Patient Highlight: Emily Cooper, Mont Tremblant Ironman
Name? Emily Cooper
Physical Therapist? Alison
What inspired you to tackle the Ironman distance?: I started racing triathlons in 2016. At that point I was an injured runner who had started swimming and cycling to cross-train, so triathlon seemed to be a natural next step. I signed up for Empire Tri Club’s beginner program (which I recommend to anyone who wants to get into triathlon) and I just loved the pattern of training and racing. I did my first 70.3 in Lake Placid in 2017 and slowly started warming to the idea of trying the Ironman distance. By 2019 I saw how much stronger I had gotten (thanks to consistently working with my coach Caitlin Alexander) and had gotten my injury-proneness under control (thanks to consistent PT!) and felt more confident that I might be able to tackle the Ironman distance, and was curious as to whether I could do so. So, I planned to sign up for an Ironman for 2021, then of course the pandemic hit (and IM Mont Tremblant was cancelled in both 2020 and 2021), and it was pushed to this year.
Why Mont Tremblant?: I wanted a beautiful course that was also drivable from NYC (mostly because I didn’t want to ship my bike, to eliminate a variable that could cause additional anxiety). Lake Placid is drivable, but I had done Lake Placid’s 70.3 and wanted a new course. I also wanted a course with rolling hills, so Mont Tremblant was the best choice.
How did training go?: Training was difficult but, in retrospect, it really went great. The hardest part was squeezing everything in with work, but I managed to do it (thanks in part to now being able to work from home some days and a very supportive husband). My husband is a soccer player (and also sees Alison for PT!) and he joined me for runs, and I had a good friend who joined me for the super long rides. The training is my favorite part — I love having workouts to anchor my days and I also love seeing what happens when I just consistently put in the work day after day.
How did FLPT & Alison play a part in your training?: Alison and FLPT were key to me getting to the start line! I’ve been coming to FLPT since 2016 (even when I lived in Oregon for 1.5 years I stopped in!). FLPT has kept me healthy while I’ve increased my swimming, biking, and running. I think the most important thing for me was realizing years ago that I need to go to PT consistently even when I’m not injured, and that is definitely what made me able to tackle the Ironman distance. Plus, I don’t know what I would have done without Alison helping me manage my nerves during my training build both by listening to my list of worries and giving me actionable PT tasks to focus on instead.
How did the race go?: It was super tough, but amazing. The swim as my favorite part (Lake Tremblant is clear and beautiful) and was my best leg. The bike was tough (its hilly and the weather was all over the place) but also beautiful. The run was the hardest, and I just kept thinking of my coach’s advice to get from aid station to aid station, and getting back to the village to see my husband and my family. The volunteers and support at Mont Tremblant are absolutely amazing — their encouragement is also what pushed me through the run.
What did you learn, biggest takeaway/success?: I learned that, if I’m consistent with training and PT (not only over months, but over years), then all my hard work will pay off on race day. I also learned how important nutrition is — I worked with Nicci Schock at FLPT on my nutrition plan, and I don’t know what I would have done without her. I’m so thankful to have had a great team supporting me — a great coach I’ve worked with for years, Alison and FLPT keeping me healthy, Nicci keeping me fueled, plus my husband, family, and friends.
What’s next?: Patiently waiting for my legs to recover so I can go for my first easy run back! Then perhaps a fall half marathon and then trying to get faster in 70.3s before maybe attacking another Ironman.