Durham Academy's sophomore runner wasn't even on the radar until October 27th at Tanglewood Park. Even after winning the NCISAA 3A state title, Adrianne Soo, was still just an "honorable mention". Meaning, she still seemed to be outside the top 10 runners in the state of North Carolina. However, after an incredible performance at the Foot Locker South Regional, "Soo", will roll off the tongues of many XC runners, coaches, and fans.
Adrianne's story is a great one. She has been through quite a lot since May.
In May, Adrianne suffered her 2nd ACL injury . . . to the opposite knee. Determined to come back and still run cross-country, Adrianne began rehabilitation with physical therapy and was able to do limited running on a treadmill throughout some of the summer. In early August she was finally able to run on a track. She was starting to get somewhere now.
In early September, Adrianne began running with the team on trails. At this point she was hitting somewhere around 25 miles a week with most runs about 3-5 miles. In her first race of the season she ran around 21:00 minutes. Not a bad start for the 3rd place finisher at the 2005 NCISAA 3A state meet. However, after the race "I almost passed out," said Soo.
That was the beginning of a new problem that would go undetected for most of the season. Adrianne never felt like she was running where she could be.
"I was no where near what I thought I could be. I had broken 20 minutes last year and my summer training had progressed well. When I tried to run though, my legs felt dead and I had no energy. . . and I was running 23 – 24 minutes."
At the Durham County/City Championships on October 4th, Adrianne finished in 17th place. She could only manage a 23:30, so something was obviously wrong.
Coach Cullen, Durham Academy's long time coach, suggested that Adrianne go to the doctor and get tested for Anemia. So she did, and she was Anemic, resulting from pain medication she was taking for her knee.
At the conference meet, right after she had begun to take Iron pills, she managed to run her season PR of 20:43. Still, it was only a 5th place finish in the TISAC conference. However, a week later, she ran an incredible race to win the state title; one that she didn't even seem to be a contender for, based on her season thus far.
"I went out aiming for 3-5, but I was feeling very strong halfway through, so I just worked my way to the front and didn't really look back. That was a good day."
That was a good day. Adrianne ran a very solid 19:28 on the Tanglewood course. However, the Tanglewood course wasn't in any shape for good times. There had been a constant downpour of rain for about 2 hours before the 3A girl's race. There was slick mud all over the course and large puddles started to form as well. Many athletes were going down all over the course. However, Adrianne still managed a time that would have placed her high in any of the public school races run a week later, in much better conditions.
Coach Cullen then told Adrianne about the Foot Locker race and she decided to continue training.
"At that point I was planning to run in the freshman/sophomore race."
Adrianne was now healthy . . . no ACL problems, no Anemia, things seemed to be headed in the right direction. Adrianne ran three races in her preparation for Foot Locker, two road races and one 3200 meters. She ran 18:12, 18:42, & 11:03.
I asked Adrianne what she was thinking when she began running these times, as these were becoming big jumps for her.
"I figured the iron was just a really big help. My Anemia had been pretty severe. I was feeling good during the races, wasn't straining too, too hard. After my first road race I decided to switch to the seeded race."
Adrianne ran her 11:03 with some guys from Durham Academy. She said they helped pace her, but it still wasn't the same as a race. So, since she didn't run the Raleigh Outfitter's 3200m at Cardinal Gibbons, again, she was off the radar.
Despite those of us around North Carolina not knowing what she was doing and having no idea how well she was running, Adrianne had lofty goals for the Foot Locker seeded race; her first real test as a cross-county runner.
"Well, honestly, I was a little disappointed I didn't make the top 10. My goal was to run under 17:40."
Adrianne wasn't far off these goals as she finished 16th and ran 17:56. This time gave her the fastest time run in North Carolina this year. Fellow NCISAA runner Marley Burns, Carolina Day, wasn't far behind running 18:04 in the seeded race.
Adrianne ran a huge PR for a cross-country race, as her previous best was 19:28 at the state meet. For those who don't understand this jump, she went from running about 6:16 a mile for 3.1 miles to 5:47 a mile. That is an enormous jump!
You're probably asking yourself, "Wow, I wonder what she can run this track season?" Well, I'm sorry to say that Adrianne is still leaning towards playing soccer this spring. However, "the choice between the two certainly got harder after Foot Locker."
Adrianne's time and finish at Foot Locker this year will make her the #9 returnee next year in the Southeast Region. The top 10 girls in the region each year make it to Foot Locker Nationals in San Diego, CA.
Finally, I asked Adrianne how it felt to come of nowhere in most everyone's eyes. How does it feel to be the fastest girl in the state?
"I'm not going to lie, it feels pretty good . . . but I don't think I'll be able to come in off the radar again next year."
Adrianne, no you won't.