Tuesday, May 20, 2014

What's next?

Less than a week after Matt participated in the Desert Challenge Games he turned his attention to selecting a marathon.  That shouldn’t be hard, right?  Not so fast!  Matt will need to run an IPC-certified marathon in order to compete in the U.S. Paralympic marathon trials in 2016.  There are windows when the marathon must be completed in order to count as a qualifying event, but those windows have not been published yet.  The California International Marathon (CIM) in Sacramento has a visually impaired division and is also the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes championship marathon event.  Matt has participated twice, once in 2010 (placed first) and again in 2012 (placed fourth).  It is possible that this early December race will be just shy of the qualifying window, but Matt chose it as his next marathon.  Not only is it a net downhill course where Matt set a personal record in 2010 (3:00:39), but it is also a wonderfully planned event for the visually impaired.  A diverse group of visually impaired runners, of varying ages, speeds, and nationalities come together for a weekend of camaraderie and sportsmanship. 

In 2010, I went out to CIM with Matt.  I was about five months pregnant with our twins at the time and was not supposed to fly.  We were literally sitting in the lounge waiting to board when my OB called to explain some test results and Matt was telling me I shouldn’t go.  Being somewhat stubborn, I refused to back out of the trip.  I am glad I did, because we had a wonderful long weekend.  The only hiccup was that due to weather our flight was canceled so we got back a day late and I missed day one of an international meeting I was hosting.  It was a little awkward to tell my boss that I was stuck in California when I hadn’t been able to fly for several months and that she needed to fill in for me.  But I digress.  For three days Matt and I got to know some wonderful runners, many of whom Matt keeps in regular contact with, and to participate in a few events just for these runners.  We also had some time to explore Sacramento.  Neither of us had been there before so we had a lot of fun and it turned out to be our last mini-vacation before our twins were born.  The race conditions were pretty good that weekend.  It had been raining, but it cleared just long enough for the race and winds were minimal.  He shaved 6 minutes off of his previous PR set in Boston earlier in 2010.  Matt didn’t run CIM in 2011 because logistically it wasn’t possible, but returned in 2012.  The field of visually impaired runners had grown and he ended up placing fourth overall in that race.  There were very forceful winds so everyone’s times were slower than usual.  Matt went out to that race by himself and did a homestay with a family member of one of the other VI runners, the driving force behind having the VI division and USABA championship at CIM in the first place.  Matt took the 2013 CIM off, this time because he was sleep deprived having a four month old son and two year old twin girls.  Marathon training was pretty much out of the question.  He probably would have gotten more sleep if he had run the race!  

Matt will view this marathon as the deciding factor of whether he will pursue the marathon in 2016 or instead focus on track events.  Only time and a lot of training will tell!

Matt at the race expo

Matt right at the 26 mile mark

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