• Interview with Adriana Nelson-Pirtea

    Adriana Nelson-Pirtea, 32 years old, hails from Bucharest, Romania and now resides in Ft. Collins with her husband Jeremy Nelson together they operate Running Bums. She has a marathon PR of 2:28:52 which she ran in 2008 at the London Marathon.

    In 2011 Adriana became a USA citizen and was cleared to compete for the USA in 2012. She competed at the Olympic Trials Marathon in January and was with the lead pack at mile 7 before dropping out of the race.

    Adriana is sponsored by Asics and is one of the top female runners in the country.




    Photo by Jonathan Beverly


    Your marathon debut was at the 2007 Chicago Marathon where you lost at the finish to Berhane Adere, do you still think about that race, regret looking over your shoulder?


    Thanks for reminding me. I was almost at the point of forgetting about it. Just kidding of course. And actually I looked back at about 200m to go and actually didn’t see her because she was behind a group of guys. I even slowed down a little because last time I did see her she was pretty far back. But I guess she proved me wrong.

    When I made my marathon debut in Chicago 2007, my expectations on that given day was to finish the race and if possible finish top 10. Finishing in 2nd place among the amazing athletes who competed that day, I was more than happy, so I can’t say I 100% regret anything. But of course it still haunts my dreams sometimes.


    You’re currently being coached by Brad Hudson, how would you describe Brad’s training philosophy? Besides running do you do any cross training?


    It’s been great working with coach Brad lately, and I am really excited to see what the future holds. For the past few years, my husband, Jeremy, and I have been helping each other as much as we could, but we both saw the opportunity in working with Brad. He really takes his job seriously, and makes sure the trainings he gives are unique to each athlete’s need. I take a lot of confidence in that, and he’s had some great results with his other athletes.

    Some of his workouts are similar to trainings I used to do in years past, which has been fun. It also makes it a smooth transition into new trainings. I think in some cases I was probably training too hard before, and its been nice to have a professional coach look over my mistakes and hold me back when I should not push myself.
    As for cross training, I like to aqua jog when I feel totally smashed from training. It helps me relax my muscles and at the same time it is a great cross training. I also have in my training schedule core exercises…but sometimes if I feel totally beat up…I tend to skip them.

    Your husband Jeremy Nelson isn’t too shabby of a runner himself, how much training do the two of you do together? What’s the Nelson fridge and cupboards look like, would we find any junk food?

    Jeremy and I try to train a lot together and he’s been a great training partner! I’ve logged more miles with him in the last five years than anybody else by far. Unfortunately for me he’s been really busy the past several months with his work, developing a new product for runners (www.rollrecovery.com) so now I only get to kick his butt in trainings a couple times a week ?. But he keeps telling me as soon as he gets back in shape, he’s going to be so far ahead I won’t even see what color shirt he’s wearing. We’ll see about that!

    Our fridge!? Oh man, you don’t even want to know. We can barely fit all the food we have in there. We’re like those people that think a disaster is going to come and have to stock up. We definitely have our stockpile of chicken breasts, fish, cheese, bread, and dark chocolate. Oh ya, and can’t forget the veggies! Jeremy hides his boxes of Lucky Charms from me so I don’t eat his “precious”.

    At RunColo, we don’t lob any softballs. Now you’ve been on the cover of Running Times twice, what does it take to make the cover? Is it speed or attractiveness, or do you have to have them both?

    Haha, that is a great question. I’m not really sure!? What do you think? I definitely feel honored to be on the covers, and it makes me work harder as an athlete.


    Photo by Jonathan Beverly

    There is a strong contingency of Romanian born female runners in Colorado that have had a lot of success, which makes me wonder have Romanian women been more successful on the international stage than the men?

    As far as I know, Romanian female athletes had been more successful than men in the International competitions. I am guessing that the consistency of hard work, which we were willing to put in, made us want to be more successful. I have seen many talented men athletes in Romania, but unfortunately something is not clicking right when it comes up to international level.

    You’re a graduate of the University of Texas El Paso, without Googling, do you know what the UTEP Two-Step is?

    Haha, I have to tell the truth… I just Googled it! I’ve never heard of the UTEP Two-Step actually, but I was thinking it would be some cool dance move I can learn!

    How big of a change was it coming from Bucharest, Romania to El Paso, Texas (UTEP) for college? Do you make it back to Romania often?

    El Paso…as a place and city…hmm…I have to be honest with you…I was very depressed. Nothing even looked close to where I grew up. People where different…I did not speak the language…it was very difficult for the first few months or so. Once I started talking better English, I felt more comfortable. It is like running. When you are not in a good shape, you just suffer like a dog…once you get in a good shape you start like it. The University of Texas El Paso (UTEP) gave me the opportunity to run and have a full scholarship. At first, I didn’t realized how important is to get free education in United States. I really appreciate what UTEP did for me and my career.

    Now you Romanians have been hip to vampires way before they became trendy in the United States of America, so what’s the best vampire movie out there? Also should Bella have picked Edward or Jacob?

    Nothing beats the story of Bella and Edward…But the real story is pretty cruel, with lots of blood and decapitated heads involved (a true story, his name was Vlad the Impaler). But for vampire movies, I really do like the Twilight movies! And I’m glad she chose Edward! ?

    I find it odd that when so many professional runners retire from the sport, they either stop running completely or they just run casually and never compete again. It baffles me when people talk about Haile Gebrselassie and debate whether or not he should retire, when the guy could probably run a 2:20 marathon on 40mpw at the age of 50. Do you think when your time comes to retire from professional running you’ll stop running completely or is it too hard to back off the training, race casually and still be able to accept the fact that you couldn’t run like you did in your 20/30s?


    I have couple of examples in my mind, which are at the extremes.

    One is a former Olympic and World Champion, Gabriela Szabo. She was a role model for me while she was competing. Really hard worker, and has been at the very top level for many years. I was very surprised and sad to find out that after she retired she never put her running shoes back in her feet. I talked to her one time and asked her how often she runs anymore…Sadly she replayed to me “Never, I had enough…As much as I loved running, for some reason I lost my interest in it”. She’s still involved in the sports federation but on the administrative side.

    The second example I have is the great champion, Joan Benoit Samuelson. I met her couple of times and she looks fantastic!! You cannot stop this iron woman, nor she wants to stop! After being Olympic Champion and competed at the highest level, instead of retiring, she keeps running for many different reasons, but here are two most important: 1) She will probably run as much as her legs can take her. This is who she is, and nothing can stop her from loving this sport. 2) She is a great ambassador of the sport. Extremely motivational and more than that “She does it with all her heart”.

    I would personally try to go with my running career as long as I can still be competitive. After that, I will definitely run for myself just to stay in shape, and probably try to enjoy races in the middle of the pack. I keep telling myself “One day I am going to enter in some races and smile the whole way…and really see how it is to enjoy racing with no pressure”. Second, once I am done with my running, I would love to help people achieving their goal…no matter what it is the reason of running. I want to see myself involved in this sport for the rest of my life.

    You’ve been running for Asics for a long time, what shoes do you train in and race in?

    I am honored to represent Asics for many years now, and I had the opportunity to test many different shoes. I am not a fan of heavy shoes, so my first choice for everyday training is the DS-Trainers, which gives me support and stability. As for racing it depends how long is the race. For 5km up to 10km I prefer super light shoes and I usually race in Piranha. Longer than 10km up to marathon I race on my most favorite shoes, Tathers.

    Tell us what races you’ll be running in 2012? Will you head to London to spectate the Olympics?

    Well, I’m not done trying yet and I am still hoping to go to London to compete. I am getting on the track this spring and give the 10,000m a go. If that doesn’t happen I will prepare for a fall marathon and cheer all the athletes on from my couch!
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