, so I had to visualize something to carry me on. There was a camera car with a bike. On Saturdays my husband, he's on the bike with me and that's when the hardest trainings are. Brad Hudson goes in the car. They push my guts out when they are both together, I don't know what's wrong with them (laughing). The first half of the race, I was pumped, I was focused, but then I kind of got bored a little bit.
On the last three miles I could hear someone say that Desi (Davila) was coming. I just got back on my stride the last few miles. There's a longer hill, so I said after this hill I'm going to take it nice and not kill myself, but the last two miles I'm going to picture being on the Gunbarrel loop. That's how I imagined myself being behind the bike and Jeremy telling me "That's it. You've got this. So get back on your stride." I was back again. Jay Road is going slight uphill, which is kind of the part of the last two miles in the (half-marathon) race. And then relaxes downhill a little bit for the part on 63rd Street, and then you get a little bit of a flat near Twin Lakes, and a small hill and then push hard to the end. And that's what I did.
--Follow Sarah Kuta on Twitter: @SarahKuta.