Profile on Rachel Matyasse
How many years have you been running?
I’ve been running since junior high when I joined the track team at my school in 8th grade because some friends were on the team. I didn’t really like running at all, felt sweating was disgusting and merely joined the team for the social aspects. I started running more in college (2001) to “get in shape.”
Why did you start running?
Initially, it was for the social aspects. Later on, it was to stay healthy and to challenge myself.
Who inspired you?
My younger sister Megan ran cross country and track throughout her junior high, high school and college years. She encouraged me to start running and I was inspired by her efforts. To this day she continues to be my favorite running partner, though our joint runs are few and far between since we don’t live in the same town. I had the privilege of running the first ~8 miles of her first marathon with her in 2009 (I ran the half at the same event and the courses split at that point) and then watched her cross the finish in triumphant exhaustion mere weeks before my own first marathon. More recently, I’ve watched her get back into running after having a baby which has been very inspiring.
Why did you join the Lake Run Club?
I joined the Lake Run Club in 2009 after my first half marathon (U of I 2009) when I decided to train for my first marathon (Chicago 2009). I joined the LRC to be a part of the awesome Marathon Training Group after seeing a flier advertising the group somewhere around BloNo.
Tell me about your first race.
I think my first race was the Maple City 4 in 2003. This race is held in June each year in my parents’ hometown of Geneseo, IL. I didn’t have any idea what I was doing and probably hadn’t even run 4 consecutive miles prior to that day. I managed a time of 33:53 and second place in my age group (never mind the fact that it was out of two!).
What makes your favorite race your favorite?
Anyone who really knows me knows that my favorite race is the Bix 7, which is a seven-mile race held in Davenport, Iowa each year. I talk about it too much and I am sure people would prefer that I shut up about it…because really the course is tough (super hilly!) and it is always blazing hot on race day (the last Saturday in July each summer). I love this race for a variety of reasons…it’s challenging, you get to see lots of elites run, it’s well-supported by volunteers, and the crowd support is really unparalleled as people line the entire 3.5-mile out-and-back course. It seems like everyone in the Quad Cities gets excited to come out and support the racers. This year I ran my 11th consecutive Bix. This race is the one yearly personal tradition that I don’t compromise!
What race really sticks in your mind for one reason or another?
Ironman Wisconsin 2013. This was my first full-distance triathlon and hopefully not my last (I have my eye on the full at Rev3 Cedar Point in September 2015). This race was an incredible culmination of years of training and racing, as well as immeasurable love and support from family and friends. This race is hands-down one of the best memories of my entire life. From feeling like I was going to throw up before starting the swim, to seeing my parents (including my dad’s non-stop smile and my mom yelling at me late in the bike “DON’T QUIT), to the many friends who made the sacrifice to drive up to watch the race, to my sister running the 21st mile with me in the dark the entire day was unforgettable.
Do you have a favorite route that you run?
This question seems to promote stalking! I tend to stick to various portions the Constitution Trail. When I’m visiting family, I love running along the Mississippi River in Davenport as well as along the Hennepin Canal in Geneseo, IL.
If you could run any race in the world, which would you pick, and why?
I want to run a marathon in another country. Apparently there’s a bridge in China that’s just over 26 miles long. I’m pretty sure there’s not actually a marathon on that…but how awesome would it be if there was?! Until that race is created, maybe I’d say I’d choose the Tokyo Marathon. As far as the “why,” I guess I would just say because the marathon is my favorite distance and running in a new/unfamiliar place is my personal favorite way to discover it.
Do you have a “you’ll never believe what happened on my run today” story?
Well one “emergency” visit to a porta-potty at Tipton Park that resulted in me leaving my underwear behind does stand out in my mind.
If Chilly Chili isn’t the most unusual race you’ve ever taken part in, what race is? I’ve never run the Chilly Chili…apparently I should? I don’t know that this counts as “unusual” because lots of people do races like this…but in November of 2011 I completed a Tough Mudder race with my sister. It was horrible. It was cold and swimming through vats of ice water is no joke. Being electrocuted at the end was an experience I could’ve done without. I finished the darn thing because I don’t tend to quit things, but it was definitely “unusual” and not very pleasant.
Which race do you think is the most fun to volunteer at and why?
This summer I volunteered at the Kids Run for Fun events on Friday evenings and I LOVED it. Not only is it socially a lot of fun to see friends out at the events with their children, but it is also great to be a part of encouraging young children to pursue running as part of healthy lifestyles.
What are your race and training plans for the fall of 2014?
I’m training for the Chicago Marathon this fall as well as for an aqua-bike event at Rev3 Cedar Point. This season has been a little disappointing as I’ve battled tendinitis, but it is giving me many opportunities to practice patience and persistence. I have high hopes for 2015!
Do you have any superstitions or rituals you go through before a big race?
I used to always sleep in my race attire the night before races. I don’t necessarily do this consistently right now. Really my only consistent “ritual” is making sure to have a successful porta-potty stop…I know most of you can relate to that!
What’s the coolest piece of running gear you own?
I love my dorky Lululemon running skirts in silly colors and patterns. I also love my purple stretchy fuel belt that I purchased at a race expo once. I believe the brand is Level; however I’ve never been able to find the same product online or elsewhere. This thing is great: you step into it and slide it up around your waist and can fill the entire thing all the way around with keys/phone/gels/etc.
Who have you been running with lately?
I’ve been running with the Thursday Night Often Running group which consists of a variety of people…most consistently Clint Wells, Paul Bliss, Gary Savage and Andy Williams. As previously mentioned, I also run with my sister when we happen to be in the same town. Also favorite running partners of note include Jillian McGriff and Jennifer Blackorby.
Who motivates you as a runner?
I am a pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and I work children who present with a variety of speech/language disorders both at Thomas Metcalf Laboratory School in Normal and at Easter Seals in Bloomington. Working with children with disabilities is challenging but rewarding. Running, for me, can be a challenge but that challenge pales in comparison to those faced by many of the children and families I work with. Watching these inspirational children fight to learn to overcome obstacles such as difficulty communicating, walking, eating and more has shown me that nothing is impossible. For the past two years, I have been a member of Team Believe which is a team of marathoners who raise money and awareness for Easter Seals. Having the privilege to combine my love of running with my passion for individuals with disabilities has been very motivating to me as a runner.
What makes you stay with it and keep running?
Honestly, running has become a part of my identity and a part of what makes me “me.” I can’t imagine “Rachel Matyasse” without running and without the people this sport has brought into my life.
Rachel running the Operation Jack Marathon in December of 2012.
Rachel (left) and her sister Megan Hankner (right) after finishing the University of Illinois half marathon 2009.