Matt has been on my list of people to write about for a long time. However, I thought it would be best to do so when we could join him in celebrating his achievement of not only completing 50 marathons before he turns 50 but by doing it at his first Boston Marathon in two weeks.
He only started running at 28 years old because a softball injury left him sidelined and gaining weight. While at first he did it to lose the weight, he found running to be enjoyable and within a year, he raced the 1999 Lake County Races from Zion to Highland Park then the 1999 Chicago Marathon. After one summer of marathon training, he was hooked. He soon added a spring marathon, then others when a thought occurred that if he kept this up, he could complete 50 marathons before he turned 50. He’s run the Chicago Marathon every year except one since then, the Fox River Marathon every year since its inception in 2010, and the Disney World Marathon (as part of the Goofy and Dopey Challenges, no less) since 2013 as a way to incorporate a family vacation. Or is it the other way around? With the Boston Marathon, he will finish this goal 4 and 1/2 years early.
But qualifying for the Boston Marathon was never really a thought, until…
Shortly after the LRC formed in the beginning of 2014, Matt heard about this new club that was going to have track workouts at Libertyville High School. Intrigued, he started following our Facebook group. When he saw us volunteering at an aid station at the North Shore Classic Half Marathon dressed in costumes and having a good ol’ time, he knew this was the club for him. The LRC played a huge role in Matt running PRs in every distance he raced in 2015 and ultimately in qualifying for Boston at his 40th marathon (2015 Illinois Marathon): the summer and winter speed workouts, various cross-training offerings the LRC sponsored, the group long runs, and field trips to Barrington with LRC & Fleet Feet Chicago all helped him earn that Runner Passport to Boston.
Prior to the Club, he ran indoors during winter and mostly alone year-round. With the LRC being active all year, he was motivated by others on those long, or cold, or fast runs. As a result, he pushed himself more, resulting in stronger and faster runs, than if he had done it alone. One of the best things about the LRC to Matt is that while someone is always there to push him, everyone enjoys running and no one seems to take it too seriously. He has found the LRC to be an amazing group of people who are fun to hang out with outside of running.
When Matt’s schedule gets too hectic, he likes that he can train with his running buddies virtually through the LRC Strava page and feel connected to the LRC. This virtual motivational tool has proven helpful for many, including all of us that bore witness to Matt’s impressive mileage total for 2015 and what he is currently doing as part of his Boston training. Hint: it’s a lot! If you use any type of GPS tracking, feel free to join us on Strava. Matt will surely motivate you.
Take all this running and add to it that Matt plays ice hockey and you have to wonder how he finds time to get it all in. You also have to wonder why he’s mixing running with ice hockey! He claims that the ice hockey has actually helped his running: it’s a great workout using slightly different muscle groups which has helped with his recovery and kept him relatively injury free (cross training, people! Do it!). Of course, without such a supportive family, none of this would be possible. With the birth of his twins 8 years ago, then a daughter shortly after, his in-laws moved in to help out while he and his wife Akemi continued their careers. In addition, Akemi is extremely supportive of his running and 50 marathon goal. He tries to minimize the time away from his kids by completing many of his runs before they wake up; The Tuesday morning LRC Breakfast Club runs afford him one more opportunity to do that with friends.
As if all these marathons aren’t challenging enough, he twice completed the Ice Age 50-Miler and will run it again this year. He says that the 2014 Ice Age event was his biggest challenge to date. He had never run any race as technically challenging as Ice Age. It was also his first 50-miler so he was definitely intimidated going into the race. Convincing himself that he could finish the race was just as difficult, if not more difficult, than the physical aspect of actually running the race. But as Matt notes, in order to take yourself to new levels you have to get in over your head and out of your comfort zone.
And when it comes to getting in over your head, Matt gets by with a little help from his LRC friends. When the LRC jumped off the ultra-running deep end and submitted a team for the Leadville 100-mile trail race lottery, Matt couldn’t resist taking one of the eight spots. Ever since the threat of Leadville came and went, Matt has been intrigued by the distance and may one day register for a 100-miler… That one day likely being next year when we try for Leadville again!
Matt hasn’t set up any goals after Boston because he wants to truly enjoy the moment without having to worry about what’s next. His sister lives in the Boston area and he plans to celebrate the race with his wife, kids, father, and sister. Joining him in Boston will be a few other LRCers and friends: Kate Wichmann, Stephen Ryner, Ted Tharp, Michael Stehling, and Sam Stein. Matt is certain there will be some LRC shenanigans taking place with that contingent.
Here’s to wishing Matt a great Boston Marathon! Join the LRC after our fun run on Wednesday, April 20th to celebrate Matt and the others when they return from Boston. The Boston runners’ drinks are on us!