Who Am I?

I am an avid runner and have been running since I was 15 years old. I began running low to medium distances while on my high school track team, running the 800 meter and 1600 meter races (I was a sub 5 miler and a 2 minute 800 runner). In addition to the track team, I also joined the cross country team. After high school I still wanted to run and decided to start doing road races. I have probably ran a couple hundred 5k races (16.29 PR)along with many 10k's as well. In 2009 I decided to step up my game and try to tackle my first marathon. I will be honest; the only reason I did this was because my father ran a few and I wanted to show him that I could do what he did. I trained poorly for my first one and regret it. If you are going to run a race, train like you want to win. I still continue to run marathons and other distances as well, and every race is a chance for me to better myself.
I started this blog to hopefully communicate with other runners and to shed any knowledge I may have about the sport that can help other runners. I believe running is the best sport and can be a great stress reliever. I encourage all runners to spread the word of our sport and show people why running is so good and why the community of runners has such great people. You can follow me on twitter @byrne1324 or find me on facebook- Shaun Byrne

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Nicole Matich Interview

This week my interview is with Nicole Matich. Nicole is a very good runner who I have ran a few races with and see her very often while training. I would consider her one of the better woman in her age group and if it wasn't for injuries I think she would be one of the elite woman in Pittsburgh.

SB- When and why did you start running?

NM- I was on the cross country team in junior high. That was my first running experience. I reunited with running in college as a stress reliever. Running really helps with my anxiety, so running in college really helped me.

SB- This past May you ran your first marathon. How did you train for that race?

NM- I didn't train particularly well for my first marathon. I planned on training with this really cool guy named Shaun, but I got injured and I had to take a month off from training. I followed the Hal Higdon novice 1 training program for a marathon, but since I got injured I had to stop. So, I gradually added miles on my long runs to make up for the miles I lost from my injury. I would run about six miles during the week, and then on Saturdays (my long run days) I started with seven miles, then the next Saturday I did eight, and so on and so forth. Regrettably, I only trained up to 15 miles. But thank goodness that was good enough because I finished the marathon!

SB- Will you be running the Pittsburgh marathon this May and if so how will your training differ from the previous year?

NM- I won't be running the Pittsburgh marathon in May. I debated on running it, but my body is still in recovery from the marathon this past May! I will be running the half marathon. I will train more effectively for this one. I'll follow a strict schedule and not skip days! When I do run another marathon I will follow a more structured schedule and stick to it!

SB- What is your ultimate goal with running or what do you hope to accomplish?

NM- If you were to ask me a year ago what my ultimate goal with running is my answer would have been to qualify for the Boston marathon. The fastest race I ever ran was the Turkey Trot 5 miler last year, with an average pace of 7:36 a mile. I used to be really fast, but since I got hurt I really put running in to a different perspective. Speed doesn't matter to me anymore. My ultimate goal now would be to run another marathon, injury free, and to average less than a ten minute mile. Running a marathon is an accomplishment enough, who cares about speed!

SB- Are their any runners you look up to or anyone that has mentored you along the way?

NM- My sister and brother in law influenced me to do the half marathon in 2012. That's what got me going. My good friend John mentored me for my first half marathon, and he helped me mentally prepare for the full marathon as well. Shaun, you have been an inspiration as well! John and Shaun helped me the day before the marathon when I was getting cold feet. They helped me stick with it. When you talk to people who have been through it, who can give you pointers and inspire you in any way, you want to hold on to those people!

SB- You have a twin sister that is also a runner. Do you compete against her during races and training or do you try to motivate each other?

NM- Gab and I have never really been competitive. It's funny though, because when we were on the cross country team in junior high school she would always be the person to beat me. There were 12 girls on the team, and my sister was the 2nd fastest and I was the 3rd. But it was never really a conscious competition. We motivate each other with running, and we give each other tips. When it comes to competing, I am always my own biggest opponent, because I always want to improve.

SB- Like me you are a runner who has had to over come some injuries, describe the feeling when you finally run a race after being injured and what was your injury and how did you cope with it?

NM- I have had my injury for a year and a half. My sacroiliac joint was inflammed on the right side of my hips. My hamstrings were so tight they pulled on my pelvis and caused the joint to inflame. It's funny, because I had my injury during the marathon, but it didn't give me any trouble at all during the race. I literally broke down in tears when I crossed the finish line because completing the marathon seemed so out of sight to me because of my injury, and running it without having to stop or walk was so liberating. I went to physical therapy for a month to cope with it. I stretched four times every day, and I still sit on a cushion in my car to prevent irritation.

SB- You have been running a few years now, do you see a change in the running scene in Pittsburgh?

NM- I definitely see a change in the running scene in Pittsburgh. I forget the exact numbers, but I think the amount of runners in the 2009 marathon compared to the amount of runners in the 2013 marathon increased dramatically. Running is definitely getting more popular and it's awesome to see Pittsburgh embracing it. I know the store TrueRunner opened in Shadyside, and I know Dick's is selling more Brooks brand running shoes now. I remember in college the only place to buy Brooks was FInishLine, now Dicks has an array of models of that brand. It's really cool to see this hobby expanding.

SB- As a female runner do you think that gender has anything to do with ones performance? And do you think woman runners are looked at different than the men runners?

NM- I think gender has a little to do with running and pace. Obviously a woman can't run as fast as a man, so that definitely is an aspect, but other than that I really don't think it has anything to do with one's performance. I'm not positive, but I am pretty sure women may be more prone to injury, since we have wider hips than men. I'm convinced running is 90% mental and 10% physical. No matter what gender you identify with, as long as you have the drive and motivation to make it, then you will. I know plenty of talented athletes who say to me, "I could never run a marathon" and I myself have never identified myself as athletic, so if women could empower themselves, then they can definitely run like I did! I may be completely wrong, but I don't think women are looked at differently than men as runners. I reel like runners are gender neutral. We all understand each other. I love the quote, "never underestimate the strength of a woman. Never **** with one who runs 26.2 miles for fun."

SB- Anything you would like to say to anyone that is just starting out or maybe thinking about getting involved with running?

NM- The first thing I tell beginners is don't worry about pace. It's easy to beat yourself up if you haven't improved your PR. I used to do this all the time, but now I am trying to tell myself time doesn't matter! It's easy to go overboard. Second, I tell people to STRETCH STRETCH STRETCH. You want to prevent injury. And just like Nikki said, anyone can run, anyone. If you put your mind to it, and devote your physical and mental energy towards it, you WILL get there. Remember, you won't get there overnight. Work hard each day, and keep your mind on the prize. You kind of have to be very stubborn if you want to quit. Don't take no for an answer! I ran a marathon with only 15 miles of training. If I can do it, you can do it!

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