Olympic Trials Qualifier – Matt Rand

Where did you qualify for the trials? What was your time?
2019 Indianapolis Monumental Marathon 2:18:36

What is your best, clearest memory of your qualifying race?
Toward the end of the race, the most coherent thought I had was when I passed the mile 26 clock and saw 2:17:36. I told myself just don’t trip or collapse and I got it, no need to speed up and aggravate something. There were some other guys near me, but I couldn’t have cared less about beating them – I was just staring at the clock. Crossing the finish line was mainly relief combined with some disbelief that everything played out exactly how I planned, which almost never happens over 26.2 miles.

How many marathons have you done?
10 over ~6 years

Is this the greatest of your accomplishments in running? If yes, what was your previous greatest running accomplishment?
Yes this is my greatest running accomplishment. Previous was probably being All-American in XC and track in college.

How long has the trials been a goal? Did you set out last year to get there?
Watching the 2016 trials on TV and reading some articles about the participants are what first put the idea of qualifying on my radar. I could tell how meaningful the race was for so many of the non-professional runners who had qualified. I knew I had a window where my professional and personal life would allow me to train at a high level, so I figured why not give it a shot. I didn’t tell anyone it was a goal back then because my PR was 2:32. I increased my mileage and made running a slightly higher priority in my life starting in spring 2016, and ran a 6 minute PR at the Chicago Marathon that fall. Cutting down those last 8 minutes took three more years of consistent high mileage, and a few disastrous “learning experiences” in marathons, but it was all worth it.

How long have you been on the team?
I joined in January 2016

Any surprises dealing with USATF or the Atlanta Track Club after your qualifier?
Atlanta Track Club has been great. It’s very generous of them to provide the same funding to A standard and B standard qualifiers. They’ve also put together athlete bio pages on the trials website for all qualifiers, not just the top contenders. I didn’t expect that.

At what age did you first race? At what age did you start training?
I ran the kids races at local road races starting around age 5. I didn’t start organized training until middle school cross country, and didn’t start training year-round until college. I played baseball and basketball in high school, in addition to running.

How has CPTC helped you as an athlete?
Because of where I live, I haven’t been able to attend as many team workouts and events over the years as I would have liked, but I’ve still had some great CPTC training partners for some of my toughest and most important workouts. On race day, competing for a team always makes the effort more meaningful than if you’re running for only yourself. I’ve had a lot of fun doing the NYRR club points races over the years. All the New Balance gear and travel funding have been great perks as well.

What is your favorite marathon workout and why?
For me, a great marathon workout needs to check two boxes: 1) I’m running for as long or longer than I expect to be racing a marathon and 2) I’m running at goal marathon pace or slightly faster for at least 40% of the run, including the last couple miles. A lot of different workout structures will meet those standards. Obviously there are productive marathon workouts that don’t, but I need to nail a few within that mold in order to feel confident I can race at goal pace. Given how hilly the trials course is, my prep workouts have been on tough terrain and more about effort rather than locking into a precise pace.

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