Matt Fecht - 2009 Detroit Marathon 3rd Place Finisher
by RunMichigan Staff, Nov. 13, 2009
Matt Fecht - Detroit Marathon 3rd Place Finisher
Provided by RunMichigan
Matt Fecht was the 3rd place finisher in this years Detroit Marathon. He crossed the finish line in 2:27.46. The interesting part for Matt was that he had fractured several bones along the way. Read on to find out more about his painful adventure.
RM: What has lead you to run marathons?
MF: I think that I was built for the marathon. I am not the fastest guy in the world; I don’t have the gears that a lot of other runners have. I have to just grind out the whole race and that fits into my character. I feel that I am tough enough and fast enough to run with these guys in a race of this distance. It kind of nullifies the leg speed of a lot of the best guys around. Also I like the mental and physical test that it gives you. You have to be tough not only physically but also mentally. I enjoy pushing my limits to see just how good I can be. I like to see just how tough I can be. These things are big gut checks. I can’t see myself being as competitive in any other race.
RM: In preparation for this year's Detroit Marathon, what was your training like? When did you start feeling pain in your legs?
MF: It started off in June with around 70 miles a week with no speed just some base mileage. I then progressed to about 150 miles a week for a good 6 weeks from august till the middle of September. I did most of the training on my own. The weeks consisted of 3 workouts a week, Usually something like 3 by 3 miles and 8 by 1 mile and then some sort of tempo run for the workouts. I ran long once a week something between 16-22 miles. I run two times a day usually 10 in the morning and 12 miles in the afternoon. I ran most of the workouts by myself, some of the workouts were done with the team at Wayne State, and a few early workouts were done with Nick Allen. I have a 10 mile loop around my house that I would do every morning. A typical day for me would be wake up at 5:30 go to Warren Mott High School and work out with my strength and conditioning coaches Russ Shifferd and Shauhen Tahrebandi. Those guys really helped me workout what I needed to get in great shape for the marathon, with sport specific exercises. After that I would be out the door to run 10 miles around Warren. Time for a quick shower then to t sub in the classroom or work at the City of Warren doing odds and ends things. Then off to practice with Wayne State for 12 more miles. After that back to the City of Warren to work again. Then about once a week I would go visit Dr. Kyle Ormsbee to get stretched out. So that was a typical day for me during the training leading up to the race.
I started feeling pain in my foot about 3-4 weeks out of the marathon. I made the decision that I would go through the race still. I had put in all the work and wanted to make a go of it. I never got x-rays on the foot I didn’t want to see or hear what was wrong with it. I was told I had a stress reaction in the 3rd and 4th metatarsals, and that there is a good chance that it could break during the marathon. I weighed the risk and thought that I would be ok during the race. The last 4 weeks of training were not very good. I was babying my foot and really altering my training just to get through it. I took some low mileage days, in hindsight should have taken some days completely off. Just kept training and getting ready.
RM: What made you continue to run through the pain, leading up to the marathon?
MF: Just the fact of all the training that I had put in. I had all the support of all my guys and girls at WSU and at home with family and friends. I didn’t think that it would end up as bad as it did. I feel that with my personality and character that I would not let myself stop. Probably a little bit of bull headed mentality. I think that that is something that I have to learn from. Taking time off when I need it. I feel sometimes that since I do not have the talent of a lot of these guys out there I have to be tougher and get more days and more miles in order to compete with them. It is a lesson that is hard to learn and to know when to push and when to take a break. As a distance runner you are bred to embrace pain and love it. Sometimes you need to learn to listen to that pain.
RM: How would you describe how the Detroit Marathon played out? Did you think about dropping out? Do you have regrets?
MF: Well it played out in the first few miles like I thought it would. Nick and Chad were running nice and easy for the first 5-6 miles and I was right with them for that part of the race. I wanted to go out at 5:18-5:25 pace. After the 7 mile mark they started to pick up the pace to faster then I wanted to go. I thought that this was going to happen. This is part of the reason I like to do workouts myself, at some point in the race you are going to be by yourself so I want to be prepared for it. After they broke I kept my 5:20 pace. It was pretty windy in the morning so it got tough after they broke but still was feeling real strong. I came through the half in 1:10 something, right about where I wanted to be. I saw some friends and family at around 15 miles, at that point I was about 30-45 seconds back of the leaders. Still within striking distance. Then I hit the 16 mile mark and at that point everything started going wrong. I felt my foot break. There was no doubt about it. I knew it as soon as it happened. My first thought was to keep going, it is just how I am wired, Tough through and gut things out. I knew that I had a solid lead on 4th place so I wanted to keep going. I kept running as close to normal as I could. My pace was slowing to about 5:30’s was trying not to think about the pain but it kept getting worse.
Right before mile 20 I was still only about 1:30 back of the leaders , I was pretty excited about that and tried to start back on pace but it wasn’t happening. At 20 and a half I felt some more things breaking in my foot and at that point started to slow to about 6 flat miles. The pain was really intense. If I had not had so much help from my family and friends out there I would not have made it through. My last 2 miles I think were about 14 minutes just couldn’t wait for it to be over. I think I made it 2 steps across the finish and then just dropped to the ground.
I thought about dropping out I think 3 or 4 times per mile in the last 6 miles. The pain was so intense and I could feel things keep breaking in those last few miles. I had Kevin deBear and Dan Kapadia riding their bikes around and I saw them about every half mile and that helped to get me through. They also wanted to make sure that I got medical help asap if I was going to need it. If there was not money on the line and a podium finish on the line I think that I would have dropped out.
I think that to an extent I have a few regrets about continuing to run on the broken foot. I am going to be out a lot longer than originally would have been. Also not sure when I am going to be able to come back, or if I am going to be able to get back to the level that I was at. So it is kind of scary to think about that. I have asked myself that question every day was it worth it. I figure at least I have a story to tell my kids one day. And I think that the team at Wayne State has some new respect for me when I tell them to tough out a hard workout or place in the race.
RM: What lessons have you learned that you will apply down the road? Barring you fully recover and are able to run marathons down the road, will you?
MF: I think that I am starting to realize how far I can push my body. I think that 150 miles a week right now with all the other things that I have going on in my life right now is probably a little bit too much right now. With coaching and working two jobs it is rough to find the time to put in those kinds of miles right now. I need to spend more time sleeping and relaxing. With the way my schedule is right now it is just not possible to do that many miles right now. I think that I have also learned that taking the first few miles easy in the marathon will help you to finish faster down the stretch in the last few miles in the marathon. This past winter when I went and ran the Disney Marathon in Florida, I jogged the first 20 miles at 550-6 minute pace. Then came in the last 6.2 miles at 515 pace. I learned a lot that day just going out there and jogging.
I feel that I will definitely run marathons in the future. The goal of making it to the Olympic marathon trials is still there. If I have to take a year off to recover from this injury I am going to do that and come back as healthy as can be. I know that I will recover from this it is just a matter of time. The one thing I will not do this time is come back to fast. I feel like I do not have to rush to come back from this. The more time off the better and stronger I am going to come back.
RM: How have you enjoyed going from college distance runner at Wayne State to being an assistant coach? Is it tough not racing with the guys?
MF: As you well know the transition from competition to coaching is a little bit difficult. It has been an adventure. I have learned a great deal with how to train and how to interact with a team. Rick Cummins has been a tremendous help to me as a runner and as a coach. I feel like I have really grown in the past 4 years as a coach and a runner. The way the team reacts to what I say has changed a lot over the past 4 years. In the first year or so there was not a lot of respect as a coach I was still seen as just one of the guys. However, now there is a great deal of respect for me as a coach. I think that it is something that you need to earn. I think that rick also has a lot more trust in me and my ability as a coach as well. It is definitely hard not to be out there racing with the guys. As I sit there and watch the race it is tough not to want to put on the warrior uniform and get out there and help them. I think the thing I miss most is just the team comradely. We have a great team on the men’s and the women’s side, I really miss the team aspect of it all. But it is also nice to be done and not have the pressure to have to go out and compete at the collegiate level. I am happy that I have moved past that chapter of my running career and now have the ability to pursue my own running goals.